• The Retail Razor Show - Season 3 Trailer

    Ready or not, it’s Season 3 of the Retail Razor Show! Hosts Ricardo Belmar and Casey Golden are back to cut through the clutter to guide you through the most important trends in retail and retail technology. This season we’re bringing you more expert guests to explore 3 themes: Automation and AI, Immersive and Anywhere Commerce, and both of those against a backdrop of ‘back to basics’ retailing. Join us on the journey from store operations, to supply chain, to customer experience and back again – whether you’re a retailer, or a retail tech supplier, you’ll find something just for you this season. Coming soon to your favorite podcast player, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a minute!

    We’re currently at number 19 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list – if you enjoy our show, please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    About Your Hosts:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 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 director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno.

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S3 Trailer

    [00:00:00] Ricardo Belmar: Ready or not. It's season three of the Retail Razor Show. The podcast where we cut through the clutter to give you sharp insights on the retail industry and retail technology. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar, retail tech strategist and top retail influencer. Currently the lead partner marketing advisor for retail and consumer goods at Microsoft.

    [00:00:38] Casey Golden: And I'm Casey Golden, top retail influencer and retail tech founder of Luxlock, a unified experience platform. We're back for a new season of commerce conversations featuring a lineup of leading industry guests and unforgettable discussions you can execute against immediately.

    [00:00:56] Ricardo Belmar: That's right Casey. Listeners subscribe now to get new [00:01:00] drop notifications. In season three, we are exploring three major themes that are shaping the future of retail.

    [00:01:07] Automation and AI, immersive and anywhere commerce, and perhaps most important of all, how both of those themes are coming to us full steam against a backdrop of back to basics retailing.

    [00:01:20] First up, let's talk automation and AI. If there's one set of tech that's transforming how retailers operate, supply chain, store operations to customer service, and everything in between, it's AI.

    [00:01:32] Casey Golden: We're digging in to how retailers can leverage leading and emerging technologies to reduce costs, improve efficiency, automate and optimize operations while still enhancing the customer experience. We'll address the underlying challenges and undeniable opportunities that come with deploying artificial intelligence.

    [00:01:52] And implementing automation workflows in the real retail world, not a dreamy white paper or dreams [00:02:00] made of vaporware. If it's not real, there's no room for it in retail.

    [00:02:05] Ricardo Belmar: And jumping to the customer's perspective, immersive commerce and anywhere commerce are redefining how consumers shop. Online, offline, and everywhere in between, we'll uncover the technologies retailers are leveraging to monetizing engaging moments and personalized shopping experiences across sales channels and touchpoints.

    [00:02:23] Our hot take on hot topics will include live streaming, augmented reality, social commerce, computer vision, and open retail-tainment as a strategic initiative rather than just a buzzword.

    [00:02:34] Casey Golden: We'll also be exploring how retailers can adapt to keep up with rapid changing customer behaviors and expectations in a post pandemic world. Let's face it, we've all experienced some business whiplash and loved the view with our rose gold ray bans, but if we don't bring it back to center, the vision of our business will never become an experienced reality.

    [00:02:56] Back to basics retailing focuses on the core [00:03:00] elements of retail success, product, price, place, promotion, and most importantly, people. Oh, and profitability. That's another important p.

    [00:03:13] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. What's that? Like six Ps?

    [00:03:15] Casey Golden: I'd make it seven with process, but you might say that's a bit more than meets the eye.

    [00:03:21] Ricardo Belmar: Wait, that's supposed to be my line.

    [00:03:23] Casey Golden: Kind of known for stealing some good one-liners.

    [00:03:25] Ricardo Belmar: That's so true. It always happens. So we'll examine how retailers can optimize their performance marketing, conversion optimization, merchandising, pricing, and assortment strategies. We'll also look at how retailers can invest in their frontline store teams who, yes, it's true, they really are the face of the brand and the key to customer loyalty.

    [00:03:45] Casey Golden: Okay, Ricardo. Not only do we have these three incredible themes, we've also stacked new show segments we're introducing after teasing our fans with the retail razor data blades in season two.[00:04:00]

    [00:04:00] Ricardo Belmar: That's right Casey. In addition to the three themes, we'll have conversations with retail leaders about their most valuable leadership traits and best practices. We'll share insights based on data from consumer surveys and research, and we'll take a fresh academic viewpoint of retail technology issues with professors and experts from leading universities.

    [00:04:19] Casey Golden: We have killer content lined up for you this season. Not to give too much away, but here's some of the highlights that it's gonna include.

    [00:04:27] Ricardo Belmar: How live streaming is revolutionizing online shopping and creating new opportunities for retailers and a new generation of engineered influencers.

    [00:04:36] Casey Golden: How augmented reality and virtual or reality create immersive and interactive shopping experiences that drive more engagement for product discovery and drive conversion.

    [00:04:47] Ricardo Belmar: And how retailers can invest short term to reduce cost long term by adopting the right technologies like R F I D, cloud computing and new AI-driven prescriptive analytics,

    [00:04:56] Casey Golden: How performance marketing helps retailers acquire, [00:05:00] retain, and grow their customer base with data-driven strategies.

    [00:05:03] Ricardo Belmar: how retailers can manage and invest in their frontline store teams by providing the right training, tools, incentives and empowerment.

    [00:05:11] Casey Golden: And digital humans can create new possibilities for customer service, personalization and storytelling in retail and so much more.

    [00:05:20] Ricardo Belmar: So stay tuned for the third season of the Retail Razor Show. Coming soon to your favorite podcast platform.

    [00:05:25] Casey Golden: We can't wait to share our insights. Tune in with us and our special guests for the important conversations we should all be having to support the business of retail. Thank you for listening and supporting us.

    [00:05:38] Ricardo Belmar: I'm your host Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:05:40] Casey Golden: And I'm your host, Casey Golden. Ricardo, this trailer is a wrap.

    [00:05:45] Ricardo Belmar: Signing off for now. 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. [00:06:00]

    6m | May 17, 2023
  • S2E13 The Razor's Edge - Season 2 Finale

    We’ve been on quite a wild ride this season with topics ranging from the metaverse, to retail media networks, to the future of ecommerce and DTC, plus our Retail Transformers, and including special interviews and recaps of three major industry events – Grocery Shop, NRF, and Shop Talk! But now we’ve reached The Razor’s Edge, our Season 2 finale, with special guest host Paul do Forno, Managing Director of the Commerce Practice at Deloitte Digital, turning the tables on our dynamic duo to walk through the season calling out all the highlights!

    In this episode, Paul turns our regular hosts, Ricardo and Casey, into the show’s guests and starts with a check-in on how their Top 10 Predictions for 2023 are holding up so far this year. Then he looks back through the season and asks our hosts what some of their favorites were in each of our min-series and special episodes. What were your favorites? Who was your favorite Retail Transformer? Find out how you match up to our hosts’ choices! And of course, Paul can’t resist but ask for hints on what’s to come in Season 3!

    We’re now standing at number 19 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list – if you enjoy our show, please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 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 director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E13 The Razor's Edge - S2 Finale

    [00:00:00] Season 2 Finale

    [00:00:20] Paul do Forno: Hello, Retail Razor listeners, and welcome to Season Two Grand Finale. As you might have noticed, I am not your usual host. I'm Paul do Forno. I'm part of the leadership team at Commerce Practice at Deloitte Digital. We're one of the largest commerce consulting companies in the world, and we help everything from strategy to design to implementing platforms.

    [00:00:42] But today I am your guest hosts and I'm turning the tables on the Dynamic Duo interviewing them. So let's bring in these weeks guests, Ricardo and Casey. Casey, Ricardo, thank you so much for having me as your guest host for season two finale.

    [00:00:59] Ricardo Belmar: Hey [00:01:00] Paul, it is awesome having you here with us.

    [00:01:01] Casey Golden: I mean, how lucky are we to have you on the actual podcast? it's so nice to have you over here. Thanks for doing this.

    [00:01:10] Paul do Forno: Well, how does it feel being on the other side? Do you feel a little pressure now? I you don't know what I'm gonna ask.

    [00:01:16] Casey Golden: It's always a bit awkward to be your own guest, but I'm excited to answer some questions since I am usually on the side of asking questions.

    [00:01:25] Paul do Forno: Okay. 

    [00:01:26] Ricardo Belmar: feeling the same way it is a little odd being, not being the one asking the questions on your own podcast. but this is gonna be fun. So I'm glad you're joining us. I'm thrilled we're turning things around and I can't wait to see how you're gonna try to trip us up here in the finale.

    [00:01:39] Paul do Forno: All right. All right. Well, I can't wait to dive in. So here we go. First I wanna check in with both of you. You had top 10 list of predictions this year, and I know we're not all the way through the year, but we wanna check in to see where you're at and which ones you feel that are totally on track, or which ones are totally off track.[00:02:00] So Ricardo.

    [00:02:01] Ricardo Belmar: this could get interesting. Good thing there's no audience to throw things at us.

    [00:02:05] Paul do Forno: You ready for the questions, Casey?

    [00:02:08] Casey Golden: Yeah, and Ricardo, I'm a good catch, but I love q and a, so I do miss having a live audience. I'm feeling pretty good, but Ricardo and I come from two different perspectives. That's why I think we're a little bit more fun to listen to. We do not agree on everything.

    [00:02:24] Paul do Forno: All right. All right. That's good. That's why we're here. All right. For the second part, I'm also gonna ask you about your favorite parts of the season and a few surprise questions along the way and follow up. I'm gonna test some of the things that you come back with. 

    [00:02:39] Checking in on those 2023 predictions

    [00:02:39] Paul do Forno: okay, let's jump in. First question, Ricardo. Let's start with you. You each gave five prediction this year and so , which you think maybe are the long shot and out, out of those long shots, which one do you think will really come true by the end of the year and why?

    [00:02:59] Ricardo Belmar: [00:03:00] Oh, you really went for that one, didn't you? I like 'em all though.

    [00:03:03] Paul do Forno: Wow. Just pick one. Let's focus on one for today.

    [00:03:06] Ricardo Belmar: All right. I guess I'll pick one. , if I have to pick one, I guess I would have to pick the one I gave on the anywhere commerce versus immersive commerce.

    [00:03:15] Paul do Forno: Okay. Let's hear some more about it.

    [00:03:17] Ricardo Belmar: Well, I, feel like that's the one that's maybe the most far out there of the predictions I did in that it's not just about retailers being the one to seriously adopt immersive tech, like AR and VR. And embracing other new technologies to get commerce in the right context in new locations. Like we talked about integrating it in your car, being in a stadium at a game or something like that.

    [00:03:41] But it's not just about the retailers integrating the tech. It also requires consumers to be willing to adopt these at the same time. So there's a little bit of an element of the stars aligning on this one to make it come true and work out. So I think maybe that's my long shot. I'm still sticking with it though.

    [00:03:58] Paul do Forno: Okay, it's gonna take a [00:04:00] little bit longer. Ca. Casey, what do you think?

    [00:04:02] Casey Golden: I'm completely opposite, I believe a hundred percent and anywhere commerce and contextual commerce that every single consumer touchpoint is gonna turn into a point of sale, but it is gonna be a little bit more of a long shot as far as it's gonna take longer, but I believe that it is a hundred percent there.

    [00:04:22] This punch in immersive has massive demand and I think it's moved a lot of builders into creating better foundational structures so that we can get interesting experiences and more virtual experiences that I think is gonna fuel that. But we really need better checkout and I think everybody in that space that's very forward and immersive shopping and this, these metaverse plays and virtual experiences, they're learning supply chain right now. And so once I think this kind of bridges, [00:05:00] there's gonna be some beautiful magic.

    [00:05:01] Paul do Forno: So I noticed you guys didn't say the word as part of all that. You didn't say the word omnichannel. Is 

    [00:05:07] Casey Golden: It doesn't exist. It never has.

    [00:05:10] Paul do Forno: What's that?

    [00:05:11] Casey Golden: It doesn't exist. It never has.

    [00:05:13] Paul do Forno: Ah, okay.

    [00:05:14] Ricardo Belmar: all just commerce. I'm gonna keep saying it's just commerce. We don't need to label it omnichannel or anything because I think all that ever, I dunno. It feels like all we ended up accomplishing was confusion with that.

    [00:05:25] Paul do Forno: All right. No good perspectives. It I think this is the one it'll be interesting, it may take longer to get the full view, but then I think once we get closer to that, the goalposts will change again. So it will be interesting. Alright. Casey, same question to you. What's your biggest long shot and why?

    [00:05:46] Casey Golden: So my biggest long shot is, B N P L. I just don't feel that it's good for consumers and there will be more consumer protection initiatives around the entire entity. It's [00:06:00] bulking customers up with debt does not help your customer experience and brand relationship when that payment that might be coming at you every single month is coming because it's a branded product, it, I think it does negatively infect the brand.

    [00:06:15] But I understand the value of it opening up cash flow for like younger demographics and just for people in general. It does open up cash flow to buy things that you want or need but I'm very conflicted on the two sides of it. However, Apple Pay Later has now launched so that kind of throws a wrench in my biggest long shot. So, Now that Apple users can split their purchases into four interest free payments over six months without a fee, I think it might be a long shot that Affirm, After Pay, Klarna, and PayPal make it.

    [00:06:50] Paul do Forno: So what? What do you think Ricardo?

    [00:06:54] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah I don't know. I think, When we recorded that one and Casey went through that prediction I think the thought was, is [00:07:00] it gonna be a little bit of a blow up or explosion in terms of consumer protections, but now maybe it's gonna blow up in a different direction with Apple launching Apple Pay Later.

    [00:07:10] May, maybe it's more now a matter of, are the other company, like you just said in Casey are these all these other companies gonna survive doing that now that they're gonna have to compete directly with Apple on their platform

    [00:07:20] Casey Golden: I mean, Apple's done. Now we just need a Google one and

    [00:07:23] Ricardo Belmar: yeah, if Google comes out with a pay later now, then it's really gonna be done.

    [00:07:27] Paul do Forno: I guess, I guess I might be here in being a little bit of the counter to this. So actually the stats came out and the numbers on B N P L last year, I don't have it right in front of me, but it was multiple billions of dollars. It was the fastest growing payment channel. And so it's not a long, it's here.

    [00:07:47] But I think your point, Casey's a nuanced one where the effect on the brand and how it's used, that's something that I think, needs to be figured out that's [00:08:00] the concern long term, right? Like I think that buy now pay later is here for a long time. In fact, I actually first saw this and it was weird.

    [00:08:10] I went to Brazil for the first time in 2011, and everywhere you went, buy now, pay later was, that was just the standard way that they paid because that's the demographics that were there and that's the way they paid. And so I, especially given, some of the economic trends and how people are buying, I think this is a long-term stay.

    [00:08:33] The question is gonna be who and then how best to use it within the brand. That ju just my two, my 2 cents there. All right. Next question. Now that we got these long shots outta the way, Ricardo, which one for you are you most sure of and why?

    [00:08:53] Ricardo Belmar: Ah, okay. This, I think this one's a little easier for me to pick, cuz honestly, all you have to do is look at any of the news outlets [00:09:00] that are out there today covering tech and covering retail and just everywhere. I mean it, it's an obvious one for me. It's a prediction on generative ai. So things like, whether it's chat, g p t, dall-e two g p t four, there's the Microsoft co-pilot announcement.

    [00:09:13] All these things coming out. I think it was the last prediction we had in, in our list. We saved the best for last maybe, but I think this is this is one is all as close to an automatic win. I think as we're gonna get in one of these predictions, just given where it's trending is pretty much every retailer I talk to just about every account manager and field rep I talk to at Microsoft is saying the same thing, every customer is looking at this and asking, how do I use this?

    [00:09:36] Everybody's got a long list of use cases they wanna apply it to. They wanna understand. How to build with it, how to apply it. When we had our top retail influencers calls with Rethink Retail, it was two months in a row it was a topic that everybody wanted to talk about.

    [00:09:51] Everyone had something to say about it. Everyone's got an opinion about it. And they're just, I don't know, so many use cases. I mean, one of my favorite ones seeing [00:10:00] CarMax doing , where they're using the AI tools to help a customer doing research on their site to automatically summarize all the reviews on cars.

    [00:10:08] So instead of having to read thousands and thousands of reviews, you just ask a few questions and it gives you a summary with everything you need to know. So just coolest. And that's such a simple, if I can explain it in two sentences, you can ask the two sentences and get a summary.

    [00:10:21] Can't get much better than that.

    [00:10:23] Paul do Forno: That, that seems the most obvious one, but I, just to put you on the spot, I know you, you talked about an interesting one and, but let's talk specifically about commerce. What component of commerce do you think this would apply most? Like what area?

    [00:10:40] Ricardo Belmar: I think we're gonna see it apply in, in, in stages. I think initially anything related to discovery and product discovery, new ways of searching. So search will move I think from trying to think of what keyword do I use? We don't wanna search for a product ,now I can really be super descriptive.

    [00:10:56] I can talk about what my intent is when I wanna search for something. [00:11:00] Like just, I'm just thinking examples. Like if I'm searching for new, for apparel products instead of having to use keywords like it's, I'm searching for, jeans right, or shirts or whatever it's gonna be. I can describe how I'm gonna wear it and where I'm gonna wear it, and now as part of that search process and these tools are gonna give me different responses based on that.

    [00:11:18] So I think being able to apply intent and more, almost a point more emotional feeling of how I'm gonna use this product in that search. I think that's gonna be the, probably the first area where it's gonna have a big impact on commerce.

    [00:11:31] Casey Golden: And that's exactly what I don't agree on anything. AI is not gonna help you get dressed in the morning. I promise.

    [00:11:42] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:11:44] Casey Golden: But no, I think that, Listen, I think when we're buying clothing it's emotional and I don't think we can have a non-emotional entity help us make these emotional decisions. But when it comes to function, a hundred percent, I [00:12:00] think affecting mass commerce and I don't get excited about buying another cell phone charger.

    [00:12:07] I need to buy some recording information like pieces. So I look like Ricardo and I have a mic and all these things. Yes, that I definitely see, like there's these ways that AI is gonna definitely impact search. I think it could for a period of time dis disrupt. Why? The only way we see things is if there's ad money behind it.

    [00:12:29] And I think we can get a lot better information and products teed up to us based off of function. But. Leave it to me to make sure you have the right clothes, Ricardo. Um, I think the immediate

    [00:12:43] Ricardo Belmar: do better than the AI

    [00:12:45] Casey Golden: well, yeah, we'll do much better, but I think the number one thing I'm seeing right now is managing products and uploading products into e-comm is painful and often a very manual process.

    [00:12:58] And so product [00:13:00] descriptions right outta the box, being able to create clear product descriptions that are interesting, compelling, and again, going back to your point, Ricardo, that will impact search. But coming up with the tags different categorizes categories for everything on there in e-comm I think will be good.

    [00:13:19] Uploading products, changing image sizes, being able to do some of these things more automated and painful processes I think is an immediate lift. 

    [00:13:31] Paul do Forno: Yeah, make makes sense. That makes sense and I think there will be more stuff that we haven't even thought of and adjacent to it. It's something that's gonna fit the whole stack of everything. So just to take another example of helping the coders, right? There's all these tools to help on the coding side.

    [00:13:49] So the turnaround time on some of the coding and looking at coding is, it is gonna be helped. So if you start looking at your whole, and [00:14:00] you mentioned supply chain earlier, right? If you start looking at everything, if everything gets improved, 5 10% that's where that whole effect comes in.

    [00:14:08] So beyond just the experience part, I think it's gonna affect the whole stack.

    [00:14:15] Casey Golden: yeah, Canva had an update last this week. That was probably the best product update release I've ever seen. And there is generative art, there is redesigning your slides with ai. You have chat sheet bts in there. All of these solutions and all of these pieces just kind of came in, wrapped up like a present.

    [00:14:39] And I have to say, they've like 10 Xed my speed to create. And it did a phenomenal job. And, there's designers that are using it to create, they'll design one product and then they'll use the generative AI to create 10 more styles. And that's where I'm like, okay, now I'm getting a little bit [00:15:00] conflicted again between, I believe designers should be talented human beings that get to achieve their dreams versus being replaced.

    [00:15:10] So I think we'll see what kind of happens here. As of today, Italy's ban, g p t Chat, G P t. They'll come around. Everybody always does, but I think that that's kind of interesting. They feel that there are unlawfully processing people's data and privacy issues. So

    [00:15:27] Ricardo Belmar: Hmm.

    [00:15:28] Paul do Forno: Interesting. Yeah. So how long before we all become prompt engineers? Right. I've already seen those. I've already seen people start to publish like, Hey, I'm a prompt engineer. I'm an expert, so there you go. New roles popping up all the time

    [00:15:46] Ricardo Belmar: Yep, new roles.

    [00:15:47] Paul do Forno: All right. Casey, what about you? What's your sure thing prediction.

    [00:15:52] Casey Golden: sure thing is the explosion of CDPs. So customer data platforms, there is really [00:16:00] no excuse anymore for a customer to have of a bad experience with your brand. Not being able to produce like basic functional care to shoppers. Is unacceptable. And the main reason that we still have this is because a lot of the customer experience and customer support is fragmented and none of that data is really available to anybody that needs it.

    [00:16:26] It's available to everybody who doesn't need it in a lot of the time. Like when the customer is with you and you need it, they don't have access. And so I think that having CDPs essentially come in and start pulling all of this data together so that everybody has one point system, whether or not it's checking on an order, which hopefully , AI's gonna take care of.

    [00:16:48] You don't need to do that anymore. But we're gonna have different database systems to be able to pull all this customer information together and really be able to craft more around the consumer. [00:17:00] And I think that this is just gonna cause more of an extinction of traditional CRMs over maybe the next five years.

    [00:17:07] The way we think of a CRM, the way we, the box we put it in, I think it's, not gonna be there anymore. And so, the CDP is becoming mission critical for a company I believe this year needs to enter and see essentially how it's gonna be deployed over the next, like 18 to 24 months. But I don't see a company being able to operate in 2024 without a C D P.

    [00:17:37] Paul do Forno: Well, that's a great commercial for my C D P group, but, uh, but let, let me challenge you on that, of the one that you want this to happen earlier, knowing, especially some of the big enterprise brands that we work with, some of the challenges that they have of just tying all the [00:18:00] different systems. It's one thing if it, if you're dealing with a direct to consumer, one brand, smaller when you get into acquisitions and a holding company that owns all these different retailers, bringing 'em together, CDP is not easy and trying to get it.

    [00:18:15] Or they might have a version, kind of a C D P here, kind of c d p there. How do you coordinate it all together and so, I a hundred percent agree on this might, you might have jumped a question like, this is what you want to have as to, cuz this is harder. This ends up being a lot harder in my experience to get adoption earlier just because of all of the change management, all the different things that are out there.

    [00:18:44] But I a hundred percent agree they people need to go to this.

    [00:18:47] Casey Golden: Well, I think you're right. I mean, it can be, it can be a lot more complicated. It's not in a lot of other companies best interest to want to integrate with your C D P, [00:19:00] and so I think that, there's gonna be a lot of change management there, but the way I see it is consumers are going to gain more and more and more.

    [00:19:11] Protection over their rights to their data. And if your GDPR compliant, like they already have more rights than we can service today. And so this is going to, it's going to be mandatory whether or not it's executed well or at a hundred percent. I just don't think that we can really go into next year without making sure that you're operating in compliance because compliance is gonna be, is already moving faster than the software companies.

    [00:19:45] Paul do Forno: What do you think Ricardo?

    [00:19:48] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I mean I definitely agree in principle and the need, right? And the want. I'm thinking about your point and Paul about how it's not easy necessarily, right? Especially the larger the organization, the more potential [00:20:00] disconnected systems there are that need to be connected to create that c d P.

    [00:20:04] I think it's doable. I work with some partners that are in this space as well. And I think they're doing a good job at something where, again it's where you wanna plug in the AI models into it to help with some of that.

    [00:20:13] So I think it's a doable thing, it may be one of those where when we're looking at it at the end of the year maybe it's not complete for some of the largest organizations and it's still in progress. But I think the, I think maybe Casey's point is, it as everyone moves to this that want and need is going to cause some action, right.

    [00:20:30] And people are gonna start doing things about it and moving in that direction. So even if they don't have it fully deployed and ready I, I think it, it's a valid point. And I, think from a prediction point of view, yeah. It means people are gonna be trying to leverage a C D P as much as they can by the end of the year.

    [00:20:47] Casey Golden: Yeah, I mean, I think really they're gonna make the purchase. I think last year, 640 billion was spent on customer experience software. They all need a c D P to power. Everything is [00:21:00] gonna need the c d P to power customer experiences. But we kind of have to start with where our core is. And so I think if I had to deploy monies or say, what's a sure thing, you're gonna need one and you, the sooner the better.

    [00:21:18] Paul do Forno: Awesome, Casey. Thank you for that. You just, I just, you just recorded my commercial for me that it's gonna be my pre roll intro to our CDP presentations, but let's move on. All right. I got one for you, for your other four predictions. Which ones do you think you most want to actually come to life?

    [00:21:39] Right? And you wanna see go big. So Casey, let's start with you.

    [00:21:44] Casey Golden: I want loyalty programs to mean something again. I think that there's a lot of emphasis on loyalty programs right now, and I've seen a lot of companies scaling back rewards at the same time and taking away common [00:22:00] perks. And so I'd really like to just see this loyalty program just facilitate into something that's actually going to build loyalty, not a marketing campaign. 

    [00:22:14] I think that this is the moment where it could really be a differentiator in the brand, the customer experience, but if we keep diluting it or disrupting them, like it's just not, it seems more marketing than it is actually provide any services. And so, I think that this is a place where there's gonna be a lot of movement. And I see, anybody who's scaling back rewards I think that they're gonna have a negative impact onto their business.

    [00:22:46] And I think loyalty programs are just gonna really start meaning something interesting from access to product first. Access to buy at a discount, or even shop sale first. I think the loyalty programs [00:23:00] could turn into something really meaningful and have some really interesting perks that haven't really been the point.

    [00:23:07] Maybe not points, you know?

    [00:23:09] Paul do Forno: So, so Casey, is this part of your, your favorite hotel chain? Making sure you get that nice omelet and premium breakfast 

    [00:23:17] Casey Golden: All right 

    [00:23:18] Paul do Forno: of the old bagel.

    [00:23:19] Casey Golden: yeah. So like I get, you know, they, they put a little goldfish in my room and they make sure that Mr. Darcy's there. I don't expect the rest of the retail industry to be able to compare to the way that I might be treated at a hotel, or you might be treated at a hotel. But I do feel that there's an opportunity, if that's the top, why is the bottom like 10% off your next coffee after you buy a hundred? , what does it take to get a reward, like 50,000 points [00:24:00] for a dollar off your next order? , come on, let's do something. And I think that this is the moment where everybody's been talking about loyalty, whether or not they're adding more, taking it away. And there's a lot of loyalty programs out there, and I think that we're gonna get a, it's gonna turn into an actual program, not just about, pricing.

    [00:24:25] It's not just about discounts. I think it can be a lot more, and I think even mass merchants are gonna find something more than a discount.

    [00:24:32] Paul do Forno: Okay, Ricardo.

    [00:24:34] Ricardo Belmar: Ooh. So for me I would have to say it's that prediction had about automation in, in stores for frontline workers. Over the years, what I think there's always a lot of predictions around what's gonna change for store teams , years back or sort of really only talked about that in the context of better training for employees.

    [00:24:52] But I think now in, in recent years since the pandemic we're, we have a different perspective on what those store teams are doing and, and how they [00:25:00] work. And now that with, with labor shortages and things for retailers, I think there's more of a view of you have to actually make this environment better.

    [00:25:07] You've gotta provide the right tools that aren't intended to necessarily replace people in the store, but it's intended to make them. Make their jobs more efficient, more effective, more productive, hopefully getting rid of a lot of the annoying tasks that we force onto store teams to, that they have to take care of, but they keep them away from customers.

    [00:25:27] So I, I think we'll finally start to see some meaningful things done here with real deployments of technologies that , are having an impact. And I think with an end goal of trying to really make that environment so it's not just a job, but it's more about creating a career path where you might even, finally start looking at those em employee roles as not all being equal in that, some folks on your store team may have different skills and you need to actually take advantage of that in the sense that, , give them things they can do that are built on, [00:26:00] on those skills so that some of those store associates might have a different role than others.

    [00:26:04] And that's okay. That's a good thing because that helps create those career paths. So I think that's gonna be the one that I really wanna see go big.

    [00:26:13] Casey Golden: Thank you for amplifying the real retail heroes, Ricardo. I mean, Paul, if I bring this up, it's a sales pitch, so I don't talk about frontline workers very much on here, but I just, if you're moving forward, I think we just need to, to bring our people with us.

    [00:26:34] Paul do Forno: Yeah. And, it's a fascinating area in fact, I noticed at NRF, if you walk the floor, some of the biggest booths were actually targeted towards the frontline industry. I was actually surprised right at the front door. So some friends of mine, actually, startups that are now massive, and I, I know we're working with some fascinating, very large grocery retailers that to [00:27:00]automate, when they get into work, how can they prioritize their tasks, and also really interestingly, things change so much. Some, you know, there's a storm coming in h how do you rally the troops very quickly and things like that. So I, I think we're just at, at a tipping point of finding ways to really drive and empower the, frontline worker. So ,exciting.

    [00:27:23] I agree with that one. That will be really good.

    [00:27:26] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

    [00:27:27] Looking back across the whole season

    [00:27:27] Paul do Forno: Okay, now let's step back and look at the season as a whole. You had two mini series, I'll call them. Both were based on live recordings, one at Grocery Shop and one at N R F. Now, usually we're doing, you're recording kind of like this virtually, so, talk about how it was to be live and, , talking live with, the people right in front of you.

    [00:27:50] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I mean, I guess I'll, I'll jump in on this one. Cause unfortunately Casey wasn't able to to join me on, on, on those. But you know, it was, um, [00:28:00] I know we, we

    [00:28:01] Casey Golden: I'm gonna be at grocery shop. I'm like literally at the store grocery shopping. I've never been to that show.

    [00:28:08] Ricardo Belmar: I know, I know. But you're right, it is di it is different though because you, you get a little it feels a little more authentic. Maybe you get a little bit more dynamic reactions when you're seeing someone face-to-face and in person versus just seeing them in a little video square on the screen.

    [00:28:22] So, so there is that. I think that creates a different excitement level from, from guests on the show when you're live versus remote. And I think that really comes out right in both, in both series, the grocery shop one and the NRF ones.

    [00:28:33] Paul do Forno: Cool. All right. All right. I'd have to ask you about your special guest host and crossover companion at nrf. That that, that was kind of interesting.

    [00:28:41] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. So, special shout out to Jeff Roster, host of This Week In Innovation podcast. We did a, crossover there. He's been with us as one of our esteemed Retail Avengers from them the first season where we like to refer to him as the analyst. So Jeff and I decided to team up a little bit at N R F and see what can we do[00:29:00] to do this in person.

    [00:29:01] And it was interesting experience because, it's a little different than when I did a grocery shop, you know, grocery shop, shop talk. They're, they're good at providing you an entire facility with recording equipment in a dedicated room that you can use. N R F is a little more complicated and that, that we didn't technically qualify to, to use their facilities for that.

    [00:29:20] So we kind of had to figure it out for ourselves and, and, and understand, okay, what, what do we need to, what equipment do we need? And, and then of course the biggest challenge is figuring out, well, where are we gonna do this? And we were lucky. We had our friends and fans of the show at Avanade allowed us to use their lounge space as our mobile recording studio.

    [00:29:36] For both Jeff and I think that was a new experience. We learned a lot from that and, and hopefully upped our podcast game to do more of these live in-person recordings that way.

    [00:29:45] Paul do Forno: Gotcha. So question. am I an honorary Avenger since I was there in the clubhouse? In the Clubhouse case?

    [00:29:52] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That's right. Yep.

    [00:29:53] Paul do Forno: the clubhouse,

    [00:29:55] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. Right. That, that, that's why you get invited to guest, host, come on.

    [00:29:58] Paul do Forno: Woo. [00:30:00] Alright, so question for you, Casey. What interview stood out to you? The most, both at Grocery Shop and nrf.

    [00:30:08] Casey Golden: So, both of which I missed. So the, the episode with Ron and Vicki, it really stood out at N R F that it is, it is absolutely something magical when we're together in, in real life. And I think that those, there's nothing that can compare to everybody being, having that energy and bringing it all to the same table and having these great conversations.

    [00:30:35] So I mean, it was something where I didn't tune out. I was listening to it and I think that it just brings like a very different dynamic to podcasts. But I mean, it goes to show we have really talented people in this space that are so passionate about retail. And so the Ron and Vicki episode just, you know, moved right up to my top as the most memorable.[00:31:00]

    [00:31:01] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I, I, I have to say on, on that one too, I mean, o one of the things that worked so great with that, I mean, we, we didn't plan anything in advance for, for that one. We were all, all four of us were at the Retail ROI Super Saturday event that we were, we were hosting at the Microsoft office.

    [00:31:16] And right at the end of the day when everything was wrapping up, we said, why don't we sit down and just record a quick 15 minute conversation, just on some thoughts about what we, what we experienced in the day, kinda what we were hoping to see at nrf. And then of course, we got so into it, it turned into 50 minutes, not 15 ... so we went a little bit longer.

    [00:31:32] Paul do Forno: Wow. That's great. So what, what did you think Casey, about that.

    [00:31:38] Casey Golden: So like, I mean, Ron Thurston, I'm like a super fan. We'll just say that I am a super fan and Vicki Cantrell is, is phenomenal. So, I mean, I wish I, I wish I could have been there. It was just really special and Gabriella, what was it? Gabriella Bach from Rethink Retail. She was filming the video [00:32:00] for 

    [00:32:00] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. She recorded the video for us. 

    [00:32:02] Casey Golden: walking around in that tiny room with her video way longer than she was supposed to.

    [00:32:08] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, she, she was really re a real good I I don't even know what to say you, cause we talked, she heard us talking about wanting to do it and said, Hey, do you guys want me to record the video for that, that you can use? I don't, I don't mind doing it. So, yeah. We're only gonna be 15 minutes or so.

    [00:32:20] Oh, sure. No problem. And she's sitting there holding all the video equipment and this, and you can see in the video, this was such a tiny conference room that we ended up picking and she's trying to kind of move around all of us to get the right angles in this. She had to change batteries midway through it and then ran outta battery power cause we went so long.

    [00:32:38] So that was, that was definitely something.

    [00:32:39] Paul do Forno: Cool. Alright. So you definitely have to keep doing more of those in the future.

    [00:32:45] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, oh, for sure. So, so stay tuned. We, we, we have one of very much like that coming from Shop Talk that we just did.

    [00:32:51] All those Retail Transformers were more than meets the eye!

    [00:32:51] Paul do Forno: Awesome. All right, now let's talk about one of your fun series within a series, so to speak, [00:33:00] the retail transformer series. You started the series in series one, but it really took off with this season with four special retail transformation episodes. But honestly, you could have called it both grocery shop and NRF series the same, couldn't you?

    [00:33:15] Casey Golden: Yes, true. I mean, we're all essentially Transformers. That's why we brought them on the show.

    [00:33:23] Paul do Forno: I, I think Casey was just about to go. Transformers.

    [00:33:30] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. Yep. Stealing my line there.

    [00:33:32] Casey Golden: I'm like

    [00:33:33] Paul do Forno: That's what we were 

    [00:33:34] Casey Golden: playing my composure.

    [00:33:37] Paul do Forno: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. That we're, we're supposed to have yeah, we're professional here. All right. Okay. Back, back to the story here. So which one stood out the most for you, Casey?

    [00:33:50] Casey Golden: So, my favorite Retail Transformer during that this series was Brian Dove with Commerce Hub. We could have, [00:34:00] that podcast could have gone on for hours. Literally I would've been fine if Ricardo stopped record, and I just continued talking to Brian for the rest of the day. His approach is really compelling.

    [00:34:15] He's solving. Solving supply chain is probably one of the ugliest and most complex sites of the business. And making changes in supply chain are like, they're, they're like complete, they're not even a heart transplant. It's a complete nervous system transplant. And, just think that our supplies, chains need the most transformation and it's just hard, ugly work.

    [00:34:41] You don't get a lot of rainbows and sunshines and like glitter doing things in supply chain. It's waking up in the morning, day in, day out, doing the stuff that nobody else wants to do. And I think he came out with a very his approach is incredible and I think that we're [00:35:00] just gonna see more drop shipping directly from manufacturers than managing their own distribution and, and selling inventory in and third party logistics warehouses.

    [00:35:11] This. Piece of supply chain that is part of Commerce Hub. They're only like a fraction of what could be. But I think for, for what he's done and what they're doing now and where they're going, he is my top re Retail Transformer that stood out during that series.

    [00:35:34] Paul do Forno: Wow. I, I can't have my guys listening to this podcast because now before you're talking up the c d p guys, now my supply chain guys is, see, we're we're more important than everybody else.

    [00:35:46] Casey Golden: Wants to work with me. Paul,

    [00:35:47] Paul do Forno: I know. Geez. I, I dunno how, what, what about us? Come on. No. Yeah. Hundred percent.

    [00:35:56] Casey Golden: there's so many angels in this space that I [00:36:00] just feel like a lot of, a lot of it, the attention goes to the marketers. In general, and I just feel like marketing is just not retail. It takes so much to make that product

    [00:36:17] Paul do Forno: And honestly in the last couple years, right? I think people got, oh, all we have to do is just drop ship stuff and things just show up and

    [00:36:25] it, you know,

    [00:36:26] Ricardo Belmar: Right. Yeah. It's magic,

    [00:36:28] Paul do Forno: and nobody has to make profit off of it. Now, the real world, oh damn, we've got a sources. And to scale it, you actually have to do it profitably, right?

