7 min read

CPG x Novel build inclusive tokengated commerce experiences

CPG NFT of a green pixelated t-shirt on a green square chip floating against the natural background of wildflowers, a lake, and mountains

This is a story of innovators with a cause.

But first, there was Genesis

After a nine-figure exit with Unilever, Crypto Packaged Goods (CPG) co-founders, Chris Cantino and Jaime Schmidt, transformed their wealth and put it towards empowering others in the web3 space. Together they launched the venture arm, Color Capital

In 2021, the “clubhouse days”, they pooled together an array of like-minded operators. “We started as a motley crew of consumers, founders, creatives, and developers that were all exploring web3 together,” says Cantino. “People across the globe, working to create products for a new generation of the internet. Everybody was a builder.” 

This collective of 333 founders functioned as the core of CPG Genesis. Their mission: Create mentorship opportunities for those interested in how the worlds of consumer and crypto collide.

“It was a coalescence of people who are really good humans,” says Mikey Piro, COO of CPG. “Who have strong values. Who take care of people. Who are strong entrepreneurs. They have all that ethos baked in.”

Building a builder’s community

The following year, CPG’s community expanded with the release of Pop, a collection of 2,777 generative NFTs. 

Evolving from the values established in Genesis, Pop focused on being a web3 accelerator: Incubating crypto products and NFT projects, hosting private events and seminars, granting access to exclusive phygital drops, and offering a blockchain-based certification (non-transferable and airdropped to participants). 

The power of Pop is how it serves a community of builders, those banding together on the frontier of a new and equitable future in web3. 

“It’s like YC for web3,” says Cantino. “But a decentralized sort of resource. And the cool part of it is we don’t take equity in any of these companies, because it’s all bound by this common token and the value that’s created there.”

CPG's Fall/Winter 2023 capsule collection.

A web3 native and a normie visit your store

CPG’s current explorations in blockchain include a partnership with Novel, a Shopify app and platform offering an end-to-end tokengating solution. 

With Novel’s tokengating tech stack and a Shopify-powered storefront, CPG effectively launched their Fall/Winter 2023 capsule collection. Each item in the collection is intentionally basic, designed to be customized by buyers with community badges from NFT brands, or however else they choose to show off their online persona IRL.

“We’re having fun elevating physical products with an NFT versus the other way around, where you have an NFT that grants access to the merch.” — Chris Cantino

“There are lots of things you can do to showcase blockchain technology. How they’re enabled by NFTs, how they create communities—how they make things better,” Cantino adds.

CPG’s Shopify store acts as an experimental proving ground, stretching the limits of conventional commerce experiences and shifting the way we think about brand and buyer relationships. 

“We want to have the best ecommerce execution. Where people can get access to discounts, or exclusive products, whether you’re a current token holder or from an adjacent community,” says Cantino.

Moreover, with inclusivity top of mind, CPG and Novel co-create a seamless checkout experience that allows non-token holders to purchase CPG products and get a free NFT.

Cantino says, “Total strangers to our system can purchase a product for the first time and never even see the word NFT. Then at the end, they have the option to sign up for this cool NFT that has utility in our rewards program. They get some ownership over the process.”

CPG is deeply attuned to the impact tokengated commerce has on buyer behavior—from engagement that bridges a handful of brand communities to retention and loyalty. Every performance metric CPG hits sends a clear signal to big retailers about the power of tokengated commerce.

“On the product level, we really want to demonstrate to retailers that this is how you can do it. Have something bound by a token and have a community that’s bootstrapped out of nowhere.” — Chris Cantino

What’s in your tech stack

In the midst of launching a full rebrand, finding a headless ecommerce solution was essential to CPG’s build.

“Shopify keeps the whole brand ecosystem tighter, which allows us a lot of control over our brand, how it shows up, and how we build,” says Stewart Scott-Curran, Head of Creative at CPG.

Additionally, CPG wanted to create a familiar and seamless checkout experience that was accessible to degen natives, as well as those without a wallet.

