How an Industry Veteran Approaches a New Market

Building traffic, conversions, and retention in the CBD market.

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Throughout a long career that included stops at companies like Crocs and HCL, Paul Lanham has touched just about every area of business and eCommerce. Today, Lanham is putting all of that experience to work as the Chief Information and Ecommerce Officer at CBD start-up, Charlotte’s Web.

“I probably have been in just about every function that you can imagine from finance, to marketing, to sales, to Ecommerce, et cetera,” Lanham said. “So, I think that brings somewhat of a unique perspective to a company like Charlotte’s Web, where, frankly, I have a lot of empathy for my peers in other departments because I’ve done a lot of their jobs.”

As a seasoned leader, Lanham has a lot to offer to a company and a group of people trying to break into a relatively new market. Lanham explained that in a newer industry like CBD, it’s important to create word of mouth buzz and educate the consumer about the efficacy of the product. In order to do that effectively, it is critical to have a brand story that resonates with people and draws them in from the beginning.

Charlotte’s Web has done that extremely well, and they have also made investments in the world of eCommerce that have paid dividends. Lanham explained that there was a bit of hesitancy from retailers about carrying CBD products, so rather than trying to get into the mom and pop shops, Charlotte’s Web leaned into the idea of digital commerce.

“By going very strong with eCommerce and hiring the right people right off the bat to push the commercial side of this, eCommerce right now represents about 65% of our business,” Lanham said.

The numbers are important to Lanham, especially the ones that are driving that 65% of business. Every day Lanham looks at a number of different metrics to determine the health of the company and drive strategy forward. One of the metrics that he puts a lot of stock in is conversion, mostly because Charlotte’s Web has seen extremely high conversion rates.

“I actually had to look at that statistic several times because [I] didn’t believe them, they were so high,” Lanham said. “That’s a testament to the people and the staff here and whether it’s educating the consumer, or the customer experience on the site, or customer care on the backend, we have a high percentage of sales that convert.”

Retaining all of those customers is also important, and Lanham explained that Charlotte’s Web excels in that area as well. He attributes that success to the fact that Charlotte’s Web sees more qualified traffic with much higher buying intent. And, many of the customers begin to see Charlotte’s Web products as essential, so they are more likely to return or even subscribe.

As the data continues to pour in, Lanham knows that he and his team can only do so much with it on their own. To better situate the company and set themselves up for success, Lanham said that he and his team have relied heavily on A.I. from the beginning. They use the technology to make the correlations that a human brain never could and they build out the customer journey with that information. But A.I. is not faultless, and Lanham said that there is still a great deal of work they have to do to make sure that the new strategy, tool or experience they implement is of use to the customer.

“The hard part of it is, there’s so many correlations that we have to rank them and we basically test each correlation over a period of time to vet out the action,” Lanham said.

In the future, the technology is only going to get better. In fact, that’s something Lanham is looking forward to, especially when it comes to personalization. Lanham said that we’re on the precipice of a time when technology will be able to interact in a more human way in real-time, and he hopes to lead the transition to that technology at Charlotte’s Web.

That and so much more is on tap for Lanham and the company. To learn all about what’s ahead, check out Lanham’s interview on Up Next in Commerce.

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