    [00:36:38] And so now this, we had a little bubble of this magic, every, all this funding and these tools that made, it, enabled all of this to look like it didn't, it was super easy and anybody could do it, but now the real vendors are coming out. And, and so you really have to focus on back to the basics, right? [00:37:00] And, and how to tie all these together.

    [00:37:02] Casey Golden: I agree.

    [00:37:03] Paul do Forno: So, Ricardo, how about you?

    [00:37:05] Ricardo Belmar: So continuing on on that theme you just brought up there, Paul. So, so my, one of my favorites is the, the retail transformer we did with Polly Wong. Cuz she reinforced something that both Casey and I, I think absolutely loved when she said it. I, I think we almost had to stop recording to regain some composure from, from the comment that she just so casually dropped about how you can't have a profitable, business when you're only focused on acquisition as a fact.

    [00:37:30] And she just rolled that phrase out so matter of factly, like it was just the most fundamental thing that everybody had been lost on. That one to me to kind of set the tone for the whole rest of the recording on that one. Cause that was pretty early on. I think that was just gold. When she brought that up and, you know, we, we had been wanting to do some direct to consumer focus episodes, so Polly gave us a chance to talk about how is D T C really moving forward and bringing it back to this idea of profitability.

    [00:37:58] How do you shift from customer acquisition [00:38:00] focus to actually building customer loyalty, maintaining that community of customers. And, she, I just love how she gave us , this picture of, all these different ways and methods that those brands are now marketing to consumers that, that kind of brought things back.

    [00:38:14] Like when she mentioned, print catalogs where a as if they're the brand new thing that DTC brands were doing and being successful at it. I think that was, that was just something I don't think anybody who was listening expected to hear that. And that, that, I just love that one.

    [00:38:28] Casey Golden: I agree. I think everything that was old is new again. It is that, it is this moment of back to the basics. I think Facebook essentially broke our foundation for digital. It created this false foundation for digital, let's say that. And so now that companies are really pulling back into, I don't want to rely on Facebook ads, and now I'm not even getting that eight x or 12 x or 30 x, I'm like, [00:39:00] lucky if I can get a two x return right now. Because of all of the different changes, I think we're going back to just building better with the newer technologies. And a lot of this is foundational, it's just a new foundation for digital.

    [00:39:16] That's just, I think we too many people over overbuilt on relying on a, the Facebook platform and ads.

    [00:39:26] Paul do Forno: Hey, I think omnichannel is back.

    [00:39:30] Casey Golden: Say that word, unified commerce. If you need to use a word unified,

    [00:39:34] Ricardo Belmar: you go. There you go. Unified commerce.

    [00:39:37] Paul do Forno: That's probably, that should be another, that should be another podcast. The, the Battle. Battle of Semantics.

    [00:39:44] Casey Golden: Yeah,

    [00:39:44] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, there we, there we go. 

    [00:39:46] Casey Golden: no consum. What is it? I just saw it. Composable commerce.

    [00:39:51] Ricardo Belmar: right. Yeah.

    [00:39:53] Paul do Forno: The, the battle of the, the terms. All right.

    [00:39:56] Ricardo Belmar: there.

    [00:39:56] Paul do Forno: All right. So

    [00:39:57] Casey Golden: it's a dictionary.

    [00:39:58] Love those "Special" episodes...

    [00:39:58] Paul do Forno: now that wasn't the [00:40:00] only topical series you had. You also had a special episode. We already talked about one, your predictions episode, but you also had an interesting one with Andy Laudato from NRF beginners and of course the holiday special guests from Square and others.

    [00:40:15] How did you come about with those.

    [00:40:18] Casey Golden: Well, I mean, speaking of the holiday season, we knew we wanted to make a holiday themed episode, but you know, every retail podcast seems to do this and focuses on predicting retail sales, right? And so we wanted to do something different. We brought together Bridget John's founder of to and from, to share her perspective on what customers were actually shopping for gifts.

    [00:40:44] And what inspired them. And then we added Roshaun from Square to share their recent survey report on what retailers were doing to gear up for the holiday. So we really felt like our holiday episode delivered perspectives on both [00:41:00] sides of the equation from the retailer and the consumer.

    [00:41:03] Instead of focusing on the number, we really wanted to focus on actually what's happening in this shopping experience and this thought process coming into holiday and how retailers could use that information to make their season more successful and hit those numbers that everybody's projecting. And I found it very much more insightful, really learning from the sides of Roshan, from Square and Bridget from To and From.

    [00:41:32] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, that's what we really call cutting through the clutter.

    [00:41:36] Paul do Forno: Interesting. Okay. All right. What about the NRF for Beginner's episode?

    [00:41:42] Ricardo Belmar: So, so that one, we wanted to do something special leading up to N R F. Obviously, we gotta call it our industry's biggest moment of the year, right? It's the biggest show. So we knew we had to do something as a retail podcast, but lucky enough for us, Andy reached out to me and said, Hey, I got a great idea for a podcast episode.

    [00:41:57] Let's talk about what. Beginners to NRF [00:42:00] need to know by and, and le leveraging the experience of those of us who've been there for so many years and years. So we thought, oh, this is a brilliant idea. Yeah, no, nobody's ever talking about that. Everyone always talks about N R F on the assumption that everyone knows what it is and knows what they're doing when they get there.

    [00:42:14] But the fact is every year, right, they're always beginners that have, have never been to N R F before. So let, let's focus on that. So, off we went. Andy came on. We, we highlighted, you know, how does a newbie to the show tackle it? What are the, the, the, the secret things you, you need to know that nobody really ever shares or tells you that you wished you knew by the time you got to the end of the show.

    [00:42:34] And everybody got to really benefit from all of Andy's multitude of, of years of NRF wisdom.

    [00:42:39] Paul do Forno: Yeah. So what, what'd you think Casey?

    [00:42:41] Casey Golden: Yeah, I mean, I, I, I am still an NRF newbie, I feel, even though I've been there most of my career. Cause there's, based off of how you go there and what contexts are you a vendor? Are you on the buying side? That changes throughout our career. [00:43:00] So you may have been a buyer for 10 years, but then you're going to n r F as a vendor for the first time.

    [00:43:07] And the tables turn, the experience is different. And yet, I think we're kind of all newbies because I'm going as a vendor. But then each year you are changing what that means, you know, like, Not everybody has the Microsoft booth or like the Salesforce booth. And so, for everybody else, I think that it is pretty interesting on aligning expectations and like strategy for some of these companies that are coming in on the vendor side for the first time to maximize and, and even just new people coming in to go shopping.

    [00:43:46] You know, it's a big floor.

    [00:43:48] Paul do Forno: Yeah, that, that probably would be pretty different if you were a buyer. I'm sure everybody wanted you to come to their event and take you out for dinner and everything. And then you're on the other side and you're like, oh crap, [00:44:00] I've got, 

    [00:44:00] Casey Golden: Anybody. 

    [00:44:01] Paul do Forno: get some attention. The hunted from the hunted, right? Like

    [00:44:06] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:44:07] Paul do Forno: it's a little bit different.

    [00:44:09] Okay. Alright. Gonna bring this home. Now with this one, one of the things I like about what you did this season was the introduction of the idea of new segments within each episode and your first one is what you guys call Retail Razor Data Blades, which you brought in a specialist for, right?

    [00:44:31] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. So, and again, we, we didn't wanna make yet another retail podcast. I mean, there's like, what, over a hundred out there right now, have lost track. So we wanna do something unique that provides a value, not just to the retail tech community that, at the end of the day, right. Both Casey and I are part of right now, but also to retailers who are getting bombarded with information and that you realistically need some guidance on how to sift through all of that, all that data that gets published out there.

    [00:44:55] And like we're always saying, we want to cut through the clutter of that noise.

    [00:44:59] Casey Golden: [00:45:00] Yeah. And we worked with our friends over at True Rating and Georgina Nelson, their phenomenal c e o to leverage all the rich data that they've gone through. Their retailer customers from survey questions that they ask at the point of sale to offer our listeners and viewers some insights into what consumers are actually doing.

    [00:45:21] And not doing with their purchasing habits.

    [00:45:24] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, so we introduced this segment. We had it on I think three times this season, and we're, we're definitely gonna bring this one back next season. Big shout out to Georgina was so good at recording this with us when, when she was just days away from her baby's due date. So it was just a amazing that we were able to get that in.

    [00:45:40] We, we kept joking that we might not get these recordings done in time, but we managed to pull it off. So that was amazing.

    [00:45:47] Paul do Forno: All 

    [00:45:47] Casey Golden: was prepared to have laptop with her. You know, like when we say she's a phenomenal Georgina, like props to this woman. She's, she's a great leader.

    [00:45:58] Coming up next season?

    [00:45:58] Paul do Forno: Wow. That's commitment. [00:46:00] Okay. Now for next year, next season, do you guys have a theme yet?

    [00:46:07] Casey Golden: Yeah. After season one focused on digital transformation and the impact of transformation on the people in the retail business, this season, our focus was, the evolution of channel operations in the retail business. That's why we started the season with a big one, two punch with the Metaverse and retail media networks.

    [00:46:32] Ricardo Belmar: and if you think about all the retail transformers we brought in this season, we really kept that focus. We started out with, with Alan Smithson to dive deeper into Metaverse what he was doing, building The Mall in the metaverse to, the episode I mentioned where we had Polly on. Talking about that.

    [00:46:45] And then, again, the one Casey mentioned with Bryan Dove from Commerce Hub we really drove into the future of e-commerce on that one and marketplaces. So for next season, where are we taking it? We're gonna try to focus a little bit more on some of these themes, a little, little bit sharper, things like anywhere [00:47:00] commerce and immersive commerce.

    [00:47:01] I think look at how that's happening with this in the middle of this backdrop that I, I think of as a, a back to basics kind of mood in retail.

    [00:47:10] Paul do Forno: Ah, back to my supply chain guys. All right. Yes, we need them, but, I got all the cool shows and I guess we gotta give them some work. All right, so let's tie in. You know, your predictions there, but what exactly do you mean? Back to basics.

    [00:47:29] Ricardo Belmar: Well, I, I think we, we really need to sort of acknowledge that retailers are focusing this year on, on how to get better at the business of retailers, retailing. So, past few years through the pandemic, right? What, what, what did retailers end up seeing? There's a lot of rapid growth in some specific areas for many retailers, but because a lot of it happened so fast, and I, I think we have to admit right, faster than most retailers were used to change and, and adopting new things.

    [00:47:55] So that meant that, they, the focus was just get it out there to deliver those [00:48:00]experiences for, for the consumers, for what consumers wanted at whatever the cost was because it just, it had to be done and it had to be done fast. So now most retailers, I think are figuring out, we did these things, maybe not in the best way we could have done it, so let's optimize it a little bit.

    [00:48:15] Let's make sure that we take out as much of the cost as we can, but c but, but still be able to do these things. How do we inject some profitability into it? We've got all these crazy new tools like the Generative AI that, mentioned in the predictions. We talked about the automation for, for the store teams.

    [00:48:31] How do we still inject those things? But let's not do it in the, in the crazy, do it at all costs way that we were forced into the last few years. Let's do it in a more methodical way that we know is gonna maintain some profitability. We're wa we're watching, we don't know what the outcome is gonna be, right?

    [00:48:48] In terms of shopping trends or consumers gonna keep buying at the pace they've been buying, are they going to slow down because of inflation? Are they gonna go back to saving more versus spending with all this [00:49:00] backdrop, how do we keep these things going? We can't take back any of the new things and capabilities we introduced cause consumers will, will find another brand, right, if we take these things away.

    [00:49:08] So we have to find ways to keep optimizing and keep doing them, but at least, the way I like to look at it is you can't just cost cut your way to success. You still have to invest in the future. And even though that near term investment is hopefully something that's gonna return you a, a cost reduction in the future, but you have to do it in a smart way.

    [00:49:26] So I think those are the kinds of things that, we're looking at these trendy things like immersive commerce and everywhere commerce and retailers, still need to do that, but it matters now how you do it more so than it did before.

    [00:49:39] Casey Golden: Yeah, I'm a hundred percent on this is going to be the time for reality. And we're gonna be spending a lot more time on. The, the reality of, of where our retail is today to build, to be able to adopt some of the new technology at scale. It's just we spend so much [00:50:00] time on marketing and acquisition and we saw that it just cost us too much money and a lot of turn.

    [00:50:07] And so focusing on retention and stable systems and being able to go ahead and say like, listen, why are there 400 messages a day of a customer looking for their package? Okay, that's not a customer service opportunity. That's an opportunity to fix it. Like this is like adding these things to plug problems and band-aids.

    [00:50:34] We've got to solve the actual problems. And I think that that's, everything that I've seen right now has been. I have, we have customers. We're gonna focus on keeping them, and we need to go ahead and make sure that we're ready for the next five years of retail. Otherwise, we, I don't know if we'll be here or we're going to lose our market share.

    [00:50:57] Paul do Forno: And I'll, and I'll just put a exclamation mark [00:51:00] on that. Like all I'm hearing is optimize. How do we optimize, how do we use what we have? We spend a ton of investments over the past couple years. How do we use 'em well, right? Like that's what I keep hearing. That's what, that's what my colleagues are hearing.

    [00:51:16] So I, I think the more that they can do better, and guess what the P word. You gotta be profitable, right? How do we optimize and be for profit and, and more so than ever, especially with the uncertainty on the economics and that, I think it's just gonna be more important. 

    [00:51:36] Okay. One last thing I want to know.

    [00:51:39] Any new segments you're introducing? Like the Retail razor Data Blades.

    [00:51:44] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, since that's that's been pretty popular. So we are looking at adding more of those. So for example one, we're gonna bring a, a unique perspective to answer the, the hot questions of the day from an academic's viewpoint. I think that's gonna be maybe eye-opening for some folks based on, on what kind of [00:52:00] responses we, we hear there and what kind of discussion we have.

    [00:52:02] But I think it'll be a unique independent viewpoint people aren't used to hearing necessarily. Then another one we're thinking about doing is a segment that'll focus on retail leadership qualities. There's been some interesting news media reports lately talking about how there seems to be a shortage of, of CEOs in retail and a shortage of, of quality executives.

    [00:52:22] So we're gonna dig in a little bit, I think in, in a new segment there and bring in some folks to. Give some tips on, you know, what are those leadership roles? What are those skills that those leaderships, what traits do they need to have to really be successful in, in retail that maybe not everyone has developed or, or needs to develop better.

    [00:52:39] Paul do Forno: I, I think back to what I just said, the P word, we need the CEOs driving the profitability, right?

    [00:52:46] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah.

    [00:52:47] Casey Golden: Yeah, I think they're gonna come from unexpected places. You know, we've had a lot of executives that have been running the top for 25 years. I think retail in general it's been, [00:53:00] leadership has been plugged. I know a lot of VPs and SVPs that had their jobs for 28 years, they're not going anywhere and they didn't let anybody rise through.

    [00:53:09] And so there's a lot of talent out there that could probably hop some steps and really make some big changes and some positive profitable changes at these companies. And I'm excited to have those, those sessions cuz there's a lot of untapped talent out in this industry. Nobody's in this industry to get rich, right?

    [00:53:31] Like we are all here on pure fricking passion. Cause it would be a lot easier working some other industries than it is in this space. We're here with like committed love.

    [00:53:42] Paul do Forno: Yes. Yes. So all of that's pretty interesting. So any hints for the expert speakers to come?

    [00:53:50] Casey Golden: We can't give everything away on this episode I'm gonna leave that on on Ricardo if he wants to add any spoilers.

    [00:53:57] Ricardo Belmar: I think we can afford to make people wait and [00:54:00] see and, and make it a surprise.

    [00:54:01] Paul do Forno: Well, maybe you guys can give us a preview trailer soon and, you know, a teaser.

    [00:54:06] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. Be in the lookout for that.

    [00:54:08] Paul do Forno: All right. Well guys, thank you so much for inviting me on the show to guest host and be an honorary Avenger. It's been a year, Casey and Ricardo since we saw y y you know, the comeback at The Shop Talk last year. And we just got done another Shop Talk. But Ricardo, I didn't see you. I, I, I tried to

    [00:54:27] Ricardo Belmar: don't know how we missed each other, so, so

    [00:54:29] Paul do Forno: I know

    [00:54:29] it was crazy. But thank you. I had a lot of fun and looking forward to next year.

    [00:54:36] Casey Golden: Thank you so much, Paul. I loved having you on the show and we'll work on that honorary Avenger title.

    [00:54:42] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That's right. I mean, this is a great, fantastic experience. We can't wait to have you back on the show again soon.

    [00:54:47] Paul do Forno: All right, thanks guys.

    [00:54:49] ​

    [00:54:49] Show Close

    [00:54:49] Ricardo Belmar: We'll give a big thanks out to all of our Retail Razor Show fans this season. Casey, I think that means this show[00:55:00] for that matter, this whole season is a wrap now.

    [00:55:02] Casey Golden: Yeah. If you enjoyed our show this season, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. And if you'd rather watch us instead of listening, subscribe to our YouTube channel and like, and comment there's a new season out there too.

    [00:55:23] And of course, if you wanna know more about what we talked about today, including a full transcript of each episode look at the show notes for handy links to more deets. I'm your cohost, Casey Golden.

    [00:55:34] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to connect with us and share your thoughts on this season, follow us on Twitter at Casey c Golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure and follow the show on Twitter, at Retail Razor, on LinkedIn for the latest updates. And stay tuned for a season three trailer like Paul was asking us for.

    [00:55:50] Coming soon. We promise, it'll be worth the wait. I'm your host Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:55:55] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:55:56] Ricardo Belmar: And remember, there's never been a better time to be in retail [00:56:00]if you cut through the clutter. Until next time, this is the Retail Razor Show.

    56m | May 5, 2023
  • S2E12d #ShoptalkLive – SPECIAL – TRI Friends Fireside Chat

    Have you heard plenty of Shoptalk event and trend recaps by now? Did any of those dig into why those trends matter and what they really mean for the retail industry? Sometimes you just need to put four Top Retail Influencers into one recording session and let them talk about what those trends make them feel about the industry to get to the heart of the matter. And maybe ‘heart’ is what it’s truly all about – because retail is a people business.

    It’s Part 4 of our #ShoptalkLive podcast cross-over series with This Week in Innovation and special guest host Jeff Roster, but not quite recorded live and in-person at Shoptalk this time! Yes, there’s a story to that and you’ll find out in this episode where Jeff and regular host Ricardo Belmar are joined by retail legends, Vicki Cantrell, CEO of Vendors in Partnership, LLC, and Ron Thurston, author of Retail Pride, host of the Retail in America podcast and tour, and Co-Founder of OSSY.

    In this episode, Jeff, Ricardo, Vicki, and Ron discover the true meaning of Shoptalk this year – people and relationships – because in the end they realize that the experience is the relationship in retail and how this is NOT the year of shiny objects! 

    Plus, we’re now standing at number 19 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list – if you enjoy our show, please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 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 director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E12d ShoptalkLive - TRI Friends Chat

    [00:00:00] Show Intro 

    [00:00:20] Casey Golden: Hello Retail Razor Show listeners and viewers. Welcome to retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [00:00:33] Ricardo Belmar: And I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar. Welcome to part four and the final installment in our Shop Talk Live crossover event with Jeff Roster and This Week In Innovation podcast.

    [00:00:44] Casey Golden: Wow. Are we really at the last one? This has been so much fun, so many incredible conversations and takeaways. Does it really have to end?

    [00:00:53] Ricardo Belmar: Well, yeah, it does. It does. But we have saved what I think is one of our best, if not the [00:01:00] best episode of the season for the last one.

    [00:01:02] Casey Golden: Okay. Wait a minute, you've, you've called every episode, the best episode of the season as being the one from N R F where you and Jeff sat down with Vicki Cantrell and Ron Thurston at the end of the Super Saturday retail ROI event. You know that 10 minute chat that turned into 50 minutes?

    [00:01:21] Ricardo Belmar: Well, okay. Yeah, I, I did say that I, I suppose I, I guess maybe I have said that may, maybe more than once, but funny you should mention that episode because this episode, our final Shop Talk crossover podcast is also a conversation Jeff and I have with Ron and Vicki. , it's, think of it as a repeat or a follow up, if you will, of that NRF discussion.

    [00:01:42] And I have to say, it's this sort of conversation that, you know, makes me so excited to be part of this industry. I'm so thankful for relationships like these with Jeff, Ron, Vicki, and so many others including you, Casey. It's just unlike any other industry I know.

    [00:01:55] Casey Golden: Aw, you're like a teddy bear. It's so true though. [00:02:00] Nothing lights a fire like passion. And I know now why you've been testing this recording for the last three episodes but at the risk of being a downer here, if I'm not mistaken, you guys had some challenges making this happen.

    [00:02:15] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, we did, we did. It turns out we only had one option to record this live and in person at Shop Talk, and that was at the end of the day on, I think it was the second to last day of the show. And it was right when Shop Talk had scheduled a happy hour on the show floor. Rethink Retail was kind enough to agree to let us use their booth space to record.

    [00:02:35] So Jeff and I get there to set up our equipment, right, and guess what happens?

    [00:02:39] Casey Golden: The equipment broke.

    [00:02:41] Ricardo Belmar: Okay, good guess, but no, not quite. just as we were about to plug everything in, suddenly loud music starts blaring over the speakers all over the expo hall. You figure it's happy hour right. So of course Shop Talk decided we all needed some high energy music to go with our free drinks.

    [00:02:56] Casey Golden: Oh my God, you're kidding me. What, what'd you [00:03:00] guys end up doing?

    [00:03:00] Ricardo Belmar: Well, we, we looked at each other and thought about what any experienced podcaster would do to, to compensate for that. And then instead we immediately decided that it was hopeless and we just needed to cancel the whole thing and reschedule.

    [00:03:11] Casey Golden: Grab a beer.

    [00:03:13] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly. 

    [00:03:16] Now, of course, I, I did say this was the only time we could work it out during the show, so we ended up scheduling a recording session remotely for about a week after Shop Talk.

    [00:03:24] So technically this episode is not, live and in-person recorded bet it is still recorded, so we're gonna go with that. But it does have the added benefit that, you know, we've got full video for this episode on our YouTube channel. So you actually get to watch us have the discussion, not just listen to it.

    [00:03:41] Casey Golden: All right. All right. Well, that's a pretty good trade off. I must say and you know, we just kind of upped the ante here. So sad you guys couldn't make it work in person. Hope there was some good drinks. But I mean, come on, of course you'd expect good music to go with happy hour, [00:04:00] right? I mean,

    [00:04:01] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:04:02] Casey Golden: you kind of expect like show closes, party's on, right.

    [00:04:07] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I guess we should have thought of that. We should have thought of that, I suppose. But you know, like, like I said, we're, we're, had we been experienced podcasters or not the you know, budding experts, we all aspire to be here. We might have planned for that, but I, I think this worked out in the end.

    [00:04:22] Either way.

    [00:04:23] Casey Golden: Well, let's not waste any more time. Let's get straight to the recording. Not live and in person at Shop Talk, but still a Shop Talk recap with you, Jeff Roster, Vicki Cantrell and Ron Thurston.

    [00:04:38] The TRI Friends Chat

    [00:04:38] Ricardo Belmar: ​Welcome everybody. I'm Ricardo Belmar, host of the Retail Razor Show, and I'm here with a good friend, Jeff Roster, host of This Week In Innovation. And you guessed it. This is the last episode in our Shop Talk related series. And I, if you're [00:05:00] watching us on video, yes. You may have noticed we are not live at Shop Talk right now.

    [00:05:05] We, we much like, one of the episodes, if you caught our crossover at NRF where we had some issues and couldn't quite make it work out. We sort of had a little bit of some coordination challenges this time. So we're catching up with each other after the event, but we're here to talk about our, our thoughts on the shop talk event.

    [00:05:24] Jeff, how you doing today?

    [00:05:25] Jeff Roster: You know, Ricardo, I'm doing fantastic. I had a good week's sleep and a lot of time to, to think about what we're gonna talk about today. So I, I'm actually kind of thinking this is really a cool vibe. Maybe we should do this on every show, like do the final wrap up, show off-premise, two, three days down, down the road couple, you know, a couple good night's sleep.

    [00:05:43] So I, I'm excited to get into this conversation.

    [00:05:45] Ricardo Belmar: Sounds good. Well, let me go ahead and introduce our, familiar guests. we have with us today, we've got Vicki Cantrell and Ron Thurston. Vicki, Ron, how are you two doing?

    [00:05:55] Vicki Cantrell: Great. Very nice to be uh, on a Friday entering in and, and it [00:06:00] did take a l uh, like it took a while to get over this trip, like physically, and so I'm all back. So happy to be here with you guys.

    [00:06:11] Ron Thurston: Yeah. Yeah, me too. Thank you Ricardo and Jeff. It's a, it's a pleasure. I, I felt trapped inside Mandalay Bay with no sun and nothing, and I was happy to come back to the west coast on the tour and be in San Diego because 

    [00:06:25] Ricardo Belmar: yeah.

    [00:06:25] Ron Thurston: I needed some fresh air

    [00:06:27] Ricardo Belmar: It, it kind of, it's kind of funny. I, I noticed on the last day I was there thinking, wait a minute, I, have I seen the outside for the last few days since I've been here? Or have I not even seen daylight?

    [00:06:38] Jeff Roster: I actually one, one trip over, cause I stayed at the Luxor I, one trip over, I specifically went outside and went all the way around because I thought, you know, I probably at some point should literally have fresh air. So I 

    [00:06:48] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. 

    [00:06:49] Jeff Roster: force my way outside.

    [00:06:51] Ricardo Belmar: Right, right,

    [00:06:52] Vicki Cantrell: ahh, Vegas.

    [00:06:53] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. 

    [00:06:54] Ron Thurston: Vegas. 

    [00:06:55] 4 Shoptalk Themes

    [00:06:55] Ricardo Belmar: love it. Gotta love it. Well, so, so let, let me start by, before we [00:07:00] jump into our, our conversation here, let, let's kind of start with summarizing four key themes that shop talk themselves, the shop talk content team put out there at the end of the show is what they felt were the four main themes of the show.

    [00:07:12] and the first is what they termed as seamless stores, which I like to think of this as both a recognition that stores are a focal point of energy right now in, in retail, and that it is, it's maybe a way to think of this as the, the successor to omnichannel and maybe we put that term to rest. so that's theme one.

    [00:07:30] Theme two is about enabling workers and store teams which is a theme I like to see. And. I'm sure we'll get into this, but we, we talked about that at our, at our conversation, N R F and what we had hoped to hear then about how we're better enabling store teams. So that was theme two. 

    [00:07:46] Theme three is shopper engagement. And this is sort of a, a, a catchall, I think that covers all the interesting technologies that we're all hearing about and talking about now that's impacting the customer experience in, in any channel, whether it's in stores, digital, [00:08:00] wherever it may be. 

    [00:08:01] And then the fourth one which might actually be the most interesting of the four, Shop Talk calls this changing relationships and it, it's a reference to how on, on the one hand, you have retailers becoming more and more like a technology provider in that they're now offering services. To other retailers and other brands, and that could be you know, one of my favorite topics that I like to remind Jeff about every chance I get, and that's retail media networks.

    [00:08:28] it may be, yep. It may be things like GAP offering their logistics network as a service to other retailers. and it, but it really, I, I think. I, I find this an interesting one because maybe Shop Talk is onto something there thinking that the business is changing because of how the relationships are changing from the way they have been in, you know, for, for decades now.

    [00:08:49] so let's, let's start from there.

    [00:08:53] Vicki Cantrell: I um, you know, I love those four themes because they aren't kind of broken out into [00:09:00] technology. And if you remember we talked in January, Ron had such a good point in that freewheeling conversation that we had was about how do we respect the stores given what they're going through and how do we get them to do less and understand what their challenges are and because the customer is back in the stores.

    [00:09:22] It's a Relationship Show About People

    [00:09:22] Vicki Cantrell: And, and when we think about that uh, it felt there was a lot of content to address those things in while we were at Shop Talk, but I'd like to kind of flip that a little bit and talk about those four themes. And what I felt while I was there, I felt like it was, I have no other way to describe it other than it felt like it was a relationship show.

    [00:09:47] Uh, for me, the connections, everybody talked, no matter who you met on the floor, in a booth, at a party, wherever you were, it started with the human connection [00:10:00] and it no matter what and it way more time was spent on the human aspects and the human connection before it actually turned into a potential business connection.

    [00:10:14] So it felt very right. It felt very relationship focused. And when you think about that, how it relates to those themes is so true. The relationship with the customer, the relationship and partnerships, it just felt very connected and human. And I love the way they're kind of mapping this out.

    [00:10:37] Ron Thurston: I'll, I'll jump in. I, I agree with you, Vicki. I think it's also the space being like smaller than an N R F. I mean, I think Vicky, you and I saw each other like three times a day 

    [00:10:47] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah. 

    [00:10:48] Ron Thurston: And you know, like walking by, it's a, it's a high five, it's a hug. Oh, have you met this person? Oh my God. Like, let's get a picture.

    [00:10:55] Like, so I think that there's, there's power in the scale of, [00:11:00] of the conference at the same time, but as my first experience at Shop Talk, I would say retail is a relationship business and, and because coming from the stores, that's how you build a business. It isn't just about product and, and a beautiful space.

    [00:11:18] It is very much about relationships with each other. First, leading a team, it's relationships with the customers. It's with your corporate business partners, it's with your vendors. It's with your mall or your landlords, like, everything we do is about relationships and those relationships have, you know, are so important to me.

    [00:11:39] But when you, there was a sense of pride almost in our industry as much as we all have questions and maybe some, um, pressure to deliver. I, I felt a sense of pride about the general retail industry at, at a whole, and that, that felt really good to me. I left [00:12:00] on such a high because of that.

    [00:12:02] Vicki Cantrell: I love that. I love that. And, and I didn't realize that was your first

    [00:12:09] Ron Thurston: It was my first, 

    [00:12:10] Vicki Cantrell: I had no idea. Oh my gosh.

    [00:12:14] Ricardo Belmar: How many shop talks have you been to Vicki?

    [00:12:15] Vicki Cantrell: uh, I've actually, I would say I missed one. I haven't gone to the ones outside of Las Vegas, but I missed, I was at the first one and last year and this year, so I would say at least three, potentially four.

    [00:12:31] Ricardo Belmar: Okay, It was my second shop talk I got last year was my first one. Jeff, this, was this your first 

    [00:12:35] Jeff Roster: No, this is my first one too. And what I think was interesting about the relationship angle, and I've, I've always, you know, preached that from the get-go. Listen, from a tech perspective, it's a relationship business. It's as big as Mayberry. And there's, you know, sheriff Andy, and, and you know, I mean, do not screw around in the industry, it's 5 trillion, but it is, is as big as Mayberry and it's, it's really cool to hear that. I also wonder, and [00:13:00] this is 180 degrees shift for me I've never, ever, never, ever been a fan of having anything in Vegas. I just think it gets, the shows tend to get lost. I think you have the, the bleed off and the old days.

    [00:13:10] It quite frankly used to be, I thought, fairly inappropriate. B because some of the, you know, the costumes and all that sort of stuff, but I tell you it was genius to have it at Mandalay Bay One. I felt like I was back on a college dorm. Sort of that whole, that whole connection. Yeah, we joked about not being outside.

    [00:13:26] Well, there was a reason I wasn't outside because everything was, was convenient and like, For instance, Kathy's party Sunday night. You know, I looked at the space before I got in there and thought, oh, man, that it just feels like we're just part of the whole big thing that couldn't have worked out better.

    [00:13:39] One, it was quiet inside inappropriate for the conversation, but I watched probably 20 people walked by on the way to other things, you know, and so like pop out, pop back in, pop out. And I was at a party the, the Coresight party, and actually they had they had their space, but then there was another party that it was in another space, but the outside was, was, was common.

    [00:13:59] [00:14:00] And I ended up at somebody else's party and had a great conversation with people that I'd met at another party. And man, you, you're not gonna see that any, at any, you, you, that's the only place probably in the plant. You could have all those different venues, world-class food, world-class space, but then have all that interaction.

    [00:14:18] So, yeah, I, I just, I man, I, I have shifted 180 degrees about having something in Vegas. 

    [00:14:23] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. And then we, we were talking earlier, so there was also, and I think this, I, I love this relationship theme because there was Sunday afternoon, right? There was the, the Retail ROI get together for, for the March Gladness event, watching some of the March Madness games. And I think Jeff, maybe you were the one who said it, right?

    [00:14:37] Just sitting there, you could just see people you recognize walking by, because it was on the way to registration for, for shop talk. People would walk by and say, Hey, how you doing?

    [00:14:47] Jeff Roster: Somebody's gotta own that 2:00 PM space on Sunday, because literally at that location. So for people that weren't there, I think where we were, the bar we were at was probably what, a hundred yards at max from, from [00:15:00] registration, 

    [00:15:00] Ricardo Belmar: from the registration. Right, 

    [00:15:01] Jeff Roster: everyone was walking there. I mean, every startup on the planet, it should just be right there at that bar or the, or the Starbucks on the other side because you're seeing the whole show. 

    [00:15:10] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:15:11] Yeah.

    [00:15:12] The Experience Is the Relationship

    [00:15:12] Vicki Cantrell: you know, I'm gonna just wanna one more thing on this aspect of relationship. Ricardo, Ricardo, when we were talking earlier and we talked about that, you know, pre pandemic was experiential you know, that's what retailers were trying to, to deal with, and then pandemic became about convenience and figuring out that, and that it's just based on some of these themes and some of the stuff we did see is how important we're back to the experience and the experience is gonna be different.

    [00:15:43] You know, when you're talking about, ways of shopping and video and all, all of the different ways. But ,the fact that we think about that, for me, convenience and experience is the same because it's based on that your connection to, between the customer and the [00:16:00] retailer, that it's about the relationship.

    [00:16:02] Because the experience is the relationship. It's not whether you walk into the store and say, oh, isn't this beautiful? That's not what the experience is. I mean, it better be okay or better be pleasant, but that's not the experience. The experience is the connection of the person that you're, you're being with when you get there.

    [00:16:23] So retail is really about that. And if you have that relationship, then you're going to think this was convenient cuz you connected.

    [00:16:34] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm.

    [00:16:35] Ron Thurston: agreed.

    [00:16:36] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I, I, I agree. And, and, and you know, the other interesting thing I, I noticed too, just thinking again about these four themes now I, I wasn't at the earlier shop talks before last year, but what I do remember in, in talking with people who had been there and looking at the content coming out of the, the conference, you know, I, I think this really started out as a e-commerce focused kind of really heavily digital channels focused to, to [00:17:00] retail much less emphasis, if any, on what's happening in in stores. And, you know, and Jeff and I talked to the content team while we were there and, and they mentioned that, you know, they had gotten feedback from attendees that said, you know, in this post pandemic world, we, we really need to talk more about stores.

    [00:17:18] Stores are a real focal point for our business and for our, how we build those relationships with consumers you know, that the content at the event needs to reflect that. And I, I, I think this is one of the things I find most interesting with Shop Talk is how quickly they pivot from topic to topic based on that feedback.

    [00:17:37] You know, when we, when we sat, when we were chatting at N R F, one of the things we said is, well, we hope, we hear some themes around, , not just how you're enabling store teams, but when you add things to the store, are you just adding or are you taking something away? You know, are you recognizing that every time you add there's potentially a burden on, on the team there?

    [00:17:56] And a difficulty in, in them executing it because it's yet one more [00:18:00] thing, it's one more thing to ask for. And I don't know that we heard that at NRF in sessions there very much. But I feel like at Shop Talk there was definitely, and, and they said it right in one of the four themes about enabling workers.

    [00:18:13] That was definitely a sense. I mean, I, I even felt that in sessions that were not about, the store teams, it came up in the conversation with the speakers on stage. It's almo. It was almost like a reflex that everyone just recognizing every retailer that was up there, they could have been talking about optimizing their supply chain.

    [00:18:31] And somehow then the conversation led to an impact on the store team and how they had to be aware of that and do something about it, not just let things happen. Which was something I hadn't really experienced and seen in this kind of content at other events.

    [00:18:47] NOT the Year of Shiny Objects

    [00:18:47] Ron Thurston: Yeah, I mean, I'll, I'll jump in because I started it, but I think the you know, the, my my sense from speaking to so many retailers is there's, there's a sense of clarity [00:19:00]right now about the, which. Where revenue is being generated and, and where their business needs to grow and where they need to make investment.

    [00:19:10] And I think maybe years past a little bit of like shiny object and what's fun and what's exciting, what keeps us in the press. And this is not a year of the shiny object. This is a year that we need to deliver on the investments that we've made. And that investment for all of them is in people, and stores, and if their e-commerce business is, is not growing at the rates they expected, then the revenue and the profitability comes from the store.

    [00:19:40] And so I do think maybe it's even, you know, 90 days later, from N R F the retailers I'm speaking to is I'm here to find solutions for workforce management. I'm, I'm here to find things of a better way to, to communicate with my teams, to improve productivity, to think about [00:20:00] how to make returns easier at the store level.

    [00:20:02] Just all of the things that are actually about delivering results. And you can't deliver the results that any company needs. Without strong teams in place who are well trained and led and motivated. And I, I just hope that, that this is not, or I should say, my sense is not, this was not a, a temporary idea that they have now said 80% of our revenue is coming from the store.

