Retail is transforming faster than ever before. But there's a lot of noise out there today, especially with retail technology! If you're in retail, which trends really matter? Who are the experts you should listen to for guidance? And who are the people truly transforming the industry? The Retail Razor Show cuts through the clutter in #retail and #retailtech so you'll know where to focus your time, money, and energy!
I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar, and I've been helping retailers cut through the clutter to maximize business value from their technology investments for the last two decades. I've advised retail tech startups on their go-to-market, and am a contributor to numerous industry blogs, publications, and podcasts. I serve on the advisory council to George Mason University's Center for Retail Transformation, have been named a Top Retail Influencer for 2021 & 2022, Top Retail Mover and Shaker for 2021, and am currently the lead partner marketing advisor for retail and consumer goods at Microsoft.
And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock. I've dedicated my career to moving fashion brands forward. I've had nearly every job in a fashion house until I saw the writing on the wall and moved to the tech side of the business. I am obsessed with the relationship between a brand and consumer and determined to slay retail franken-stacks!
Together, we're your guides on this retail journey. From digital and online, to mobile, to brick & mortar stores, we'll help you cut through the clutter!
We’re currently ranked #20 in the Feedspot Top Retail Podcasts List, so if you like our show, please give us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts. With your help, we’ll be on our way to a top spot! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/
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Host → Ricardo Belmar,
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Co-host → Casey Golden,
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Welcome to Season 1, Episode 4, the fourth ever episode of The Retail Razor Show!
I’m your host, Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and lead partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.
Together, we’re your guides on the retail transformation journey. Whether you're thinking digital and online, mobile, or brick & mortar stores, we’ll help you cut through the clutter!
For episode 4 we’ve changed it up a bit and jumped over to the Callin platform to record this special episode where we give you our Top 10 Trends and Predictions for 2022!
Hear what we’re thinking matters most for 2022 and what we expect it means for retail and retail tech. If you have any comments on what we’ve said, be sure and hit us up on Twitter or LinkedIn! And be sure and follow us on Callin so you don’t miss future episodes where we’ll be interviewing the people who are transforming retail and retailtech!
The Retail Razor Show
Follow us on Twitter: https://bit.ly/TwRRazor
Connect with us on LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/LI-RRazor
Join our club on Clubhouse: http://bit.ly/RRazorClub
Listen to us on Callin: https://bit.ly/RRCallin
Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: https://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow
Retail Razor Show Episode Page: https://bit.ly/RRShowPod
Host → Ricardo Belmar,
Follow on Twitter - ****https://bit.ly/twRBelmar
Connect on LinkedIn - ****https://bit.ly/LIRBelmar
Read my comments on RetailWire - ****https://bit.ly/RWRBelmar
Co-host → Casey Golden,
Follow on Twitter - ****https://bit.ly/twCasey
Connect on LinkedIn - ****https://bit.ly/LICasey
Read my comments on RetailWire - https://bit.ly/RWCasey
S1E4 Top 10 Trends & Predictions for 2022
[00:00:20] Ricardo Belmar: Hello everyone. And welcome to retail razor show our first recording here on the Callin platform. So this is exciting, isn't it? Casey.
[00:00:27] Casey Golden: It is.
[00:00:28] Ricardo Belmar: I'm looking forward to our future episodes here. We're going to do some really cool interviews with people who are really doing things to transform retail and commerce.
[00:00:37] Casey Golden: Anything that makes it easier to have these conversations, I'm in.
[00:00:41] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly. Exactly. So today we've got some fun stuff we're doing. We're going to talk about our top 10 trends and predictions for 2022. Because it's the beginning of the year. So of course we have to do that. Right.
[00:00:52] Casey Golden: We do. And we have what, nine months to implement ?
[00:00:55] Ricardo Belmar: That's right.
[00:00:56] So we're hopefully improving our odds of success so that when we can do this next time, everyone can come back and say, Hey, they got that one right.
[00:01:03] Casey Golden: Exactly. I will be keeping score!.
[00:01:07] Ricardo Belmar: Well, we'll see how we each do here. I think we've each got five to share. So we'll see how we do this time next year.
[00:01:13] Ricardo Belmar: All right. So let's jump into top 10 trends and predictions. I'll kick off. And my first one has [00:01:20] to do with retail media networks which I know people who might be listening to, they're going to say, oh, that's not much of a prediction, but the slight twist I'm putting on this is a, they're kind of two schools of thought on this.
[00:01:32] A number of people in the industry are saying that they're starting to see too many of these retail media networks and that they're all competing for the same ad capacity with brands. And how is any individual retailer really going to make a dent when Amazon's commanding over a third of all of this retail media network ad spend.
[00:01:51] And my take on that is it, I feel like that's the wrong perspective to take because these networks aren't necessarily competing with each other. What they're really competing against are other forms of media, whether it's print, TV, streaming, video networks, all those kinds of things, or just plain old display ads on Google.
[00:02:11] You know, these retail media networks are designed so that knowing that I'm already on the retailers platform and that's, we're assuming that retailer has a [00:02:20] marketplace on their e-commerce. So really what are they trying to do? I think they're trying to do two things here. Yes. There is an added revenue stream they're trying to generate by getting brands to spend money with them and to, buy product placements. And obviously Amazon is the most successful, but there are plenty of others, Kroger's doing well with this, Home Depot is doing well with this. And I think there's lots of room for other retailers to do the same even Target does well although their marketplace is kind of by invitation so it's a closed one. It's not quite the same, but I think there's plenty of room for, for retailers to succeed here. Because again, it's not, you're not really measuring yourself against how much ad market share am I taking from Amazon? It's just how much ad space am I selling on my marketplace site?