“Our goal was to literally take the most familiar format for buying online and abstract crypto payments into the background. So when you get to checkout, it doesn’t feel strange or insecure. It’s not about point-whatever-ETH you pay,” says Cantino.

“Shopify really enables us to put the consumer experience first rather than the crypto payment experience, so we can build for the more mainstream consumer.” — Chris Cantino

When it came down to finding a partner to build out CPG’s unique gating, discounts, and token redemption configurations, teaming with Novel was an easy choice.

“They just represent the best-in-class solution,” says Cantino. “We knew they had the team and the willpower to get shit done. Within a few weeks, we had a custom solution.”

Scott-Curran adds, “It was an opportunity to try and build something together, to further the use case of the technology.”

Novel Co-founder and CEO, Roger Beaman’s, product vision is to deliver a complete solution to web3 and loyalty within a single platform—minus the code.

“The goal of ecommerce tech is to enable merchants to provide a better customer experience. In web3, people often lead with the how instead of the what,” says Beaman. “From day one, our aim was to make sophisticated technology approachable for merchants.”

Novel lets merchants generate and configure branded NFT memberships. Then, deploys them straight to a Shopify storefront where they can be purchased with a debit/credit card, like any other physical product. Additionally, the app lets merchants offer products or content, create exclusive discounts, or give special perks to community members.

“We’re a no-code way to acquire and retain customers. You can offer VIP experiences to the communities your brand resonates most,” adds Akhil Ramgopal, Product at Novel. “Create an exclusive discount, like what CPG did, or an exclusive product, piece of content, or drop. People literally download our app and set it up themselves in minutes.”

“Shopify is the best B2B software distribution channel, period. The payment rails and standardized ecommerce backend allows us to make an app that works similar to installing an iPhone app as a consumer—but for a business,” Beaman adds. “Shopify makes it possible for us to build a software solution that requires zero custom work when a merchant is getting started, which really changes the economics for us.” 

In addition to Novel’s plug-and-play solution, their app stands out from competitors because of the attention put into the UI. Everything is simple and straightforward, optimized for the end user.

“Anytime our designers brainstorm and discuss a new development, what we’re always thinking about is: How many clicks does it take? Does it intuitively make sense?” says Ismail Pathan, Director of Customer Experience at Novel. “At the end of the day, people are what drive us. Drive CPG. Drive Shopify.”

In a series of three images: CPG's Composable Chore Coat in blue is modeled by a White man with a mustache, on a hanger, and by a White woman with long, blonde, center-parted hair against a punchy landscape of flowers and mountains.
The Composable Chore Coat from CPG's Fall/Winter 2023 capsule collection.

Mapping the DNA of loyalty

NFTs and tokengated commerce are a mechanism allowing merchants to connect with their buyers in new, meaningful ways.

Team CPG stands behind the power NFTs have to form communities bound by tokens, to transform passive consumer experiences into engaging, lifelong relationships with a brand. And they have the proof points to back it up. 

“NFTs have the power to create really high value and high loyalty customers through the provision of access to events, services, and immersive loyalty experiences. That’s the aspirational customer every ecommerce brand is looking for, that super fan that’s going to go on social everyday and spread the word. It represents so much stickiness and we’re trying to show that as much as possible with our products and experiences.” — Chris Cantino

CPG NFTs act as digital receipts that can be put towards their rewards program, keeping buyers in their ecosystem and nurturing affinity with their brand. More purchases translate to more tokens, which means more points that can be redeemed for exclusive gated perks.

“Expanding into commerce and awarding NFTs gives us a lot of different surfaces to interact with people and ensure we attract folks that espouse the same values. It lets us engage with a large community, while delivering differentiated experiences,” says Piro. “And it’s all on a public blockchain. So you have these records of folks that are engaging with us, repping our brand, and repping our ethos.”

Scott-Curran adds, “We’re trying to understand this space and future opportunities by building it. And from our perspective, it’s really cool to see Shopify embracing web3 technology. Building on a trusted product is a huge point of inspiration to push what we’re doing as far as possible. To keep innovating and being involved, rather than watching it from afar.”