    [00:20:30] And that's not changing. And we need to fix this. And I hope my sense is right given the, you know, the small set of people I spoke to. But that's my, that's my feeling right now.

    [00:20:41] Jeff Roster: You know, that's a, that's quite a phrase, Ron. The, not the year of the shiny object. I mean, if you don't put that on Twitter today, I'm, I'm a hundred percent stealing that. Um, 

    [00:20:50] Ron Thurston: Go for it. go for

    [00:20:51] it Jeff

    [00:20:52] Jeff Roster: And I think that's such a profound observation because I mean, I go back to the old wars, you know, the [00:21:00] retail Apocalypse Wars and all that sort of stuff for, for whatever reason folks trying to bury the store and, and, and, you know, Buzek and I, and I think, well, I didn't know you at the time yet, Ron, but we were like, how.

    [00:21:11] Help me understand 90%, at the time it was 90% of the revenues coming from the store. Why would you try to do that? And I, I, I still don't know the answer to that, but I think, you know, maybe it's a covid thing, just a realization how important we are. We are a tribal people. We want to. The best part of human nature is wanting to be in, you know, in fellowship, in connection with people.

    [00:21:34] And so if retail is a people business, it has to reflect that and, and our technology needs to reflect that. And maybe we're a little more mature than we were in 2020 and, and realize the value of people. 

    [00:21:46] Yay. You know, I'm pro-human. And so that's a, that's a great observation. I think that's a, that's, that's a.

    [00:21:52] Real, real thing. And I think what's interesting, Ron, when I walked the f the, the, the exhibit hall, which is where I spent all my time, the number of [00:22:00] live streamers, the number of, of folks wanting to do something more in the store, which kind of goes against your idea of like, let's not add to the store, but it's happening.

    [00:22:08] I mean, TikTok was there in a big way. Fire, uh, I, I, I forget the names, but a bunch of those fight.

    [00:22:14] Ron Thurston: Fire firework.

    [00:22:15] Jeff Roster: firework. They're all. There's this, this idea that the store is the platform that we can do more with. And, and I think if we can unleash that creativity that all these, you know, all these folks have, and give them the tools, which they're already there.

    [00:22:32] Wow. Holy smokes. We're gonna have a whole new engagement model.

    [00:22:36] Ricardo Belmar: One interesting thing I heard, and I heard this more than once from different speakers and sessions on, on this point, you know take, take the livestream maybe was one example, but I I, I heard people say in a positive way this recognition that if we have more functions and roles needed in the store, there's this recognition that, you know, not every store team employee has to know how to do every single role.[00:23:00]

    [00:23:00] That there is this idea of specialization. So, so maybe to your point, Jeff, if live streaming is something that a particular retailer's stores need to support, that doesn't mean every employee needs to be able to jump on a live stream. It means that maybe the, you know, three out of 10 or something that are good at it and want to do it. That's now their role, right? They, they, they're given that role and they put some focus on that. Maybe there are three other employees who's, who would rather be fulfilling BOPIS orders right in, in, in the back room. And because they can do that faster than the other employees. And it's okay to have this specialization and this recognition that, whether it's a store manager level or a district manager, somebody's has this awareness and that we're gearing the operation of the store around this idea that we can specialize in different areas and start building career paths for, for, for employees that that's something new that I hadn't heard before.

    [00:23:51] Ron Thurston: Yeah,

    [00:23:52] I think what, what happens in that Or, go ahead, Vicky.

    [00:23:55] Vicki Cantrell: No, no, go. Go ahead.

    [00:23:57] Ron Thurston: You know, I think that that, I think [00:24:00] what to add on to that, the realization that some of that evolution also doesn't have to happen in the store. So you think about livestream. Several brands have said, oh, great, we're gonna build a showroom in the office and we're gonna livestream from the office with, by someone who's highly skilled at selling live on camera, which is a very unique and important skill.

    [00:24:23] But at the same time, if I'm gonna livestream from the office, then I need to have live inventory so that when I click into what I'm selling, oh I see it's available at my store. I can also buy online pickup in store, I can reserve. So there the rest. The rest of the chain has to, has to work in order for it.

    [00:24:42] You can't just throw up livestream and think someone's gonna join your website on Tuesday at 12 o'clock and buy something. You actually have to build the infrastructure behind that, which requires a lot more than signing up for firework. And so I think that there, there's a, there's a thought process that's [00:25:00] deeper now, which is exciting.

    [00:25:02] That doesn't have to just be like, let's add one more thing to the store. And that I, I'm excited about that.

    [00:25:08] The True Melding of Digital and Physical Now Begins

    [00:25:08] Vicki Cantrell: It feels like we're at an inflection point of the, and, you know, we all sense it, we've all sensed it for years. it, and it took a real shot in the arm when, when we were in the pandemic and online, like really spiked. know, because as we all know, people have been ignoring that stat of 80% of the sales come from the stores for years.

    [00:25:33] As online has grown a little bit. They just, they still don't look at it. Okay. And now we, we have this feeling we can feel the sea change of, not, now it's not stores over, over online. It's not that it feels like a meld, finally feels like the, the coming together, not the either or. And so with that in mind, [00:26:00] I'd like to know from you guys how you see I know it's a arbitrary thing, but what time moves so fast?

    [00:26:08] What does the, with this in mind, what do the next three years look like in retail? What's going to be important? What will happen as we continue to meld better, smarter in, in better ways? Like the meld really is happening. What's it gonna look like?

    [00:26:27] Ricardo Belmar: I'll, I'll jump in. I, I, I think you're, you're right that we are, this meld is finally happening in the way that maybe we all started talking about. I'll pick a number, five years ago, right? That, that, that, that now there's sort of a recognition that not only is it happening, but actually needs to happen for, for supporting the business. It needs to happen because I, I go back to one of the things we said in that same timeframe was, you know what, now the consumer is in charge, right? The consumer now has all the power. Remember when that was the new phrase, a few years back. 

    [00:26:56] So, so what, what is that led to now, right?

    [00:26:58] Yeah. People like, like to [00:27:00] repeat it, but maybe didn't believe it. But I think now there's recognition that. Not only does the consumer still have the power, guess what? They've had it all these past years and you just didn't realize it. So now that you're recognizing it, it's time to do something for that.

    [00:27:12] And, and the the something that you need to do is this melding because, I think all four of us have said it right, consumers don't care about channels. you know, there was a lot of, of jokes made, I think during shop talk about when they said on stage it was time to kill omnichannel and, and use a different phrase.

    [00:27:26] But I, I think the jokes aside, maybe the reason why we don't need to use that as a term is because if we're truly gonna look at things from the consumer's perspective, there's no such thing as a channel,

    [00:27:36] Vicki Cantrell: Right.

    [00:27:37] Ricardo Belmar: right? The whole I idea of looking at it, measuring, developing, operating in terms of these channels is absolutely meaningless to the consumer.

    [00:27:46] And what is meaningful to the consumer is, do you have a product I'm looking for, where can I go get it? How can I get it? How can I learn about it? To make sure I'm, I'm making the right choice and can you help me do all of the above? [00:28:00] And sometimes that's on, could be on a live stream you know, could be in a store, might just be the website.

    [00:28:06] you know, now, now we're, because of the new developments in ai right? We actually have meaningful demos about chatbots being helpful, unlike previous generations that maybe weren't so helpful. but yeah, there's all these different ways to, to do that now. It doesn't matter. I, I think maybe I, I might rephrase it to say it's not that we need to stop thinking about channels.

    [00:28:23] It's that let's recognize the channels don't matter. What matters is, how are you making those things I just listed available to that customer? you know, I, I like using Jeff, your example. We mentioned about B N H photo and we talked last time at N R F, right? 

    [00:28:37] Jeff Roster: Just thinking 

    [00:28:38] Ricardo Belmar: Because it's like the per, it's the perfect example, right?

    [00:28:41] You needed to know. About a product and, and, and maybe it wasn't even a product, I guess I shouldn't say a product. You needed to know about a category, right? To help you decide on a product and you leveraged that livestream. It was a one-to-one, but I'd still call it a livestream for that learning experience.

    [00:28:57] Did it matter to you as a consumer that it was [00:29:00] a livestream versus you having been in New York City and walked into the b and h store? No. Right. And. It didn't matter. You got the answer you wanted. You knew what you wanted to buy in the end. And that's, that was the win. So I think that's what what I see is finally happening and we'll see more of it is the blending is real. and I think the technologies have caught up too. I think maybe one of the reasons, if, if we're honest, right? It's that there were a lot of technology promises in those past years that were 80% there, maybe not a hundred percent there. And retailers, you know, in fairness right, couldn't figure out how do I get that extra 20% to make it right.

    [00:29:34] I think the technology is catching up to that in many ways to make it more, more doable and easier to do. And, and. The consumer adoption is there. You know, one of the things I, I joked about with some folks at, at Shop Talk is last year's big hype was all metaverse, right? And when you look back and say, well, why didn't that necessarily pick up?

    [00:29:54] And I'm not gonna say that it's gone, but I am gonna say that it it, the promises that were talked about and hyped up at Shop Talk [00:30:00] last year didn't materialize because what's the thing that was missing? It was the consumer adoption of it. the retailers could do any, everything they wanted on that, but consumers didn't really have a reason to adopt it.

    [00:30:11] Whereas I, I think now the technologies retailers are looking at don't have that consumer adoption element because it's transparent to the consumer. And I think that's where the focus will go. So if a retailer thinks a, I'm not gonna worry about channels, I just need to present things in front of a customer in some way.

    [00:30:27] What are all the different ways I can do that? What technologies help me accomplish that? And which ones don't really require the consumer to learn how to use it because they're already using it. It's either, you know, consumers know how to watch a video. You don't have to teach them how to join a live stream, that that's easy.

    [00:30:41] You're gonna have to teach them how to go to a website. You have to teach them how to go into a store and do things. That's why Metaverse hadn't picked up yet, because consumers have to learn how to do it. And you know, back to Ron, your comment. It's not the year for shiny objects. 

    [00:30:55] So the, the technology, I think now, and I, I'll say for now, and let's make it the next [00:31:00] three years, the technology's gonna help with that seamless nature, which I guess I'm back to one of the four shop talk themes, right?

    [00:31:05] Seamless stores. but maybe expanding it to just seamless experience that that's where it's finally gonna go. And we won't have to, we're not gonna need to distinguish. Oh, is that an experiential retail scenario for the consumer, or is it about convenience? It's just there, it's just commerce.

    [00:31:21] Ron Thurston: Yeah,

    [00:31:22] Jeff Roster: Yeah, 

    [00:31:22] Ron Thurston: mean, I'd love I, 

    [00:31:24] Jeff Roster: Go ahead, Ron.

    [00:31:25] Ron Thurston: go ahead, Jeff. No, go ahead.

    [00:31:26] The New Way to Encourage Innovation With Consumer Adoption

    [00:31:26] Jeff Roster: So Ricardo, I know you're gonna be shocked to hear this, but sometimes vendors make a lot of buzz or noise or, or to go back to my old days hype. The whole metaverse thing is so illustrative because one, I I'm a fan because I've trained in simulators as a aviator for, for 25 years, but that is a massively heavy lift.

    [00:31:45] And to go and scream about something that is a massively heavy lift we're, we're absolutely gonna see that evolve and it's gonna take kinda like R F I D probably five to ten years. And so, you know what we need to understand, and this is where we as communicators really need to. [00:32:00]Probably should have been in front of that a lot more.

    [00:32:01] It's like, let's encourage innovation, but understand what it takes to innovate. You can't, I mean, you can't spend 10 trillion overnight. You have to do that in increments and you have to encourage the innovation and not make fun of it when it, you know, something like, like Metaverse doesn't blow up overnight.

    [00:32:18] There's a lot of processes and the process for innovation has become cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. And that's, that's what's also helping. I mean, low-code. I mean it's you know, my podcast partner, Brian can't say the word low-code enough in, in every sentence, it's low-code cuz he's a low-code guy.

    [00:32:32] But, but he's, he's sold me on that. I mean, when I started at Gardner, I, I mean terabyte of storage was a million dollars. I've got 15 terabytes on my desk. I've got three terabytes in my laptop. That's a picture in 20 years of the massively almost deflationary cycle or cost of, of innovation.

    [00:32:52] And that's what we have now. Now we have these tools, now we have all this stuff. You think about. You think about what, what a customer service channel is [00:33:00] gonna look like in a year. We're gonna be live streaming we're gonna have ChatGPT I mean, it is orders of magnitude different than what we, what we, what we were, you know, just a simple phone call even five or six years ago.

    [00:33:11] That's how fast we're innovating. And the key though, that's how cheaply we're able to innovate and to do things. And now the key point, and Ricardo, you're so spot on. You have a customer that now has more power in their hands and we, that's an old story, but they know how to use it. They know how to embrace it.

    [00:33:29] And I think the other thing that people need to understand, that's one thing Ron, I'm a little concerned about when I hear brands wanna maybe over, over. I don't know, try to manage that live stream a little too much. Look at TikTok. Those are not professional videos. Those are getting millions of views.

    [00:33:45] Those are kids with a phone in front of them. And so the, that expectation for something overmanaged, I think is gonna, is gonna be a negative more, more so than a positive. And so that's that part of that innovation where the customers way ahead of where we are as brands, as [00:34:00]retailers, and we're just sort of racing and trying to figure out, okay, how, how much professionalism do we put in?

    [00:34:05] How much do we let people run loose? So exciting. The next three years are just gonna be insane. Um,

    [00:34:10] Vicki Cantrell: what you just said has one specific word that is the same and has been the same for the last 10 years, will be the same for the next 10 years. The key is that the consumer knows how to adopt adoption. We all know that things that can't be or it's difficult to adopt, never work, whether it's metaverse or whatever, or tools.

    [00:34:31] Things that are easy to adopt will always work. And the consumer now has a very different set of a very different playing field for their adoption. That is not in our control and but it benefits us tremendously.

    [00:34:49] The Loyalty Factor

    [00:34:49] Ron Thurston: Yeah, agreed. I agree with you, Jeff. It's it's that balance of like, what can I do? Like test, learn, try, get out of it quickly, or, you know, [00:35:00] actually, if this is an important part of, of the customer journey, I think that what I would add to your question, Vicky, about the next three to five years is about loyalty, but I look at it in like really two, two very different ways.

    [00:35:14] I look at it from a, a store, I look at it from a store team if we're gonna talk about stores, we have to talk about team loyalty and people loyalty. And so the biggest pushback from investment in people that I hear from senior executives is, the turnover's too high for me to spend money on these people.

    [00:35:36] And my pushback is the reason that they're turning is because you're not investing. And if, if we don't, if we don't put more effort into loyalty at the front lines, it's going, we're gonna keep repeating the same mistakes and we're, we're never gonna deliver the results that we need if you can't retain the team.

    [00:35:56] So I think there's a huge loyalty frontline. And then [00:36:00] there's loyalty customer so much about first. Data, you know, how do we get new customers? How do we retain that customer? How much does it cost to get that customer? And while I think the conversation about having like the full picture of the customer when they walk into a store is a good conversation, I don't see it live in action.

    [00:36:22] If I'm a, you know, a, a very like loyal e-com for one brand, I walk into a location that they have no idea who I am. 

    [00:36:32] And so I think we, we have to figure out ways to retain loyal customers. That's cha, a channel less loyal customer. Uh, because they're putting a lot of effort in there. Now finding ways. I mean, that's, I was between NRF and, and Shoptalk.

    [00:36:48] I was at eTail, which, you know, that is very much about marketing and customer and first cus first party data and that we, we have to think about that as a major priority for [00:37:00] the next three years too. And from, from both sides. yeah. 

    [00:37:04] Vicki Cantrell: great point.

    [00:37:05] Ron Thurston: Yeah. 

    [00:37:06] Vicki Cantrell: And, and loyalty is not about points anymore. That's, that's, that's, that's gonna be like the word innovation really needs to mean something different. So does the word loyalty. It's not about earn points. It's a very different proposition. I think, Ron, you explained it. You explained it well.

    [00:37:23] Ron Thurston: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, and it's, it's, you know, luxury, luxury brands are going through this. Contemporary brands are going through this, you know, people are then, yeah, Walmart's writing about a luxury customer shop buying groceries at Walmart. Now how do, how do I retain that customer and a Walmart, but I'm also then buying a handbag at Gucci like this.

    [00:37:45] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm.

    [00:37:45] Ron Thurston: There, there's no one right way to say how a customer's behaving today, yet loyalty to the, to the brands where people have gravitated is how we will sustain great results.

    [00:37:58] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah.[00:38:00]

    [00:38:00] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I, I, I think, you know, hearing you say that I, I, I thought of two other examples like the Sephora at a Kohls. How does Kohls convert that Sephora customer to shop in the Kohls much like, you know, the Amazon returns in the Kohls, giving them, a coupon to buy something in the store over the next few days.

    [00:38:18] I think that's the same as your example Vicki, it's not of just about points uh, points and discounts don't buy loyalty for a brand, but then compare that to the kind of loyalty a brand like Apple has with their customers. Which I, if there's gonna be, if you were to pick two or three top brands, that probably reflect the highest loyalty, I think that has to be one of the top three right there. And sure you can point to, you know, the decision to open stores as having been a great piece of that, but it's not really just about Apple stores, it's just everything about them that drives the loyalty. And there's an example of a brand that doesn't give points and doesn't give discounts, that has a lot of super loyal customers.

    [00:38:54] As you know, when we got on here and we all showed off our, our AirPods Max headphones here. [00:39:00] So there's, there's a brand loyalty example that's real.

    [00:39:03] Ron Thurston: But

    [00:39:03] they have But they 

    [00:39:04] Vicki Cantrell: of the relationship experience. 

    [00:39:07] Yeah. 

    [00:39:08] Ron Thurston: but they also have frontline team loyalty. This is a, that's a brand that invests heavily in stores and training and development and, and strategy and upskilling them and investing and stretch assignments and going to Cupertino for a year, going to Hong Kong for a year.

    [00:39:26] Like they will do anything to make sure that their teams are happy. Having worked there, myself and I can speak to it like it, they're the loyalty, generally from Apple employees in stores is really high and you feel that they're proud to work there and they're could not be more excited to sell you 600 dollar headphones.

    [00:39:47] And you know, we, we all, we all do. We all do it. And it's a really good example, Ricardo. Yeah.

    [00:39:53] Back to Changing Relationships As The ShopTalk Theme

    [00:39:53] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. Well, Vicky, you started us on the, that changing relationships theme as maybe the [00:40:00] core theme of the four that Shop Talk mentioned. I think Ron, with the raising the point about loyalty, you brought us right back full circle again to the changing relationships and how that, if we were to pick one theme of, of the four that Shop Talk's that I think we're, we're sort of, maybe indirectly agreeing here that the number one theme was these changing relationships and which includes both how you build that brand customer relationship, but also the brand employee relationship, and I think we can add in, you know, brand to brand relationship. It really is all about how those relationships are changing and how they remain together for the success of the business.

    [00:40:38] Ron Thurston: Yeah. agreed.

    [00:40:40] Vicki Cantrell: agreed. 

    [00:40:41] Ron Thurston: Yeah. 

    [00:40:41] Ricardo Belmar: So I think maybe that's a good note for us to close on,

    [00:40:46] Vicki Cantrell: Sounds great. 

    [00:40:47] Ron Thurston: Yes, 

    [00:40:47] Vicki Cantrell: is always so much fun. 

    [00:40:50] It's a great, always a great conversation 

    [00:40:53] Ricardo Belmar: think Jeff, your idea is onto something here that we do these after an event a few days or so after the event, so we've all had time to kind [00:41:00] of think about and, and digest it.

    [00:41:01] Jeff Roster: yeah, I, I do think, I do think vendors are gonna have a tough decision now. I mean, they're gonna have to consider shop talk a, a, a, a really legitimate show. And especially if they push into the store aspect of it. It's gonna be interesting to see how, how, how you allocate your marketing dollars. But I was impressed.

    [00:41:17] I was very impressed with the show.

    [00:41:20] Ron Thurston: me too. Very impressed. Is anyone going to Barcelona?

    [00:41:23] Vicki Cantrell: No.

    [00:41:24] Ron Thurston: No. 

    [00:41:24] Ricardo Belmar: unfortunately, 

    [00:41:25] Jeff Roster: great city, but two darn

    [00:41:27] Ricardo Belmar: if only so, yeah,

    [00:41:28] Ron Thurston: no recap of Shop Talk Barcelona.

    [00:41:39] Ricardo Belmar: Yep, Well,

    [00:41:39] Jeff Roster: Maybe 

    [00:41:40] Ron Thurston: I think 

    [00:41:40] Jeff Roster: cover it. Maybe we'll cover it from afar. we'll just, we'll just jump the, We'll, jump the Twitter hashtag and then give our 

    [00:41:45] Ricardo Belmar: right. right. We'll, we'll look for great photos from people who are fortunate enough to be there.

    [00:41:52] Jeff Roster: Exactly.

    [00:41:54] Ricardo Belmar: Well, I, I guess maybe on that sort of disappointing note for the conversation

    [00:41:57] Ron Thurston: Sorry. 

    [00:41:58] Ricardo Belmar: we'll, we'll wrap it up [00:42:00] there. What do you say Jeff? 

    [00:42:01] Jeff Roster: Sounds good.

    [00:42:02] Ricardo Belmar: Sound good? All right. Well, Ron, Vicki, a as always a pleasure. Thanks again. We're gonna have to keep, keep doing these cuz this is just too much fun not to.

    [00:42:10] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah, it's great. I love seeing you guys. Happy Friday. Happy weekend. Happy Easter. Happy Passover.

    [00:42:16] Ron Thurston: Same. Same to you. 

    [00:42:17] Same to you. Thank you. 

    [00:42:18] Ricardo Belmar: Thanks everybody. Thank you.

    [00:42:19] Vicki Cantrell: Okay, bye.

    [00:42:21] Ron Thurston: Bye.

    [00:42:22] Show Recap

    [00:42:22] Casey Golden: Welcome back everyone and wow, I loved that conversation. I'm so with you guys on focusing on people. Retail is, totally a people business. I might not have been at Shop Talk, but I have to agree with the whole point about changing relationships and focusing on people loyalty both with store teams and customers is really where every retailer and brand needs to go.

    [00:42:52] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, it, it's interesting how different this discussion went compared to the conversation Jeff and I had with Krystina [00:43:00] Gustafson and Ben Miller in part one of the series. In that discussion, we really dug into, All the main trends at the show, and, and both Krystina and Ben really gave us some amazing details and viewpoints on how those four trends were manifesting in the industry and how people talked about it at the show.

    [00:43:15] And they were totally right about those trends. And of course, I, I have to put a plug in here for retail media networks and that that's for you, Jeff, if you're out there listening, you know, I couldn't resist to bring that up, just, just so you're aware. But when Ron and Vicki both brought us to that intersection of technology and people, it nicely outlined how it really does come down to people no matter what you do with the technology in retailing.

    [00:43:36] I have to say, that's what made this one of my favorite conversations on the podcast yet.

    [00:43:41] Casey Golden: Well, I mean, I really appreciate you guys for, you know, always bringing it back to center, amplifying the importance of relationships. It's really been with a heavy heart over this pandemic, just kind of seeing clientele turn into email marketing and diluting the magic of these relationships and that sales process, [00:44:00] or beyond the sales process, like the brand experience, you know, coming from the luxury side.

    [00:44:06] It's so much more than a sales associate, and shopping alone just hasn't hit the same note. So I'm just really excited to see so much focus go into the people, the relationships, the technology that needs to be made for people to like scale their work. Workspaces, digitization, not just replacement and, and AI like,

    [00:44:34] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah,

    [00:44:35] Casey Golden: AI Bard and I are not getting into conversations about shoes, pants, jackets, dress, nada! not invited 

    [00:44:42] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, that's not happening. Yeah. I, I, I really think Vicki nailed it in her comment when she said, you know, the relationship is the experience. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about. And you know, as often, I mean, let, let's face it, we talk about technology on this show all the time, but we, we can't lose sight of [00:45:00] why are we talking about technology?

    [00:45:01] It's to help augment that people relationship, not replace it. And, and that I think is really what we're, this conversation really got to. And, and I'm really excited that that's where it ended up.

    [00:45:11] Casey Golden: Me too. I'm slightly biased, but thanks. I, I, I really like how you guys brought this together. With that Vicki called the melding of online in stores. Of course, I'm a store girl, right. But I like built some of the first e-commerce stores. And I just love talking about like store teams, how interacting with a stylist or a personal shopper makes a completely different and unique experience from discovering products to just the buying process.

    [00:45:42] Vicki just nailed it by saying that the experience is the relationship and what that melding, digital and physical is all about. When retails retailers do it right, services

    [00:45:56] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm.

    [00:45:57] Casey Golden: are significant.

    [00:45:58] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. I, I [00:46:00] agree. And I think Jeff added a great point there too, about how the technology has to enable this, not compete with it, not make it more complicated. You know, it's that, it, it's that whole adoption point that we all talked about and why I think we all agree in that, you know, the, the current tech trends like, All, everything about generative AI right now and anything else that took over the conversation at this year's Shop Talk really have an advantage over the metaverse trend from last year's show because it comes down to consumer adoption.

    [00:46:26] If consumers can benefit from a technology without adopting anything new or any, whether it's a new habit or the ac, technology on, on the consumer side of it, then that's a winner. For retailers, if consumers have to adopt something, it's gonna take a lot longer for, for them to complete that adoption and to make an impact on, on the retailer's business.

    [00:46:43] It doesn't mean it won't happen. I think to Jeff's point about metaverse, I think we'd all agree it's gonna happen. It will happen. It's just not happening right away. It might not happen in less than a year's time. It's more of a long-term play. But some of these other technologies that we're trending this year, they have an immediate impact.

    [00:46:58] Casey Golden: Hundred [00:47:00] percent. I mean so much, so many of times technology ends up taking the work out of the business or the process and puts all of the work on the consumer. They have to do the heavy lifting and I think metaverse is definitely suffered from that, you know, the perspective that you just spoke of.

    [00:47:22] But then again, like. Web three has a better chance of making a difference because it's easier to lift on the consumer side than the Metaverse. The adoption will come from loyalty programs, as an example. Exclusive and unlockable content. Just look at Starbucks New Odyssey program and what you and Jeff talked about with Max from Z Blocks back at N R F.

    [00:47:46] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, that's true. That that's true. I mean, although I have to admit, I, I, I've totally failed in my efforts to unlock the first NFTs in the Starbucks program. I didn't get enough points to get the early drop.

    [00:47:55] Casey Golden: All right. Well, I, we, we'll, we'll, we'll, we'll do a little one-on-one[00:48:00]

    [00:48:00] Ricardo Belmar: I may need your help on that.

    [00:48:01] Casey Golden: Be offline and on the blockchain.

    [00:48:04] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Oh, okay. I guess you know that maybe with your help, I can do better next time. But you know, I, I guess on that totally disappointing note I think this is, it only means one thing for this episode, right Casey?

    [00:48:17] Casey Golden: Indeed it's that time to, to wrap up. And I have to say, I agree. It's the best one ever. So we're gonna wrap up this Shop Talk crossover series with Jeff Roster and This Week In Innovation, it's been good.

    [00:48:32] Ricardo Belmar: It has.

    [00:48:33] Show Close

    [00:48:33] Casey Golden: If you enjoyed this season shows, especially our just completed podcast crossover mini-series, 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. Plus remember, you can watch us, not just listen on our YouTube [00:49:00] channel and like, and comment there too. Share your thoughts. 

    [00:49:03] If you wanna know more about what we talked about today, including a full transcript of this episode, take a look at the show notes for handy links and more deets. I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [00:49:14] Ricardo Belmar: If you'd like to connect with us and share your thoughts on this season and crossover series, follow us on Twitter at Casey c Golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure and follow the show on Twitter and LinkedIn, too, at Retail Razor for the latest updates. And watch for our season finale episode coming soon with a truly special guest host that's gonna turn things around and ask us questions for a change.

    [00:49:37] But for now, I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:49:39] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:49:42] ​

    [00:49:45] Ricardo Belmar: And remember, there's never been a better time to be in retail if you cut through the clutter. 

    [00:49:49] Until next time. 

    [00:49:50] This is the Retail Razor Show. [00:50:00]

    50m | Apr 28, 2023
  • S2E12c #ShoptalkLive – SPECIAL – Digital Twins with Site Bionics

    How can retailers perform A/B testing of merchandise layouts in their stores without cost and without burdening store teams? By using Digital Twins, that’s how! So how does a retailer build a digital twin of their stores? Meet startup Site Bionics and founder and CEO, Adam Blair. It’s Part 3 of our #ShoptalkLive podcast cross-over series with This Week in Innovation and special guest host Jeff Roster, recorded live and in-person at Shoptalk!

    In this episode, Jeff and regular host Ricardo Belmar sit down with Site Bionics CEO, Adam Blair, to learn how they are helping retailers solve merchandising and operational challenges via digital twins, dramatically reducing the cost of testing new store layouts. Plus, we learn how Site Bionics can even help validate coverage maps of loss prevention camera systems! Yes, Jeff and Ricardo have uncovered another trend at Shoptalk – using loss prevention camera infrastructure in multiple ways that will positively impact your revenue streams and lower your costs. It’s all in this episode!

    We’re now standing at number 19 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list – if you enjoy our show, please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 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 director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E12c Digital Twins with Site Bionics

    [00:00:00] Show Intro 

    [00:00:20] Casey Golden: Hello Retail Razor Show listeners and viewers, and welcome to retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. I'm your host, Casey Golden.

    [00:00:33] Ricardo Belmar: And I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar. Welcome to part three in our Shop Top Live crossover event with Jeff Roster, and This Week In Innovation podcast.

    [00:00:42] Casey Golden: You guys really make me feel like I missed out on some great conversations. I think I'm getting more FOMO than our listeners here.

    [00:00:51] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:00:52] Casey Golden: You are killing it with these amazing interviews. I have to come and join you guys next time, even though like I have no business [00:01:00] purpose to be there.

    [00:01:02] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it would be amazing if you could make it, Casey, we definitely missed you on this. It was lots of fun to, to capture these sessions. So on today's show, we are talking about none other than digital twins. One of my favorite probably my, the favorite metaverse topic that isn't necessarily a metaverse topic.

    [00:01:22] Casey Golden: Right. Well, I'm already hooked, so just tell me more. Spill it. Who did you guys chat with?

    [00:01:30] Ricardo Belmar: So this time Jeff and I spoke with Adam Blair, c e o, and founder of Startup Site Bionics. And in this discussion we learned just how popular it is to use those loss prevention cameras in your store for so much more than loss prevention. I mean, this was the second startup we talked to that were tapping into those cameras as a resource for analytics.

    [00:01:50] This time using them to help build a multi-layered digital twin of your store.

    [00:01:54] Casey Golden: Interesting. And you guys uncovered a trend trend there. Wow. Like [00:02:00] not many people would've said those loss prevention cameras are so popular not too long ago.

    [00:02:06] Ricardo Belmar: yeah. Right. Exactly. So you, you'll also want to keep track throughout this discussion with Adam of just how many different use cases and questions you can answer about your store environment using this digital twin that you build with, with their solution and, and all the loss prevention cameras plus a few extra little add-ons that that I think are pretty clever that they do.

    [00:02:25] Casey Golden: Well, let's not spend any more precious time talking about it. Let's get right into the discussion with you, Jeff and Adam Blair, c e o of Site Bionics, recorded live and in person at Shoptalk 2023.

    [00:02:40] Site Bionics Interview

    [00:02:40] Ricardo Belmar: ​hey everyone we are back at Shop Talk 2023, continuing our crossover event with This Week In Innovation. I'm Ricardo Belmar. I'm host of the Retail Razor Show and I am here with none other than the myth, the legend, Mr. Jeff Roster,

    [00:02:59] Jeff Roster: [00:03:00] how you, how you doing today? I don't know about you, but I am dragging. I'm possibly, I went a little hard on the, on the evening research opportunities last night.

    [00:03:08] Ricardo Belmar: Just a little, just a Yeah, yeah.

    [00:03:10] Jeff Roster: little bit hard, but it was

    [00:03:11] Ricardo Belmar: It's, it was, yeah. It's, it's what are we day three? Are we day three, day

    [00:03:14] Jeff Roster: five. I tried to, I really was planning on being done by eight, but there was an event at the What Skyfall lounge, which was started at nine 30.

    [00:03:24] Phenomenal. But boy, that got a little bit late Little 

    [00:03:30] Ricardo Belmar: I hear you. I hear you. One, one more day to go. One more day. One more day to go. All right. All right. So the good news is we've got another great guest with us today. Jeff. We are here with Adam Blair and the CEO of Site Bionics, who's gonna tell us all about the cool things that he's working on over there.

    [00:03:47] So Adam, I'm gonna let you introduce yourself here and dive in and give us your background and what Site Bionics is all about and what you know, what challenges are you solving for retailers and, and give us the scoop.

    [00:03:58] Adam Blair: Sounds good. [00:04:00] Thanks for the intro. Yeah. At Site Bionics we're helping retailers make sense of their physical world.

    [00:04:04] And what that means particularly is we're building digital twins for retail stores. And we, we view that as, just to be clear, cuz we, we you know, one of the things that you get into with digital twins is there's a lot of different uses of it.

    [00:04:16] The different, it's an kind of an overloaded term. Right, right, right. We view the digital twin as a data, fundamentally a data model of the store. And it's a means of getting, taking the messy, unstructured, unstructured data that you get in a store when you have humans moving around doing what humans do.

    [00:04:32] And and, and you try to make sense of it all. So yeah, for us, it, it actually getting into a little bit of how we do that, we start a little, we start by getting a, a sense of the site. So we have the means of going around and getting a physical rendering. So, to be clear, it's not sort of a metaverse play in that direct sense, right?

    [00:04:50] Where we're just, you're not necessarily going into it. But we do have, for what it's worth, we do have a rendering that's like video game quality rendering of the space. But that's a tool it's a [00:05:00] tool that allows us to we, we can start there. We can help retailer to understand how the store is laid out whether or not their merchandising and their layout is matching what they expect from corporate and, and be able to feed that data back.

    [00:05:11] And that's sort of our layer. Right. Then we have the ability to layer on to use existing cameras in the store as available and be able to add sort of our video analytics piece on top of that where you can track movement through the space. Right. And then we have an iot portion that can go beyond that too, where we can leverage on my, my pack background in, in R F I D particularly and, and other iot technologies and, and be able to.

    [00:05:36] That and, and, and build really. So it's sort of these layers and we want to bring value to retailer to each of these layers, right? And but it's the full data source. That's really the thing. And, and, and then once you add that, you get that full system you get the learning that goes on top of it.

    [00:05:51] And then you have the ability to move into higher levels of analytics where you're able to get a model and understand how things are behaving, why they're, why things are happening and, [00:06:00] and then help retailers better understand how to use their space and make the most of it.

    [00:06:04] Building a Digital Twin

    [00:06:04] Jeff Roster: So a couple questions right off the bat. How do you get the, the first rendering in, in layer one?

    [00:06:10] Adam Blair: Yeah, we do that with it's, it's, it is using just a cell phone standard imagery. We have the ability and we, we've actually this is the piece we've built so far. We're, we're obviously very, we're very new startup.

    [00:06:19] We've only been around for a couple months but this is a piece that we have, we developed the capability to go into a store and develop that rendering in about 15 minutes for like a mall size store. So yes. Yes,

    [00:06:31] Jeff Roster: So who would actually do that? Would store associate level? I mean, just literally somebody just taking their phone and just videoing the the aisles and 

    [00:06:37] Adam Blair: that's right. 

    [00:06:38] Jeff Roster: Oh, wow. Okay.

    [00:06:39] Adam Blair: Yeah. It's, it's, we don't want it to be specialized. We don't want to have to send our people in. We want to make that available to, you know, the, the people that are there for, for ease,

    [00:06:46] Jeff Roster: Then I think in layer two, you said something about tying into existing cameras, is that the LP cameras or

    [00:06:52] Adam Blair: we have the ability to do that. Yes. Or that, that's what we're working to build, I should say the, the, the DVR that's existing on the camera, right? I mean, we're, we're, we're very [00:07:00] sensitive about privacy. Right? That's a big, big deal for us. We mean that genuinely. So we don't, you know, we don't want to be storing any date, any, any image data.

    [00:07:09] We wanna leverage the existing systems that, that are there.

    [00:07:11] And so we would, yeah, we would be able to essentially connect in with the existing security system and, and be able to derive analytics from that.

    [00:07:20] How Retailers Use Digital Twins

    [00:07:20] Ricardo Belmar: Hmm, interesting. So tell us then a little bit about what kind of analytics you would expect a retailer to, to benefit from here, how would they use, so once you have the digital twin of the store, right. How are you expecting a, a retailer to use this?

    [00:07:33] Adam Blair: Yeah, we're expecting I mean, it's, it's, look, we, we think that this if we can get to the full digital twin or when we get there, I should say that it, it can be used in, in all sorts of aspects of how they run the store. So and how they engage with their customers as well. Right? So it starts with making the most, the, the best use of the space that they have, right?

    [00:07:50] Understanding how they wanna lay out a store, right? We would expect them to, in, in the long run, to be able to sort of model how they think it should work. Test it out, you might be able to [00:08:00] run AB testing in multiple stores, right. And, and, and really get to the next level of EF efficiency in sort of, in terms of the layout and, and merchandising.

    [00:08:10] We expect to be able to understand that the full con, the, the full shopper path to purchase. We do believe we have the ability to tie that back to individuals as if they were to opt-in.

