Managing real-time pricing, promotions and inventory isn’t an easy job. Michael Lagoni, CEO at Stackline, discovered this about six years ago while working at Amazon. Now he’s leading his own business. Last week marked the launch of the third platform offered by the company.
Ad Manager, an automation tool, applies real-time bidding, competitive advertising, profitability, conversion, and incrementality data to optimize ecommerce ads. Seattle-based Stackline’s 80 employees support about 2,000 large brands through software and data to help manage ecommerce.
“Managing an ecommerce retailer is more like managing a hedge fund,” Lagoni said.
Stackline also has access to search data. Lagoni said the company spent the first couple of years building tracking technology, without identifying personal information, to help monitor consumer queries typed into the search bar on retail and ecommerce web pages, as well as search engines.
Advertisers on Amazon and Walmart can run sponsored brands like the banner on top of search results, sponsored products, and display ads. The plan is to add additional retailers and sites.
Ad Manager works very much like Google Ads, only for ecommerce, where the advertiser logs in through a portal, gains access to data, and chooses where and how to run their ads. There’s also a platform, Beacon, to help manage your sales, marketing and operational processes, as well as the ability to track product ratings and reviews. Atlas focuses on sales and market share data.
Lagoni identified several trends before leaving Amazon. For example, ecommerce continued to grow rapidly and the volume of data multiplied faster than brands were used to analyzing. He also considered the growth of marketing levers and the amount of work required to understand each.
“The hundreds of decisions in real time requires tons of data,” he said.
Interestingly, Lagoni grew up in a small farm town in Ohio and went to Harvard Business school to get his MBA. From there, he spent a year at Amazon before leaving the company and founding Stackline in 2014.
“I always had the entrepreneurial itch and wanted to start a company,” he said. “I started the company with $300 in a tiny little, 400-square-foot apartment in the Capital Hill neighborhood. We’ve been profitable since the first day because I signed up brands right away.”
Running a business didn’t come into play until high school. In grade school, Lagoni wanted to play in the National Football League.
“I’m still hoping to do some tryout,” he said.
Lagoni points to the work ethic as the correlation between the two — running a business and playing professional football.
“To be a professional athlete you must have a twenty-four-seven commitment, including your diet and the way you sleep,” he said. “Building a company from scratch is a test of endurance, commitment and work ethic.”