Inside Arc XP: Senior product manager, Michael Schmidt, talks Arc Commerce and product management
Arc Commerce lead, Michael Schmidt, discusses Arc XP’s ability to unify storytelling and product discovery with a modern storefront, and his role as a senior product manager
Arc XP Senior Product Manager Michael Schmidt’s resume is nearly as impressive as the Baseball Hall of Famer whose name he shares.
While he wasn’t slugging homers like the former Philadelphia Phillies’ star, Schmidt has been doing some pretty amazing work in his 20-year career, gaining experience across industries from food manufacturing to software technology to retail, including the time he spent with a small clothing company you may be familiar with. Perhaps you’ve heard of Nike?
While the Detroit native’s list of companies he’s worked with is eye-catching, it’s the breadth of skills that’s even more remarkable. Through his career, Schmidt has been a software engineer, managed business intelligence platforms, and harnessed that experience as a product manager to build some of the world’s most compelling brand and shopping experiences.
And now he brings his expertise to Arc XP, joining in early 2021 to lead Arc Commerce, the company’s ecommerce platform “that brings storytelling together with discovery and shopping in a compelling digital experience,” Schmidt explains.
“In my role, I craft a vision for our commerce products and build a plan to deliver it. Arc XP’s platform is fully integrated, and these plans often include working hand-in-hand with other product teams to accomplish our goals,” he adds. “We use objectives and key results to organize our teams around a common goal, measure progress, and ensure timely delivery as we bring that vision to life.”
Schmidt says many organizations struggle with content simply because they don’t know how to plan it. “Excelling at publishing content begins with getting better at planning it,” he says. “That’s where brands truly benefit from the breadth of Arc’s platform, specifically WebSked – which is designed to centralize content management, workflow and planning.”
“This is why WebSked is so compelling, " he says. “Having the run of show, workflow, task management, and timelines for publishing content in one place is a dream for most retailers.”
That experience becomes even more powerful when combined with video, as Schmidt says that results indicate that conversion will rise by 80 percent when video is included as part of the customer journey. Small wonder he says customers love Arc’s Video Center and Broadcast solutions, because when these are combined with Commerce it shifts the journey from being an average storefront to delivering an engaging, immersive experience.
It’s clear that Schmidt enjoys being a product manager. He says one of the main reasons why “is being able to tell a story on behalf of a stakeholder, client or anyone that needs your help. I love to support that story with data to describe why it’s urgent, pervasive and important enough for our team to tackle.”
He explains that once that case and story have been built, teams work together to create the vision of how this product will be brought to life. That’s when things get very exciting for Schmidt.
“As a product manager you get to play a really unique role that not only understands the world of engineering and architecture, but also the world of operations, data analysis, design and UX.”
It’s not easy to train for this role following one path, Schmidt stresses, but it’s such a vital job because “the difference in results that are good, compared to results that are great, can often be influenced by the effectiveness of a product manager’s work.”
He says that when he started out at Nike, its digital business was very much in startup format, so coming to Arc who is in a high-growth mode, feels very natural and comfortable. Schmidt adds that he really thrives in the type of environment that Arc fosters: limited rules, but a strong vision with enough constraints in place to achieve that vision – and do so quickly.
He’s very excited about how Arc’s commerce solutions can help solve clients’ challenges of holding the attention of their customer base. “This is where content marketing, membership and shopping can come into play because the power of targeted content and the freshness of the content really matters,” said Schmidt.
“When your audience is fed useful information on a consistent basis, they’re going to ask for more of it,” he continued. “Arc shines with its ability to provide a modern ecommerce storefront, powered by a rich set of storytelling capabilities. We’re helping brands measure and learn who their audiences are and how often they should be producing content for them.”
In a highly competitive headless commerce market where Arc XP is a relatively new entrant, Schmidt maintains that Arc is in a great place to succeed.
“What stands out to me is Arc’s ability to build a mature platform while keeping its code fresh,” he says. “This team is so experienced in its approach and stays ahead of market needs by creating scalable products that grow well over time. Arc’s advantage to unify storytelling, discovery, and shopping across its platform is unlike any other product that I’ve seen.”
Where Arc has an opportunity to really surge forward is in “continuing to build interconnected and seamless journeys across our platform,” Schmidt stresses. He says many brands and their operations teams struggle with juggling tools that require having multiple windows open to copy and paste information from screen to screen and tool to tool.
He says this really motivates him as a product manager as he empathizes with the problems users have. “The expectations today are much higher (and) our platform eliminates these issues.”
What attracted Schmidt to Arc? It was the company’s focus on storytelling and the extensibility and flexibility of Arc’s platform. His thinking was “what if we can take those incredible tools for telling stories in media, and apply them to brands and retailers, too?” It turns out Arc was developing the same strategy, making this a perfect match.