    [00:08:19] They can opt in at any point in their journey, and the entire journey could be connected in. So you could start to actually conceive of a digital twin of the individual as they opt in and, and, and make better use of that.

    [00:08:30] And then and then, and then operationally in, in terms of operational efficiency, right? Understanding how their staff are moving around, how they're, who they're interacting, when and why. And, and try to improve operations as well.

    [00:08:41] So it's kind of, it can be kind of all things for all people. Right? I'm, I'm obviously sharing a vision here.

    [00:08:46] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:08:47] Okay. Okay.

    [00:08:48] What a Deployment Looks Like

    [00:08:48] Jeff Roster: So what would a deployment look like?

    [00:08:51] Adam Blair: That's a great question. Yeah. So the, the, the, the early deployment is you go in and you scan the store using our app which we, we are in the, we [00:09:00] we plan to productize, right? So you would go in and you would do that, that sort of first deployment, you'd connect into the back the, the security system just a computer in the back office kind of thing.

    [00:09:09] And and that's, that's actually all you need, right? Because you have the, the imagery and the, the, the data. We have the ability to understand what's a fixture, what's what different product. And infer your merchandising plan and how it, how it's the store is laid out. And, and so that's, that's kind of all that's necessary to g to get going.

    [00:09:27] We would be, you know, we would expect to be delivering dashboards and things like that. So your, your people in corporate, your merchandisers could actually interact with the store, right? You could actually lay it out in our tool set and drag and drop fixtures around and move them around in that way.

    [00:09:40] And then, and then push that down to your in-store.

    [00:09:44] You can get the, the feedback confirmation that the store has been laid out appropriately, and see how the behaviors adapt and how performance the store adapts.

    [00:09:52] Jeff Roster: So you're getting live feed constantly out of the the LP cameras. right. Any issue with LP?

    [00:09:59] Adam Blair: With, with [00:10:00] LP directly? It depends. I mean, it's gonna depend, it's gonna depend a lot on, on, on who, right?

    [00:10:04] Jeff Roster: so easy to work with. I'm sure.

    [00:10:06] Adam Blair: Very flexible. There is. Look, there's, there's absolutely a, a, a path in there with any, anytime. Look, anytime you put any computer system inside anybody's network, you have to be there's a process you have to go through. With lp it'll be more rigorous for sure.

    [00:10:20] Like I said, we we're, we're totally open from a privacy perspective having, having the code, getting vetted right is, is totally, you know, among our expectations, right?

    [00:10:31] Jeff Roster: Well, you know, Ricardo, that's interesting cuz that's the second, second startup we've talked

    [00:10:34] Ricardo Belmar: That's right.

    [00:10:35] Jeff Roster: tying in. So there's,

    [00:10:36] there seems

    [00:10:36] to be a trend

    [00:10:37] Ricardo Belmar: trend here in leveraging that LP video

    [00:10:39] Jeff Roster: 36 hours ago, if you would've said, You're gonna run stuff through the LP camera. I've said you're crazy, but, but I mean, obviously two, you know the last two folks we talked to, so Yeah.

    [00:10:49] And it does make sense to sweat those assets. So

    [00:10:51] Ricardo Belmar: right. No, I mean, it, it does because you, you've already got a lot of useful information there. You're already covering exactly what you want to see in the store, so [00:11:00] this is a great way of, of using that information to derive new data insights from it. 

    [00:11:05] Adam Blair: In fact, one of, one of the, one of the potential early, early benefits you can have from this approach is you can actually get an, an immediate assessment of how good are your, is your security camera layout, right? Because we could show you exactly where in that 3D rendering you have coverage and where you do not. Right. 

    [00:11:20] Ricardo Belmar: that's interesting.

    [00:11:21] Interesting. 

    [00:11:21] That's interesting. Yeah. Yeah.

    [00:11:23] Jeff Roster: Any sense right now what percentage of the store is covered? I would think in theory they would say a hundred percent, but obviously it can't be a hundred 

    [00:11:30] Adam Blair: Yeah. Talk to the employees and see what they say. Right.

    [00:11:33] where they take those hidden breaks. I, I don't actually have a sense for that. I mean, it, it's it's, and, and, and it's also the sort of thing again, we, we have the ability to go in and say where those holes are, how to fill them.

    [00:11:44] The Digital Twin Vision

    [00:11:44] Ricardo Belmar: So do you envision a retailer using this, so, you know, once you have that digital twin, they have the model that they're gonna do a lot of kind of what if and ab scenarios on, product placements on shelves, and rearranging things and doing some modeling with that before they push that down to stores.[00:12:00]

    [00:12:00] Adam Blair: Absolutely. I mean, I, I think that that's that, that's absolutely one of the expectations. The other way that I actually like to look about, look at it is you know, most retailers when they provide direction down to the stores, they're providing guidance. And there's different, retailers are different in terms of how much local control that they give, but I love the idea of giving a bit more local control. Right. You know, one, one of the retailers we spoke with about this, they had, they said that the reason they don't give more local control is that they found they don't trust the control at the retail at, at the, at the retailer, at the, at the local site.

    [00:12:28] Right. They, they you know, the, the person that has best of intentions and, and the example that they gave us directly was then you end up with a beer next to the back to school section. Right.

    [00:12:38] Jeff Roster: It might

    [00:12:38] work. I don't know.

    [00:12:39] Ricardo Belmar: I don't, I don't know if that's unintentional, that

    [00:12:41] Jeff Roster: it would've worked at.

    [00:12:42] Ricardo Belmar: exclusively as a parent. I don't know if that's unintentional.

    [00:12:44] Jeff Roster: definitely would've worked at Chico State. Dropping a daughter off at San Diego State, it absolutely would've worked there.

    [00:12:49] Adam Blair: Maybe a little off brand for the retailer though.

    [00:12:51] Ricardo Belmar: Maybe just a bit. Yeah, maybe a little.

    [00:12:53] Adam Blair: But, but, but, but you give that sort of control down and now you actually introduce some randomness into the larger system. And that's actually a good thing in this [00:13:00]case, because as long as you're able to measure and then close that feedback loop, when somebody goes and does something that's silly, you can, you'll see the behavioral changes of that.

    [00:13:10] When somebody does something that's, that's surprisingly effective, you'll see those re results too and be able to understand why. And so then you can pull that data up to the corporate level and feed it down to all of your stores, and so you can, you know, create more of a, learn a much tighter, more effective learning cycle as a result.

    [00:13:27] Ricardo Belmar: interesting. So I, I guess I have to ask, how did you come to this idea and what, what motivated you to create this solution. 

    [00:13:35] Adam Blair: Yeah, so it's, it's I guess it, it came through through a, a, a path, a journey, I suppose. It actually started couple startups I've had now this is my third, my third startup. The previous two have been in overhead, R F I D.

    [00:13:47] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. 

    [00:13:47] Adam Blair: And and, and one in particular, the first one was we were partnered with Intel in, in their responsive retail platform from 

    [00:13:54] Oh, okay.

    [00:13:54] Years back.

    [00:13:55] Ricardo Belmar: I remember that.

    [00:13:55] Adam Blair: Yeah. And so one of the things that we found early on when we did some, some of our [00:14:00] early R F I D deployments, we were getting like 85% of the, the total I inventory that we could actually like read within about an hour of.

    [00:14:09] we

    [00:14:09] found if we just left it on running continuously for long periods of time though, and we added just a, a strong probabilistic algorithm on top of it, that we could actually infer the inventory you needed for the purposes of restocking to a 99% plus accuracy by just at any given moment, just running over an extended period of time.

    [00:14:27] Because you could see the dynamics of the store. You could see how

    [00:14:31] so I haven't read something for a day. It doesn't, is it more likely that it's outta stock or it's still here and it's just not readable? Or is it, is it gone? And so by applying that sort of that that sort of algorithm and that model on top of the store, we are able to make much better, much more effective use of the really messy data that we had.

    [00:14:49] Right? So it, it started with that. As I got into talking to people in the computer vision space as well.

    [00:14:54] They have similar problems, right? Where you have, it's very messy, very uncontrolled data. And so you [00:15:00] start applying these higher level algorithms to it, and you start to get to the better insights, right?

    [00:15:04] You get, you start to answer the questions, you start to put yourself in a place where you can answer the questions that the retailers actually have, right? And, and to step back a little bit to the inventory question, ? Retailers don't really like, they think they want to know what, what is in their inventory list, right?

    [00:15:21] But in reality they want to know, should I restock right now? Right? And, and what items should I be restocking when they want to know, can I ship this? Can I have somebody that's looking at this item online right now? Should I send them to the store to pick it up? Right? Those are two very simple, very, very different questions that are, you know, it's, it's somewhat arbitrary to ask them of the same list. Right? And so by building the more comprehensive model, you can get to something that can answer those real questions that are being asked of the store, right? And so that's how we think about it. We think about it as queering the digital twin for whatever information. And the, the digital twin will give you the best answer for that [00:16:00] question, given the full context of the store, right?

    [00:16:04] If you're down to one umbrella, one umbrella, and you haven't sold them in a week, any, any in a week, right? You might be inclined to say, well, go ahead and send somebody that's 15 minutes away if I told you that it hadn't been raining in a week and it's raining now. Right? That answer's very different, So that's how we're looking at it, is the full context response.

    [00:16:21] Jeff Roster: So who do you sell into in that regard? Is that, is that BI? Is that what is that?

    [00:16:26] Adam Blair: Yeah, we think it's it, it, it's, it's most likely the cio ct CTO type level, right? Because we, we think about it in terms of the full data for the, for the, for the store. right? You think, we think about it in terms of you know, the, that the, the data source, because it, it, it is, it's a little bit tricky, right?

    [00:16:42] Because it is a lot of potential users for any of this data within the, within the retail store, and, and we're thinking about it being the CEO or the CTO being the conduit into the rest of the retailer.

    [00:16:52] Jeff Roster: Well, they'd be the one that buying it. But I mean, it it, where would I put that in my, in my tech stack? I mean, is that, is that business intelligence, is that I don't know, [00:17:00]video analytics, I guess. I mean that we've had that conversation too, it seems, seems pretty video in a lot of analytics. So are you comfortable with that sort of a classification. 

    [00:17:08] Adam Blair: I mean, I think I'd prefer being more business in business intelligence than, than, I mean, I, I, I don't like it being the source of the data. I like it being the, the context of the data. But I, I, you know I think that's something we're gonna have to work through with the, the different retailers and how they're organizationally structured too.

    [00:17:23] Right? Because sometimes the, the titles don't completely match the function.

    [00:17:26] Jeff Roster: That makes sense

    [00:17:27] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, that's, that does happen. That's true. Okay. . Well wow. I mean this is, I'm always fascinated by digital twin technology right now, as I think this is we're still sort of in early days on, on how retailers can leverage this kind of technology. What kind of questions can they answer by using it?

    [00:17:43] Kind of your, your last example there, Adam, about, you know, how, how you can have just slight variation, right? Very different questions to answer. And by leveraging that digital twin, you can come up with an answer where the absence of that, you know, how, how many different systems do you have? To be able to figure out what the answer is that that's being [00:18:00] facilitated here.

    [00:18:00] So I think this is really, really a fascinating space to watch. And Jeff, to your point, you know, now this is the second kind of conversation we, we've kind of come across where we're plugging into LP as a data source but using it in a pretty different, more creative way necessarily than, than we might otherwise think of.

    [00:18:16] Jeff Roster: I w I am writing the email to my, our, our mutual friend Tony, to say,

    [00:18:21] Ricardo Belmar: say are you thinking about this?

    [00:18:22] Jeff Roster: just curious what, just so what the LP sense is on that. But

    [00:18:25] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. So Adam, if somebody wants to reach out to you and, and find out more about what you're doing in Site Bionic, what's, how should they reach out to you?

    [00:18:32] Adam Blair: Yeah. Honestly, best way is just reach out directly adam@sitebionics.com. Also on LinkedIn is always a good way to get in touch with me. And happy to have conversations. Right? We're early. The conversations are, are, are the greatest value. The building, the relationships is, is is the most important thing for us right now.

    [00:18:47] Ricardo Belmar: Great. Fantastic. Well, Adam, thanks so much for joining us and we appreciate you taking the time out to meet with us, and we'll be, we'll be watching out to see how things progress for you.

    [00:18:56] Adam Blair: Thank you so much for having me.

    [00:18:57] Jeff Roster: Outstanding. Thanks. Bye.

    [00:18:59] Ricardo Belmar: [00:19:00] bye everyone. 

    [00:19:00] Show Recap

    [00:19:00] Casey Golden: Well, welcome back everyone. And wasn't that an interesting take on digital twins? Did you catch the ever important reference to computer vision? 

    [00:19:15] Ricardo Belmar: Yep, I did too. I did too. And this was a short but sweet session that we had with Adam. I mean, they are really leaning into helping retailers answer tough questions about their store, ranging from merchandise layouts to just general operations. I mean, having that digital twin opens a door to so many possibilities and AB tests that you can run without having to spend the time and effort to physically change it in the store and know what kind of results you're going to get. And this is just why I've been a big proponent of digital twins, is that one super important and practical use case for metaverse applications today.

    [00:19:50] Casey Golden: I agree. I don't think a lot of people know how much we have been doing physical twins in the [00:20:00] industry, like building the whole entire area of your Macy's shop and shop somewhere else to flo, do floor sets and and, and not just one, but you know, 30 retailers where their floors going, how that set's gonna look.

    [00:20:14] Stack heights. I think that I mean, we'd have whole teams that flew in to go ahead and, and play with that before the merchandise plans went out. Having these spaces from your stores into like throughout the whole entire process. It's just, it's, there's so, there's such a money savings here that if you can turn those cameras from a cost center to generating revenue,

    [00:20:40] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly.

    [00:20:41] Casey Golden: How awesome is that?

    [00:20:43] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly.

    [00:20:43] Casey Golden: most times when we think of like a digital twin, everybody thinks that it's avatar clothing,

    [00:20:48] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Right,

    [00:20:48] Casey Golden: right? Which I love. But I think that there's, there's so many different applications that where we spend millions of dollars every season [00:21:00] that could be recaptured and spent elsewhere by using these different types of digital twins in different ways of like visualizing Even just traffic pattern.

    [00:21:11] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, E. Exactly, exactly. I mean, just think of all the what if scenarios you can do, like you were saying, right? Where before you could have a team of people take days, right. To experiment and try different options, different layouts. And now you just put 'em in that, in the digital twin you can see exactly, you can do a fly through, and and kind of walk through that virtual space, see what it, what it's gonna look like to you and decide maybe that's not the option you want. I mean, it it, and it really does turn that whole cost center of having to absorb the cost of making those changes. Now it's something that helps you get to revenue faster, right?

    [00:21:41] Because now you, you can implement the changes. You'll know what the outcome is gonna be. You've predicted it. And now when you're asking the store teams to go and do these things, it's not an experiment anymore. Now, you know that you're doing something that's gonna have a positive impact right to your, your revenue stream. So it just makes so much sense. I really believe people should be [00:22:00] adopting this more and more. So I think that Adam is on to a good, a really good solid application here with Site Bionics, and we hope to see more of them in the future.

    [00:22:08] Casey Golden: Yeah, I mean, cutting lead time is, is a really big

    [00:22:12] Ricardo Belmar: Huge. 

    [00:22:13] Casey Golden: So what's coming up next in this series? We've got one more to go, right?

    [00:22:17] Ricardo Belmar: that's right. We've just got one more in the series and sure enough, this is probably my favorite of the set. You know, at the start of the series I teased that it was a follow up to that popular discussion we recorded at N R F. We did run into a few difficulties, however.

    [00:22:32] Casey Golden: Difficulties. Okay. I didn't realize there was gonna be a mystery attached.

    [00:22:37] Ricardo Belmar: Well, remember the TRI chat that Jeff and I had with Vicki Cantrell and Ron Thurston at nrf, the one that was supposed to be a a 10 to 15 minute discussion that turned into an almost an hour.

    [00:22:48] Well, yep. Well, we all agreed to do that same chat again at Shop Talk. But we did run into some scheduling challenges.

    [00:22:56] Sure enough, we were all so busy there was only one time slot that we could [00:23:00]manage to, to get together and, and RETHINK Retail was kind enough to let us use their booth space at Shop Talk to do this recording. So we planned it for the end of, I think it was day two at the show. But sure enough, that was also the time that Shop Talk had their happy hours scheduled on the expo floor.

    [00:23:16] And I mean, literally as soon as Jeff and I got to the Rethink booth and we were about to start setting up the recording equipment, suddenly we. All kinds of loud music starts blasting over the speakers because, you know, it's happy hour time, so it's time to put some music on the, on the show floor. I guess that was part of the entertainment.

    [00:23:33] So as you might guess, there was just no way we could record any audio under those conditions with all that background music playing. So we ended up deciding, okay, let's regroup. The week after the show, we'd all have some time to digest what we saw. Think about it. And we just do it a normal remote recording.

    [00:23:50] And so this last episode was not exactly recorded in person, but as a bonus it does mean that there's gonna be full video for everybody to watch this time.

    [00:23:58] Casey Golden: Well, that's [00:24:00] a fantastic way to close out the series and I'm sure it'll definitely be worth it. Now there's expectations that everybody's done their homework. So,

    [00:24:09] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, maybe I set that up a little too strongly. I hope, I hope we meet everyone's expectations now that I said that. But, but for now I, I'm just gonna thank Adam Blair for joining Jeff and me for this recording that we just went through at Shop Talk. Thank you, Adam. We will definitely be watching for Site Bionics' progress over the rest of the year.

    [00:24:27] Casey Golden: and on that note, Ricardo, this can only mean one thing. It's a wrap.

    [00:24:33] Show Close

    [00:24:33] Casey Golden: If you enjoyed this season's shows, especially our podcast crossover miniseries, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. Plus, remember, you can watch us, not just listen on our YouTube channel and like, and comment there.[00:25:00]

    [00:25:00] If you wanna know more about what we talked about today, including a full transcript of the episode, take a look at the show notes for handy links and more deets. I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [00:25:10] Ricardo Belmar: If you'd like to connect with us and share your thoughts on this season and the crossover series, follow us on Twitter at Casey C Golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure and follow the show on Twitter and LinkedIn at Retail Razor for the latest updates. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:25:27] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:25:32] 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. 

    25m | Apr 21, 2023
  • S2E12b #ShoptalkLive – SPECIAL - In-Store Analytics with ShopperAI

    How well do you know your in-store shopper versus your online shopper? If you’re like most retailers, you probably believe you know more about those online shoppers. But what if you had a full set of analytics on your in-store shoppers? What if you knew how shoppers react to a product they pick up off the shelf? Why they put it back instead of purchasing it? Meet ShopperAI, a startup that’s trying to change that perception by leveraging the existing video footage you have from loss prevention cameras to understand shopper intent and sentiment.

    It’s the second in our podcast cross-over event with This Week in Innovation and special guest host Jeff RosterRecorded live and in-person during Shoptalk 2023, Jeff and regular host Ricardo Belmar sit down with ShopperAI’s CEO, Lanor Daniel, and VP of Strategic Growth, Ari Pereira, to learn just how significant the insights are that retailers can learn about their in-store customers using their existing LP camera infrastructure. And if you’re a startup, you’ll also learn some important tips about how to present your solution to retailers by showing compassion first and foremost!

    We’re standing at number 19 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list – if you enjoy our show please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E12b In-Store Analytics with ShopperAI

    [00:00:00] Show Intro 

    [00:00:20] Casey Golden: Hello Retail Razor Show listeners and viewers, and welcome to retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. I'm your host, Casey Golden.

    [00:00:34] Ricardo Belmar: And I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar. Welcome to another episode in our Shop Talk live crossover event with Jeff Foster and This Week In Innovation podcast.

    [00:00:43] Casey Golden: These crossover podcast series are really so much fun and I have to start going to Shop Talk on a regular basis. I do.

    [00:00:53] Ricardo Belmar: Well, it would be amazing for her to join us next time. Casey, we missed here on this series for sure. So on today's show, [00:01:00] we are talking about the consumer struggle factor when choosing a product on the shelf. How to convert in-store data you didn't realize you had into meaningful customer insights. And the best contribution to your data analytics, loss prevention can make.

    [00:01:15] First I've got a startup life Question for you, Casey.

    [00:01:20] Casey Golden: Oh, bring it. Typically My answer is yes. More caffeine, please.

    [00:01:25] Ricardo Belmar: Of course, of course it is. So, so here's the question. So how important is compassion when working with retailers?

    [00:01:33] Casey Golden: Oh, that's good. There needs to be a lot of room for compassion. Operators have heavy workloads and technology has a tendency to add more work, not less. I feel that outsiders always need to go in humble and serve pretty much the opposite of our day-to-day with investors and startup culture. Really focusing on like the what if, how would, how important is just go in knowing and acknowledging that [00:02:00] you know nothing.

    [00:02:00] They know everything.

    [00:02:02] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. You're, you're, you're really there to help make them better, right. Not tell 'em what to do, but you're acknowledging that it's not that they're doing anything wrong, it's that there's always room to do better

    [00:02:13] Casey Golden: Because they're doing something so amazing. You wanted to bring this solution to them first.

    [00:02:19] Ricardo Belmar: it. There you go. There you go. That's right. It's, it's an honor to bring it to them because they're the best.

    [00:02:25] Casey Golden: They are, and that's why we decided to build these companies for like the best. Right.

    [00:02:30] Ricardo Belmar: right, that's right. That, that is so, so the right attitude and, and wait till you see where that comes into play in this discussion. So as you might have guessed in this show, we are interviewing a startup, Shopper AI. An Israeli startup specializing in a unique form of video analytics with the goal of giving you in-store data analytics that's as good as what you get on your e-commerce site.

    [00:02:52] So their, their c e o explains it makes the analogy that, you know, they, they are trying to be the Google Analytics for your store,

    [00:02:59] Casey Golden: [00:03:00] Fascinating. Now I see where the loss prevention angle comes from

    [00:03:03] Ricardo Belmar: right?

    [00:03:04] Casey Golden: all the security cameras providing that video footage for analytics. Right?

    [00:03:08] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. Exactly.

    [00:03:10] Casey Golden: Well, now I can't wait to see where this struggle factor you mentioned comes to play and how compassion works into all of this.

    [00:03:18] Ricardo Belmar: Well, it will definitely be illuminating for sure. No doubt about it. It's all part of our Shop Talk Live crossover event with Jeff Roster and This Week In Innovation. We recorded live and in person at Shop Talk, of course in Las Vegas last month. And Jeff really demonstrates how the struggle factor plays into making choices as a consumer.

    [00:03:38] So there's a good story about that that he uses to kind of illustrate that in the discussion. Plus we end with a really great discussion on how hard it is for startups to pitch to a retailer without coming across, perhaps a little bit too arrogant in trying to solve problems for the retailer. Which I think you just nailed it there, Casey, in your description of how to approach that, [00:04:00] that pitch session with the retailer.

    [00:04:01] We'll, we'll see how that goes.

    [00:04:04] Casey Golden: All right. In that case, let's get right into the interview with Shopper AI's, CEO, Lanor Daniel and their VP of Strategic Growth, Ari Pereira with you and Jeff.

    [00:04:16] ShopperAI Interview

    [00:04:16] Ricardo Belmar: ​Hey Everyone, welcome to another podcast crossover. This time coming to you live and in person from Shop Talk 2023. I'm Ricardo Belmar and I'm here with good friend Jeff Roster, host of This Week in Innovation. How you doing, Jeff?

    [00:04:36] Jeff Roster: You know, I'm I'm actually a little slow today. I might have gotten just a slight hard on day one of Shop Talk lots of evening research opportunities that I was

    [00:04:44] Ricardo Belmar: re research opportunities. Is that what we're calling it now? 

    [00:04:47] Jeff Roster: that what we're calling it. Okay,

    [00:04:48] Ricardo Belmar: We'll go with that. 

    [00:04:49] Jeff Roster: Really good research to be honest with you. But definitely you know, first day tons of energy It's just a great, it's really a, I'm really impressed with this venue because I had three events and they were all within, I dunno, you could throw a rock and [00:05:00] hit the main part of the exhibit and so, which meant people were walking by. So you not only had your event, but you also had all that traffic coming by 

    [00:05:07] Ricardo Belmar: all the passers by, yeah.

    [00:05:08] Jeff Roster: was Just a fantastic day day one I thought.

    [00:05:11] Ricardo Belmar: I agree. Day one was pretty, pretty interesting compared to, this is my second Shop Talk. Compared to last year, I think it was busier, a little more action.

    [00:05:19] I think people were enjoying themselves, a little bit more on day one than maybe last year, where last year this was probably for most people their first time out in an in-person event. So I think we're all getting a little bit more used to that. So this is a continuation, I guess I'll call it, of our crossover from NRF, where we had a number of super interesting interviews with really interesting retail tech companies.

    [00:05:41] And in that theme, we've got a fascinating discussion today for listeners. We have with us the team from Shopper AI that we're really excited to chat with. So I'm gonna ask Lenore and Ari to please introduce yourselves.

    [00:05:54] Lanor Daniel: Hi everyone, my name is Lanor Daniel. I'm the CEO and co-founder of ShopperAI.

    [00:05:58] Ari Pereira: Hello everyone. [00:06:00] I'm Ari Pereira I'm the VP of Insights and Strategic Growth for Shopper AI. Thank you for having us in the podcast.

    [00:06:06] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, it's great to have you here. So why don't we start by having you tell us a little bit about what's the challenge that Shopper AI addresses for retailers and how you're solving that.

    [00:06:14] Origins of ShopperAI

    [00:06:14] Lanor Daniel: Yeah. So basically we started four years ago in Israel. Me and my co-founder Sivan came from marketing online, digital marketing landscape. And we got partner with the retailer and we asked the question, how can we analyze data from your store?

    [00:06:30] And he was like, what data? And we were like, you know, in e-comm you have Google Analytics in order for you to be better, to optimize, to convert more. Conversion. What's conversion? And then we understand that there is a big gap between what's going on in the online landscape and what's going on in the stores.

    [00:06:48] And it got us so fascinating because, you know, ecomm just keeps growing and growing and we like to purchase online. It's easy. You feel like the website knows you, everything is so [00:07:00] focused and accurate. And when you go to a store, all the mess, all the noise, all the things going around and you feel like, I don't wanna go to a store, I want to buy online.

    [00:07:09] And basically this thing that we see in the past four and five years, e-com is growing fast and it's easy to understand. There is a lot of data you can be better, and the website really actually knows you and what's happening in offline stores that you come as a shopper. Shoppers, they're paying so much money for marketing, they're paying so much money for personnel, logistics promotions, and they don't know what happening with the user's journey. They don't have any data of users. I'm saying users because it's anonymously, so they don't know what's going on in the store in front of the shelves. Where are the problems? And this is where Shopper AI come to the picture. So this is what we've done in the past four years, building technology that allows us to grab this data from an offline store.

    [00:07:57] Jeff Roster: So let's talk about what it takes to get that [00:08:00] data.

    [00:08:00] Converting In-store Data to Insights

    [00:08:00] Lanor Daniel: Okay so basIcally. When we started to work with retailers in Israel, we didn't really understand how deep the gap is. So what we found out that in order for us to collaborate with retailers when they have all these things going on, like all the logistics and personnel, what I just mentioned, you need to be very easy, seamless integration.

    [00:08:21] And for that, we only had the security camera, so we need to crack the, the idea how we can get the data from a security camera that is already there. So we've been through four years of developments with engineer professors and like the best of the best. And we build an algorithm, a software that once we have a connection to the IP of the security camera, automatically takes the video.

    [00:08:45] We can show it as well, simple video from the store and turn everything that we just see right now to data.

    [00:08:54] and from a data to a dashboard. So if we take the equivalent on Google Analytics, Google Analytics, [00:09:00] analyze each and every movement in the website, what you're looking for, user's behavior, and put it in a dashboard.

    [00:09:06] So same thing over here. This is our website, the shelf. Each and every category is different. And what we see, it's all the movements and everything that they're doing. It's listed. We're saying you need to monitor your touches from the shelf, just like you monitor your clicks. Then we have conversion funnels, interaction.

    [00:09:24] We have a toucher, we have market shares. This is what everybody knows. So we have a toucher and we created a new language and things that if you come from E-com world make sense, but here for, for the industry, it's a bit new. So this is the process. We get connection to an IP of the security camera, the video, we turn it into data, and this data set turns into a dashboard.

    [00:09:49] Ricardo Belmar: So you've taken e everything that we're used to seeing in e-commerce metrics around, you know, if I the equivalent of looking at a product page, then by taking the video feed you're mapping that to, is this [00:10:00] person looking at a particular product on the shelf? If they're picking it up? If they're taking it, then you know they've added it to a basket like they would in an e-commerce site.

    [00:10:07] Lanor Daniel: they Correct.

    [00:10:08] Ricardo Belmar: So you can imagining, you can measure how long is someone standing in front of a product to see how effective the shelf placement is.

    [00:10:13] Lanor Daniel: Correct. And add another more thing for that. What you cannot see in online website. , it's a struggle rank. So we have ranking that you can use. So you mentioned time. So for example, things that we are looking for a specific product, a shampoo or a snack, or even in a, you know, in a Foot Locker store, you are looking for a shoe and then you're in front of the shelf, you're looking and I, something happened there that you're starting to struggle.

    [00:10:40] You know, this place like nevermind. I'll do it later.

    [00:10:43] Ricardo Belmar: Okay

    [00:10:43] Lanor Daniel: You know this feeling. So we have a struggle rank. You cannot have a struggle rank online.

    [00:10:48] Ricardo Belmar: Right. So you, you, so you have a measure of what that customer's sentiment was when they were standing in front of the shelf looking at products. So you have a little, you're adding some insights into their decision making process while they're shopping.[00:11:00]

    [00:11:00] Lanor Daniel: so it's accurate.

    [00:11:01] We are discovering the decision making tree. So each and every movement becomes suddenly a full map of what's happening. This is our dashboard by the. We can show it as well. So this is the decision tree looks like an octopus, but every moment since the moment that the shopper arrived, bef in front of the shelf, then we start the measuring.

    [00:11:24] So we have people who stopped, who are interested. You have people who interacted with a category and you have people who touched a certain product, look at it, put it back, and then either abandon the entire category. And this is for a retailer, a very bad thing because it lost the opportunity to sell the product.

    [00:11:41] And what we saw that happen during the research time that we've conducted in Israel, if you took a certain product, you looked at it, you put it back, you probably bought it somewhere else. We saw based on the research that 85% of those shopper go home. Maybe they stop in a convenience store and bought that product that they [00:12:00] were looking, but put it back.

    [00:12:01] So this is our lost potential.

    [00:12:02] The Consumer Struggle Factor

    [00:12:02] Jeff Roster: So how do you deal with, let's say if you followed me in my grocery shopping about four months ago, I really cleaned up what I was eating. So I'm paying very close attention to high fructose corn syrup. I'm paying very close attention to carbs, all, all that stuff. So I, I will pick up a product, look at it, and, and the struggle aspect.

    [00:12:20] It was interesting. I've never heard that term before, but I'm looking at it going, Ooh, too many carbs. Put it back. That was, I mean, that was just me analyzing the product and putting it back. There's, there's no chance, well, hopefully there's no chance I'm buying that because I've already made that calculation.

    [00:12:32] I don't want that. How, how are you classifying that kind of an engagement and how frequent is that? Is is hopefully more people are, are paying attention to what, what we're consuming.

    [00:12:40] Lanor Daniel: So this is a good example. We are not doing personalization measurements yet. We're looking for the big numbers. So basically I give the equivalent of Google Analytics. So what's happening in the store, every shopper that entered the category is measured. So every shopper, if we see this kind of a [00:13:00] behavior for 70% of the shoppers looking, turn it back and put it back.

    [00:13:04] We can say there is something in the product, in the ingredients that there is a problem with that.

    [00:13:08] Jeff Roster: Interesting. 

    [00:13:08] Ricardo Belmar: Interesting. Very interesting 

    [00:13:10] Jeff Roster: is crazy.

    [00:13:13] So if I'm, if I'm producing a product that let's say, maybe isn't the, the most healthy or not even close to being healthy and, and your data comes back and says, Hey, you have this, huge percentage of people that are looking at your product and putting it back.

    [00:13:27] Wow, I've never heard that before 

    [00:13:29] Lanor Daniel: Yeah. and it's based on real life data. And I'll take it to a different category. You spoke about healthy food, but you know, take shampoo category. So one of our clients in Israel, it's a big shampoo distributor, and he was like, I don't know why my shampoo is not selling. I think it's the price. And so we are not thinking, we are watching data and analyzing and what we saw, it was amazing. 

    [00:13:53] Like, we had this questionnaire that we were doing with it onboarding, and we asked could it be a problem with the product [00:14:00] itself? And they were like, no, it's the number one product. We did test, we did like a focus group. In the focus group, we ask everybody, which is, which is the best smell, and they choose that smell.

    [00:14:11] And this said, this is the best smell. So there is no way there is a product ah, problem. So we open the camera. And in Israel there is a thing that we're doing once we touch the shampoo, if it's a new shampoo, we, we like to open and smell it.

    [00:14:23] Jeff Roster: Oh, Jesus

    [00:14:25] Lanor Daniel: Is that, is that common

    [00:14:27] Ricardo Belmar: of course. Yeah. That's common. Yeah. Oh, I've, I've seen that. Yeah. Yeah. That's 

    [00:14:31] Lanor Daniel: It's common.

    [00:14:32] Yeah. So it's not just Israel is, 

    [00:14:34] Ricardo Belmar: yeah. 

    [00:14:35] Lanor Daniel: So what we saw, 75% of people, like the shoppers came to the shelf. They were looking at the new product, touching, taking the product. So that means it's not a price issue. I took it already, it's in my hand. And then they open, smell it, and they were like, Ugh, put it back

    [00:14:52] Ricardo Belmar: because you could see it on the video.

    [00:14:53] Lanor Daniel: listen, it's crazy. 

    [00:14:55] Ricardo Belmar: You see on the video that they didn't like like 

    [00:14:56] Lanor Daniel: it's crazy. And then you show those numbers, like it's [00:15:00] hundreds of thousands of people every day. You know, in a, in a big chain. And they were like, there's no way. And I was saying like, listen, if you ask somebody a question, ask me if you look good today, I'll say, yes, , maybe I don't

    [00:15:12] You know what I mean? Maybe it's 

    [00:15:14] Jeff Roster: Wait a minute. You said we look good today.

    [00:15:18] Lanor Daniel: So I'm

    [00:15:18] Ricardo Belmar: yourself. Jeff

    [00:15:21] Lanor Daniel: like in a focus group, people are saying like the rational thing and, and it doesn't mean that they will be motivated to purchase that product. And once you identify the problem, we're talking like in a category.

    [00:15:33] Identify the problem, the, the vendor itself or the retailer itself can understand, okay, so I don't need to do like a big sale or a big promotion because even

    [00:15:41] Ricardo Belmar: it's not price 

    [00:15:42] Lanor Daniel: exactly 

    [00:15:43] Ricardo Belmar: it's not price 

    [00:15:43] Lanor Daniel: to identify the problem

    [00:15:45] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. So, so this is, so we, you and I have talked about this, Jeff, when ever, we see some of these interesting survey, consumer surveys, that show up in the industry and our, our friend at George Mason University that's doing a very different kind of consumer in insight survey where, and, and I think your [00:16:00] example reflects that, Lenore, very closely because you have consumers in a focus group, if they know they're in the focus group and they know there, there are lots of people in the group, they may be psychologically less inclined to want to go against the group because you don't want to feel like you're the one that did that said what?

    [00:16:15] You're the, you're the one that's different, but you're right. When standing in front of the products at the store, in front of the shelf and you actually look at it and smell it and you're, you think, oh, this isn't what I like at all, and you make a completely different decision.

    [00:16:28] Next Generation Shopper Research

    [00:16:28] Ari Pereira: That's why we are the next generation of shopper research because we can really look of what is happening in front of the shelf, and we are translating that into different insights in terms of the shopper journey, the shopper behavior, and everything that is happening in store. That's where most of the retail stores are blind today.

    [00:16:48] Lanor Daniel: And take it one step ahead, because we're talking on in store, but let's talk about chains. In, in America, the scale is much bigger than in Israel. This is why we waited so much up until the [00:17:00] technology and the structure of the, you know, the architecture of the software will be scalable enough. So we spoke about one store, but if you're a chain like Nike or Walmart, and I give you your entire map, and we are connecting in all of the stores, suddenly you can see that.

    [00:17:16] You get alerts, not just about the shopper struggle ranks, you get alerts from the entire chain. So for example, in Denver, Denver, Colorado, what we see now, it's like we have less conversion. We have a problem with specific female that don't buy it. And as a manager or CEO or or VP marketing, you can see it pushed to you, as alert, what is the problem in the chain? And then you can take drill down to see the video that we saw before, specific category, what's the problem? So it's not just one store, it's scalable. We can see it 

    [00:17:51] Ricardo Belmar: scales the whole chain. 

    [00:17:52] Lanor Daniel: Exactly. And then the metrics is different. And we can do static statistics for the entire chain, which brings us to a different [00:18:00] universe.

    [00:18:00] And that was the idea, like making an unscalable world scalable,

    [00:18:05] Ricardo Belmar: so, so really you're combining the performance metrics that you would expect on your e-commerce site, but you're delivering that in store. And then on top of that, you're delivering all of these actual shopper insights and on shopper sentiment on their behaviors while they're engaged in that shopping.