[00:02:59] That's really the metric that matters. So I think any retailer with a marketplace can make this work and that's why we're going to see so many, even Best Buy announced. I think within the last week that they're doing this, and there's also room to expand just beyond your own marketplace, I think Best Buy's announcement also said that not only can you buy ad placement on the marketplace site [00:03:20] bundled into this would also be promotional ads in the store. So if you're a brick and mortar and online marketplace retailer, you've got both of those available and best buy is also saying we'll do third-party placement on third party networks, as well as part of the bundle.
[00:03:33] So they'll get some revenue out of that, even if the brand is saying, yeah, give me some ads on the Best Buy site, but then I also want it on, Google search. And it seems like Best Buy is saying, we'll manage that for you as part of the program. So I think lots of room there, the second really important thing for this, which is the one I, I believe everybody overlooks.
[00:03:51] This is another great way for a retailer to generate customer data because as customers interact with the digital ads for this, That's new customer data that's feeding into, hopefully the retailer has a customer data platform. They add this in with all the other first party data they have. And guess what?
[00:04:07] They're going to learn a lot more about how their customers are shopping. And I would argue that's even more important than the incremental revenue they're going to get from the retail media networks. So that's my prediction that we're just going to see every retailer that [00:04:20] does a marketplace on their site.
[00:04:21] They're going to introduce a retail media network this year.
[00:04:23] Casey Golden: I think we've, we've definitely learned over the last two years with the increase of the cost of advertising that a lot of brands and companies need to diversify those channels and, and spread that out because it's been quite concentrated and the prices were driven up extensively while everybody moved their media buys into digital.
[00:04:44] Ricardo Belmar: That's true. That's true.
[00:04:45] Casey Golden: I'm coming in at number two with brick and mortar expansion. Physical retail is not dead. I it's going to change. Amazon's new department store is re-imagining the shopping and buying experience. Really reaching customers in a, in a non-traditional way for them. And we're going to see a lot more pop-ups versus anchor stores changing these physical spaces from stacks of shirts to entertainment and showrooms.
[00:05:08] I think we can all agree that Glossier has been the big winner here and pop-ups, and with that model, I think we're going to be seeing a lot more short-term and flexible leases so that more brands can go [00:05:20] into a space, spend three months and have the opportunity to create an extension. Really starting to understand who your customers are, where they live, where your biggest market opportunity is and create moments where brands and consumers can go through that product discovery and experience the brand, circulates a lot more neighborhood freshness. And when brands are trying to increase that LTV you know, we're fighting very low conversion rates online. Having a pop-up store can really increase that LTV over the long run, because it can create that brand affinity that e-commerce just, hasn't been able to capture the same way that brick and mortar has with getting into routine and, and making that meaningful connection to a consumer
[00:06:06] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I like this prediction a lot. I really agree with you on all those points. The big thing that a lot of people miss here with this, even when we're talking about natively digital brands that are just starting to open stores too, I think that's included [00:06:20] in what you're saying here at the end of the day, in some ways, right?
[00:06:23] This is just one big experiment for the brand. And, and I think that's a good thing because we don't historically think of opening stores as an experiment. I think maybe Amazon changed everyone's viewpoint on that for the better. And I think that is how everyone should look at it because you can learn a lot from that pop-up experience, just like you described, and then feed that back into even other sales channels.
[00:06:42] You have to make you adapt to your customers. And that's really the whole point, isn't it?
[00:06:46] Casey Golden: It is. You know, we've got to get in front of customers in general, and sometimes that's just showing up in their neighborhood and saying, we're here to serve you. Come experience our brand.
[00:06:57] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. And I'd say, if we really want to go out on a limb, we can kind of call this one, the the end of the retail apocalypse storyline.
[00:07:03] Right. Because we're going to see more store openings as a result.
[00:07:06] Casey Golden: I have seen a lot of announcements for new stores.
[00:07:09] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly.
[00:07:10] Ricardo Belmar: All right, let's go to number three. So number three, this may not come as a surprise to a lot of people because I know I, I think we've all talked about this frequently.
[00:07:18] We've got some [00:07:20] other podcast episodes coming on it and that's social commerce and live streaming going big. This year across the U S and in north America, it may not get as big as we see it in China and Asia, but that's okay. It's got room to grow. I think this is going to be something we see from both small and large retail.
[00:07:35] I think the big twist I'm going to put on this is when we think about particularly the livestreaming piece. And in fact, I'm going to say the live streaming component to this is more important than social commerce as a whole, even though we tend to lump those things together, a lot of people assume that when we say social commerce, we're talking about selling through Instagram and Facebook and all the different social media platforms.
[00:07:57] And I think small retailers will keep doing that. I think that's where the growth for them is. But the challenge with that, and we've said this before in our, at our clubhouse sessions is you don't own the platform then, right? You're borrowing the social media platforms access to customers. So you're not owning the relationship there in your sales process.
[00:08:15] I think live streaming is going to help retailers change that perspective a couple of different [00:08:20] ways. One is using their frontline store associates as the live streamers versus paid influencers. So rather than going out and spending a lot of money, hiring an Instagram influencers, we're going to see retailers start leveraging frontline staff, who, by the way, if you look at the demographics of who you have, a lot of your I'll assume younger, but not necessarily right.
[00:08:39] A lot of your staff, they already know how to do this, they've got their own YouTube channel for other reasons outside of the job. Retailers are going to get smart and say, Hey, we can just use the folks we have. It actually turns into a career incentive to want to work in retail, above and beyond the challenges every retailer is facing in the current labor shortage and trying to figure out how they can pay workers enough. This becomes a new, I don't want to say career perk, but it's certainly a new skillset and something that makes the employee more competitive and retailers are going to want them.
[00:09:08] So picture your store associate doing live streams in a one to many format, right from the store, or maybe even from a studio-like space that the store has now carved out of their back room [00:09:20] a front of the store in some way to do this kind of production on a regular basis and hosted from their website.
