Stuzo Breaks New Ground with Performance Guarantee: Q&A with CEO Gunter Pfau

Photograph: Shutterstock

Following Stuzo’s strategic investment from Longshore Capital Partners, Jim Bursch, vice chairman of convenience media and events at Winsight Media, sat down with Stuzo Founder and CEO, Gunter Pfau, to learn more about Stuzo’s new performance guarantee.

  1. Bursch: I hear that you recently announced a 1.5X performance guarantee for retailers that make the switch to Stuzo. Can you tell me more about your strategy behind this, and why you chose to offer this to customers now?

Pfau: This has been three-plus years in the making, not a decision that came about overnight. Before making the announcement, as a company, we had to earn the right to be able to contractually guarantee outcomes. It’s not just marketing speak. It’s a real money-back guarantee.

Our mission for years has been to deliver retailers incremental business outcomes at scale. What we’ve seen in the industry is a lot of companies that are delivering what we call “shiny product features.” For example: turning the pump on via a mobile phone or being able to pay via an Alexa device or connected car app. There’s nothing wrong with those features. Some consumers will enjoy using them. However, the question we had was: Are these features really delivering business outcomes, such as incremental lift in basket size, visits, share of wallet, and/or customer lifetime value? At scale?

We now have all of the assets and capabilities we need to prove we can deliver better business outcomes than anybody else in the marketplace. This is how we compete and differentiate.

  1. Bursch: A performance guarantee like this is a first for the industry. How can you guarantee your company’s performance?

Pfau:We initially built our Open Commerce® Platform to focus on payments and launched with Open Commerce Transact for contactless commerce. We realized that payments alone wasn’t driving meaningful outcomes, so we then acquired an intelligent 1:1 loyalty technology company that we integrated tightly as our second product, Open Commerce Activate. Following, we launched our Open Commerce Experience product for cross-channel customer engagement. These three products, as well as the ever-evolving Know and Activate method we’ve developed over the past three years, and our wraparound Program Management services, combine to make our Wallet Steering™ System. Our Wallet Steering System empowers us to deliver incremental business outcomes, which further empowers us to offer this 1.5X performance guarantee.

A tangible and intangible that makes everything go with our company is our team, which cares tremendously about their teammates, professionally and personally, and cares really tremendously about driving outcomes for our customers.

When we work on solution design with our retailer partners, we start by aligning on the business outcomes we want to drive. There are a lot of times when the debate gets pretty heated, as some features a retailer wants get cut because we know, while we can do them, we shouldn’t. We talk a lot about “can” versus “should.” It’s a cultural element of caring and having the discipline to say “no” to things we know will not drive business outcomes at scale for our retailer partners.

  1. Bursch: Have you seen any results from this offer yet? How do you expect retailers to continue to respond to this?

Pfau: While we just announced, the response from the market is positive. Operators that will react best will be the ones that are philosophically aligned with us; they are running a tight ship and already believe that outcomes matter significantly more than a number of features or capabilities. With those retailers, we will jointly deliver significantly more value.

  1. Bursch: What are your insights on the trajectory of digital strategies like these as they’re developed and adopted? What are the broader implications for the state of the industry, and how are you changing the narrative there?

Pfau: Our industry is competing against grocery, QSR, dollar operators, a variety of digital upstarts, and against electrification. As an industry, we need to transform. We’d love to see everybody in the industry—from retailers to vendors—focusing on outcomes. As they say, a rising tide lifts all ships.

We believe that focusing on outcomes is more critically important than ever. We hope that what we’re doing influences this industry to focus on “can” versus “should,” because at the end of the day, it's the outcomes that matter. That’s the narrative we’re looking to change and the driving force behind our 1.5X performance guarantee.

  1. Bursch: I’d also love to hear you speak more about how you’ve recently taken a strategic investment from Longshore Capital Partners. Can you tell me more about that?

Pfau:We’re fortunate as we’ve had a lot of suitors that were quite interested in us. In the same way we talk about philosophical alignment with retailers, we care deeply about having a philosophical alignment with Longshore. Longshore aligns with our outcomes-over-features and can-versus-should philosophy and very importantly, our Wallet Steering System.

We talked about our vision for customer loyalty and customer engagement, and that loyalty is an outcome, an earned right. You can’t expect to drive loyalty just because you have a loyalty platform. That’s not how it works. There’s a bigger conversation to be had about how you drive engagement and loyalty, and it starts with a really strong value proposition.

We found strong alignment between Stuzo and Longshore in quite a few areas. One is how we thought about the future of customer engagement and customer loyalty—how it’s not just about loyalty, it’s about the intersection of loyalty technology, commerce and the cross channel customer experience. It’s also about unlocking data across all three, loyalty, payments and customer experience, and how those three cannot be siloed. When they are unified, we drive significantly better outcomes. Also, we found alignment ina strong belief in culture. It was really important to us that they valued people, because at the end of the day, a business is nothing more than a collection of people.

Longshore holistically buys into our longer-term strategy and is there to support, fund and accelerate Stuzo. Our 1.5X performance guarantee is bold. We’re offering to give money back if we don’t hit those numbers. That’s a big deal, and they are supportive of our strategy, because they know we can back it up with performance and we’re going to continue to deliver on outcomes.

  1. Bursch: Beyond the performance guarantee, what’s next for Stuzo?

Pfau:Something I’ve been thinking a lot about is what makes us different as a company—why are we unique? We have what we call team chemistry, which I ultimately believe is going to be an evolved way of management over the next five to ten years. We leverage each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses. We’re going to invest even more here, because I believe it empowers everything we’ve talked about today. The combination of team chemistry plus caring drives business. It makes us who we are. And it’s what empowers every ounce of success we have as a company and as a team.

This post is sponsored by Stuzo


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