    [00:18:22] Lanor Daniel: Exactly. 

    [00:18:22] Ricardo Belmar: All in one dashboard, 

    [00:18:23] Ari Pereira: yes, and when you think about harmony, right, You have all the metrics in E-com and most of the industries, they have some difficulty to make the data make sense because they are looking at something in the brick and mortar space. They are looking something different in e-com. And when you have similar KPIs, you can start to bridge the data and you can start to have a holistic view, which today you might be different because you're looking two different ways, but now you can have a holistic view of the data. Both places.

    [00:18:56] Lanor Daniel: Full pictures

    [00:18:57] Jeff Roster: So in your [00:19:00] deployments in Israel, I'm guessing you probably have more security cameras, although I think probably in America we might be catching up. How do you have to add anything additional to get the da? Anything from a hardware perspective or you are literally just using the footprint that's already existing.

    [00:19:15] Lanor Daniel: the beginning, we're starting only with what's existing and it gives you so much. 

    [00:19:19] Jeff Roster: Wow. 

    [00:19:19] Lanor Daniel: so much because you don't have anything like this. It's ongoing all day. Think that you're doing all the statistics of each and every shopper that answers the shop. So in the beginning, maybe there will be some you know blind spots.

    [00:19:33] Like we don't see everything, but we see most of it. So we can recognize most of the problems. And after a certain time, if the retailer wants to upgrade, we can put like our own cameras. In Israel, we add some cameras, but most of the chains that we're working with, we don't need

    [00:19:49] Ricardo Belmar: you don't need to add anything. 

    [00:19:50] Jeff Roster: And what, what's your thinking as far as US retail? Do they have enough security cameras? It's the same deal that you're gonna get more than enough to, to get going.

    [00:19:58] Lanor Daniel: So it's, it's interesting [00:20:00] this question. So the, our first time we touched base with America was at the nrf. We didn't really know what to expect. Mm-hmm. , We have Ari in our team and she's very experienced. , but all of us came from Israel. So what we found out in the nrf actually one of the meetings that we've conducted there so the VP marketing told me, she was like, we have like $30,000 worth of security cameras in our store and we're not doing anything with it.

    [00:20:29] And basically now you're saying that we can earn money from that.

    [00:20:32] Jeff Roster: well, let me make sure I understand. They're using those cameras for security purposes. They're just not using them. So a hundred years ago when I was back in retail we were not. I can say it cuz the company's outta business. Now, Mervins, we were not allowed as managers to use LP cameras for observing employees.

    [00:20:50] Just from a performance perspective. That was absolutely verboten. LP didn't, wouldn't allow us to even do that because we're all like, can I just look instead of walking all over this distribution center, can I just sit here?[00:21:00] So I don't know. Yeah. So I don't know. Is that still the, the is, does that still something you're gonna have to battle with lp?

    [00:21:07] That, hey, we actually wanna use your cameras for other reasons I could get where they don't want you to be moving their cameras, but is that an issue or is that, have we already moved past that?

    [00:21:15] Lanor Daniel: is that so today they are looking at employees, they're looking for performance. Those are some of the problems and issues that we heard from the industry while we were at nrf. And also for security matters. There is a big thief thing right now, right?, 

    [00:21:31] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:21:31] Jeff Roster: yes there is

    [00:21:32] Ricardo Belmar: I you're a little familiar with 

    [00:21:33] with that, 

    [00:21:33] Jeff Roster: Jeff. 

    [00:21:33] Yes. I'm, I live in California, so yes, very familiar with that. 

    [00:21:37] Lanor Daniel: Yeah.. 

    [00:21:37] Jeff Roster: It's not even an lp, it's more a more a political thing of, of we're no longer prosecuting crimes and, you know, less than 900 bucks, so you can literally steal $800 worth of 

    [00:21:46] Lanor Daniel: more, yeah, so we heard that a lot from, from a lot of retailers. Like they're, they're, they're believing that they had, there is a very high percentage today of. Thief that is going on in the store and they can't really see everything even with their [00:22:00] security cameras. So today they're using that for security and so for performance as well, trying to it's not an issue.

    [00:22:07] And basically our software is fully anonymously. If you saw the movie, everything, it's blur. I'm not looking to understand who is the person personally, I'm looking to understand the problem with the touches, with the body movements. That's what we're looking for. So, with with that being said, there is no problem

    [00:22:24] Jeff Roster: Wow. Very cool.

    [00:22:25] Ricardo Belmar: I guess at the end of the day too, compared to when you're thinking Jeff, now these are all IP based cameras. So everything is a video stream being stored in a server somewhere that even LP is using to go back to bring back footage. So now you're just taking a, you can take advantage of that same IP stream for a completely different purpose and, and let marketing have some advantages.

    [00:22:45] Store operations have advantage or you're extending the usefulness of the equipment that's already there 

    [00:22:50] Jeff Roster: Yeah, boy. 

    [00:22:51] Lanor Daniel: Exactly. 

    [00:22:52] Jeff Roster: just adding another budget to, to bind that, that infrastructure. So that's, that's fantastic.

    [00:22:57] Ricardo Belmar: bringing a lot more value that way. Wow,

    [00:22:58] Lanor Daniel: Yeah. And it's, [00:23:00] this is the exact point. So it's already there. They're not making money out of it. I'm not really sure how many thief they're catching from it. So then we come and then we bring them. Look, you get information, you get Ability. By the way, all this data that we are collecting, we're doing AB test.

    [00:23:20] So you know, in online we're saying like there is the, the certain color that you're choosing for the button, which color convert more. It's very easy to chain change online, off line. 

    [00:23:30] Ricardo Belmar: You can see that now, right? to actually show

    [00:23:32] Lanor Daniel: So we are changing like things, we're moving things and you see that conversion metrics go up or. and we want to really be better for the shoppers. And we're looking for, this is why I show the map. Like each and every area in New York, there are different needs that in Texas 

    [00:23:46] Ricardo Belmar: mm-hmm 

    [00:23:46] Lanor Daniel: makes sense, right? 

    [00:23:48] So why does, why doesn't it look different? 

    [00:23:50] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Why not adapt it? Yeah.

    [00:23:52] Lanor Daniel: And you speak about health, if we see in a certain city in Israel that there is more people who are looking for the ingredients and looking to [00:24:00] buy healthier food.

    [00:24:00] So why don't you as a retailer, put more shelves for healthy people? Like there is a lot of products put. Make it more accurate to the people around. And then if you see that there is a store which has all the, I dunno, best, healthiest food, you would like to go to check it out. Because right now you're keeping your diet, you're keeping your health, so the store will be better for you.

    [00:24:24] Up until today there were, you know, all the managers were, were gathering data by, by doing this market research once a year. And here you can see how shoppers change and their needs and to be connected to their needs daily.

    [00:24:39] Jeff Roster: Gosh, that's,

    [00:24:40] Ricardo Belmar: so you got some,

    [00:24:41] Jeff Roster: I'm stunned

    [00:24:41] Ricardo Belmar: advantages. You you're validating some planograms. You've got benefits for the category managers. 

    [00:24:47] Lots of different roles that can

    [00:24:48] Lanor Daniel: can you imagine E-com word without Google Analytics? Let's say now we wanna sell this product or this computer, and we are a team and I will tell you guys, listen, I'm doing e-comm, I'm specialized with, you know, users [00:25:00] analytics. You will bring me the product, I'm gonna build the website and do the sales.

    [00:25:05] So we did this business partnership and now I open a website. And then what I, I tell you guys, after one week we sold 1000 computers. Is that good? Sounds good. Right? And the next week we sold 2000 computers. But then I would expect you to ask me from how many people who interacted, right? Like what is the 

    [00:25:22] Ricardo Belmar: many people that didn't

    [00:25:23] Lanor Daniel: Like this is the first question, right? And they don't have this answer, like the basic answer, like conversion funnel. and then you have it all the time. And if you see that in the first week we had, I dunno, like 100,000 people in the website and the next week I had 500,000 people on the website and it go just with from 1000 to 2000.

    [00:25:41] Like,

    [00:25:42] Jeff Roster: You know, the question I'd love to have answered is how many people do that struggle engagement with a product? Meaning, cuz if. You know, looking at my behavior in the last three, three months, every single thing I buy at a grocery store, I'm, I'm looking at the ingredients, every single thing [00:26:00] and, you know, I'm, now, I'm gonna be making that, I'll be thinking of you folks.

    [00:26:03] I'll be making that face, 

    [00:26:04] Lanor Daniel: ah, 

    [00:26:04] Jeff Roster: and put something back 

    [00:26:05] Lanor Daniel: if

    [00:26:05] it's you do it. It's, it's like not rational movement

    [00:26:08] Jeff Roster: what I want to know, would it be really fascinating to know, is how many pe, how many, let's say a hundred people looked at a product, how many looked. And, and put it in their shopping cart or, or put it back because that might also be a really interesting indicator, Hey, wait a minute.

    [00:26:23] A lot of people are looked at your product, but boy, they look at those carbs, they look at those calories, or they look at that and put it back. That would be really cool too. That might be the, that might be the biggest opportunity to maybe bring some, some more enlightenment to 

    [00:26:35] Ricardo Belmar: what

    [00:26:36] I mean, think what I'm hearing is you can be even more granular than that, because if I pick up the product off the shelf, the way you are measuring this, if I turn it around to look at the ingredients, so the ingredients are always on the back.

    [00:26:45] Yep. Right. You'll. Your data will show that. Well, the reason the person put it back is because they turned it around so you can, you can make a logical assumption. If they turned it around, they'll check the ingredient list and that's why they put it back. Yeah. If they picked it up, looked at the packaging and put it [00:27:00] back, then you might say to the retailer, well, there's something wrong with their packaging, and they should go back to the brand and talk about redoing the packaging.

    [00:27:05] Lanor Daniel: Exactly. But we're looking to see not just, you remember it's big

    [00:27:09] Ricardo Belmar: but yes. Yeah. How so? It's right across all your stores, across all the customers that went by. If you know 50% of them picked it up and put it back, did

    [00:27:16] Lanor Daniel: suddenly, you know that 50% put it back. You 

    [00:27:19] Ricardo Belmar: which you didn't know before.

    [00:27:21] Ari Pereira: but the mo most important thing, then we can see what was the other product they touched next. Was it healthier? Which one did they buy in the end? Did they buy a healthier product 

    [00:27:30] Jeff Roster: Boy, 

    [00:27:30] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, 

    [00:27:30] Jeff Roster: imagine 

    [00:27:31] what our friend at George Mason University 

    [00:27:32] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, would do with that data . That's.

    [00:27:35] Jeff Roster: I mean, 

    [00:27:36] just 

    [00:27:36] Ricardo Belmar: would have a field day looking at 

    [00:27:37] Jeff Roster: Oh my gosh. Wow. Phenomenal.

    [00:27:40] Ricardo Belmar: Wow.

    [00:27:41] Activating Insights from Data

    [00:27:41] Lanor Daniel: so this is exactly it. Just today, to explain it a little further, so the numbers that everybody knows, it's. The numbers that it's in the cashier, right? How many, what is the market share? What is the market share they're looking to to raise that all the time. But this number, like they already interacted, they touched it and [00:28:00] put it back.

    [00:28:00] So there are some categories that reach to 70% abandoned rate, 70%. And what you see, this is very interesting, that from those 70%, like you can see more than 60%, most of the time the same problem.

    [00:28:16] Ricardo Belmar: Interesting 

    [00:28:17] Lanor Daniel: So if you change a small thing, you can convert those 60% because they already show the interest. It's not just stopping.

    [00:28:24] It's not just looking. They, you touched it already. Think about this moment you touch, you look at it. All you need to do is right? 

    [00:28:30] Ricardo Belmar: Which is in some ways more than what you would know on the e-com side, because all you know on the e-com side is that you went to the product page, but you don't know anything about other than how long you had that page open, which doesn't necessarily tell you anything about intent.

    [00:28:43] But here you actually know and you can know that they make a face at it, right? So you have all these other factors that you're measuring.

    [00:28:48] Lanor Daniel: time. What is the average time in a specific category? In snacks category, it's lower than other categories, cuz snacks, it's like more impulse, like cashier area, you know, [00:29:00] always the cashier area.

    [00:29:00] We say to put impulse product. Who said who said that? Why? You know what we're doing today, we're we're next. When we are next to the cashier, we're playing with our phone. . 

    [00:29:11] Ricardo Belmar: Everyone's

    [00:29:11] Lanor Daniel: So there is no focus to the outside and this is the most expensive area today in the store, but you're like this, or maybe with your child or maybe with your fr like everything 

    [00:29:21] Ricardo Belmar: is because that was a theory that a grosser decided 80 years ago made sense do. 

    [00:29:25] Lanor Daniel: Exactly. And you know the theory that you said that it should be an eye level to sell more. who said that? is it really true? 

    [00:29:33] Ricardo Belmar: is it still true. Yeah, 

    [00:29:34] Lanor Daniel: exactly. And once you discovered this, you understand the problem. We saw it in one product.

    [00:29:40] It was mento, you know,

    [00:29:42] the, so Mentos want to, to understand what is their problem, and the VP marketing was like, listen, Lenore, my problem is that I'm not on the eye level. And I'm like, okay, let's check. And what we saw that in the cashier area, if you managed to put away your phone, , what got you attracted [00:30:00] to the shelf was the Mentos color.

    [00:30:01] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm. Interesting. like, yeah. Right, 

    [00:30:05] Lanor Daniel: So we saw shoppers. Once they le left the phone looking at the color, the color, attract them to come, they came the touch. That was their first touch. Come touch the Mentos, look at it, put it back, and took the 

    [00:30:18] competitive. And the competitive back then when we started was 47% market share and Mentos was 29.

    [00:30:25] And what we told Mentos, it's a simple thing, listen. People are looking for you, you're the anchor. They're not purchasing you. So they never saw this kind of data. You need to move around from the competition. Once they move around away from the competition in a different shelf,

    [00:30:42] they got like 200 uplift% 

    [00:30:46] Ricardo Belmar: Christmas 

    [00:30:47] Lanor Daniel: And today, after a year, Mintos is almost 49% market 

    [00:30:52] share. and the competitive is 27. But listen, it's a small insight. So we're not saying push it to people that don't [00:31:00] want, if a person, a shopper interacted, something got interested, so 

    [00:31:04] Ricardo Belmar: was just grabbing more conversion from people who were already showed some intent in your 

    [00:31:08] Lanor Daniel: promise.

    [00:31:09] Exactly. Crazy, right?

    [00:31:10] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:31:12] Jeff Roster: Yeah,

    [00:31:13] no, I I mean,

    [00:31:14] Lanor Daniel: I overwhelmed you guys. I'm sorry.

    [00:31:17] Jeff Roster: Yeah, that's, well, that's what we get paid to do. We get paid to be overwhelmed? Actually, no. I mean, I just, I just, I just love this idea in that I don't have to put in new infrastructure. Because I've seen it all. I mean, I've seen the concept of flying a drone down an aisle, which is insanity.

    [00:31:31] Robots stuff on rails. I mean, I've seen it all. And you know, it's me, myself as an analyst. It's not my job to say, oh, that's good or that, well, it is a little bit, but it's more, you know, what retailers are gonna embrace. And the problem I always have with startups that are some of the smartest people in the WO room, but they'll come in and say, Hey, I can do this.

    [00:31:49] And, and then I have, I'm the guy that has to say, do you understand there's 5,000 stores? So 

    [00:31:55] Ricardo Belmar: It's what you're doing times

    [00:31:56] Jeff Roster: times 5,000 and you see the air just go outta [00:32:00] people. . And

    [00:32:01] Lanor Daniel: I have scars from what you're 

    [00:32:03] Ricardo Belmar: you're 

    [00:32:05] Lanor Daniel: We learned it. We learned it.

    [00:32:06] Startup Lessons

    [00:32:06] Jeff Roster: Well, welcome to America cuz that is, that is not unheard of to have 5,000. Most of the people you'd be talking to are gonna have a thousand stores.

    [00:32:13] Lanor Daniel: Yeah, so this is why we were waiting guys. We were waiting to the moment that will be scalable enough interesting that we have the best features that we can because once you go on scale, there are features that are left behind, unfortunately. But this is what we were trying to build and when we saw that it's working and we can bring it here and still be in the professional level that we wanted to be, then we came and, and, and you just mentioned something, but I think I can say a little bit more about it.

    [00:32:42] today, we come with compassion when we see retailers. I didn't understand how hard it is to run a chain It's like a war zone, right? Really? It, it's like each day you go to, I was a captain in the idf. Mm-hmm. in a 200. Mm-hmm. And you know, like [00:33:00] operational. So I know what it is. Like your phone is always your, all the day like, , you know, try to fix problems and make sure that everything is working.

    [00:33:06] This is like for, you know, a manager in a, in a retail store, big managers, and then we come and say, Hey, we come to save the world. Exactly. And, and, and so today we come with compassion. We're saying we want to take the burden, you know, with you guys, and we understand how it's working. We understand your problems, we understand the pressure, and we want to take some, mm-hmm , let us help you.

    [00:33:27] And this is the idea.

    [00:33:29] Jeff Roster: Yeah.

    [00:33:29] let me give you some feedback on that. Typically what I hear startups do is come in and start off by insulting the retailer saying, oh, you really don't know what you're doing. I'm 26 years old and I'm, you know, I'm an engineer out of Stanford, and here I'm here to fix you. And I'm, I've sat with 15, 60 year old CIOs. Mad as be Jabbers cuz listen, you have no idea what it's like to work 24 7, 365 when every single person in the store has a phone, is just waiting for [00:34:00] something bad to happen so they can video it and then, and hopefully go viral. And it's like the biggest mistake. And I see it again and again and again when startups will come in and say, Hey, you know, you don't, and it's, it's, I don't think they believe it.

    [00:34:11] I think it's a throwaway line.

    [00:34:15] I just, you could not be more insulting, not, not you, but that person could not be more insulting if they tried. And it's a very bad strategy to start a pitch by insulting the person that you're asking to buy the technology. So that's i I com. You know, I congratulate you on being being really, really savvy about, about how words impact people, and

    [00:34:34] Lanor Daniel: No, because we understand that. We really understand that. We see it. We are working with retailers. We come from the, from the store, we say the field, but we come from the store. We understand, like it took us some time.

    [00:34:44] We didn't start it like this in the beginning. This is why I say I'm scarred about it because listen, when you come from a different, like technology wise, to this industry and you were like, what's going on here? Why are they working like this? Why not like this? You come with a lot of, you know, I don't know, I don't [00:35:00] wanna say like arrogance.

    [00:35:01] Mm-hmm. , but like, you don't really understand. 

    [00:35:04] Ricardo Belmar: understand. 

    [00:35:04] Lanor Daniel: You're Right.

    [00:35:05] Jeff Roster: No, it, it is arrogance. It's a hundred percent arrogance. Yeah. People that don't, don't listen to, you know,

    [00:35:10] Lanor Daniel: we cannot understand 

    [00:35:12] Jeff Roster: Yeah. Just, just, I mean, first of all, there's an old, there's an old cowboy expression that says, before you tear down an old fence, know why it was there.

    [00:35:19] Lanor Daniel: Correct.

    [00:35:20] Jeff Roster: Somebody put that fence there.

    [00:35:21] Why?

    [00:35:23] Lanor Daniel: Wow. That's really good. Yeah.

    [00:35:25] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. You have to understand their why. 

    [00:35:27] Jeff Roster: Yeah, 

    [00:35:27] Ricardo Belmar: exactly. 

    [00:35:27] Lanor Daniel: Exactly. So it took some times, and after we understand and learned, one of our investors is a retailer. So we got like, you know, one-on-one school.

    [00:35:36] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm. . There you go.

    [00:35:37] Lanor Daniel: So we got, I wanna say like the slap from here and the slap from there And then today we understand that and we come with this. Why I say compassion because we need to help. We don't need to put some more pressure. You know, I said with, I remember that was the first time I met an American retailer, a CEO has 1,200 stores and I was like pitching and you know, like, ah, it's my baby.

    [00:35:58] And, and he was like, [00:36:00] listen young dear, from Israel. With a very heavy Texan accent. I remember that. And he was like, I don't have time or effort for your mumbo jumbo technology, but if you can show me 5% growth, I will put T-shirt with your name on it on every employee in my store,

    [00:36:19] Jeff Roster: Done.

    [00:36:19] Lanor Daniel: So

    [00:36:20] Ricardo Belmar: that line before. I

    [00:36:21] Jeff Roster: I think.

    [00:36:22] Lanor Daniel: you know what I mean? So I understand like, yeah, it's the 

    [00:36:26] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm.

    [00:36:26] Jeff Roster: some pretty good coaching you got got

    [00:36:28] Ricardo Belmar: in that one for sure. That 

    [00:36:29] That was, that was pretty strong

    [00:36:30] Lanor Daniel: Come with compassion. Understand if you really want to work in this space,

    [00:36:35] be the retailer. Like walk the walk, talk the walk. Understand how you can really help and not just come and say how sophisticated you are. Yeah, yeah. Who cares? It should work.

    [00:36:45] I need help right now. I'm fighting right now. Like, so this is the idea and this is the school that we've got and this is why we come. Very, yeah. We have a team with very experienced people. We have history in Israel for the past four years, [00:37:00] and we're looking for our partners here.

    [00:37:01] Ricardo Belmar: Well, excellent. I like hearing that. Yeah. Right. Yeah.

    [00:37:04] Lanor Daniel: It's different, right? it's

    [00:37:06] different. 

    [00:37:06] Jeff Roster: I'll give you that. I mean, listen, I've heard hundreds of pitches and I'm, I, I typically wait for that, that arrogance to start. Right. And when it, when the feedback, when they ask for feedback. If I heard, I mean, I've heard it hundreds of times. I, I mean, I hit so hard. Cause it's so, and the, and the thing

    [00:37:21] Lanor Daniel: where are they now?

    [00:37:23] Jeff Roster: Well, I mean, some have done well, some haven't because they learn, you know? But the point is, why, why? I mean, why? I mean, I guess that's the whole point of what I do in my podcast is I try to bring startup stories of like, don't do this, don't do this, don't do this. I mean, it's more don't do than do. But that's, but I mean, I, gosh, I've just sat in that seat so many times.

    [00:37:44] NRF Tech, I can remember very vividly, a couple of our friends and I were watching that presentation and the guy just started off and it just, it was a throwaway line. And, and I won't say who, but they wasn't even mine. But they just grimmaced. It's like I'm, I'll never do That's so insulting.

    [00:37:59] So anyway, [00:38:00] right. Yeah. Very good.

    [00:38:01] Ricardo Belmar: it's a lesson that has, well, has to be learned sometimes. Yeah. Well, Lanor, Ari, I want thank you so much for joining us. This has been a fascinating discussion. I think we've learned a lot here about how to approach retailers in one part of the discussion, but I'm really, truly fascinated by the approach you've taken with this technology and how you're delivering that to retailers.

    [00:38:21] So thank you again for joining us.

    [00:38:23] Lanor Daniel: Thank you so much for having us.

    [00:38:24] Ari Pereira: Thank you for having us.

    [00:38:26] Jeff Roster: Our Pleasure.

    [00:38:26] Show Recap

    [00:38:26] Casey Golden: What a great discussion. I love the closing bit about compassion and how Jeff explained what every startup should know to not come across as arrogant in making your pitch. But then again, maybe he hasn't heard my perfect pitch. There's no arrogance there and I'm always full of compassion. I've been on that side.

    [00:38:52] Ricardo Belmar: Yes indeed. Yes indeed. So true. So what, what did you think of their approach to analytics?

    [00:38:58] Casey Golden: It is fascinating not [00:39:00] just because they're leveraging existing video cameras. I mean, I think we've all seen other video analytics solutions before. But shopper AI is really attacking the insights in a different way, focusing on the big numbers as Lenore put it, showing you across your whole fleet of stores what consumers are doing, how they're reacting to products.

    [00:39:21] I can just see so many AB testing opportunities you could do to learn more about your stores better, and to feed that data and insights back into the brands you work. I'm already seeing another B2B services tie in, just like we keep talking about.

    [00:39:39] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I totally agree, and I hope Leor and Ari find ways to lean into that line of thought, what the B2B offering that retailers can deliver to their brands by using this solution. It's a super interesting approach. I hope listeners and viewers agree.

    [00:39:52] Casey Golden: So who's coming up next in this series? Got any hints for us?

    [00:39:57] Ricardo Belmar: Well, you know me when it comes to hints for these. [00:40:00] So all I'll say is we've got one more startup that Jeff and I met with, and then we close it out with another of my favorite chats with some retail friends. So listeners and viewers will have to stick around to see who it is. But now I do want to thank both Lenore and Ari for joining Jeff and me for this discussion.

    [00:40:16] Thank you both so much for joining.

    [00:40:19] Casey Golden: So with that, Ricardo, it's time for us to wrap this second episode of Our Shop Talk Live mini-series Crossover with Jeff Roster and This Week In Innovation, it's a wrap and a mouthful. 

    [00:40:35] Show Close

    [00:40:35] Casey Golden: If you enjoyed our shows this season, especially our podcast crossover events, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. Plus, you can watch us, not just listen on our YouTube channel and [00:41:00] like, and comment about this season there, too.

    [00:41:02] And if you wanna know more about what we talked about today, including a transcript of each episode, take a look at our show notes for handy links and more deets. I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [00:41:14] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to connect with us and share your thoughts on this season and the crossover series, follow us on Twitter at Casey C Golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure and follow the show on Twitter and LinkedIn at Retail Razor for the latest updates. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:41:31] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.​

    [00:41:35] 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. 

    41m | Apr 18, 2023
  • S2E12a #ShoptalkLive – SPECIAL - Krystina Gustafson & Ben Miller

    Did you miss Shoptalk 2023 this year? Or were you there and feel like you didn’t catch enough of the content and top trends? We’ve got you covered with another podcast cross-over event with This Week in Innovation and special guest host Jeff Roster! Kicking off this multi-part series, Jeff and regular host Ricardo Belmar sit down with Shoptalk’s content team of Krystina Gustafson and Ben Miller live and in-person on the final day of the event. Together they review the top 4 trends and what they mean for retailers, brands, and the retail tech community. The team goes deep to break down the hype vs reality of Generative AI and discuss how retailers are changing and evolving their relationships with consumers, employees, and suppliers. Plus, hear about the latest trends in shopper engagement!

    This episode’s guests:

    Krystina Gustafson, SVP Content, Shoptalk and Groceryshop

    Ben Miller, Director of original content, Shoptalk and Groceryshop

    We’re at number 19 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E12a #ShoptalkLive – SPECIAL - Krystina Gustafson & Ben Miller

    [00:00:00] ​

    [00:00:00] Show Intro 

    [00:00:20] Casey Golden: Hello Retail Razor Show listeners and viewers, and welcome to retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologist, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. I'm your host, Casey Golden.

    [00:00:33] Ricardo Belmar: And I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar. And boy do we have a special treat for you this episode! Today we are talking about the changing relationships between retailers and brands, the evolution of shopper engagement. How omnichannel is morphing into seamless stores, and we see how it's possible to transform over 320,000 meeting requests into over 50,000 actual meetings in a span of three days.

    [00:00:57] But first, let's talk about our newest [00:01:00] crossover event, and this episode's special guests.

    [00:01:03] Casey Golden: That's right after our wildly successful crossover event with This Week In Innovation podcast for our N R F Live miniseries. Joined by one of our favorite guest hosts, Jeff Roster. We've done it again for our Shop Talk coverage.

    [00:01:20] Ricardo Belmar: Yes, indeed. By popular demand, and by popular demand, I mean, we really liked the idea, so we thought, let's do it again. Jeff Roster and I teamed up at Shop Talk for a few special interviews to bring you a Shop Talk live mini-series.

    [00:01:33] Casey Golden: Well, I'm sad I once again had to miss this one, but I know you guys have pulled together a killer miniseries not to be missed. Who are the episodes special guests?

    [00:01:45] Ricardo Belmar: I am glad you asked Casey. What better way to kick off this mini-series and with a deep dive discussion on all the hot topics at Shop Talk than sitting down with the Source, Shop talk's, amazing content team led by Krystina Gustafson, SVP of Content, [00:02:00] and Ben Miller, director of original content.

    [00:02:02] Casey Golden: Christina and Ben are incredible. Uh, you and Jeff really got to dig in to all the hot topics and wasn't this right after they had delivered their retail zeitgeist presentation on , the main stage, right?

    [00:02:17] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. We, we recorded this the very next morning after that session where Krystina and Joe Laszlo had run through what Shop Talk was seeing as the major retail trends for the year. Plus , Ben and Krystina gave us some insights into what they found most notable from all the sessions at the show.

    [00:02:33] And did I mention those 50,000 meetings they orchestrated? I mean, just, wow. Wait until you hear all the stats about what was surely the, the biggest shop talk ever.

    [00:02:42] Casey Golden: Well, let's get to it then and jump right into you and Jeff's conversation with Krystina Gustafson and Ben Miller from Shop Talk, recorded live and in person at the show. 

    [00:02:54] ​

    [00:02:59] The Shoptalk Review 

    [00:02:59] Ricardo Belmar: Hello everyone [00:03:00] and welcome to our special Retail Razor crossover event with This Week In Innovation. I'm Ricardo Belmar, live and in person here at Shop Talk 2023, and I am here with the myth, the legend, Mr. Jeff Roster from This Week In Innovation. How you doing, Jeff?

    [00:03:15] Jeff Roster: Really good. Ricardo. I, you know, I, I'm so proud of both of us. We're, we're here last day, literally working the show to the last minute, and that's how we roll. That's how we

    [00:03:24] Ricardo Belmar: what we do. That's right. And for this special edition episode of our live series here at Shop Talk, we have the incredible pleasure of having two folks from the Shop talk team to talk to us about the event.

    [00:03:36] We're here with Krystina Gustafson and Ben Miller. Krystina. Ben, how are you doing today?

    [00:03:40] Krystina Gustafson: Doing awesome.

    [00:03:41] Ben Miller: Yeah, very good. Thank you. Thanks for having us. 

    [00:03:43] Ricardo Belmar: Fantastic. Fantastic. So let's jump in. And I think, you know, one of the, the probably most in, well maybe not most interesting, but something I'm sure everyone wants to know is just give us a little bit of data around just how big a shop talk was this, this year?

    [00:03:56] Krystina Gustafson: Yeah, happy to start. 10,000 plus attendees, our [00:04:00] largest crowd so far. I would say though, what I take away even more than the size is just the quality of the a attendee. So it really sort of felt like this was. The big year. I know last year was technically retail's big reunion, but with the loss of corporate travel bands people just really being back down to business, the caliber of attendee, the amount of retailers and brands we had attending the show at a very senior level was, was one of the big takeaways to me beyond just kind of the scale of the event.

    [00:04:25] I know we'll probably talk about meet up a little bit later, but we also were able to facilitate 50,000 meetings over the course of two days which was incredibly impressive. Other things to note about scale 275 speakers 70 hours. 50 hours of content, 80 sessions seven content theaters. So I would say those are kind of the high level numbers. But Ben, you might have some, some additional stats to toss out there.

    [00:04:48] Ben Miller: kind of, yeah, I think when we talk about the Meetup 50,000 sounds an incredible number

    [00:04:53] Ricardo Belmar: right?

    [00:04:53] Yeah, it does.

    [00:04:54] Ben Miller: We had 323,000 requests to[00:05:00] so the appetite the appetite for, everybody to want to get together, to have some meetings, to meet people, to build their business. And you could feel that energy when you walked around.

    [00:05:10] And that energy, you know, it's, day four with lagging a little bit, but that energy that that energy is palpable. And that's, and that's been, yeah, that's been a key part of the show this year. 

    [00:05:21] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Wow. That's un 323,000 requests . Wow. What I, I, you know, one of the things we were talking about before, you know, what we think is sort of unique about the Shop Talk experience you have you know, for example, like how, how, how many vendors were here, whether exhibiting or, or attendees.

    [00:05:39] I think that's always a key part of bringing all parts of the industry together. That Shop Talk is so, so special for 

    [00:05:45] Ben Miller: key. No, we, we re really agree our. I think you've heard Sophie, our president talk before that we don't really think about a buy side and a sell side. We don't try and compartmentalize. We have a community and our vendors, the technology companies, whether they are [00:06:00] really small startups for whom a Series A feels a distant proposition still right through to Google Face meta.

    [00:06:07] You know, some of the biggest organizations and biggest corporations in the country and in the world are here. We have about 700. Technology companies and technology vendors, and many of them are on our show floor exhibiting showing their wear, hosting their their, their clients, and also being involved in the meetings and they're a really important part of our community.

    [00:06:26] Ricardo Belmar: And then tell us a little bit about you know, the, the startup community and the relationship with, with the shop talk there.

    [00:06:32] Krystina Gustafson: Yeah, it's I think, been a part of our community that's been really special from day one. You know, we were really the first show that was putting Katrina Lake on, on the main stage when she had founded Stitch Fix. You know, the guys at Dollar Shave Club. So I'd say it's always been a core part of who we are.

    [00:06:45] But we have recognized that it's Such a differentiator for us that we wanna pour more investment into it. And so we've actually been building out our team internally to make sure that we're really cultivating that community, bringing people on board who are specific to, you know, bringing the big VCs to, to the show because, hey, when you [00:07:00] get the big VCs here, you're also gonna be be building a, a big start of community.

    [00:07:03] And I had jotted down the number, which of course is escaping me now, but yes, 475 founders who were at Shop Talk this year. I like to think that number's actually probably a little lower. When you think about the fact that some founders have potentially sold their businesses, gone onto corporate ventures, it's probably over 500 in, in some capacity.

    [00:07:19] People who are current founders or have founded businesses before. But we just truly think that's what gives the show so much life. Just the energy that you have from those entrepreneurs who are coming here to learn share what they're finding. They tend to be also some of the more open folks , when they're talking about the challenges that they're facing, which is

    [00:07:34] Jeff Roster: Yeah. Not tend to be a hundred percent. What? That's, that's why it's so fun to, to, to talk to the startup community cuz they there is no filter.

    [00:07:41] And there was no AR person to, to say, don't say that. So, no, it's, I mean, the difference is an analyst working, you know, with, with the largest companies in my old days of Gartner to work covering the startup committee.

    [00:07:52] I mean, it's night and day. It's so refreshing.

    [00:07:55] Krystina Gustafson: were you I don't know if you were in the keynote with Imran Khan from Veri Shop, but he, he was unfiltered while he [00:08:00] was up there on stage, which, I mean, we've been getting such good feedback on that interview, so yeah, I hear you. 

    [00:08:04] Ben Miller: getting, I think we are incredibly proud about the keynote lineup this. year. And we, we, we've, it's an incredible process to work with all of our keynotes to, to be prepared. But one of the things that we have spoken about is how they can be open. Cuz nobody wants to come to an event and just see someone reading the press release.

    [00:08:19] And some of, the, some the great conversations that we've had on the main stage this year and some of the openness of the speakers has been quite a revelation and yeah, I think it's probably the best keynote group that we put together.

    [00:08:30] Krystina Gustafson: I agree. And I have to say, just being in the, I spent a lot of my time in the, the depths of the green room at the show, and I have to tell you the authenticity of those leaders. And I know that sounds really cheesy, and I'm not typically the type of prince Ben knows. I'm not the soft emotive type.

    [00:08:44] But I mean, it was palpable. Every single one of them was incredibly kind, incredibly grateful to be here. Willing to be open, recognizing that our audience really wanted to learn. And so I didn't even feel to the same degree as impacious that we had to push. Obviously we're always pushing people to say interesting things, but they [00:09:00] were eager to do it which was really unique and special.

    [00:09:02] Ricardo Belmar: tell us a bit more about some of the feedback you've had, both, both in the keynotes and then even in some of the other track sessions that I know there have been some really interesting speakers there. I know I was in some where you could just feel, you know, and some of the speakers are, or just, I, I would almost have to describe as entertaining and some of the things they said in, in the way that, that the crowd really reacted to them.

    [00:09:20] Krystina Gustafson: Yeah.

    [00:09:20] I think some of the interesting formats that we rolled out have been a lot of fun. So one session that got a ton of great feedback was our rapid fire session. We did two of them. One was with investors, which again, kind of getting back to your point about people that can be unfiltered, a lot of laughter coming outta that one.

    [00:09:34] I think one of the, one of the questions at the end was you know, what's your most unpopular opinion today? And just really kinda, you know, use poking and prodding

    [00:09:42] them. So that one was a lot of fun. 

    [00:09:44] Jeff Roster: I'm stealing that one. I'm gonna, that, that's gonna be my,

    [00:09:46] Ricardo Belmar: yeah, that's right. Right. Yeah.

    [00:09:47] Krystina Gustafson: Exactly.

    [00:09:48] We gamify it. There's a really loud, obnoxious buzzer when people run out of time.

    [00:09:51] They have their four minutes. So, so that was a hit. And then we also did one on tech investing, which was really fun. It had CB Insights, Ulta Beauty and Patagonia on [00:10:00] it. And I think what was really interesting about that one was you had sort of Ulta that has this huge budget. They're always trying new things.

    [00:10:05] They're always testing, and, learning. And then you have Patagonia, which is a little bit more conservative, maybe doesn't have that big budget to blow. So just kind of hearing Prama, who's the Chief digital officer at Ulta talking about, oh yes, we're trying this. Yes, we're doing AR. Oh, this is fantastic. And Patagonia just being kinda like, no hard pass on Metaverse hard pass on this.

    [00:10:19] You know, it really represents the dynamics that our audience has, you know? 