[00:09:25] So they don't have to be dependent on the social media platforms to do this. They're going to build a following that way. Both the retail brand and the individual associates are going to build the following for the associate. It's a great skill. I think it's something they'll enjoy doing. Not every associate is going to do it.
[00:09:41] And that's okay. I think this speaks to the our podcast, a couple episodes back with, with Ron Thurston. When we talked about segmentation of skillsets and, and frontline workers, some staff will be better at doing some of the backroom functions. Some are going to be better at fulfilling buy online pickup in store orders, and some are going to be your live streamers.
[00:10:00] And I think the analogy for me here is the same way we look at the fitness instructors in the Peloton app. That's what we're going to see happen with frontline staff and retail stores because of live streaming and really go out on a limb and say, if mall operators out there are listening, I would be telling you, you should be thinking about how you can turn this kind of concept into a [00:10:20]service you offer your tenants in the mall, especially the smaller retailers you might land, or even better as an enticement to those digitally native brands that you're trying to get to either set up a pop-up or set up a short-term lease in the mall. This is another incentive you could create by providing the live streamer.
[00:10:36] So think of it in terms of what happened in the gaming world on Twitch and YouTube with live streamers. We're going to start to see this happen in the retail world. And I think this is going to really change how we perceive those frontline store associates. You could even see tie-ins to loyalty programs may be a perk.
[00:10:52] When you reached the loyalty tiers, you get to participate in one of the live streams with, at your local store, with one of the live streamers that you shop from. And all of that I've just described as kind of in that one to many format. There's also the concept of doing this one-on-one with a customer from a store.
[00:11:06] I actually believe smaller retailers. They're going to be the ones to drive this forward first, and then we're going to see the larger retailers start picking it up.
[00:11:13] Casey Golden: I agree. You know, one of my favorite examples of this is Cameron from Walmart. He, [00:11:20] launched a tech talk in Walmart and he changed a lot of people's perspective of Walmart and just, he made it fun.
[00:11:27] I, this done like one of the best jobs Taking that on and Walmart embraced him and promoted him. In turn, there was a gentleman Tony that worked at Home Depot who was mixing paints on Tik Tok and he was fired. And so I think changing some thought leadership inside these organizations and sanely, there is a possibility that one of your associates could potentially go viral, create this position before you're ready for it.
[00:11:56] But how do you feel about it? And are you going to embrace it and start moving it into an initiative? Or are you going to, you know, shut it down? So I think it's we've had enough experiments in the space That more grand should really be looking at if this happened.
[00:12:11] Ricardo Belmar: Right. And I really think to your point, right, brands should be looking at this as a way of improving the work environment for [00:12:20] those associates that are doing this, because they're going to find that they'll start hiring associates, that this is the big part of the job they liked.
[00:12:26] So as you do this, it's going to help you solve that labor shortage problem you're experiencing right now. And you can't hire enough people. This is an enticement, and it starts to turn that retail job into something about more than just what's the hourly salary, ? Because this is now something that an associate can turn into a meaningful career path too, especially if you're thinking about hiring younger associates or even college students, for example, that are probably every college student can talk to you right now. If we brought them on the show, we'll say, oh, I would love to do live streaming. And now what, if you tell them what you can get paid by a store to do it on the store floor to help them sell products. Like you probably already know a lot about them.
[00:13:00] So what could be better.
[00:13:02] Casey Golden: I agree.
[00:13:03] Casey Golden: I'm coming in at number four, we've got personal shopping. I'm obviously biased if anybody knows what I do on a regular basis. But consumer expectations have reached an all time high. And there is no one way about it. There are so many different ways to engage [00:13:20]between sales associates, a customer brand, buying, a product is not always an easy process especially with so many new brands and new types of products tech enabled products.
[00:13:32] There's a lot of questions that happened through the path, the path to purchase. So personal shopping, always a core aspect of the luxury industry. But it has yet to truly been scaled. A lot of clientelling software has been focused in store versus being digitally native. So I think we're going to see a lot more of sales associates being empowered.
[00:13:55] And that is associate led goes big into bringing digital into the store and bringing those real human relationships and knowledge online. So, when you're working with an influencer, you're following an influencer, you don't have, you don't always get to talk to them and ask them a question and have a response without a delay.
[00:14:14] And this is really where I see personal shopping and clienteling technology, being [00:14:20] able to enable these store associates that are already on payroll to be able to scale up their services, scale, their reach, and for brands to be able to pull that customer engagement from a question into a real time experience.
[00:14:36] The front lane staff tech explosion is incredible. When we think of how many of them are already tech enabled, they're already tech savvy. Like you were mentioning for a lot of the social commerce and live streaming. But they are, their job is to work for X brand. And how are we enabling them?
[00:14:53] You know, if we spend X amount of percentage of our budget to enable influencers and people who don't work for us, why are we not, doubling down. And enabling the people that do. So a lot of this software is coming out and being adapted for digital, if not coming out digitally native in the first place, but it alleviates a lot of mundane tasks and without losing jobs, [00:15:20] right.
[00:15:20] It, it makes your staff more productive. And frankly happier if somebody said Hey, I need you to work into a store, but you can't sell online. You can't talk to a customer that you connected with again. You're just going to start from scratch every hour.
[00:15:39] It's the reality, but it let's go ahead and take that a step further. I think with a lot of the younger people in retail This is a lot of people's first jobs. And I think we've all learned a few things from, from Ron and our accidental careers in retail, that this is an opportunity to really bring in talent and building , that brand relationship very early into their careers by being an employee.
[00:16:05] So it's getting more and more common and easier for brands to be able to scale up one-to-one conversations and relationships and turn them into conversions. So obviously I'm excited about this area. I believe in personal shopping and product experts and [00:16:20] talent the last thing I would ever want to see in the world is that shopping turns into a completely automated and machine experience.