    [00:10:23] Ricardo Belmar: different. Yeah. Yeah.

    [00:10:24] Ben Miller: And, and I think that authenticity has been something that's, that's thread throughout and we, we've programmed sessions that were, were about purpose and we wanted to talk about purpose and want to talk about sustainability.

    [00:10:34] But actually what we've found is great. We've got the specific sessions, but the general principle of authentic leadership has, has woven through so many of the conversations. Whether that's, you know, leaders openly facing in some of the challenges that they've had or talk about their views on social issues.

    [00:10:48] There's been some really dynamic conversations and that's been exciting to be part of. 

    [00:10:54] Krystina Gustafson: I think to your question too about feedback though I haven't had anyone complain to me yet.

    [00:10:57] so that to me is, 

    [00:10:59] Ricardo Belmar: That's something, 

    [00:10:59] Krystina Gustafson: [00:11:00] that's a big barometer of, of people being happy. So I think just generally kind of going back to where we started the conversation, everyone's gritting, ear to ear having a fantastic time, and that's not really something that's measurable.

    [00:11:10] We'll get sort of the more measurable data after the show, but. , but it's, I mean, so far I think the buzz has been really great. I do really look forward to getting that feedback though. One of the things that I had mentioned for anyone who was in the opening remarks session, when we talked about how we were doing more on seamless stores this year, that was feedback that we got from both Shop Talk and the most recent grocery shop was that people wanted to see us lean more into physical stores.

    [00:11:30] And so, We did that we made sure that it was covered on our keynote stage with Footlocker, with Brilliant Earth. It was something that we dialed up in our track sessions as well. So it's great to hear kind of the initial buzz and excitement. But we also try to take that constructive feedback post show when we're getting more concrete data, survey results, and then action that for, the next show 

    [00:11:48] Seamless Stores & the "Death of Omnichannel"

    [00:11:48] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. So tell, tell us a little bit more on that topic of Seamless stores, because I, I did, I, cause I noticed that difference as well, right? From back, from both, from last Shop Talk and, and progressing through grocery shop to hear that there was [00:12:00] more emphasis on what's happening in physical stores and how that ties back into the rest of of the retail organization.

    [00:12:06] So how, tell us more about that.

    [00:12:07] Ben Miller: I woke up this morning to a notification on my phone flicking through half jet lag still, and there's this great message that somebody had posted on my LinkedIn saying, thank you, shop Talk 2023 for finally killing omnichannel.

    [00:12:24] And

    [00:12:24] I think, 

    [00:12:25] Ricardo Belmar: saw that post

    [00:12:26] Ben Miller: do you know what, we've now reached that point where we talk about seamless stores, we talk about unified commerce, the general principle of how do we help customers wherever they are, whenever they want to interact with the brand, to be able to, discover, to be able to explore,

    [00:12:44] to be able to excited it or to be able to buy and whether that's on a social media channel, whether that's on the retailer's own asset, whether that's having a fantastic experience when they walk through a store.

    [00:12:55] That's shopping. And I think the number of times I've heard that, you know, [00:13:00]there's been very few conversations about channel management, cuz I think we've finally realized that channels are just this artificial construct and actually

    [00:13:05] what it is he's getting, he's getting product to people and exciting. about product. And that's been one of the big things for me for, for the whole show. When we, we, we spent a lot of time talking about it in advance. We've been looking at how do you remove friction from the shopping experience, and places where a bit of friction's good, but also where you want to take out friction.

    [00:13:23] And that's been a really important thought. How do you link some of these things together about the online experience and the offline experience What are the building blocks? What, what's the tech stack to enable that? But as a, as a concept, just getting product to people when they want, it has been, I think it's been the biggest thing for me, 

    [00:13:40] Krystina Gustafson: One of the, one of the cheesy jokes I didn't get into the zeitgeist was it reminds me of the Nintendo Switch, you know, where you're playing on your handheld and then you plug it into the TV and your game is picked up. You know exactly where you were in, in the game progress, you don't have to finish a level.

    [00:13:53] That's how I, that's how my brain thinks about what unified retail should be going forward. I didn't have room for it though. We were already five minutes over. But, but in all [00:14:00]seriousness you know, the example that I did share, which was probably more valuable to the audience, was Brilliant Earth, right?

    [00:14:04] You know, go online. You do an online consultation, you get to the store, Hey, here's five rings that we picked out for you based off of what you told us online. Like I think that's kind of how we're thinking about unified these days. It's less about shopping where you want, when you want, and making that a continuous experience.

    [00:14:18] Because we were talking, we didn't wanna undermine in in our zeitgeist presentation that frictionless isn't hard and it isn't important. But I think where we landed is more companies have solved for that already, right? The amount of companies that have curbside, that have redesigned their store formats.

    [00:14:31] I think that's kind of more progressed, if you will. And I think Unified is really still in its early stages seeing what companies like Brilliant Earth are doing. The other speaker who we confirmed was the chief digital Officer from Panera. And they recently signed that deal with Amazon One for the biometric scanning in their stores linking to loyalty programs.

    [00:14:47] So that's another great example. And it's a completely different category than fine jewelry, which is what Brilliant Earth is doing. But I feel like those are two early examples of where we see this trend heading. 


    [00:14:57] "Follow the Money" ... but, Omnichannel?

    [00:14:57] Ben Miller: And I was in a different room when the Panera presentation was [00:15:00]on, so I missed it. But the social comments and the social feedback on that yeah, we did some work. One of the things that, it goes right back to when Shop Talk was founded by, led by Anil and, and the team was to sit down and look at where does the VC And if you follow the money, then you start to pick up the trends. And we spend a, we spend quite a bit of time looking at this whole idea of, okay, if Shop Talk wants to talk about physical stores, well what's relevant, what's new? What's the future in that? So, you with our friends, at CB Insights, we went into the data and there's a phenomenal amount of funding's continuing to go into removing friction.

    [00:15:38] Whether that's checkout free, for example, they say whole seamless of connecting that shopping journey. It's, there's funding there, but it's, it's still lower, but we really see that increasing and there some, some of the stats about the levels of is huge. So we believe that's only gonna get more and that's only gonna snowball.

    [00:15:55] So understanding that further, pulling out great examples. We talked on the main stage [00:16:00] about Zara and some of the work that they're doing in their flagship stores. Yeah. Zara is is certainly the biggest apparel retailer in Europe, if not, yeah, the parent company, Inditex, the biggest in the world

    [00:16:11] They're still only doing it in, in a couple of trial stores. So the potential is, is absolutely huge and, and we wanna celebrate trials like that.

    [00:16:19] Ricardo Belmar: Right. Yeah, no, that, that, that makes sense.

    [00:16:20] Jeff Roster: Yeah, that's music in my ears. I mean, I've been fighting omnichannel forever. 

    [00:16:25] No, no offense, but when, when your competitor coins the term, no, Gardner, Allen should ever use that term. What's funny, the funniest thing I ever had is somebody, one time, you know, no offense to the, the vendors in the room, but a vendor one time ask me, Hey, do you have omnichannel IT spend?

    [00:16:39] And I said, well, I do, but you'll have to define what you mean. And the conversation went dead. He had no idea what he he was 

    [00:16:44] Krystina Gustafson: I absolutely love that. My favorite, thing is when people apply to speak at Shop Talk and we're like, what do you wanna speak about? And they're like, oh, omnichannel, or, oh, I wanna talk about e-com. And I'm just like, gimme more, gimme more 

    [00:16:53] Supporting Store Teams

    [00:16:53] Ricardo Belmar: yeah. Right. Could you be a little more vague?

    [00:16:56] Yeah. Yeah. So, so one thing I [00:17:00] noticed in particular this time, which I haven't seen at other shows as much attention. And I think maybe it's part, it sort of comes out I think, a little bit out of the seamless stores. But I think Krystina, you or Joe mentioned it in this, session that there's this renewed, focus on how we're enabling store teams, whether it's directly with technology or just with different, by changing the processes, but just how they're able to work and how even if you didn't have a session that was stated on the agenda, that's what it was about. I heard that come up from so many presenters and speakers that part of what they were doing was tying back into how they're supporting those store teams to make their job better. And I, I think I lost track, but maybe three or four times, I heard one of the speakers mention how they see that as something that is enabling a better career path for these retail workers. And I thought that was super interesting to me because I haven't seen that at other shows or in other events.

    [00:17:53] Ben Miller: I mean, let me give a big picture of you and I'll pass over to Krystina for a bit more detail.

    [00:17:58] I would say take one step back from [00:18:00] that. And, and the first step back from that is, is the investment environment that we find ourselves in right now.

    [00:18:05] And the decisions and the hard decisions that people have to make.

    [00:18:10] So if we are going through continued elevated levels of e-commerce sales, we're going through a store Renaissance, something as we referred to it, and we need to try and deliver to customers, you know, commerce everywhere where, that's great, but all of those parts require investment.

    [00:18:25] So how do you do it in an investment environment which is, which is tighter and it, this has felt a really optimistic few days, but we are really cognizant of the environment that we're in. The number of speakers that I've heard to say in an environment. The two things that they focus on right now are people and talent, and also the store infrastructure.

    [00:18:44] If you take that together and you think, okay, well where's the investment in people? In stores?

    [00:18:49] Then you start to realize that actually you've got a really cost effective way to be able to drive, drive digital transformation and to drive significant improvement. So we, we deliberately programmed some areas where we wanted to talk about some of the [00:19:00] detail about that, but actually is a theme.

    [00:19:02] Completely agree. Ricardo. It's cropped up in so many different 

    [00:19:05] Krystina Gustafson: Yeah. I would build on that. I think it's not only the store associates, right? I think people overall ended up being a much bigger theme than we had intended it to be. You know, to Ben's point, we did have a couple of sessions that were very specific to store employees, whether it was from the retailer brand side, whether it was from the tech side.

    [00:19:21] We had a couple sessions, maybe one or two on culture and leadership. But that theme came up I feel, even more than usual. And I think it's this whole idea of empathy. Kind of going back to your point too, and, and how you leverage your workers. Leverage is probably a, a crass word, but. 

    [00:19:35] Empower your

    [00:19:36] Jeff Roster: There you 

    [00:19:37] Krystina Gustafson: use Empower. What Use Empower. It was really interesting because I, I feel like the dialogue around store associates for so long has been about productivity. And of course we were hearing quite a bit of that. The lens of safety seemed to be a new conversation, right? As much as we hear about automation and the, is that, oh, the robots aren't gonna take your jobs now, it was sort of, you know, listening into Amazon, okay, well we're actually using automation to make the warehouse [00:20:00] workers safer and to make sure that we have, you know, safety protocols in place. And that was kind of a new spin on that theme that I hadn't previously heard and, and wasn't necessarily expecting coming into the show.

    [00:20:08] Ben Miller: I'm trying to find a stat and I'm 

    [00:20:12] we go. I got it. There's a great, there's a great session from Katie Reeves from, who's the managing director of Cos

    [00:20:20] of the h and m group manager of Cos in North America, and she's talked about the investment that they are making their smart store

    [00:20:27] portfolio. 

    [00:20:28] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. I, I remember that session. 

    [00:20:29] Yeah. But

    [00:20:30] Ben Miller: one of the key components of the smart store was enabling their teams in the store and they talked about the app that they. And, and they'd use the app for process improvement, bring all the information into the right place to help them operationally as well as help serve customers better.

    [00:20:46] And she shared that in the pilot stores where they have got the app running, their staff retention of install teams has increased by And if you think about the labor market we are in,

    [00:20:58] Ricardo Belmar: wow. [00:21:00]

    [00:21:00] Ben Miller: Joe shared on the main stage, the the quit rate is over 40% higher for retail than it is for as a whole.

    [00:21:07] Yeah. It's harder to find people, people more expensive. If you're able to make that sort of change, enable that by technology. That's incredible.

    [00:21:13] Not only that, she shared that because the process improvements their store staff are having an extra two and a half hours a week to be able to serve their customers better.

    [00:21:25] And that's, that's transformational for a

    [00:21:27] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah. That, that's a massive difference. That's a massive improvement.

    [00:21:30] Yeah.

    [00:21:30] Krystina Gustafson: You know, one thing that comes to mind as you're saying that, and it sort of circles back to what we were talking about before I was in the session with Chobani, and they were actually taking this from more of a perspective. And you know, she was saying, we get asked the question all the time, how do you measure. The impact on sales. How do you measure the impact on the business? And she was actually making the point actually, we see the most measurable statistics in our employee acquisition and retention because there are so many people that want to be a part of a company that is mission driven. So I think it's always such a [00:22:00] good point.

    [00:22:00] Technology is really enabling workers. It's, you know, boosting retention. It's helping that labor shortage, but also a really strong purpose and something that has nothing to do with technology could also be really powerful.

    [00:22:10] Ricardo Belmar: strong purpose. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

    [00:22:12] Jeff Roster: I mean, how novel people wanna be part of something big. I'm shocking

    [00:22:15] Ricardo Belmar: Shocking, right.

    [00:22:16] Krystina Gustafson: We lose sight of it though, don't we?

    [00:22:18] Jeff Roster: Well, we do. And you know, and that was such a strong point. And, and, and I was sitting here thinking as you're talking you know, of course our, our good friend Ron Thurston is this, is this like his legacy because. Five years ago, four years ago, we weren't really talking about this stuff.

    [00:22:32] And then Ron pops on and does that amazing podcast and that amazing journey and now all of a sudden it's, it's like we all are, are able to say what, what's common sense? It's, it's a people business. You better put your people in front of your people business.

    [00:22:46] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I, I, I even think, you know, the, the biggest change I've noticed to your point, if you go back five years, no one used the phrases enabling store teams. No one talked about empowering them with the right technology. What everyone said is, well, we have to get them the right training. [00:23:00] It was all about, training was always the key word, and it was investment in training as if, you know, the only thing you needed to do was to impart a set of skills to just work the store.

    [00:23:09] And now that's completely transformed that it is. I, I think, you know, you have the right words, Krystina, right, it's about enabling, empowering those teams with the right elements, whether it's process, technology or the. People skills itself, whatever it is. And I can't remember which session it was, but the one that's also stood out to me, someone was talking about how they recognize that when they look across all of the store associates, they have, people have different skills and the different talents, and some are better than others at certain roles in the store. And that it doesn't make sense to assume that every store employee should be able to do every single job in the store. And especially if you start layering in things now, like live streaming, for example.

    [00:23:47] And this was one that I keyed in on because and you may remember this, this trip because some time ago on, on the podcast we talked. This idea. And I had, and, and some other conversation I had with with Retail Wire. I think we talked about this idea that, the retailers [00:24:00] have this inherent talent in some of their employees.

    [00:24:02] Because let's face it, if you go by the, just by age demographics alone, odds are in most retailers, you have employees in stores who may have their own YouTube channel already. Independent of that job function. And they're good at this and they like doing it. So it makes sense for a retailer to kind of take advantage of that in, in a sense, right?

    [00:24:19] And encourage those skills. But at the same time, that that same person who might like to live stream, they might not be a good stylist. For example, if it's an apparel store and there might be another employee that loves to do styling with customers and is so much better at it than others. So give them that kind of growth path using those skills.

    [00:24:37] Ben Miller: using, and this speaks to something at the sort, the very heart of shop content, which is how is technology enabling a lot of this transformation? And if you talk about, you know, enabling and empowering frontline workers, you've got a hundred percent, there is this sort of talent.

    [00:24:51] How do you unlock this talent? And things like livestream shoppable video, creating new way for frontline workers to be able to unlock that talent that [00:25:00] they've had in that store. And they've probably been helping a small number of customers with, but now you can do it on a bigger scale. The second in training,

    [00:25:07] it's really hard, to take a whole day out or to take a frontline worker away from their store to help them with some of the at times softer to be able to do that.

    [00:25:18] We've got some amazing trials and Kroger on the front foot about doing some incredible work to help empower with app enable. Short, quick, accessible training to help be able to improve and to deliver a better experience for their guests. And then finally, there's that element you talked about, about playing to STRs. There is this group of workers in the in flexible environments economy and tech is enabling retailers to access that pool. But actually more broadly, is enable. Existing workers to have that flexibility to choose which all they want to work in, or tasks that they wanna pick up, working at times their families.

    [00:25:59] So tech is [00:26:00] enabling all these things to take that workforce, drive the attention, drive the engagement, and ultimately serve their customers better.

    [00:26:06] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:26:07] Krystina Gustafson: I'm laughing because , it's a little bit of a tangent, but as you're talking about this and, and we're just kind of on this theme about empowering your workers and thinking about building technology for the people who are running the organization. I think about maybe another industry, maybe the airline industry

    [00:26:23] Ricardo Belmar: mm-hmm.

    [00:26:23] Krystina Gustafson: didn't focus on this and Yeah.

    [00:26:24] Somewhat imploded. And so i, I, I laugh because, We always tell people, if you tell me you're a data-driven, consumer-centric company, get off the stage.

    [00:26:33] Cuz everyone else, like every single company who's on our stages. If you're, if you're not, get outta here.

    [00:26:37] But I do think sometimes by saying that, and it's obviously the right approach we ignore what needs to happen for the employees to make this whole business run.

    [00:26:46] And we've very clearly what can happen when that gets ignored. So I think, even just kind of looking to lessons from other industries. Made us realize just kind of how important is overall as well.

    [00:26:57] All about the Data & Data Insights

    [00:26:57] Ben Miller: Ricardo, there's a question that I, I wanted to ask you. [00:27:00] What one of the conversations, cause we're starting to touch about data Mm-hmm. and you, you've got such incredible knowledge in this space. We, we've picked conversation almost.

    [00:27:09] The number of speakers that almost thrown their hands in the and said, you know what?

    [00:27:13] Data, trying to understand the customer across all touchpoints. You just can't do First party, hear a party.

    [00:27:19] I, I can't get an omnichannel, a true of my customer everywhere, and that's fine. I'm just gonna have to serve them where you can.

    [00:27:27] Ricardo Belmar: Uhhuh

    [00:27:28] Ben Miller: Is that a view you recognize?

    [00:27:30] Ricardo Belmar: I, I I think kind of maybe the, the, I would kind of break that down to say that I, every retailer I talk to Will, will say, you know, at the end of the day, we are overwhelmed with data.

    [00:27:39] There's no lack of data . It's, it's really a matter of a, what can I do with that? How can I actually analyze it in a way that tells me the story about my customer and who they are, what, what their preferences are, what, how they want to engage with us. That's what every retailer wants to know. And I think the challenge really is I forget what the statistic is, but the [00:28:00] amount of data that retail generates every day is just overwhelming. I think it's something on the order of it's more data than the internet generated five years ago or something. Un unbelievable like that. And so the question every retailer has to ask is, so what am I gonna do with this now?

    [00:28:14] Right? What are the tools I have to use? And even if you have the tools, it's not enough, right? Because it, even that needs to be looked at by people to interpret what do I do now that I have this knowledge? If I convert that data into something useful and knowledgeable, that gives me a, a possible actions to take.

    [00:28:29] Someone has to take those actions, someone has to make the decision, which is the best action, and then it becomes back to a, a people problem. And I know. . I think even today, but in past years, I've, I've seen retailers will say, you know, now we think we know how to select the right tools to help us with the analysis, but now my challenge is this is so new, we don't have anyone on staff that knows how to deal with this.

    [00:28:49] And if I try to go out and hire those people, everyone wants to hire those people. So it's incredibly competitive and I feel like I don't even know if we can afford those people on to be part of our, [00:29:00] our organization because it's so competitive.

    [00:29:02] Ben Miller: We're back to people in

    [00:29:03] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly right. Exactly. It always seems to come back to that.

    [00:29:06] You know, I guess what I'll maybe turn around because sort of the one thing we haven't talked about that has come up all over the, the place is, everyone's favorite new, hyped up technology , is generative ai, ? It's like last year's metaverse. And, and one of the promises, I guess I'll use that strong word about this, is that it is supposed to help with this problem and give you better tools and better decision making capability with all that data that you have.

    [00:29:29] What About Generative AI?

    [00:29:29] Ricardo Belmar: I, I'm, I'm wondering, I mean, what, what are your, for both of you, what are your thoughts? Cuz obviously everyone must be coming up to you and saying, oh, what, where, where is the session that we're gonna talk about generative ai 

    [00:29:38] Krystina Gustafson: Every, yeah.

    [00:29:39] You know was actually surprised people were more measured than I expected them to be. I thought it was gonna be like Metaverse last year where it was like, the session is not about metaverse and it's still snuck in. I, I feel like generative AI was a little bit more measured.

    [00:29:50] Look, I think our big thesis on it is, again, still very early. What feels different to us though is that this feels immediately applicable and it feels like something [00:30:00] that you invest in and see real business results on. Right? So, so many opportunities I think.

    [00:30:06] Gosh, he wasn't. Sean Downey from Google was just kind of talking about the various use cases for it, whether it's advertising, whether it's, you know, looking at supply chain data, whether it's creatives, whether it's customer service.

    [00:30:14] We had a slide that was kind of making fun of in a, in a good way. The CB insights market map that they built with just all the, and it was just scrolling, right?

    [00:30:21] I mean, it's not even retail. Right. It's every single industry, the use cases. Endless, which I think is a really exciting opportunity.

    [00:30:28] I think we would both agree that a lot of work still needs to be done to make sure this is ethical, to make sure it's accurate. We're very early stages, but I think it just feels more real than the metaverse

    [00:30:38] Jeff Roster: well, the, the thing that's real about it is we all, we all are, are playing on it in our own search engine. I

    [00:30:44] Ricardo Belmar: right. Yeah.

    [00:30:45] Jeff Roster: I wanted to ask you know, the Microsoft guys we talked to yesterday, just what. How many more hits on Bing has gotten in the last

    [00:30:52] Ben Miller: own

    [00:30:52] Jeff Roster: I mean,

    [00:30:52] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, it

    [00:30:53] Jeff Roster: that's all I've used. Yeah.

    [00:30:54] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, it

    [00:30:55] Jeff Roster: And, and so we're so it's

    [00:30:56] Ricardo Belmar: extra users

    [00:30:57] Jeff Roster: Exactly. Exactly. It just, it has to be [00:31:00] so, so literally. There's no technology that, that every single person is using that it has this immediate impact in the business. I mean, we all didn't pick up point of sale devices or all, didn't pick up whatever, but this one thing hit, but we, I mean, we were tracking it from an, from a startup perspective.

    [00:31:17] I mean, the amount of, of spending AI even 2, 3, 4 years ago, it's, it's, it's orders of magnitude compared to everything else. Yeah. And then it just exploded.

    [00:31:25] And then it got a little controversial, so then people even used it more and everyone's trying to trick it and all this stuff,

    [00:31:30] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. It kinda 

    [00:31:30] Krystina Gustafson: but I think you, you hit on something really important there, right? One of the biggest problems with the metaverse conversation, and we were very clear about this last year as well, the learning curve.

    [00:31:39] To even understand what it is to understand what blockchain is.

    [00:31:42] is virtual gaming actually, the metaverse, what ,is it goggles?

    [00:31:46] ChatGPT, my parents can go, go. on the website, tape it. It is So easily accessible and it's so Easily understandable. And I think that's why you've seen just meteor meteoric rise in interest compared to the metaverse.

    [00:31:57] Ben Miller: And the other thing is if you break it down, [00:32:00] There is three potential areas that generative AI can help with, which are fundamental retail challenges.

    [00:32:08] Number one, can I make repetitive tasks more efficient

    [00:32:11] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm. 

    [00:32:11] Ben Miller: Mm-hmm. , and scale retail is the efficiency of process.

    [00:32:16] that's what it is. it's, about 

    [00:32:17] Ricardo Belmar: scale, right? It's about 

    [00:32:18] Ben Miller: Great. This is something that can help it. So of course retail's gonna lean in. The second is can it help drive commerce everywhere? You know, we started a conversation with seamless stores, The amount of copy and creative that it be required to be wherever your customers want to be is mind boggling. Generative AI might be able to help. And thirdly, that the holy grail of mass retail, physical, of personalization, we've talked about it every time. And the reason we talk about it every single conference is cause we haven't cracked it

    [00:32:45] Ricardo Belmar: confidence, right? That's right.

    [00:32:46] Ben Miller: generative AI has the potential to be able to help in in stalled areas. So there's three absolutely cool retail, pr drivers that we can see. cases for. So no wonder people are very excited on the plus side.

    [00:32:57] We were, we were in the staff room just before we came [00:33:00] down, and I, we brought up chat, G b T, and I asked you chat, G b T what were the key themes from Shop Talk 2023. And of course he told me that unfortunately it's historic and can't can't Do that. So Krystina pointed out that maybe our jobs were secure for another year yet. So 

    [00:33:13] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. 

    [00:33:14] Ben Miller: we'll take, we'll take, we'll take that. 

    [00:33:16] Ricardo Belmar: that's right. Yeah. Yeah. No, I, I think you're, you're, you're spot on on that. I mean, I, I, I like to I sort of, I steal a, a quote from one of my colleagues at Microsoft who like tells everyone in every meeting, you know, if I haven't had five retailers I talked to today about generative, generative ai, it's only because the fourth retailer didn't get off the phone with me till the end of the day and I couldn't get to the fifth call

    [00:33:37] Krystina Gustafson: I like that.

    [00:33:38] That's a good one! 

    [00:33:39] Ricardo Belmar: And, and it's, and it so true.

    [00:33:40] And, and I think, you're right about the, different categories. I mean, one of our. Favorite customers that we, we talk about is CarMax, where they've taken this technology and, you know, one of, they found that one of the pain points in their customer journey is people go to their website and they wanna research the cars they have in inventory.

    [00:33:57] And one of the tools, of course, is to look at reviews and [00:34:00] comments from people who've bought past cars. Well there are thousands of reviews! So you go on there and if you wanna look at a car, what's your, your choice is to read a thousand reviews before you decide what you want to go look at. Or maybe you just give up or you find some other tool to help you do that research.

    [00:34:14] So they've actually leveraged these tools now to do all of that summarization for you. So you can go to their website now and you give it the parameters that interest you about a car. Their new AI tool just comes back to you with immediately the summarization across all those thousands of reviews.

    [00:34:29] Here are the key points that you're interested in. Here's how it compares in these cars that you chose to look at.

    [00:34:33] Krystina Gustafson: I need this so bad. The joke, the joke. in Our household is whenever we travel, I don't read anything. I literally, I just see, I see a pretty picture and I'm like, book. And it kills my husband. He is like the one that's reading

    [00:34:44] Ricardo Belmar: He wants to research everything, right?

    [00:34:46] Krystina Gustafson: my god. Every single thing. Well, I think the bars in the wrong place in this hotel or the room is only this many. Yeah, he's, he's, on, he's on it. And I am not So this, this, will help me be a better 

    [00:34:55] Ricardo Belmar: you go,

    [00:34:56] Krystina Gustafson: partner

    [00:34:57] Retail Media Networks

    [00:34:57] Ricardo Belmar: There you go. So I guess let me shift [00:35:00] then to the kind of the last one trending thing I wanted to ask you about because it's, it's one that, it's probably one of my favorites. So, over the past year, and Jeff likes to poke fun of me for this quite a bit.

    [00:35:10] You know, I, I've been really big on retail media networks and knew I was going this way. And part of the reason why I've been beating the retail media network's drum for so long cuz I, I started talking about it back in, what did I talk October, 2021,

    [00:35:23] Jeff Roster: it seemed like two decades

    [00:35:24] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. . Yeah. Yeah.

    [00:35:25] But it, it's evolved and and I think, again, I think you, you guys mentioned this in this session, that really, what has it evolved to? It's become more about retailers looking more like a technology company and offering technology solutions and services to other retailers. . And I think that to me is a, is just really interesting into how their own, their whole core business is evolving.

    [00:35:45] Krystina Gustafson: I think that Ben will jump out of his skin if he doesn't get to answer

    [00:35:48] Ricardo Belmar: I know. Well, and I, and Ben's laugh and Ben's laughing, so anyone not who's not can't see this. I mean, Ben's laughing because he and I have had this conversation exactly before . 

    [00:35:56] Krystina Gustafson: I don't, think, I don't think an hour goes by without ben talking [00:36:00] about in a, in a Very positive way. 

    [00:36:02] Ricardo Belmar: We're, we're of like, minds . 

    [00:36:03] we're of like minds.

    [00:36:04] Ben Miller: I, I, I, You did a very good job leaving that to the last question, because otherwise we'd have lost a whole of the podcast. 

    [00:36:10] Ricardo Belmar: else if we had started with that. Yes. , 

    [00:36:12] Ben Miller: this is, it's what the, why is it so important and why do I get so interested about it? Because there's two levels. One, I think at the, our friend Andrew lipman Insider says it so well. this is the third wave of digital. 

    [00:36:24] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. I absolutely, yeah, totally agree.

    [00:36:26] Ben Miller: You see the numbers, okay, the numbers, let's be honest, the numbers are hugely hugely skewed by investment in search returns on Amazon, so yes, we recognize the prize, but you've gotta recognize that's skew in it. But when you strip that back, there is a marketing a digital marketing channel where, which has the opportunity to directly attribute sales to investment and whether retail media is more efficient than other digital marketing channels or at, or it's just that you can actually prove it, then actually that point is really valuable.

    [00:36:59] [00:37:00] it's a, it's a phenomenal trend. It's a, it's a huge wave and what's been really exciting in this particular event, and yeah, we, we, we'll continue the conversation in a, a European Barcelona as well, I is to stand back and say, okay, we all know what retail media is now. We don't need to do that. a lot of us are doing it, really, how do we get efficient?

    [00:37:19] Okay, do we, and do I need 600, retail media networks in my portfolio?

    [00:37:23] Where, where do I spend the money? What's exciting about it is he's coming back to, and I think this is a point that we made Joe made during the zeitgeist, is it's about the basics of great advertising. So let's talk again about creative, let's talk about engagement, let's talk about generating fun, and this is another channel to enable us, us to do that.

    [00:37:41] So that that, that's really exciting. The second element of it, which is why it's so important, is that element about changing relationships.

    [00:37:49] This idea that a retailer is as, as well as a buyer, is now a seller to their vendors. And it's not, that's not just limited to retail media that, that think you have these, we call it [00:38:00]collaborative commerce networks, which is the sharing of logistics, for example. and when you're adding marketplaces and you see how the Their customers and we feel the retailers are changing and how do you do all of that and drive the margin that's there to be taken at the same time as keeping that laser focus? Cause we know that as soon as a retailer loses their laser focus on the customer, then that's a challenge for them. How do you balance those two together? And that's, that's still a working progress.

    [00:38:30] And that's one of the fun conversations that we've been having and seeing where, seeing what next and seeing how retailers map that you've got. Yeah. If you are a serious retailer or a significant scale, you've got to be in the retail media game.

    [00:38:40] You cannot leave that margin on the table. But how do you do it in a way that keeps focused on the customer and you're targeted now calling that out in their earnings reports to say to the center of their thinking. And that customer-centric approach to alternative revenue streams is gonna be a really interesting trend to 

    [00:38:56] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I agree.

    [00:38:57] Jeff Roster: yeah, I gotta tell you, Ricardo, so, so I was [00:39:00] kidding you about, you know, that. I spent probably three and a half hours yesterday about four different vendors. And I think I now begin, am only beginning to understand literally how much money we're talking about in re in, in retail media. And it is it's never been, I mean, it really was never a focus at the, at the other show in in the cold part of the country in January and it's ever present here. Yeah. And you can't, as an analyst, it covers the entire landscape. You can't get away with it. But the people that actually built some of this stuff I talked to. Right. And it's, and you know, it got the history and it's like, oh my gosh, we're not talking about something that's been around a hundred years.

    [00:39:38] We're talking about something, it's really exploding the last three years.

    [00:39:40] Ben Miller: yes, 

    [00:39:41] Jeff Roster: And, and it's like, that's what he's been talking 

    [00:39:45] Krystina Gustafson: Ricardo, I'd be curious your thoughts. One debate that we've kind of been having, and we haven't come up with an answer to it yet, is just kind of the dynamics of how this plays out in industries outside of grocery because. . That's of course been the industry that's adopted it the fastest, but yeah, the incestuousness of, [00:40:00] of that industry compared to department stores. Apparel. Yeah. Places where companies have the opportunity to be more D to C.

    [00:40:05] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:40:06] Krystina Gustafson: Part of me wonders if it's as scalable there where the retailers don't have as much, let's go back to the word leverage as they do in the grocery industry. Like, have you thought about that at all? 

    [00:40:16] Ricardo Belmar: I have because you're right. I mean, there is a very unique kind of trade relationship in grocery between grocers and the CPG companies that, that have all, you know, all those products. That's a different dynamic. . Then you look at a department store, which is maybe the easiest, I guess, example to kind of look at here, where there's so many third party apparel products, right?

    [00:40:34] Yes. There's private labels in, in your department store. Generally people are shopping there because of all the, the name brands that are available. So what's the say equivalent opportunity? I, I've actually been saying, department stores to me feels like probably the number one most untapped opportunity for this, because I think department stores, we all say the same things, right?

    [00:40:53] They've sort of lost their luster a little bit, right. Just are shopping less at department stores, but what could department [00:41:00] stores do to make this more interesting? You know, I would say one of those is they have to increase the, just the overall experience in the store. And if you think of visual impression as a consumer walking into a department store versus, any an apparel store where you just see apparel hung on rack.

    [00:41:15] In a department store. I think the merchandising opportunities are much bigger. And if you think about the in-store advertising they can do with digital screens, not the sort where, you know, oh look, there's a screen hanging on the wall showing a video clip about this designer and their products running.

    [00:41:30] Not that right, because anyone can do that. And, and that's probably my, my number one least favorite example that anyone can do. And, and I've, I've been working with digital signage. Since more than 10 years, and, and Jeff is laughing because one of the comments I keep making about retail media is from the early days back in the, you know, maybe early 2010s when I was marketing digital signage solutions, we talked to retailers about creating this kind of media network.

    [00:41:57] It for their brand in their stores. And [00:42:00] not one retailer ever executed it well. The only, they all never got as far as, let's hang a screen here, let's hang a screen there and then ask brands to give us content. And I suppose part of the, the conclusion we had is that you can't ask IT to run that operation.

    [00:42:13] It really needs to be run by marketing, but. If you think about what you can do with screen technology now that you couldn't do then, you're not limited by the form factor of a traditional TV monitor type screen. You can have the screen shaped any way you want and you can have any sort of visual layout for it.

    [00:42:29] And if you do that, then I think that opens up new advertising opportunities for those brands that the department store can work with, that feels more, you know, lifestyle oriented. It feels more aspirational for the apparel merchandise that's there, that they can build off of and entice customers that when you walk by it, you feel like, oh yeah, if I was wearing that jacket, I, I could be doing what this person's doing on, on that video.

    [00:42:51] I'd be out on the mountain, you know, doing, doing this. And I think it, it just creates a different feel that even if you went to that brand store, you know, they may or may not be [00:43:00]doing that, but uh, it's different and it's a different experience. So that's why I think that's an untapped opportunity for department stores, and I think that's where that needs to go.

    [00:43:09] And that's why I think, adding the in-store component to retail media is so important right now. I think that's why, that's where the, the real story is gonna start to surface in, in this whole concept. 

    [00:43:18] Krystina Gustafson: It's almost like a And I, I, that was really helpful. Thank you for sharing that. But it, it, it sounds to me so different than the conversations that we hear about retail media today. Right. I. Know some friends who work for some large CPG companies, and it's more of a conversation of, you have to do this, but what you're describing is like a desire to differentiate your brand.

    [00:43:35] It, it, it feels like a, a shift in, in, in the why.

    [00:43:38] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:43:38] Jeff Roster: Don't you also think though, that with grocery groceries had slotting fees for forever mm-hmm. , and it just sort of seems like that's a logical extension of the, those co-marketing allows going back and forth where, actually, I don't even know this, but I don't think department stores really have slotting fees because the, the product is constantly changing.

    [00:43:54] So you have other, you have other something, but I, I mean, but

    [00:43:57] Ricardo Belmar: way. I mean, you, you have you know, a designer [00:44:00] like a Ralph Lauren may have an arrangement. The departments are based on how much space they get on the floor. and is allocated for them as a brand. And then that dictates, you know, what merchandise do they make available to that department store versus a competitive department store that might give them more space and they make different merchandise available to them.

    [00:44:15] It's kind of negotiated that way. Not quite the same as the slotting fees that CPG is doing. Grocery.

    [00:44:20] Jeff Roster: and I think the other thing that's the big drivers, the fact, I mean, just who was on the, who was on the the exhibit floor TikTok, and what were they doing? There was at least three or four live streamers. So the idea that we're all creating, we're all creating content and want to create content. , I mean, and that now we're finally getting to the point where retailers are comfortable maybe not having everything be so hyper produced.

    [00:44:40] You know, I think the, the best example I have is I just love B n h photo. And if, if you don't know what that is, it's, it's a, it's the best photo shop in, in the world and super high-end skill photographers that, that are selling camera equipment. And my first experience with, I dunno if it's live streaming, it's one-to-one.

    [00:44:56] Working with them. I mean, for a camera shop, the, the video quality was [00:45:00] not very high. I mean, it was a little shocking, but it didn't matter because the expertise and the engagement for me sitting in Silicon Valley to, to Midtown Manhattan and that experience was amazing. And if retailers just embrace that and let their associates create or do whatever they want and, and, and produce all this content to fill up all the screens, you're gonna see it's gonna be great.

    [00:45:21] What I don't wanna see is it becomes so. So over, over marketed and just take the soul out of it because retail should be passion. I mean, I think, I think my dad back in the seventies, you know, in his, his butcher shop, I mean, it was all about passion. It was about this and that, and engaging up and down and da, da, da, da.

    [00:45:40] And, and I think in some ways as we expanded retail, we've lost that a little bit of passion. And maybe this is an opportunity, maybe it's a nice thing, you know, post covid.

    [00:45:50] We've now re-embraced and learned and knew what we missed. And man, let's just have this retail renaissance and let's get back to the business of having, having fun and having [00:46:00]people engage in this process that we call retail.

    [00:46:02] And then you, and then, you know, all those years you pitched me, you know, with those whole digital signages, now all of a sudden everything's coming together. The infrastructure, the screens, the cheap, you know, the the screens, the abil, the, the equipment we have to, to create all this content. And we have now, we've taught almost everyone, you know, if you have something to say, turn on your, your, your phone and, and shoot something out.

    [00:46:25] Well, when retailers unleashed that, holy smokes

    [00:46:28] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. And, and now we have all these tools. Kinda coming back to the whole immersive commerce idea. You know, I, I just gave an example of using, fancy screen design, but it could be much more tactile and immersive with all these sensor technologies available.

    [00:46:40] I could pick up a product in a store and that triggers something on, on some sort of visual environment nearby that to give me a different bit of content about it because I interacted with the merchandise and that we couldn't do that before. Right. So, so that's another new, new approach that couldn't, I think, and again, it's, it's in-store media and I think that's why that's gonna be such a, an

    [00:46:58] Jeff Roster: yeah, that's, it's just gonna be such an [00:47:00] insane category. I mean, I almost want to go back to my forecasting days and just start trying to build a model out of that, cuz it is gonna be a massive number. A massive number.

    [00:47:09] The Evolution of Shop Talk

    [00:47:09] Ricardo Belmar: Well, I guess maybe the last thing to kind of wrap us up here we, we talked a little bit before about just how the, how Shop talk is changing itself and you guys announced a new Fall Shop Talk for next year.

    [00:47:19] So I mean, anything you can share with us about how Shop Talk itself is evolving.

    [00:47:23] Krystina Gustafson: Well, we are taking on new challenges listening to customer feedback and just really kind of growing the brand in new and exciting ways. I'll let Ben kind of tell you a little bit about Europe, cuz that's in six weeks time, which is hard to wrap your head around. But that's that's gonna be really fun.

    [00:47:38] And Barcelona, we've got 175 speakers. I'm stealing all your thunder. But, but a fantastic lineup. That's gonna be in Barcelona and then I think. You know, Ben kind of said it earlier with just the number of meeting requests that we saw in our platform. We recognize that doing this once a year just isn't quite fulfilling the appetite that people have.

    [00:47:55] And so I think you'll see us lean a lot more heavily into the networking component. I think we have a [00:48:00] real differentiator there with the Meetup platform. You know, it's not something that other events in the retail industry have, and so it's a real competitive edge. The fact that it's powered by technology, you know, even if someone tried to do it there's just feasibly no way to do it manually. And so I think you're gonna see us lean really heavily into that. And I think, you know, to your point about getting back to business, we love content. We're the content team. We're always gonna talk about how fantastic the content is.

    [00:48:22] But the p the reason people are here is to be part of our community, right? And so the more that we can do to enable that is I think really kind of the direction that us going in the future. And, and that's kind of the impetus behind the, the new events that

    [00:48:33] Ben Miller: So it, it is not at all daunting that we are doing it all again and just slightly,

    [00:48:38] Krystina Gustafson: We've tried to black this out. We're like, let's talk about this after

    [00:48:42] Ben Miller: but you know, look, it's less less than six weeks now, 9 to 11th of May in Barcelona a fabulous, progressive and dynamic city, which is just where we want to be for our brand.

    [00:48:52] And the challenge of how do you drive retail innovation through digital [00:49:00]transformation in a tough operating environment is as pertinent in Europe as it is in the US. What you've then got a layer on top of that is 30 plus different countries, e-commerce in different states of development, very local retailers.

    [00:49:15] So, we think the opportunity for Shop Talk in even greater than it is here. And the reason for that is you've got in their own domestic who are trying to crack the same problems as somebody maybe only 200 kilometers away, but they don't have a relationship with, but they don't compete.

    [00:49:29] So the opportunity for collaboration, for cooperation, for learning Immense. So we are really excited about what we are building in, in Europe what we're gonna build in Barcelona. And yeah, the show will open at 11:00 AM on the ninth.

    [00:49:44] Krystina Gustafson: on May. 

    [00:49:45] keep saying, are you guys ready? We're like, well, it's It's coming. So 

    [00:49:49] Ben Miller: we've got, we've got incredible lineup. We, the, the European retail and brand community have lent into the event stronger than they ever have done.

    [00:49:56] This is only our second year in Europe, but we've got an incredible lineup. [00:50:00] And it will be both from a speaker, but especially from a, a delegate perspective.

    [00:50:03] The most senior Event that we've ever put and we are seeing

    [00:50:07] people think, you know what, this is a great way to get our teams together, to bring our individuals from across Europe into a place to, to learn and be inspired. And, and we can be more excited to facilitate that. And can't wait to again, to the Spanish sun because I dunno where you, I dunno where you guys move.

    [00:50:22] The heat of bar of Las Vegas, but this has not been what I was expecting.

    [00:50:26] when I escaped the London winter. So hopefully the

    [00:50:29] Jeff Roster: listen, I'm from California. I'm just glad the, the water's not coming down and it's been a long time since the California and said No more water Stop for a while.

    [00:50:38] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That's right. Yep. Well, I, I guess listening to you a Ben, I'm, I'm, I'm kind of gonna gonna say we're, we're back to the people element A again, from what you were saying. So it sounds like super exciting for what's to come and, and shop talk Europe.

    [00:50:49] Fantastic. Well, Krystina, Ben, I wanna thank you so much for sitting down and spending all this time with us. It's been a fantastic conversation. I, I think we've all learned a lot and congratulations on a really [00:51:00] great event again, once again this year. I think content was fabulous of course and just the, the energy and like we've been saying now multiple times, that it really brought all the people together, and I think that's probably the most important part of it.

    [00:51:12] Ben Miller: Okay. We really appreciate it and thank you for having us,

    [00:51:15] Ricardo Belmar: Thanks again. Well, Jeff, I think that wraps us up. 

    [00:51:18] Jeff Roster: think we're done. Another good show.

    [00:51:19] Ricardo Belmar: Another good show.

    [00:51:20] Show Recap

    [00:51:20] Casey Golden: Wow, that was such a great discussion you guys had with Christina and Ben, and you covered so much ground. And no surprise you had to cover generative AI and retail media networks in there too.

    [00:51:42] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, that's true. There's no escaping the impact of generative AI right now, and yes, it did kind of feel like last year's metaverse. I mean, it was everywhere at the show in the sessions and everything, but I think there's an important difference that we kind of touched on that metaverse at last year's shop talk was all about experiments, right?

    [00:51:59] [00:52:00] Trying to see what consumers would like. How would you transform that into commerce? But with generative ai, the use cases are already out there. They're being implemented with real world results as we heard in in some of the sessions at Shop Talk. Plus, this doesn't really require consumer adoption like the Metaverse does.

    [00:52:18] It's more about operations and efficiency so far, and that does include consumer benefits that just don't require the consumer to adopt anything yet.

    [00:52:26] Casey Golden: Yeah, what about the retail media piece? I caught the shout out to Andrew Lipsman, our, our favorite retail media analyst.

    [00:52:33] Ricardo Belmar: Well, probably another obvious one, right? I did find it telling that shop Talk picked up on what we've been saying here before, that retail media is just the start of a B2B path for retailers to sell services to other retailers and brands as a high margin way to improve profitability.

    [00:52:51] Casey Golden: We definitely will need to revisit these two topics more in our next season.

    [00:52:55] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely.

    [00:52:56] Casey Golden: So what's coming next with, , you and Jeff?

    [00:52:59] Ricardo Belmar: Well, we've [00:53:00] got a few super interesting startups that we talked with, and we'll cap off the series with another great discussion coming with a couple of fan favorite guests. Now, I'll just give one hint. It's a follow up to one of our N R F Live conversations.

    [00:53:13] Casey Golden: All right. Well, I think I know who that is. I mean, obviously I know since I know what's on the show, but do our listeners.

    [00:53:22] Ricardo Belmar: We'll just have to wait and see on that one. but now I do want to thank both Krystina and Ben for joining Jeff and me for this discussion. I know it was quite a feat for them to make the time for this on the last day of the show, just a couple of hours before they went on stage to give their official wrap up presentation.

    [00:53:39] So thank you both so much for joining us.

    [00:53:42] Casey Golden: So with that, Ricardo, it's time for us to wrap up this first episode in Our Shop Talk Live mini-series crossover with Jeff Roster and This Week In Innovation. It's a wrap. 

    [00:54:00] Show Close

    [00:54:00] Casey Golden: if you enjoyed our shows this season, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. Plus, you can watch us, not just listen, on our YouTube channel and like and comment on this season there too.

    [00:54:19] And of course, if you wanna know more about what we talked about today, including a full transcript of each episode. Take a look at the show notes and handy links for more deets. I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [00:54:30] Ricardo Belmar: If you'd like to connect with us and share your thoughts on this season, follow us on Twitter at Casey C Golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure and follow the show on Twitter and LinkedIn at Retail Razor for the latest updates. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar,

    [00:54:45] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:54:47] ​

    [00:54:50] 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. [00:55:00]

    55m | Apr 7, 2023
  • S2E11 – Retail Transformers – Ashley Crowder - VNTANA

    How will retailers find a path to the metaverse? How can retailers leverage AR and VR along that path? It all starts with having a 3D product infrastructure, but what if all of your systems are designed for 2D and not 3D? How do you adapt your design process, your PLM, and your DAM to 3D when there are so many options? Meet Ashley Crowder, CEO and co-founder of VNTANA, the 3D infrastructure platform that is making 3D accessible to retailers and brands across design, development, sales, and marketing!

    You’ll find out how Ashley is democratizing access to 3D across the retail business. Not only can this help retailers and brands deliver a unique customer experience but wait until you hear how 3D can help you reduce productions costs, eliminate product samples, and dramatically reduce your time to market for new products. 3D is here and before you need to worry about how you’ll leverage the metaverse, this episode will help you understand how 3D is the beginning of your journey to AR,VR and immersive commerce! And did we mention the cost savings to your retail business?

    News alert! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

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    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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,

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    Read my comments on RetailWire - https://bit.ly/RWCasey


    S2E11 Ashley Crowder - VNTANA

    [00:00:00] ​

    [00:00:19] Show Intro

    [00:00:19] Ricardo Belmar: Hello, and welcome to season two, episode eleven of the Retail Razor Show. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:26] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome to the Retail Razor Show. Retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologist, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike.

    [00:00:37] Ricardo Belmar: We're back with another incredible retail transformer as our guest this week.

    [00:00:44] Casey Golden: Yes, and I'm so excited to have with us someone who is transforming how retailers and brands embrace the new world of commerce with 3D, AR, VR, and mixed reality.

    [00:00:55] Ricardo Belmar: If you're a retailer or a brand trying to experiment with the metaverse, or just trying to give [00:01:00] your e-commerce an edge with more visual product pages and 3D visuals of your products or just, you know, looking for ways to incorporate your products digitally in other channels using 3D technology.

    [00:01:11] This episode is for you.

    [00:01:13] Casey Golden: So let's welcome our amazing guest, Ashley Crowder, co-founder and C E O of VNTANA, the 3D infrastructure platform that is making 3D accessible across design, development, sales, and marketing.

    [00:01:26] ​

    [00:01:31] Meet Ashley Crowder - VNTANA

    [00:01:31] Ricardo Belmar: Welcome, Ashley. It's great to have you here with us today.

    [00:01:33] Ashley Crowder: Thanks so much for having me.

    [00:01:35] Casey Golden: So just to start off, can you introduce yourself and share a little bit about how you got here and why VNTANA?

    [00:01:42] Ashley Crowder: Yeah. So my background's in engineering. I went to USC Engineering school, which actually has a partnership with the military called I C T, where they fund research in 3D, AR, VR technology. So I got involved in the space. 15 years ago and [00:02:00] was like, this is gonna change the world. This is amazing.

    [00:02:03] But there was no career path back then to do this sort of thing. So. ended up co-founding VNTANA with my friend Ben. And, you know, 10 years ago, again, like phones couldn't do AR, web couldn't do 3D. So we were building location-based mixed reality experiences for brands like adidas, Nike, Lexus, and others.

    [00:02:24] And you know, we built a profitable business doing that, but nobody ever had the right 3D models for web-based or game engine applications. We would get these huge manufacturing design files that would take days or sometimes weeks of manual 3D artist time to fix and convert. And so we started writing software to help automate all this work for ourselves.

    [00:02:48] And then in 2019 we said, you know what? Now that everyone's phone can do some pretty decent AR, every web browser can support 3D content. We should take this [00:03:00] software we wrote for ourselves and launch it as a platform to make it easy for anybody to instantly embed, share, 3D at scale, you know, anywhere they want.

    [00:03:10] So, long story short,

    [00:03:13] Ricardo Belmar: So, Ashley, why don't you tell us a little bit how do companies use VNTANA?

    [00:03:17] Ashley Crowder: Yeah. So today we work with a lot of apparel and footwear brands who design in 3D today. So apparel tends to use chlo and browse wear. Footwear tends to be key shop moto. Some people use 3D S Max. Whatever program you're using the minute you start to have, you know, hundreds or some of our clients, thousands of 3D assets, some of their IT infrastructure starts to break down.

    [00:03:41] So most of their existing P L M or DAM systems were only built for 2D assets. And so, you know, they're kind of in this quandary of like, how do I easily manage and distribute these 3D designs within my internal company just for line planning, reviews, merchandising how can [00:04:00] I easily share them with buyers so I can replace physical samples?

    [00:04:03] And then, you know, how do I get them on E-com? So, That's really what our software comes in. So we wrote patented algorithms that can take these really big 3D files and shrink them down up to 99%, but they still look the same. so we can help you meet whatever specs of whatever end use case you're trying to go to with 3d.

    [00:04:24] So we get rid of all that manual work. And then it's all housed in our cloud content management system, which you can integrate into your existing dam, PLM or other platforms. So you don't have to replace your IT infrastructure as an organization. You can just quickly upgrade what you have to handle 3D at scale.

    [00:04:45] Casey Golden: That's awesome.

    [00:04:47] Ricardo Belmar: Wow, so. Can you tell us a little bit about you know, what kind of results your customers are getting? Because just listening to you now, I, I'm just automatically thinking of that there has to be a pretty sizable time savings, right. In any of [00:05:00] these kind of activities with, with what you're allowing your customers to do.

    [00:05:03] Ashley Crowder: Yeah, I mean, we're, we're definitely built for that, that scale problem. You know, a lot of people might start with a POC and they're like, oh, we, we did it ourselves. We did 10 3D models. We're like, great, you know, cl clients like Hugo Boss launched 40,000 products a year. You need some automated software to, to be able to do that.

    [00:05:20] So most clients start using us within that design and development process. So wi within that people like VF Corp, they've been able to upload 2,500 assets. In a couple minutes. They have all the shareable links and file formats they need to deploy in any end use case application. So I know you know, other clients like Adidas, they were able to accomplish in one hour what used to take them six weeks, of manual work.

    [00:05:47] So definitely a huge time saving. And then kind of the next step is people are, are using us to replace physical samples. So you can quickly, you know, with a click of a button, create a 3D line sheet you can share with a buyer. And so we have [00:06:00] other clients like this, children's clothing brand they've been able to fully replace their physical samples with using our software.

    [00:06:07] And so they're saving about a hundred thousand dollars per season. And 4.4 tons of carbon, which is pretty cool, uh, that they calculated. And so, you know, that's all in that before you even get to the consumer experience. And then the consumer experience 3D just gives. them such a better understanding of the product.

    [00:06:28] Clients like Stodd saw returns decrease up to 60% which was pretty amazing. And then we've had other, you know Diesel's used us live on their e-com site. They saw the average cart value increase really significantly and the conversion rate increase with 3d. So yeah, it, it really helps you across your entire product life cycle.

    [00:06:49] Ricardo Belmar: That's amazing. I mean, you know, we, we focused on that customer side of it in the intro, but just hearing all of the things that you mentioned there really is a, a powerful impact just [00:07:00] across the business. E even you know, you mentioned the carbon savings, so there's even a sustainability impact.

    [00:07:04] There's an environmental impact. You've got operational process savings, it sounds like. You know, I love, love the example of replacing physical samples cuz then there's automatic cost savings as well. And we always hear in media reports, right? With this kind of technology, just the customer facing piece that you're highlighting, a lot of other internal process areas that really create a lot of savings,

    [00:07:26] Ashley Crowder: Oh yeah. And, and I mean I still talk to brands all the time with, you know, samples are always late, right? , they're always a pain, they're always late. And even I was talking with this footwear client saying, you know, some retailers. don't wanna meet in person anymore. You know, everybody got used to working from home and I think it was R e I don't hold me to that, but they were like, yeah, we don't wanna do internal, just like send us your digital stuff.

    [00:07:51] Well, like how do you stand out? Like being able to show, you know, true 3D interactive models and AR, it's like it's sitting on your desk, you know? And [00:08:00] we've got other people who, you know, you might always still make a few samples, but there you don't need to make all the colorways. So maybe you have one shoe or one article of clothing, but then all your colorways are in 3D and you can share, you know, that 3D configurator with them.

    [00:08:13] So yeah, there's huge benefits and we, we actually did a really great case study with Merrell as well. So, you know, they estimate about 81% cost savings and one month increased speed to market using VNTANA. So that, that speed to market is really important too, cuz you know all that back and forth with before a physical sample.

    [00:08:35] You make a sample, you ship it, well, I want these changes. Go make another sample. Well now that can happen so much faster.

    [00:08:43] Casey Golden: I mean, it's, the speed to market is a really big deal. Just being able to get through that process faster. I mean, I feel I would go to market literally with 250 printed CADs

    [00:08:59] Ashley Crowder: Wow. [00:09:00] Yeah.

    [00:09:01] Casey Golden: I don't have samples yet, and we definitely did not sample the entire line. Right.

    [00:09:06] Ashley Crowder: Mm-hmm.

    [00:09:07] Casey Golden: You'll get to see that later, like in like four months.

    [00:09:10] I need to sell it in now. And so literally sitting there with little pieces of paper and clothes, happens.

    [00:09:17] Ashley Crowder: Yeah.

    [00:09:17] Casey Golden: Merchandise disturbments together, . So a lot of people don't really realize what people are doing at work before the customer ever sees a product.

    [00:09:30] Ashley Crowder: oh yeah. Like a year 

    [00:09:32] Casey Golden: They're hard jobs,

    [00:09:34] Ashley Crowder: Yeah.

    [00:09:36] Casey Golden: and very, very, very oftentimes still archaic in a lot of ways. Do you have a focus point kind of where you start with the company to say like, this is where you can kind of get the biggest ROI out of the challenges that you're, that they're trying to solve? Because I'm sure that when you go in to talk to a brand for the first time, you're able to identify really where, what challenges [00:10:00] or where in their business you can kind of make the highest impact for like a day one project. So if our listeners are, are thinking about this and find it intriguing, where do people start and start at a, in a way that they can get that roi.

    [00:10:16] Ashley Crowder: So we're generally starting with brands when they are designing in 3d. So they're using CLO brows, you know, key Shop, Moto one of these programs. If you're not there yet, that's where I would start. So if you are an apparel company, look into CLO and browse ware. Those are like the two, you know, best programs.

    [00:10:36] They each, you know, they're, they're different. But they're both great. So, so check 'em out. For footwear you can generally get Rhino files from your manufacturer, and then you're taking those into a program like KeyShot, I, I think, is much easier to use than Moto. But in KeyShot you can do the uppers and, and create all your different colorways.

    [00:10:53] So, so I would start there. We also sometimes help create 3D models for people who are just getting started. So sometimes [00:11:00] brands are like, yeah, like we're starting 3d, but like, we don't have enough bandwidth. We have one 3D person for all this stuff. So, so we, we can help create 3D models for you.

    [00:11:08] And then we're really, y you know, we really were with that like design and B2B sale, that's where everybody starts. Because if you can say, look, I'm gonna reduce my samples by x, I can increase speed to market by y. That's a very clear value proposition for your organization. And then you know that, that kind of next step is using it for e-commerce.

    [00:11:28] So once you have 3D models on VNTANA, we help. , get them anywhere you want. And, and it's all included. It's instant. One of the big things I'm really excited about is our, our work with Google. And so we're starting, well, one, if you have a 3D viewer on your e-commerce website, we can make sure Google sees that 3D model.

    [00:11:50] Just like Google sees the 2D images and videos that help with your seo. , they can now see the 3D models, which will help with your seo. And then we can [00:12:00] also we've got early access to published 3D to Google search. So you know, they're, it's not available to everybody yet. They're doing some A B testing.

    [00:12:08] But if you were to search for, you know, just an example like Merrell Shoe, like you might see a 3D version of that. And so far they're seeing a 6% higher click-through rate with 3D compared to

    [00:12:20] Ricardo Belmar: Oh wow.

    [00:12:21] Casey Golden: It's a great way for Google to be pushing innovation.

    [00:12:25] Ashley Crowder: yeah, and it's just organic search to 

    [00:12:27] Ricardo Belmar: Right, 

    [00:12:28] Ashley Crowder: So, and it makes sense. I mean, 3D is just the, it, it's the next evolution of digital content, right? So,

    [00:12:38] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, so just thinking about that, I mean, do you see 3D content like this for, as sort of a, becoming the standard asset that replaces the, the 2D versions, especially once you layer in what Google's doing on search for that? You know, plus anyone working with you that's putting this content on their e-commerce site, do you, do you see this becoming the standard because it's gonna, you know, you mentioned the stat that I picked up on [00:13:00] earlier about lowering your return rates from this, which has become huge now for online retailers.

    [00:13:04] So do, do you think this is gonna be the new standard

    [00:13:06] Ashley Crowder: A hundred percent. I mean, it's, think about like when, when web first started supporting video, right? And now it's like, if you don't have video as a brand, what are you doing? You know, like that. That's like everywhere. Everywhere. So 3D is, is that next evolution, right? It it is just more interactive. It's more engaging.

    [00:13:26] It's showing the product better. On top of that, like. We always talk about 3D as the highest level asset. If you have a 3D model, I can create all the 2D content I want. So, you know, I can generate a product shot from every angle automatically. You know, we're, our team, just like the rest of the world, is like fascinated by all this AI technology that's now out there.

    [00:13:48] And we're playing around with like, okay, well, like I, I have this 3D model. This Stodd purse, can I automate 2D images of this purse on a bar, this [00:14:00] purse on a yacht? Like, can I automatically generate all these product lifestyle shots? Like this is where all this is going, right? Uh, and at the end of the day, it's gonna be huge cost savings and better consumer experience

    [00:14:13] Ricardo Belmar: And better time to market with that.

    [00:14:14] Ashley Crowder: Yeah.

    [00:14:14] Ricardo Belmar: So then let's, let's keep going on, on that theme. So in addition to the 3D versions of the product becoming sort of the standard asset, let's say for e-commerce we've already kind of talked about and hinted a few other uses for that, that you've brought up. Where, what do you think is next? What do you think comes after that?

    [00:14:32] What's the next thing that you see retailers going for? Once you have all of this capability?

    [00:14:37] Ashley Crowder: Yeah. And, and I mean, again, I think you know, step one, it's, it's speeding up to the design process. It's resulting in better products with better fit because 3D just gives you, you know, that better initial design to work off of. You're replacing samples, so you're saving money, increasing speed to market, reducing carbon footprint, and then 3D on E-com is reducing [00:15:00] returns, increasing conversion rate.

    [00:15:01] But then we can go into all these virtual worlds, right? Like so I'm sure many of you read the the Wall Street Journal article. Every kid is spending all their allowance in Roblox, which is true like my friends can all attest that that's where all their kids' allowance is going. Um, but, but it's true. Like kids aren't going to meet at the mall anymore.

    [00:15:23] They're like going online and meeting in these virtual worlds, and that's where they wanna look cool. And that's where they're spending money on their, their digital avatar. And you know, the two biggest worlds right now are, are Roblox and Fortnite. Fortnite has, I think 300 and 30 million daily active users, which is pretty crazy.

    [00:15:42] Um, Roblox Roblox, I think is like a 10th of that. Roblox is like 36 million da daily active users. But either way it's like huge, right? Like if you're a brand. , you need to be there. If you wanna remain relevant and what we're trying to do at VNTANA I is help automate that so [00:16:00] we can take your existing design and instantly deploy a version in Roblox or, or Fortnite. Because right now, you know, only the huge brands like Nike, Walmart have, have just custom built these Roblox worlds from the ground up. Yeah, well that's great. Like how much money does that cost? So not every brand, you know, could have access to that.

    [00:16:18] So we're trying to help automate getting designs in there. I think another thing that's really cool iHeart Media created iHeart Land in Roblox, and they have programmed content every day of the year. You know, they're a radio station, that's what they do, but they, they have this like virtual concert every day in Roblox and just like a real concert.

    [00:16:40] If you're a brand, I believe you could do a deal with them for, to do, do a branded sponsor. And I think that's a really cool way to start small. Yeah. Like, you don't need to build your, build your own world like Nike, but you could participate in, in iHeart land, which is cool. So you know, I think this is all really relevant.

    [00:16:58] You know, everyone obviously like [00:17:00] the, the N F T and crypto market had like a huge plunge. But, but the technology is gonna be around for a while because what , what crypto and NFTs enable is this interoperability. So right now I can buy a Gucci person, Roblox, but it's stuck in Roblox. I can't take that anywhere

    [00:17:20] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm.

    [00:17:20] Ashley Crowder: With blockchain, I own that Gucci purse and I can take that with me in my wallet into Fortnite or into these other virtual worlds and. You know, that's coming and that's exciting because it really helps, I think, increase the utility of these digital goods. And then, you know, the really creative stuff I've, I've seen too is it's, it's almost people are using crypto and digital goods as like a rewards program.

    [00:17:45] Right. So you can earn, earn different, you. I'm just making this a Versace coin and then you, you get that. Then I get my robot Versace purse. But it's kind of like building this you know, cult following for people [00:18:00] and, and just with like fun digital giveaways. So,

    [00:18:03] Casey Golden: Yeah, I'm really excited to see more of the brands coming together to wrap around the customer. And I think that that's something that the Metaverse does really well, that we just kind of fail to do here in the real world. There's so much more of a competitive landscape rather than a community. So I think that that's one of the big takeaways that I'm really excited to see over the next five years is just seeing these brands that used to hang together, actually start playing together.

    [00:18:29] When you're looking at the future of retail in, in five years, eight years cuz we don't come on. They're slow to adopt. Um, what world are you, are, what world are you envisioning that like as a founder that you're working towards? Like this is the version of the world that you see and everybody kind of needs to take step one and you're really helping them with Welcome to the future.

    [00:18:57] Ashley Crowder: Yeah, I mean, [00:19:00] I, I see all these amazing interactive 3D consumer experiences with 3D and augmented reality. On e-commerce as well as that same 3D asset within these virtual worlds. So maybe, maybe if you buy a Nike shoe in the real world, it comes with that 3D version of the shoe that you can take in all these virtual spaces.

    [00:19:23] So your, your virtual avatar can be like your real life, you know, dressing. Um, but in order to do that, and in order to do that at scale, , it's so essential that it starts with that design and so that every brand is like designing in 3D and using that across the retail value chain. Because that's the only way it's gonna work if you're re if you're having to recreate assets for every end use case.

    [00:19:48] It, it's just not feasible or scalable. It's gonna

    [00:19:50] Ricardo Belmar: It's not scalable.

    [00:19:51] Ashley Crowder: Yeah. So so you know, that's what, you know, VNTANA is trying to do with like our automatic optimization to convert what you have into whatever you [00:20:00] need. And then we're also part of the Kronos group, which is a non-profit pushing standards for 3D to make this easier.

    [00:20:07] So, we have the JPEG of 3D. So everybody can can handle it. It's interoperable. Everybody takes the same thing. And there's startups like us in it, but also huge companies like Wayfair and Microsoft and Nvidia and Autodesk. So there's a lot of people working together to kind of push these standards and, and make it easier for everybody.

    [00:20:28] So that's what I think is really important. And if you're a brand. Don't be afraid to, to test stuff out. Like that's the beauty of digital is like you can do ab testing and remove it. It's okay. Like don't be afraid. It's , you know? That's my, my biggest thing. Just make sure you set up and test right. Um, cuz then you'll learn and grow and, and, you know.

    [00:20:50] Casey Golden: I'm, I'm thrilled to see so much more software coming in that is becoming more standardized. And more [00:21:00] scalable where the goal is to get it in and allow it to scale out so we can just move faster, right? We've moved pretty slow over the last 30 years when it comes to the internet to a static e-com store.

    [00:21:14] Like we haven't , we haven't really done much, um, in that, in that time period because this backend enterprise technology problems, I feel, you know, we a lot, this makes a huge.

    [00:21:26] Ashley Crowder: Yeah. You know that legacy IT infrastructure, right? And, and we talk with so many clients who are like, well, I'm, you know, doing my PLM upgrade that's gonna take a year and a half. And

    [00:21:36] Ricardo Belmar: Right, exactly.

    [00:21:38] Ashley Crowder: OK, . So so, and that's like our whole, that again, why we exist is, okay, well, we're headless. We can, we can upgrade your system to 3D in a day.

    [00:21:47] We, we can integrate both on, there we go. You don't need to. Try to rewrite everything or replace stuff. Let's just like, you know, upgrade what you have. Because yeah, these legacy systems are [00:22:00] just hard to get rid of and you don't wanna do employee training of, of new products. It's hard. And yeah, so we're, we're trying to just plug in there because yeah, at the end of the day, every system was built for only 2D content in mind, and 3D just has its own, you know, you need a 3D viewer if you're gonna see 3D on the.

    [00:22:17] You need certain file formats if you're trying to do iOS first Android, because Apple always has to be different . So,

    [00:22:24] Ricardo Belmar: Right, right.

    [00:22:25] Ashley Crowder: you know, but, but we help automate that. And I'm kind of jumping around, but I know, uh, uh, just like another suggestion for brands who are starting to design in 3d, I think a, a big thing is to have a material library a consistent material library that your whole team uses to make sure.

    [00:22:44] you know, if, if someone's designing a brown leather bag, your other designer is using the same brown, right? In the same, same material. And you know, we've got the, there's companies that will scan their own materials using a product like Visu. [00:23:00] Or you can use Adobe Substance. Adobe Substance has thousands of digital materials that are great and amazing. So that's, that's another place you can start, that's not, you know, very expensive. So.

    [00:23:14] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, a Ashley, let me ask you another question too. As you mentioned a couple interesting things there. What. What's holding back most often? You know, when you start working with a new customer, what are you running into as are the top things that are holding them back and kind of preventing them from really embracing 3d?

    [00:23:31] You mentioned a few things earlier, but I'm just curious you know, is it that legacy IT infrastructure that they feel like they have to overcome before they can get into this new field? Or are there other things, you know, one of the most common things you, you see that are, are really holding everyone.

    [00:23:46] Ashley Crowder: Yeah, so I'd say you know, initially it's that just skillset of designing in 3d. So, you know, there, there's a lot of. programs out there, both CLO and browser provide great training materials. They do different [00:24:00] webinars. We actually do monthly webinars now to train people on like, you know, different 3D techniques.

    [00:24:05] So, so there's that training aspect. Merrill actually has a really great program. So they when they hire students at a school, you know, they're all coming in knowing 3D and software, but like, you know, , they're very green. And then they pair them with this mentor program, with these older designers you know, who've been doing it forever in the company who can teach them more, you know, the, the, the traditional design skills they need, but it's just like pairing.

    [00:24:29] That's perfect, right? So then they can learn more of the 3D stuff. So I thought that was brilliant. So, so that's initially it, and then once, once you have that 3D design in. , then it's like, oh yeah, crap. We have a thousand 3D models. We can't store them in any system that we currently have. Like what do we do with this?

    [00:24:47] And like the digital product creation teams we talked to, they're like, yeah, I did all this beautiful work in 3d, but I'm sharing 2D screenshots cuz there's no way I can like, Share a 3D model with someone. I'm like, that's [00:25:00] awful, like

    [00:25:01] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:25:01] Ashley Crowder: So yeah. So that's, you know, that's when we come in and help and automate that workflow and make it easy for anybody to view and share and collaborate in, in 3d.

    [00:25:10] But, but yeah. And then the third I'd say you know, people are just sometimes afraid to try new things. So I'd I'd say, you know, design, you know, work with your, you know, Customer experience team on designing, you know, specific ab tests and, and say, you know, clarify what you're trying to define success as.

    [00:25:31] You know, before you start the all stuff people know for changing any UX design, right. But, but like, you know, apply it to 3D and do it. And you know, we've, I've continually been surprised at you know, even better outcomes than I thought with, with certain clients. But on the flip side of that, sorry. I will say like, don't be afraid. Like I have like some clients who are like, yeah, we did 3d, but it was like buried on the website because we were kind of like afraid. And I'm like, well, this is like destined to fail, you know, . [00:26:00] So don't do that.

    [00:26:01] Ricardo Belmar: They were setting themselves up to fail that way.

    [00:26:03] Casey Golden: I see that a lot actually. A lot of the innovative things that they're doing, there's this level of fear of putting it front and center because of this, gosh, fashion has the biggest fear of failure of any industry like God. Goodness gracious, I'm not putting it up front. We'll bury it here and see what if people like it.

    [00:26:23] I'm like, that's a terrible guide. Like that's a terrible score. Like put it front and center. There's been some brands that have launched some more immersive experiences or the 3D and they're using a different URL and they're putting it in marketing to take you to a different u l of the brand to keep you away from the limelight, but to do some testing.

    [00:26:46] And, I find it very interesting because, you know, coming iin from more on the innovation and the tech side and that culture, it's pushed forward with full force and fail fast and iterate. And that's [00:27:00] just not the, the culture that the retail industry has been able to embrace over years. So I see that starting to change more.

    [00:27:09] Ashley Crowder: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely changing and I think, you know, people see first movers have first mover advantage. Um, you know, I, I've watched a lot of, like Gary Vaynerchuk's videos, love him. He is like, you know, built this like huge empire, but it started with his family wine business. And when email first came out, he was like, oh, I'm gonna advertise with email.

    [00:27:31] You know, this is when like no one was getting emails. So you actually opened everything.

    [00:27:35] Ricardo Belmar: read them

    [00:27:36] Ashley Crowder: You know, and he like, yeah. Yeah. It was exciting

    [00:27:41] Ricardo Belmar: got email.

    [00:27:43] Ashley Crowder: Yeah, it was. And, and he like 10 Xed his family wine business by like the first ever email marketing, right. . And then, you know, ended up growing this, this huge marketing empire.

    [00:27:57] But because he's not afraid to move first and he [00:28:00] sees these new technologies and he implements them and iterates and tests and, and there's a huge advantage to be that first mover for this stuff.

    [00:28:07] Casey Golden: Yeah.

    [00:28:08] Ricardo Belmar: Is, is that one of the things you see when you start working with customer and they get you know, more used to using the tools that you're providing? Do you, do you see their confidence improving when it comes to 3d and do they get, or do customers get more excited when they, you, you've given them one success through the system and now do they want, are they ready to jump in right away and find the next thing that they can do with this and succeed at that, and then keep building and building?

    [00:28:32] Or do they still, do you still see retailers kind of having a very tempered approach and trying to go a little bit slower, even though they got that first success. But they're still cautiously approaching the next one.

    [00:28:41] Ashley Crowder: Yeah. And, and I will say, I mean our you know, we have an amazing team of like 3D experts who come from like the game engine space and, and look, I get it, 3D is, complex and new. And so, you know, we, we almost end up coming and, and being consultants, some, and, you know, we, we can give you all that information and [00:29:00] explain how this will all work to give you that confidence.

    [00:29:02] And, and with almost all of our clients, you know, that, I think that's why what we start with that like design and development phase and really show them, hey, like this is how you can easily manage and share. internally, and they see that, you know, save time and costs and, and improve speed to market. And so then, and then they start using it with the sell-in meetings and wholesale, and the buyers love it.

    [00:29:26] So they're like, okay, this is great. And then they go to, to consumers. That tends to be the general path right. But, you know, I don't know. D Diesel went e-com first. They were great. I mean, they're, they, they're very innovative.

    [00:29:39] So 

    [00:29:40] Casey Golden: very forward

    [00:29:41] Ashley Crowder: yeah.

    [00:29:42] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:29:43] Casey Golden: No, I think that's great. I mean, I have seen a lot of innovation in the PLM industry. just in general. Like I've seen hologram, like insane hologram technology and it's come out of a PLM company, you know, so the consumer won't see it for years, [00:30:00] but some of the capabilities and some of the things that are possible, definitely the innovation is happening internally for internal tools.

    [00:30:10] And I think it's important that just more people know that it's coming, and in most cases it's already here and you just don't know about it because it is happening internally.

    [00:30:21] Ashley Crowder: Yeah. And, and it is coming, I think this year we're gonna see way more 3D on consumer facing experiences, whether it's e-commerce part, partially because of what Google's doing. You know, Amazon is also starting to do 3D and ar. We have an integration so we can publish 3D to Amazon store. Not available to everybody yet.

    [00:30:40] But you know, I, I think as, as big players like Amazon, Google, and others start to offer 3d, it, it just becomes the standard that much faster, you know?