[00:16:28] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, and to your last point there, about how alleviating the mundane tasks, I think that's where a big part of the conversation around automation, especially in the store, keeps getting overlooked. People focus on oh, no, oh no, . The robots are coming, they're going to replace all the employees, but that's not at all right.
[00:16:44] It's more about how is that technology going to help get rid of all the mundane, tedious tasks so that those associates and, and personal shoppers can focus on what the job should be, that's helping customers, helping customers shop and buy and convert them.
[00:16:58] Casey Golden: Exactly. And, and this all comes back to, coming all the way forward to customer data, right?
[00:17:04] Every single one of these is really wrapped around the customer experience, how we serve a customer and the number one process into how do you serve a customer is to understand who they are and build that relationship as soon as.
[00:17:18] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That's right.
[00:17:19] Ricardo Belmar: And [00:17:20] that kind of takes us on into number five, which is all about that shopping experience itself.
[00:17:24] Particularly in the, what I'm going to call an in store experience revolution that really meets digital and in a more immersive way. So here, I'm talking about how we can add computer vision and AI elements into that shopping experience. There's already lots of talk of how you can leverage AR and VR platforms in the store.
[00:17:43] And really what I'm envisioning here is you're coming into a store. And even in addition to having that store associate help you with something, the products themselves, the displays are going to help immerse you in what the product is. So say, you're looking at a display and you pick up a product, maybe there's a surrounding screen or mirror around that that just suddenly starts showing you content about that product.
[00:18:05] And it helps you understand better what it is. You know, we, we could think of a grocery shopping model where via AR, I pick up maybe I don't even pick it up. I am just standing near inappropriate area of produce. And I'm looking at, two different varieties of [00:18:20] oranges and I might scratch my head and say, well, which one do I want to buy?
[00:18:23] And via AR suddenly I can see popping up in front of me, all kinds of information. What's the difference between those varieties, what kind of flavor they have, some of these things sound silly, but the fact is right, these are little things, even though it's a, it's a big piece of technology. There are little things that make that shopping experience so much more immersive and different from just tapping a product image on your phone and putting it in Instacart order.
[00:18:47] So, you know, when we think about how you getting people to continue to want to shop in the store, it's building these immersive experiences. And sometimes that also means it's going to see a rise of cashier less checkout. So yes, Amazon was the first with the GO stores and they're expanding it to their grocery stores, but they're not the only ones doing this.
[00:19:04] There are plenty of startups out there delivering this technology. Lots of retailers, both testing it out and even deploying it to the point where we're even now starting to see autonomous stores where these are really meant to be more of a convenience model, right. Where I might walk in and I pick up [00:19:20] something off the shelf, it registers that I picked it up.
[00:19:22] I walk out and I get. You know, it's not the kind of, it's a different kind of shopping experience. It's not the one, like if you're going to buy luxury apparel, right. That wouldn't work in that model. But then there are things where I love what in the past year, what Schnucks markets did with their shelf, scanning robots to help eliminate a lot of the tedious employee tasks.
[00:19:40] Like you were talking about Casey, where, you know, in the grocery store you're doing like across the chain, thousands upon thousands of temperature checks in the cooler cases all day long. Well, that's a pretty tedious task to ask your staff to do when they could be helping the customer find the item on the shelf.
[00:19:55] That's where you're going to deploy things like robots and IOT and use computer vision to just get rid of all these things. So it had those have an indirect impact on the shopper experience. But when you put all of this together, I think now we're really talking about the whole, it's almost like the in-store experience as a customer platform is the way I would think about it, where all these technologies plug in and really immerse the shopper in the experience [00:20:20] by eliminating all the mundane things that kind of surround it and letting at the same time, letting the store staff focus on helping those customers.
[00:20:27] So that's the shopper experience revolution I see is going to happen this year. And it's partly because most retailers I've talked to they're significantly increasing their technology spend in ways they never have before. If you think of it as a percentage of sales revenue, and that's because pandemic, I think has caused everyone to wake up and say, Hey, we've got to really convince people why they should be shopping with us, with me, with my brand in my store.
[00:20:51] And that's where this is going to come from
[00:20:52] Casey Golden: a hundred percent. I've seen so much engaging technology from startups in this space. That's just completely blown away.
[00:21:00] Ricardo Belmar: Right. Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
[00:21:02] Casey Golden: So with that, we've got buy now pay later. Oh, I love it when we fund shopaholics anonymous, right. I mean,
[00:21:10] Ricardo Belmar: exactly that
[00:21:11] Casey Golden: my personal opinion on this just because I've seen some terrible, terrible stories in the past. But at the same time, you know, prices are getting more expensive. [00:21:20] And people are having a harder time getting, you know, a job or they're moving into becoming their own boss.
[00:21:26] And with that, we need more payment options. You know, lay away doesn't always exist with companies these days. I know there's some people that are trying to reinvent it, but it's, it gets hotter and hard hotter. And the regulators are the only ones that are not going to know how this is going to shake out.
[00:21:41] Klarna has done an incredible job making this a common narrative and a button you see on, on nearly every single e-commerce store. There's a lot of players in this space and some, some major credit card companies and banking operators are cutting out that middleman as well. So this really comes down to, you know, the lack of consumer protections today and really high APRs for buying something that was $40.
[00:22:08] Instead of necessarily using it to buy something that was, $4,000. So I think we're going to see a lot of adjustments over the next two years with the buy. Now pay later. One of the biggest constraints I see are [00:22:20] returns and this has been a common concern is when you make a purchase the amount of time, it takes to make that return. And for the retailer to update the payment system of the return can incur late fees and then trying to get the customer service in order to get your return. So deeper integrations, I think that we'll see here easier to be able to start tracking returns.
[00:22:41] And I think that this is going to get a lot bigger over the next 12 months and the regulators are coming in a very meaningful way. There's been a lot of, action in it's going to keep some attorneys, well fed let's say that.
[00:22:54] Ricardo Belmar: Right. Do we put our line in the sand on this one, Casey, and say the bubble on this one may burst by the end of the year,
[00:23:01] Casey Golden: it could very well burst by the end of the year.
[00:23:03] And sometimes we kind of have to think about it as well. Should some things exist when it's can very easily negatively impact a consumer.
[00:23:11] Ricardo Belmar: Right. Yeah. I agree with you on that one. This one, I do think you're right. It's going to, it keeps getting hotter. It keeps getting more popular, but at some [00:23:20] point there's, it almost seems like, you know that because we're talking about consumers, financial is there, there's a reckoning that comes along somewhere along the way, and the bill comes due so to speak, right?
[00:23:29] So whether you're splitting up payments in it, eventually it also comes due and you still gotta pay it eventually. And in some ways, I dunno, I, I hear a lot of stories too. Like you said where this just bites people in the end because you either forget to make the payment or you miss something and no one I'm sure. I'm sure. No one is paying attention to the terms behind these. When they make a purchase using these, these,
[00:23:51] Casey Golden: I don't even think you see it. I mean, I've never seen an APR when I've gone through the process, I've done a couple...
[00:23:56] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. And they've been lucky enough to get to hide from the regulators so far. So I suspect what we'll see that come about, but before the end of the year,
[00:24:05] Ricardo Belmar: so on our next one, and I'm going to come back a little bit to something you mentioned that I hadn't even thought about, right, but in this buy now pay later mode. And that's the impact on returns because for number seven, I'm going to talk about how the pervasiveness of [00:24:20] AI and machine learning and analytics in areas like sustainability, traceability, and returns. And I'm kind of putting all these things together because we've been talking about AI and retail for a while.
[00:24:31] It's been particularly fruitful in supply chain management, right. Especially during the pandemic and for forecasting, but I think we're going to see this spread to pretty much every operational area of a retailers business. Particularly around getting to predictive and prescriptive analytics where before many retailers were just getting started with it.
[00:24:52] This is all going to, it's going to go mainstream big this year. This every area functional area is going to get touched by AI and machine learning. And some way that particularly, I think the most interesting one here is going to be around returns. And that's because this, you know, even if it was a temporary burst, or bubble and increasing e-commerce buying during the pandemic, even if only some of that sticks around.
[00:25:15] The fact is if you think about in apparel, right, we're talking easily 35, [00:25:20] 40% return rates from those purchases, and you have so many people doing things like, well, I really like this item, but I don't know if that size is going to work. So I'm going to order it in two sizes and return one. And when you start to add up all those things, just the, the massive reverse logistics and the costs involved with that, it's not just enough to optimize that returns process.
[00:25:37] I'm starting to see, at least one really interesting startup I've worked with. and some others that are asking a better question, which is, what can I do to get smart about preventing returns in the first place? And maybe people aren't used to thinking of it that way, but I think it's the right way to look at it is how can I make the overall buying process such that my customer doesn't feel like they have to buy an excess amount of these things and with the intention to return, how can I build that trust in advance?
[00:26:03] We're seeing AI and machine learning, being applied to help with that analysis to help the retailer understand how can I change my processes to reduce my return rate overall before the purchase is even made. And I think that's a unique way of framing it. And we're going to see more of that this year.
[00:26:17] It's really going to become a popular thing. [00:26:20] I see people only just starting to talk about it in this context, but I think it's going to be much more mainstream by the end of the year.
[00:26:25] Casey Golden: I agree. And with that traceability, even product origin and how it got to where it is. It, I think it's, we're going to see a lot more customer facing analytics where the customer's going to start being able to see the sustainability impact, the traceability, the origin, how it was created, how it got to my store in my neighborhood.
[00:26:47] And those types of KPIs and analytics will be available for consumer consumption.
[00:26:51] Ricardo Belmar: I agree, completely agree. Customers are looking for that now much more than they used to.
[00:26:56] Casey Golden: So at number eight, going into rapid delivery, hyper-focused deliverability getting a rapid shake out. I'm in New York. I can have anything on my doorstep and in 30 minutes and it really, during this pandemic it was a necessary adoption.
[00:27:13] Customers adopted it, retailers deployed it at any cost to stay alive and to, to maintain [00:27:20] those sales. It's going to be really interesting how we start seeing this shake out over the next 12 months as more stores open and the cost of these last mile delivery services and micro fulfillment.
[00:27:31] Hit the bounce hit the bottom line, right? It's been extraordinarily expensive for some rural communities or areas where they've never even thought of having their groceries delivered to becoming a really great convenience that consumers don't want to give up, but there is definitely, you know, lots of different vendors.
[00:27:49] And the trend bubble could very easily burst as these ebbs and flows of shutdowns and, and the pandemic, come to an ease So it really comes down to sustainability. It's not inexpensive to operate a last mile or micro fulfillment business in general. And so a lot of that cost has been incurred over onto the customer through like the door dash and Uber's where there's delivery fees and tips and, and things of that nature.
[00:28:13] So one of my biggest trends I'm seeing here is companies are looking at where should they have human delivery [00:28:20] and third-party partners versus do it themselves. And implementing drone structures.
[00:28:25] Ricardo Belmar: Now that's getting really interesting, right?
[00:28:26] Casey Golden: I mean, I couldn't have the drone here in New York.
[00:28:29] I don't have a doorman. My little drone would just like sit outside the door. Right.
[00:28:34] Ricardo Belmar: It'd just keep hovering and waiting.
[00:28:35] Casey Golden: It would just sit there and keep pattering. I mean, I can just foresee, you know, a whole bunch of people with pool nets, you know, out on the streets,
[00:28:43] grabbing drones,
[00:28:45] Ricardo Belmar: how many drones can I catch today!.
[00:28:48] Casey Golden: I'm like, oh, look at that. It's a madewell bag. I've got this kind of redefines, you know, think about like, you know, these doorstep, burglars maybe everybody's going to move into the air, but it really does. It offers solutions that we've never really even thought about. Right. And, and really deploying so much more technology into the delivery aspect.
[00:29:09] And I couldn't imagine going back to a world where my life wasn't delivered on my doorstep. I like it.
[00:29:16] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Right, right.
[00:29:17] Casey Golden: I don't think the company...
[00:29:18] Ricardo Belmar: nobody is going back, [00:29:20]
[00:29:20] Casey Golden: but it is, does come down to the customer experience and really making sure that your supply chains are optimized to be able to support
[00:29:29] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, a hundred, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. I think what, to your point, when you, when you kind of started this one, there there's been such an explosion of these. At some point, there just becomes too many of these third party services for this rapid delivery, right? So at some level you know, even in New York, if you've got 10 of these, can you really handle 20 of them that does the city need 20 of these services or whatever the number is?
[00:29:50] I think what we're saying is, they're certainly not going away because the convenience is just too good for too many consumers. And it's probably not likely , most retailers can do it on their own because of the cost and the internal costs. Not, not that the third-party service is going to be a low cost for them, but I just think, there's gotta be some consolidation and these are just too many of these services out.
[00:30:10] There's gotta be some consolidation before the end of the year.
[00:30:12] Casey Golden: Yeah. I definitely see that. It's going to have to cover that whole entire lifecycle. And they're going to need to combine the resources, I think.
[00:30:18] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. Yeah, I think that totally [00:30:20] totally makes sense.
[00:30:20] Ricardo Belmar: Well, that's bringing us to number nine, so I'm going to get really techie on this one.
[00:30:24] And, and I'm going to talk about low-code and no-code software development here, and I feel like outside of your, your hardcore deep developer techie circles, not a lot of talk, it seems about what the benefits of low code technology is. But I can't think of almost any major retailer that's not using these technologies right now and the significance of this and why I'm putting this on my list is that the, level of adoption and the speed of which new applications are going to get rolled out by retailers driven by low code is just going to go through the roof.
[00:30:57] I think this is where if we, if we're not already there, we're going to see the turning point where most new applications retailers bring out, are going to be built using the low code technology, if for no other reason than for just speed of development and deployment. So what used to take six months to create that's no longer good enough, right?
[00:31:14] I think every, certainly the major retailers learned during the pandemic. It's not acceptable to say, oh, that product [00:31:20] is going to take six months to finish. Nope, it's gotta be done in six weeks or less. And even that might take too long, it's gotta be a more iterative process. We have to be able to iterate more often and faster to get better and better.
[00:31:30] And the best way to do that right now is with low code technology, especially when almost every new customer service or customer experience that retailers come out with. You know, someone is always rightfully going to say, well, okay, once we bring this out, where's the report that's going to tell me how successful it is? Where's the dashboard that's going to show me its impact on conversion rate or the increase in average order value. Who's building that view for the management team and store ops that wants to know how this is running, who is building this so that the marketing team knows where they have to focus some of their marketing budget to try to get more impact all those kinds of reporting and all kinds of dashboards, who is those used to be a real pain to create, right?
[00:32:09] You go to IT and you ask them and they'd say it takes six months for us to put that together. Well, that's not acceptable anymore. If the project has to get done in six weeks. So does all the reporting and the dashboards and everything else with it, and the [00:32:20] low-code technologies that are out there, make it super easy to do these things in a rapid way to the point where now it can even say, oh great, you need a new dashboard.
[00:32:28] You know, you guys in marketing can build that yourselves. And if you run into problems, we'll help you out. And that's okay now where, before you wouldn't see a lot of IT, teams want to do that because they felt like they were giving up control, risking their very existence. But now what happens?
[00:32:41] Now, they're, they're more in a support role where they're helping their business colleagues actually get these things done for themselves in a meaningful, fast way that just helps the business overall. I think these are all things, with low code, you can do it. There's no reason to ever say no to these kinds of things, which is going to just help with everything retailers learned over the last two years about agility and resilience.
[00:33:02] This is going to be the development platform of choice.
[00:33:05] Casey Golden: I think this is going to be one of the most disruptive areas and retail technology whether or not it's it's low code or plug and play solutions. Professional service models, I think, is going to be the biggest disruption in this space because it's [00:33:20] predominantly been a professional services led business where we don't have six months let alone 18 months to roll out a new solution.
[00:33:29] Because by the time you go live. The market's changed. And so it's really going to come down to speed and adoption and experimenting and getting the KPIs of is this working, do we do it for another three months and being able to turn on and off solutions to find what the right recipe is? Because six months to implement, we've got nine months until holiday for next year, right?
[00:33:52] How many? And we've got 10 things that,
[00:33:56] Ricardo Belmar: and every one of them, you know, now going in, right, you've learned that you've got to iterate on every single one of those to get it to the point where you want it to be. And you gotta learn from each iteration and keep feeding that back in. And this is the technology that makes that easier to do
[00:34:09] Casey Golden: a hundred percent, because if it wasn't complicated enough before.
[00:34:14] Casey Golden: The complexity of going into our number 10 of web3.
[00:34:18] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly. [00:34:20] Exactly. Bring us home with number 10, Casey.
[00:34:22] This is the big one.
[00:34:24] Casey Golden: This is enough to give any brand or retail whiplash, because we're still working on our regular business on, I don't know, you can call it web two. But we're still optimizing and brands are still optimizing the way we currently do business.
[00:34:37] Digital transformation initiatives are at an all time. High tech spend is at an all time high and the creators and consumers are adopting web three faster than a brand can even absorb the information to understand what it is and how it's going to impact their business.
[00:34:56] So this is one of my playgrounds, you can say. I think it's one of the most exciting and fun things to be able to deploy in a brand is to start experimenting in the metaverse building out thought theories on your company on whether or not you're accepting crypto currencies and getting NFTs out into the market.
[00:35:14] We don't know what exactly the metaverse or web three is going to provide to [00:35:20]build a long-term strategy around, but the creators and consumers are adopting at such a rapid rate that we've seen several, big brands just drop in. And say, I don't know what we're doing, but we've got a great partner and we're going to figure it out and we're going to do something and we're going to experiment now.
[00:35:37] Well, I've also heard a lot of brands say, we're gonna wait and see, we have to stop waiting to see how it shakes out. This is going to be a longterm. It's here to stay. I don't think it's going anywhere. But it's really gonna come down to, I think who is at Balenciaga is the first one of the first companies to actually create a division internally and make hires. Nike just purchased artifact to pull them in there, you know, web three partner , and absorbed it.
[00:36:05] And I think these are the right moves. We're not gonna be able to go ahead and take this all on ourselves. I think partners are going to be key in this area and. Starting with payment options is a really easy first move start, [00:36:20] accepting cryptocurrency. Coinbase business has started coming in to be able to integrate with Shopify stores.
[00:36:25] Shopify is working on being able to sell NFTs on the Shopify store and we've got new marketplaces that are popping up that is essentially your new type of retailer. Right? My big take on web three and the future of what three is really gonna come down to data interoperability, which is a really, really terrible word.
[00:36:46] But if you have a relationship with the brand in real life, how is that being translated over into web three? And how's the company measuring it? What's your overlap? Right now these are, we built a lot of islands in the real life with systems not integrated And brands. And now we're building on web three where this isn't one thing.
[00:37:06] It's not one piece of technology. It's, we're building a lot of islands again.
[00:37:10] Ricardo Belmar: Right.
[00:37:11] Casey Golden: And I think this is going to come down to how does a consumer walk across four worlds and not lose the experience that they're having [00:37:20] with the brand. And how is this being able to be shoppable? Are you shipping in real life?
[00:37:24] Is it a digital asset only? Is that an experience? I think the commerce aspect being added into the metaverse in web three is going to be the one aspect that can push customer adoption through the roof. But it also offers brands, the ability to experiment with less risk
[00:37:43] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I think the keyword there is experiment, right?
[00:37:45] I see a lot of people talking about this in a way where, where there's taking a perspective where, oh, my, my commerce plain and metaverse and web three is almost like taking the place of my existing commerce and the physical space. And, I think it's a subtle difference.
[00:37:59] But if I change that around and say, well, how am I using web three in the metaverse augment that shopping experience to use it in a way that makes my brand loyalty more sticky. I think that's a better way of evaluating how you're going to take advantage of this, you know, in this let's call it this first year because it's going to constantly evolve.
[00:38:18] I don't think anyone's ready to say , yup, by the [00:38:20] end of the year, the whole metaverse is ready to go
[00:38:21] Casey Golden: no
[00:38:22] Ricardo Belmar: and whatever form that means it's going to evolve and every brand has to evolve with it and they've got to learn as they go. So I think. A hundred percent with the way you described this. I think the key again is going to be retailers, brands, they got to get into the mindset of experimenting with this now and throughout the year and try different kinds of experiments. It's not just about finding one approach and iterating over it five times over the next 12 months. It's about trying five totally different things. And I'm going to come out here and say, you know, if your experimentation is to say, how do I duplicate my store in the metaverse I think you're doing it wrong.
[00:38:58] Casey Golden: I I've just seen some things that I loved seeing that H and M was going in with at scale.
[00:39:04] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.
[00:39:04] Casey Golden: And then I, I'm just asking myself, why is my avatar standing on an escalator
[00:39:10] Ricardo Belmar: exactly. Right.
[00:39:13] The digital space and everything. Just come to me. Yeah, exactly. Where's the fun in that
[00:39:19] Casey Golden: [00:39:20] interesting ways to engage that customer and let these imaginations just blossom. I mean, retail space, the fashion space, the beauty space. We have some of the most passionate and creative and talented minds that already work for us. And we've constantly had to design around a bill of materials and work with the supply chain and constraints of not having that instant access to a customer to even try something before it even exists. Right.
[00:39:49] Ricardo Belmar: Right.
[00:39:50] Casey Golden: This can open up so many opportunities to bring things to market in the digital world before you even go to production and experiment and discover products and engage with brands that you may have had a perception of the brand because you didn't have a brick and mortar store, or maybe you didn't get great service.
[00:40:10] Or the assortment was different, right? I get the best assortment in the world. When we're here in New York, we get the best collections. Every single store has the [00:40:20] best product, but when you go down into a bottom door and you walk into a retailer and it's got six skews or 12 skews of a brand, you're not really getting that full experience because there's dollars attached to it.
[00:40:32] There's logistics, distribution. This is really going to be able to provide brands a way to create moments that they could never afford to create in the real world. And to do it in a way that lets the creativity of the brand, take the spotlight. So I'm, I'm very bull on web three. But at the end of the day, if the world can't connect to each other and the brands can't understand who their customer is on web three, to understand how much money they need to build that lifetime value and merge some of these KPIs that they're used to seeing. I think it's going to take a long time. So I'm hoping that more brands partner with people who are well-versed in the space and can lead leadership into fail fast experiment. The only negative thing that can [00:41:20] happen to your company is not participating
[00:41:22] Ricardo Belmar: that's right. And that that's the best kind of takeaway. I think for every retailer and brand from this is to not be afraid of it and just experiment freely. And, and I would even add too, for retailers should look at this as, how am I going to work with the brands that I sell in my retail business to build something unique.
[00:41:42] So if I'm am going to think about this in terms of a virtual store model, that instead of, you know, relying on aisles and shelves and escalators, right? Cause that adds no value to doing that. Right? Exactly. You don't need a digital hand picking things up off the shelf and throwing them back. But if you work with the brands,
[00:42:02] and think in terms of like little miniature brand experiences that, your customer in your virtual store is going to go from one brand experience to another, to get really immersed with them. Cause then where's that customer getting to value. They're going to see it from the brand and from the place that connected that customer to these brands. [00:42:20] It's kind of like the original advantage in physical stores at a department store was supposed to have because it was the place you went to to see the collection of all the brands you like in one place. And I think there's maybe a new opportunity to do something kind of like that here.
[00:42:34] As long as, as the retailer, you embrace working with the brand to do something unique and you're in your virtual space.
[00:42:40] Casey Golden: Yeah. I mean the storylines and the storytelling opportunity here of understanding the product, understanding the brand, their ethos, things that are important to them. This is going to be a really great narrative for product discovery and discovery.
[00:42:55] And, and pulling the narrative away from you left this in your cart. You wanted it, right, right. Or this really hard sell to add the level of romance of product discovery and being able to, to, you know, really connect with consumers in a way to say like, wow, this brand is awesome. And I'm having so much fun, engaging with it.
[00:43:17] I should probably buy something by now. [00:43:20]
[00:43:20] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly, exactly. And I'll, throw in one more component to this too, because everybody likes to focus on the consumer side of it. But from the retail businesses perspective, think about what you can do in this space to make your environment better for your employees, even if it's as basic as training.
[00:43:36] You know, what, if you did your, your associate training in your metaverse space versus in the physical store, can you make that training so much more engaging that the employee learns that much faster and retains the knowledge that much better? So now when they go and actually work with a customer, whether it's in that physical store or, big surprise, wait for it. When that associate helps the customer in the virtual space, because there's no reason you can't have that interaction too. Right? If you have the right associate, it's no different than the live streaming we talked about in the earlier prediction now they're really equipped, right?
[00:44:07] And, and circling back again right now that employee is motivated. They're having fun doing this and via web three. Or in the metaverse with a customer, you've made the whole process more engaging. Not only does it help build your brand [00:44:20] loyalty with the customer, but it most likely helps you retain that employee.
[00:44:23] And we don't ever know that that's going to be more competitive,
[00:44:25] Casey Golden: employees are. Our first customer, you know my first job in retail, I still have a aggressive brand affinity to them because I had a great experience. And I'm still resonate with the brand, whether or not I'm too old to be wearing it or not.
[00:44:40] My employee experience was so good that I am a die hard advocate, practically, 20 years later.
[00:44:48] Ricardo Belmar: There you go.
[00:44:49] Casey Golden: You know, so they're our first customers and it's an opportunity to, to make it or break it for a long LTV and word of mouth. So I'm, really excited for this. It can be done so well. And so far, I think we've seen some ways that it can be also done so bad.
[00:45:05] Ricardo Belmar: Right. That's so true. That's so true. So that's, it's going to make it fun to watch this year. But I think that's why we can't do a trends and predictions for the year without talking about this the whole way web3 metaverse play, because it's just going to be both fun and scary to watch what the [00:45:20] stations and experiments are with this.
[00:45:23] But it's going to be a major learning experience for everybody
[00:45:26] Casey Golden: as a place where we can actually kind of bring in, you know, all press is, bad press, any participation in web three, right?
[00:45:34] Ricardo Belmar: It's the beauty of treating it like an experiment, . You know, you're going to learn from it no matter what, and just make it.
[00:45:39] And no one, no one should have the expectation that there's an end game to this 12 months from now.
[00:45:46] Right? Exactly. Exactly.
[00:45:50] That's right. That's right. Yeah. So waiting for those that's right. Waiting for those, of course, when we get those flying cars are going to be dodging drones. So it's going to be a lot more challenging than we think,
[00:46:03] because now I'm going to have this picture in my mind. When you said, the people chasing drones with their butterfly nets are going to be to flying cars now hanging out, the window trying to scoop out of the mid air all, as many drones as they can. That's the part that nobody's thinking about.
[00:46:18] Are we ready for that?
[00:46:20] Casey Golden: [00:46:20] Are we ready for the future?
[00:46:21] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That or I'm just picturing people on New York city rooftops trying to catch passing drones.
[00:46:28] Casey Golden: These are the realities we live in.
[00:46:30] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That's right. Somebody has got to think about it before we make it a reality.
[00:46:34] Casey Golden: There is no commerce without loss prevention.
[00:46:39] Ricardo Belmar: That's a new kind of lost prevention, right? That hopefully somebody out there is thinking about. Yep. Maybe that'll be on our list next year.
[00:46:49] All right. Well with that, I think we're ready to close this out. That was our 10. And hopefully everybody who listens to this episode either whether you agree or disagree with our 10, we want to hear from you. So hit us up on Twitter or LinkedIn and let us know what you think after you hear about it and join us again for the next episode.
[00:47:06] We'll be back here on Callin very soon. Thanks everybody.
[00:47:09] Casey Golden: If you enjoyed the show, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on apple podcast. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player. So you don't miss a minute. Want to know more about what we talked about? Take a look at our show notes for handy links and more deets.
[00:47:25] I'm your cohost Casey Golden.
[00:47:27] Ricardo Belmar: If you'd like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter at caseycgolden and Ricardo_Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow the show on Twitter at Retail Razor on LinkedIn and on our YouTube channel for video versions of each episode and bonus content.
[00:47:42] I'm your host Ricardo Belmar.
[00:47:44] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.
[00:47:48] Ricardo Belmar: And remember, there's never been a better time to be in retail. IF you cut through the clutter. Until next time, THIS is the Retail Razor Show.