    [00:30:52] Casey Golden: It's amazing.

    [00:30:53] Ricardo Belmar: Right. And so Ashley, we just, one, one last thing before we close this out here, if you could leave listeners, and, [00:31:00] and viewers who will be watching on the, the YouTube channel with one key takeaway from everything we've talked about. What, what would that takeaway be?

    [00:31:06] Ashley Crowder: 3D is here. , and don't be afraid to experiment. It is adding real value to the bottom line of businesses today. So, you know, 3D is not just the future metaverse Roblox stuff, which yes, I, I love that as a gamer and excited, but it is, you know, saving costs by replacing samples, increasing speeds of market, improving your consumer experience just on your e-comm site, right?

    [00:31:35] Like this, you don't, you don't have to go VR all the way . You can do the baby steps. So,

    [00:31:42] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, go in, go in steps, and go in steps. a Ashley, this has been an amazing discussion. we can't thank you enough for joining us today and having this conversation about what you're doing and what VNTANA is bringing to retailers and brands with 3D capability.

    [00:31:55] Ashley Crowder: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

    [00:31:58] Casey Golden: Hundred percent. I'm so [00:32:00] excited for this space to grow and to watch brands translate 3D aspects into their business. I just hope our listeners were inspired, intrigued, and with the value of 3D assets. It's time to wrap up this episode and wrap up 2D

    [00:32:17] Ricardo Belmar: It is that time.

    [00:32:24] Show Close

    [00:32:24] Casey Golden: If you enjoyed our show, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. And if you wanna know more about what we talked about today, take a look at the show notes and handy links for more deets.

    [00:32:43] I'm your co-host Casey Golden.

    [00:32:44] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c Golden and Ricardo underscore 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 the latest updates and content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:32:59] Casey Golden: [00:33:00] Thanks for joining us.

    [00:33:01] ​

    [00:33:04] 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. 

    33m | Mar 10, 2023
  • S2E10e #NRFLive SPECIAL - NRF Recap with Greg Jones

    Did you miss #NRF2023 in January this year? No worries, we’ve got you covered this episode with our special NRF Recap! It’s all part of our special podcast cross-over series, #NRFLive, with the This Week In Innovation podcast. In Part 5, the final episode in the series, hosts Ricardo Belmar and Jeff Roster speak with the North America Lead for Retail & Consumer Goods at AvanadeGreg Jones. Join Greg, Jeff & Ricardo as they discuss the biggest trends and themes they saw at the show, from exhibitors, to startups, to what retailers told them were their main takeaways from the show. Regular cohost Casey Golden also joins Ricardo for a quick introduction and recap!

    You’ll also find out why this episode was not recorded live and in-person at #NRF2023 in the fabulous Avanade lounge. Instead it was recorded post-NRF – and yes, there is a story behind that! As a bonus, you can watch the video of the entire conversation on our YouTube channel. A big thank you to Avanade for sponsoring this series and making the recordings possible!

    News alert! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

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    Host → Ricardo Belmar,

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    Read my comments on RetailWire - https://bit.ly/RWCasey


    S2E10e Avanade - Greg Jones

    [00:00:00] ​

    [00:00:00] Show Intro 

    [00:00:00] Ricardo Belmar: Hello and welcome to a special season two episode 10 part five of the Retail Razor Show. This is the fifth and final episode in our multi-part series recorded live and in person at the N R F 2023 Show in January. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:36] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome to the Retail Razor Show, retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. And welcome N R F fans to our hottake, hashtag N R F Live the mini-series.

    [00:00:56] Ricardo Belmar: Well, Casey, we are at the last episode in our crossover [00:01:00] event with Jeff Roster and his This Week in Innovation podcast, and this is a, a special final episode to close out the series. Thanks to our sponsor, Avanade that graciously allowed us to record the whole series in their, in their fabulous lounge space overlooking the main expo floor.

    [00:01:15] For this final episode, Jeff and I were fortunate enough to sit down with Avanade's Greg Jones, their North America lead for Retail and Consumer Goods, and, and also a friend of ours, to recap what we saw at N R F, talk about the state of startups in retail which AAuD actually hosted three startup showcases during NRF with Microsoft for Startups team and our fellow Retail Avenger, Shish Shridhar.

    [00:01:36] And two of our podcast guests came from those showcases, the 1 M robotics and Z blocks. They're both part of that program. And of course I know it's always near and dear to your heart anytime we talk about retail startups.

    [00:01:47] Casey Golden: It is so a big shout out to Avanade for supporting and sponsoring this crossover and just, wow. I mean, this whole series has been a celebration of [00:02:00] retail and just showing us what N R F was all about this year.

    [00:02:04] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. And you know, this discussion with Greg really highlights what I think so many in the media have been missing about the retail industry. That is really a more positive outlook about what's to come in 2023. You know, we hear about all the, the negative things that get reported, but that wasn't really the mood.

    [00:02:22] At this N R F and, and we talk about that in this in this episode, you know, positive in the sense that even with all of those headwinds that are out there and global problems and everything, retail still finds a way to innovate and finds a way to deliver great customer and employee experiences.

    [00:02:35] Casey Golden: Yes, and, and the customer experiences always begin with the employee experience, and often that starts with what software they're using or lack thereof. So really enjoy this highlight.

    [00:02:50] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, let's dive right in and listen to our conversation with Greg Jones from Avanade

    [00:03:01] Greg Jones Interview

    [00:03:01] Ricardo Belmar: Hello everybody. We are back to wrap up our N R F Live series that Jeff roster and I have been fortunate enough to speak to a number of fascinating folks during N R F Week and graciously as Avanade has sponsored us and gave us the space and facility to record. We're coming back after the show now with Greg Jones from Avanade to kind of talk through what stood out to us, what were some of the highlights of the show, and you know, see what where we think things are gonna go next. So, without any further delay, Jeff, what do you say? We just dive in.

    [00:03:36] Jeff Roster: Absolutely. Let's get, let's get it going.

    [00:03:38] Ricardo Belmar: All right. So please to welcome Greg Jones from Avanade. Greg, why don't you introduce yourself, kick us off and tell us a little bit about your background and what you're doing at Avanade.

    [00:03:47] Greg Jones: Yeah, absolutely. Ricardo. And, and look, thank, thank you both. Yeah, Ricardo and, and Jeff for the time and the opportunity. I think we're, we're. Yeah, really excited collectively on the, on nrf. You know, it was obviously great to be back in, back in person and, and [00:04:00] yeah, great to be able to have this conversation as well.

    [00:04:01] Cause there's a, a lot, a lot that got learnt and a lot that kind of excited the industry as well. So a bit of background. So Greg Jones run the, and look after the North America practice here at Avanade for retail and consumer goods. Avanade, you know, for, for those who don't know was a, a joint founded organization back in 2000 between Accenture and Microsoft.

    [00:04:20] We're a global system integrator, you know, over 60,000 people globally, but very focused around industry as a whole. And, and retail is one of the priority industries that we have. And that's what we definitely brought together as part of Avanade as and NRF was the opportunity to be able to showcase some of the capabilities that Avanade is delivering. 

    [00:04:38] So bringing all of our expertise together. So I've been with Avanade for two years. Prior to that I was with Microsoft as part of the global retail team looking after everything from partner ecosystem and business strategy for quite a number of years. And again, pleased to be able to be here with yourself and, and Jeff.

    [00:04:54] Ricardo Belmar: Well, thanks very much for, for joining us, Greg. What, why don't you give us your sense of, [00:05:00] you know, obviously Avanade, you guys had a, a number of really great activities during N R F. You had the the breakfast session at the beginning of the week. You had some startup showcases happening with Microsoft for startups.

    [00:05:11] Why don't you, you know, give us what you think are some of the highlights from the various activities, and then maybe we can talk a little bit about what, things stood out to all of us from the overall, from N R F?

    [00:05:20] Greg Jones: Yeah, no, absolutely. I was gonna say, yeah, we, we did a, a lot to be able to, to really bring you know, the, the view of retail in the current climate as well. So we needed to make sure that, you know, we were coming to the event with capabilities. And some of the, the demos that we had that were very focused around helping organizations you know, get the value out of what they've got now as well.

    [00:05:40] And, and I would say that, you know, retailers as a whole yeah, I've never faced such a, a volume of, of, or a variety of challenges as well that that's facing them at the moment. And it's also facing and, and making some tough decisions. And that was part of the conversations that happened throughout NRF is that people are there.

    [00:05:55] To look at where they need to be able to pivot and how to be able to pivot their organizations, you know, during [00:06:00] the, the current climate at the moment as well. And I would say, yeah, through the discussions, there were two primary challenges that were, were being discussed, which is the, the need to control costs.

    [00:06:09] And also to, yeah, protect margins and there need to be a responsible retailer as, as well and around, you know, doing what matters in the current climate, being able to still ensure that delight experience for the customers. But there's also an element of the employee experience that really came through as part of the discussions that we had.

    [00:06:27] In particular a breakfast panel. That we did during nrf, where we had, you know, the Chief HR officer from Northern Tools and Equipment, very much talking about the importance of the employees and how through enabling those employees can continue that delight experience and, and be that, you know, continuation of that brand engagement with customers as well.

    [00:06:46] So, It was actually really interesting on, on some of the elements that that came together. The way that we really came, you know, to N R F was to be able to look at what we're calling yeah, we call it reignite Physical Retail, which is really bringing that [00:07:00] physical retail and, you know, obviously the online worlds together.

    [00:07:03] And how to be able to, you know, look at all aspects of that, that journey or, you know, what we're calling the, the customers. The only channel is how to be able to engage with that customer through all aspects of the channel of engagement, how we can help retailers and being able to do that. Yeah, it was great to be able to see the, the messaging landed very well with the, the client conversations.

    [00:07:20] You know, the discussions that we had with, uh, with customers was very on point in regards to, you know, the, the challenges that they're facing and how we can definitely help , but there are also some surprises out there as well that we could talk about a little bit later as well.

    [00:07:33] Ricardo Belmar: I'm, I'm curious in, in some of your client conversations, so some of the things I heard fairly consistently, and you, and you mentioned it at the beginning too, is this idea of you're trying to find and identify the things I need to do as a retailer to make my operations more efficient, to kind of lower that cost basis while still.

    [00:07:50] Doing it in a way that's not gonna impact my overall customer experience, particularly in store now, that I think we can all agree that we can put to bed all, all those worries about stores going away, that hadn't been [00:08:00] real narrative for so long that you know, we can now all safely point to and say, yeah, that's not happening.

    [00:08:04] Stores, stores are here to stay. But we're any, you know, was that a consistent theme that you heard as well?

    [00:08:09] Greg Jones: Yeah, it was, I mean, you know, obviously the, the stores aren't going away. At all. You know, we've all heard that the business models of stores have to change. You know, and that's, that's no secret. You know, you're looking at new store designs that are, are coming out across the globe of, of how to be able to provide more of a curated experience.

    [00:08:24] You know, and that, that in itself, I think is just part of the new business model that, you know, retailers are having to be able to make sure that the, the stores are, you know, the showroom. It's that way to be able to bridge , their online channels with the physical channels. And that pivot, I think definitely has been occurring more so post pandemic as well.

    [00:08:42] And I think that's where, where people are now starting to see we need best, best of both worlds. You know, we're seeing Nike as an example, that are, are very much looking at redefining their, their store environments you know, through that whole direct to consumer engagement and, and element that they're, they're driving for as well, which I think is, is super, super cool in regards to [00:09:00] what they're doing.

    [00:09:00] And. It almost like if I look at, you know, the Nike store in New York, it's a, it's a destination. You walk past there and people are there to do experience that, that whole engagement point. But I think it also came back to some of the, the fundamentals as well where retailers are, are sitting there going, we've invested in, in a lot of technology over the course of the last three years.

    [00:09:19] Are we getting the most out of that as well? And that's, again, that was a pivot of the discussion on kind of doing more with less or doing more with the investments that they've already made and, and looking at ways to be able to really squeeze the most out of those investments. Is there opportunities to be able to consolidate?

    [00:09:35] Absolutely. But it's also a way to be able to look at maximizing the investments that they've already put into place. So I'd be def definitely curious, like, you know, Jeff and, and Ricardo. I mean, you know, from discussions that you had with, with customers, did you look at that or hear in regards to getting more outta the investments that people have made to be able to, to reach the, the goals their wanting to achieve.

    [00:09:53] Jeff Roster: You wanna go first, Ricardo, or you want.

    [00:09:56] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, sure. I mean, from, from my perspective, I, I, I definitely heard [00:10:00] quite a bit of that, of, you know, what do I need to do to extract that benefit, right? From everything I've already invested in. I, I kind of, I tended to hear that coupled with, you know, this recognition that I, my goal isn't to cut a cost, right?

    [00:10:14] My goal was to gain efficiency. You know, strengthen some aspect of an operation that perhaps when we first created this new capability, the goal at the time was to just get that capability out there with, with not too much regard for how expensive was it gonna be to deliver it. And now was the time to figure out, well, now that I've delivered it and we have this cap, this customer facing capability, how can we do it in a more efficient way?

    [00:10:37] And if that means I have to invest in, in another, you know, supplemental capability on top of that to help facilitate the overall reduction of the operational cost long term, then that's okay. There was some recognition that that might be necessary, but I think I, I saw as a trend that You know, if there are a lot of really interesting new technologies out there, they were being viewed with the lens of how does that [00:11:00] make me more efficient?

    [00:11:01] Or how does that make my operation better? Versus where, you know, the last N R F I remember the, the, the thought would've been, wow, that's really neat. How, how, how well received is that gonna be? If my customer sees that, then therefore I need to have it,

    [00:11:13] Greg Jones: Yeah.

    [00:11:14] Ricardo Belmar: which is a very different lens.

    [00:11:15] Greg Jones: Yeah, exactly. I mean, yeah, one of the, as I said, you know, one of the surprises that, that I saw and certainly heard across, you know, the entire show, show floor was, you know, Leading into N R F. There was certainly, you know, there was you know, amplification, there was obviously the buzz that was happening about the metaverse.

    [00:11:32] How is that being applied? You know, retailers that are looking at that, brands that are, are definitely jumping in and, and, and exploring and engaging with the, the metaverse for their, for their particular brand. But I was actually quite surprised that, you know, I didn't see walking into, you know, walking into the Javits Center,

    [00:11:48] yeah, I remember the days where, you know, AI was the, the big topic and you'd have banners all over the place in regards to ai, this and, you know, AI empowered retail and you know, what AI can do for you and your customer experiences [00:12:00] or the, the wonderful world of big data. You know, it was kind of all over the, the place walking to the Javits Center didn't see anything in regards to metaverse.

    [00:12:09] Now and visually, just in regards to, it wasn't necessarily there as a, you know, welcome to, or the, you know, the metaverse is changing the world and enabling, and I think part of that is, is the fact of people are still on, not on the edge, but they're still looking at how that can be applied and what that is going to do for their engagement, but also from an operational standpoint, given the current climate as well, is around do we look at supply chain visibility in inventory, our employees, how do we gain control of our, our entire data estate? Do we do that or we do metaverse? It's kind of the, there's a, there's an interesting kind of like, almost like a, a, an internal debate that people like it's, it's there, understand it, it's kind of, there's a new way to engage, but there's other things that we need to be focusing on as well.

    [00:12:56] Jeff Roster: Yeah, that's such an interesting point. Is, in the first three quarters of my [00:13:00] career I was about adoption. You know, my Gartner in i h l days where, where are we in adoption. And it's interesting kind of even talking about the M word metaverse. You know, a lot of analysts that I'm friends with are going back and forth and are saying, well, I didn't see any Metaverse stuff there.

    [00:13:15] Well you should have went up to the innovation lab because there was plenty of that there. But it, but the thing was, and I agree with you a hundred percent, Greg, there was, I, I don't think I saw the word metaverse once, but there was all the components of it, which is why I'm really such a big fan. And I got this first from Microsoft, the term immersive commerce, because it's not right now, it's, I don't think anybody's looking to buy a metaverse solution, but boy, you sure can find some very interesting stuff around holograms.

    [00:13:41] You can definitely find a lot around 3D objects. You can definitely find some stuff around around augmented reality. Not so much on the, on the, on the, on the goggles yet. I, I kind of get that. I mean, you know, I, I don't know know they see that, but boy, When you start thinking about what Ulta's doing with Roblox, what [00:14:00] home, what see not Home Depot Walmart is doing with Roblox, you are in, you're really seeing that immersive commerce.

    [00:14:06] Pieces begin to pick up and it's almost like there's a maturation in how we message the, how the vendor community messages this stuff. And it really, I, I didn't see, I, it just felt like a very mature approach to, to the show. Just. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Like screamy there's a great example.

    [00:14:24] I'll use, it's one of your competitors. Like, I, I'll, I'll be nice and not use it, but there was one a few years ago, there was like a, a, a certain signage that was everywhere and it was like, you know, it. I don't know. It seemed kind of silly, so I thi I just felt like it was a really, really mature way of going about the business of not just adopt, you know, technology adoption, but also also the, the, the push towards innovation.

    [00:14:49] Definitely on the you know, in the, in the innovation lab and definitely it. You know, in the Microsoft for startup stuff, I mean, there was some crazy interesting technology. So I, I love that balance. You [00:15:00] know, I just, I, I'm not sure, I'm not sure my, my fellow analysts though, picked up on that, that nuance cuz they're not chasing innovation.

    [00:15:05] They shouldn't be, they should be worried about where, what, you know, where, where we are in adoption. And boy that's that's gonna be a fun thing for us, some of us to chase, I think in the next, next 18 months.

    [00:15:15] Ricardo Belmar: Well, and, and you know, there, there's some things I saw too, so, I mean, I agree too. Greg said that, you know, that you didn't see Metaverse being flashed around everywhere. Like, like we had, you know, in places last year. And, and I agree with what you said, Jeff, that there are a lot of components about it spread out and, and lots of different places because, and I kind of perceive it that, as, you know, some of these components have useful things you can do with them today. Whereas I think everyone is still kind of figuring out what's my truly useful revenue generating thing that I can do that's customer facing in the metaverse that I, I know is gonna work with the customers I have? Or what, what can I do that's gonna attract new customers for me?

    [00:15:52] And I think everyone's still kind of figuring that part out. But there's some things, you know, I, I, I saw people thinking and talking about digital twins, which I view [00:16:00] that as a metaverse use case.

    [00:16:01] Greg Jones: Yep.

    [00:16:02] Jeff Roster: I want to, you know, I want a digital twin. I want, I want me, so I can go in and have two or three people going around the show. That's what I

    [00:16:09] Ricardo Belmar: your own digital twin go and 

    [00:16:10] Jeff Roster: I need my 

    [00:16:11] Ricardo Belmar: right? and go go talk to some 

    [00:16:12] Jeff Roster: still, I

    [00:16:13] Greg Jones: I was gonna say, I think we had a startup about that as 

    [00:16:16] Jeff Roster: there you go. There you go. And I'm, I still haven't only covered about 15 or 20% of the show.

    [00:16:20] I mean, I, it was unbelievable how complex that show was to cover. I mean, it was

    [00:16:24] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:16:26] Jeff Roster: I, it just, so there was so much stuff and then we haven't even talked about, you know, the stuff that was happening offsite. Really, really that show is just absolutely maturing and, and exploding.

    [00:16:36] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Well, well let's, let's kind of drill into this theme a little bit on what some of those new things were that it may not have been metaverse, but, you know, I, I, for example, I mean, I still saw some things around web three that I think were pretty interesting, particularly connecting with loyalty programs.

    [00:16:51] Which I see as a trending, trending thing. And then also saw some things around micro fulfillment that I think continues to be, maybe isn't a, a new topic to [00:17:00] talk about, but still I, I would consider it new in terms of adoption. To your point, Jeff, you know, where are things in adoption and ways to apply it.

    [00:17:07] So I think a lot of interesting things in, in pockets and areas, and particularly with what different startups were showing.

    [00:17:12] Greg Jones: Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, I'll, I'll jump onto the, the startup side. So a as, as you both know, you know, throughout the course of nrf, every day we, we, , in partnership with Microsoft brought together a number of, of, you know, very interesting and unique startups to be able to, it was more of an opportunity to be able to just share, share what are some of the things and, and organizations that are out there, the problems that they're trying to solve.

    [00:17:33] and the way that we broke it up was, again, very intentional. So the first day that we had we focused around what we were calling the intelligent store. So really looking at the, you know, kind of what is happening around that physical store element. Yeah. And there was some interesting, interesting startups with a likes of Shopic, right?

    [00:17:48] So Shopic, you know, it was a more of a smart cart frictionless shopping approach where, you know, it's a. Yeah, it's a self, it's a unit that then mounts onto a shopping cart. You can then pick the product off to the shelf, put that into your basket, [00:18:00] transact on the, at the cart itself, bag your product go and put it into the car.

    [00:18:04] And then you just put the, you know, put the, yeah, the, the rack back onto the, the charging station. Again, a, a cost effective way to be able to provide that frictionless shopping experience. And then you had others with you know, if I look at the, likes of Pathr AI. Which is, you know, really starting to look at, not just around measuring traffic, but it's also looking at the analytics of that physical world.

    [00:18:26] Understanding the shopper behavior within the retail stores, but it's leveraging the infrastructure that's already in place as well. So being, again, cost conscious, but being able to drive and, and, and pull value out of what's in the, the store that was, there were, that was a couple that we had on, on day one.

    [00:18:40] Day two, again, we pivoted around what was happening in the, the current days. So it was around looking at unified commerce and supply chain. So, you know, we had, you know, organizations like Next Billion ai. Again, looking at, you know, scale and managing the mapping ecosystem as well, and, and, you know, tackling , complex location based problems and [00:19:00] how to be able to use AI as a means to be able to bring, you know, geography and scale together to be able to look what was happening.

    [00:19:06] You then start to, to look at the likes of, you know, pocket. You know, and Pocket themselves is, is really a sort of a, a checkout platform that helps businesses access and retain that, the digital native shoppers globally. And it's, it's really, it was quite interesting on the way that they were looking at merchant partners looking at shelf analytics and, and you know, being able to bridge the yeah, bridge that online and, and in-store experience. 

    [00:19:30] But the Day three was the one that kind of, I think, blew people's minds a little bit. And yeah, Jeff it comes back onto what we were all saying about, about Metaverse. We did have a session on Metaverse, but it was to be able to bring different elements.

    [00:19:42] You know, you start to look at this, you know, this commerce approach, you start to look at how, how different types of capabilities are, are being enabled. And one of, one of the startups that we had there was, was phenomenal. I mean, it it, you could have had an an hour just with this particular startup called Deep Brain ai.

    [00:19:58] And they're, they're all about, you know, [00:20:00] conversational artificial intelligence. And they were talking about stories of, you know, in the Asia region where, there is a mainstream news program that instead of having a, a, a. and, you know, a physical host hosting the, the TV program. It's a conversational AI and a, it's an AI driven you know, en engagement that happens.

    [00:20:21] And then radio stations that are you know, we're on a podcast. But, you know, it was kind of scary when it's starting to talk about, you know, again, this, conversational, , AI and how that could become the voice of radio moving forward. And that was one where, . It was good to have it sort of on the last day because I think people were just like, oh, you know, last day we're sitting down.

    [00:20:39] That's all good. And then there was all of a sudden this, well, hang on a minute. What, what, what are you talking about? And it was actually, it was kind of, it, it created a lot of, lot of great follow on discussions as well. But it was kind of, again, it was an opportunity to be able to bring something new to, you know, customers and, and anybody that was able to, to come past our showcase.

    [00:20:58] Jeff Roster: Yeah, that was the one with the [00:21:00] the Howie Mandel avatar, correct.

    [00:21:02] Greg Jones: Yeah, that's correct. Yep. Jeff.

    [00:21:04] Jeff Roster: So they were up in the they were up in the innovation zone. That's actually real. I mean, Howie is sending his, I don't know, what do you call it? His AI out and you can license that and for a, a, a cheaper rate than having Howie come out personally, I, I, I, I was shocked by that.

    [00:21:20] I mean, not shocked. That's probably too strong. But you know, again, that innovation versus adoption. Wow. You, you can, you now can you can. Pounds, dollars Euro rupi and say, there, there is money being generated. And obviously it's just, I mean, that's such a crazy scenario. How that's gonna play itself out feels really super metaverse to me.

    [00:21:41] So.

    [00:21:42] Greg Jones: Yeah,

    [00:21:43] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:21:43] Jeff Roster: It's just, I, I just, 

    [00:21:45] Greg Jones: just,

    [00:21:45] just say

    [00:21:46] Jeff Roster: adoption. The

    [00:21:47] Ricardo Belmar: Just saying.

    [00:21:48] Jeff Roster: The the, the, not the, not just the innovation, but the adoption. When you can start going in stuff that we really, I don't think that was even around what, three years ago or at least before Covid, and now you, you can say, [00:22:00] wow, there's money being generated here.

    [00:22:01] That is

    [00:22:01] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah.

    [00:22:03] Jeff Roster: adoption. That rapid innovation followed by, I think, pretty significant adoption coming forward. So a lot of stuff happening there.

    [00:22:11] Greg Jones: And I think to be honest, Jeff, that that in itself is, is part of the challenge for the industry, right? So as you said, yeah, three years ago, you would, I don't think we would, any of us would've been having a conversation about, you know, you know, Howie, Howie out there with his, you know, with his ai and that is, and you can, you know, you can purchase that, get him out there speaking and, and create this kind of character.

    [00:22:33] you've also then sort of blend that within the, the conversations that really bubbled up on the last day of NRF around chat G p T, right? You and, and you start to look at, okay, as a retailer, how do we, how do we, what do we do with this? How do we consume it? How does it get applied? And I think collectively, if I look at, you know you know, the, the three of us, I think there's a, an element of how can we help retailers? Really start to look at how it could be applied in that, in that [00:23:00]conversation of like responsible retailing, I think there's an element of, of, of a good conversation to have around that as well.

    [00:23:05] Jeff Roster: Yeah, that, that one's not going away because every analyst I've talked to is, is both intrigued and sweating bolts about that. Um, since I'm on, I'm on the other side of my career, I'm like, yeah, this sounds great. You know, let me just, let me just have this, absorb all this in unbelievable amount of information and then and, you know, spit out some content and let me edit it.

    [00:23:27] And then, just you know, roster's, opinion edited, or, you know, created by chat G P T and, and edited by me. And it seems fine to me. As long as somebody's sort of validating that Basically. Basically it's just ghost writing. So what does that, what does that mean for retail? I mean, how.

    [00:23:41] How are they gonna process that? How are they gonna absorb that man? We're, we're, we're, we're really out on the edge when we're, we're talking about that. And just imagine if by next year where we've really now spent six months, eight months, nine months, really beginning to live with this and seeing and seen podcast.

    [00:23:59] I mean, [00:24:00] there's a podcast where it's already interviewed the ai I mean, you know, it's, and did live. I mean, it was crazy. And that's, we're only on the, the earliest edge. So, So when I look at that, when I look at what teams are gonna need to do what, uh, what retailers are gonna need to do, we've always been screaming about, you know, air of intentional innovation is upon us.

    [00:24:16] Boy oh boy, that's on, that's on steroids now. You, you live streaming. What are you gonna do with live streaming? Are you gonna be comfortable having your store associates out there presenting your brand out in all kinds of environments? Are we gonna over-engineer that live streaming like we probably would've done 10 years ago?

    [00:24:31] Hopefully not. You know, 

    [00:24:32] Ricardo Belmar: now you'll also have the option that maybe if, for your best store associates that do that, right, you could have their digital avatar do to live streaming for them while they're still helping a customer in the store.

    [00:24:40] Jeff Roster: I mean that that

    [00:24:41] Ricardo Belmar: Think about it that

    [00:24:42] Jeff Roster: that's just a g. Yeah, that's 

    [00:24:43] Greg Jones: now you've just taken it next level.

    [00:24:45] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. , I mean, just, just thinking out on some of the, I, you know, there, everyone likes to talk about the customer service use cases, right?

    [00:24:51] Where today it might be, you know, the what, what every consumer probably learns to hate the chatbot on ev on every retailer's site that tries to solve their support [00:25:00] questions when they come in, ask. But now, when you have something like a chat g p t trying to solve those, you might actually get meaningful responses. And the consumer won't even realize that they're talking to an ai, if you don't tell 'em they're, they're gonna get the answers they want and move on. , you know, you can think of it in, in like, call center applications. I can think of. You know, I, I think to me those demos that we saw from like the deep brain ai, there, there's gotta be an example there of, whether it's Howie or some other celebrity type, you know, pseudo endorsement, right?

    [00:25:25] Standing at the, in a store window, kind of waving to the people coming by offering to tell 'em about what great new thing is inside the store, ? And to get people inside when it's just, it's not really them, it's their digital avatar.

    [00:25:34] Greg Jones: Yeah, it's, it's, gonna, it's, it's gonna be really, it's, it's exciting. I think it is exciting in regards to how it gonna be applied. I mean, I, you know, talking to my, my 17 year old son about Chat GPT and he was just like, yeah. It's like, I've known about this for months. I'm like, okay, good.

    [00:25:47] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:25:48] Greg Jones: you might, you might wanna, you might have wanted to share that with me before I step foot at nrf, but that's, that's a different, different 

    [00:25:53] Jeff Roster: the second question is how much of your homework has, has that done for you?

    [00:25:57] Ricardo Belmar: has it done for you.

    [00:25:59] Greg Jones: Yes, [00:26:00] there is, is that subliminal sort of. Okay, let me, let me, let me re-look at your grades and see if there was a spike in improvement. Now I know. Now I know why, but now he's, he's a.

    [00:26:10] Ricardo Belmar: So, so Greg, let me ask you this to kind of last thing here, to close this out with all these things we just talked about of, based on, on what we saw at N R F. You know, what, what's your take on where retailers go next this year coming out of n r f. 

    [00:26:22] Greg Jones: Yeah, look, I think it's sort of coming, coming out on the, on the back of nrf. You know, I would say that, there's the consistent excitement that is still there in regards to, you know, the market opportunity. You know? Yes. P their discretionary spend is starting to, to definitely slow down and we, we see that in all the reports and, yeah.

    [00:26:39] Discussions that we're having with our customers. I think, yeah, really for, for me, it's, it's, kind of the, the challenge and the opportunity is really just that bridge, you know, how to be able to bridge that physical and digital world together. You know, really unleash that, that customer experience.

    [00:26:52] And the other part of it is, is really around the data estate. You know, the, the one thing, and certainly one of the, the key themes that came up [00:27:00] and, and through the discussions that we had is what to do with this vast amount of data that has, yeah, I would say significantly grown over the last three years, just given the, the new.

    [00:27:09] New market opportunities, new direction that retailers have had to go. And there's a, there's a need and a, and a desire to, to look at, you know, how do we try and get control of of what we have as part of the data estate? Is there the opportunity about to monetize that as well? So if I really look at sort of the, the three th three themes, you know, data, data monetization, how to be able to, to do that, enable and sort of that bridge that physical and digital worlds and, and drive the most out of the investments that that organizations have had.

    [00:27:35] But being, keeping that in a responsible way. And, and I think, you know, the employees you know, We're having a lot of discussions with with retailers in regards to their employee enablement and how to be able to do that you know, in a responsible way as well. We need, we want to make sure that, you know, the associates are being given access to the right information to make them more informed and to be able to deliver a better customer experience.

    [00:27:57] But we also wanna make sure that it doesn't open. You know, [00:28:00] kind of the other counter worms in regards to, you know, on the clock and off the clock and hourly employee discussions. And I know that, Microsoft, you know, is very focused on around that, on, you know, the, the whole enablement and controlling access.

    [00:28:12] You know, it's, I I would say it's still, it's, it's an exci, it's still an exciting time and, and you know, I just know that we're, we're all in this together to be able to help retailers through, you know, through where we are and how to be able to get on the, the other side as well. I'm looking forward to, I'm looking forward to NRF 2024.

    [00:28:29] I think it's gonna be exciting but it's gonna be, it's gonna be a journey over the, the course of the next few months just on how, how people are pivoting over the, the course of the, of the economy as well.

    [00:28:38] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I think that makes a, a lot of sense and I, I'm gonna delve a little bit on one of the points you made that we didn't talk as much about earlier, but that I caught it in some key moments around the show may not necessarily always a, a big focus, but certainly lots of people talking about is, you know, what kinds of things can be done that focus on, supporting those store associates and, and [00:29:00] frontline workers in, in the store, you know, what's the technology doing to serve them? It, it's not a discussion I believe, anymore about a technology that's replacing people. It's what's the technology that's helping the people that are there? Partly knowing that, , in most cases, re retailers aren't expecting to hire more people.

    [00:29:16] In the stores, there's still an issue of, of, you know, where do I find enough labor to run the store? And so you, , there's that element of needing the technology, but I think there's, there's now a renewed I'll say, I don't know if I should say new or renewed, but there's an interest for sure now in leveraging the technology to make that store environment a better work environment overall. For the team that's there and you know, doing it in a way that causes people to want to do that job. I, I think that's a key differentiator from what I've seen in past years.

    [00:29:44] Jeff Roster: Yeah, I'd agree with that. Almost the point where it was noticeable I thought. Uh, where, I don't, I'm trying to think back over the years was the discussion around the employee as, as predominant and I, I just don't think it was, and I just wonder if that maybe is a kind of [00:30:00] a, a fallout from, from Covid where we really saw how, how critical our supply chains are.

    [00:30:05] We saw how important people in those supply chains are, how important it's to have, you know, a working store, physical store in our neighborhoods. When it came time to get, know, milk or eggs or whatever. I don't know. It just felt, it just felt like a really interesting, it just felt like a better show.

    [00:30:21] It just felt like a better experience. It just felt like everyone

    [00:30:24] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:30:25] Jeff Roster: I don't know. And if, if that, if we got that out of that mess, we've all been through the last three years, uh, I wouldn't, I wouldn't say it was worth it, but, but at least it's something positive that came out of all that, all that train wreck

    [00:30:34] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah.

    [00:30:36] Greg Jones: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, I look at NRF as being, you know, it's, it's the big show. Absolutely. But this year was the big reunion, you know, it was really that opportunity for people to be able to get back together in person, catch up, Have a laugh, you know, get and, and just reconnect. And I think it was, it was absolutely, it was, you know, it was energizing to be able to be in that environment.

    [00:30:56] But as I said, I think it was very much the, the big, big industry [00:31:00] reunion is really what N R F was about this year.

    [00:31:01] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:31:02] Jeff Roster: a good phrase.

    [00:31:03] Ricardo Belmar: I, I, I even kind of think of it almost like a big reset moment in that, you know, everybody had been in sort of a mode the last few years because of Covid, and this was almost felt like finally it was the, the one industry moment that let everybody get past that mood and to move to now we're ready to move on to what we're gonna do to make this industry better.

    [00:31:22] And I, I, I might, I would probably sum it up as much more of a collaborative note. from an industry point of view on how we're gonna do this than in past years, even pre covid, where, , it wasn't about What am I gonna do? This was more about what are we going to do? 

    [00:31:37] Greg Jones: Yeah.

    [00:31:38] very much so. That's

    [00:31:39] a good. 

    [00:31:40] Jeff Roster: that.

    [00:31:40] Ricardo Belmar: All right, Jeff, any, any last, , thoughts?

    [00:31:43] Jeff Roster: Oh man. It just, it's so exciting. All that. You know, I, I was one of the 6,000 that was there last year, and it was just, it just broke my heart. , and I just thought, my gosh, are we watching the, the end of retail? You know? And of course, remember that was all the talk about, you know, [00:32:00] buy online, pick up the store.

    [00:32:01] Awesome, awesome thing. But then, you know, do we are, do we even need this? And all the last mile stuff? And I'm like, no, no, we're, we're people, we're humans. We, we want to, we want to gather. And when I walked in, well, starting with v i p awards on Friday night, and then all the way through, , getting on the plane Wednesday afternoon or yeah, Wednesday afternoon, it just was all about re you know, re-engagement, you know, return.

    [00:32:23] You know, the celebration of the human experience, which I think retail probably more so than any industry, really captures that. And I just, I haven't felt as good coming out of a, a trade show, probably, probably ever actually. I just, yeah, I'm, uh, it's, it, it's an exciting time ahead. There's tons of stuff for, for us analysts to talk about.

    [00:32:41] There's a bunch of stuff for us focusing on innovation to talk about, and then there's just this tremendous celebration of, of what we can do as a society and as a, as a group and an industry. I, I'm, I'm really, really excited about the, about 2023.

    [00:32:54] Greg Jones: Yeah,

    [00:32:55] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. Greg, any final thoughts?

    [00:32:57] Greg Jones: I was gonna say sim, similar to Jeff, like excited about [00:33:00] 2023. You know, the. NR NRF is, it's really kind of the, it's the Super bowl of, of the, the industry and it brings everybody together and there's the, you know, the excitement around it. What I am definitely, you know, looking forward to is again, just the continuation of the conversations.

    [00:33:14] And, you know, it's, The industry is small. We know it's a very small world. You know, and keen to be able to, learn as we're all going through this through this year, just in regards to where we need to be able to pivot and, and how we need to be able to partner. And, you know, really looking forward to, you know, looking forward to a successful 2023 together and and celebrating great successes in 2024 at nrf as well.

    [00:33:34] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, I agree with that. Fantastic. Well, Greg, thank you so much for, for joining us for this N R F recap. I know we, we, we all attempted to do this live and while we were still in person during the show and had, let's say, a few technical glitches that maybe prevented us from successfully completing

    [00:33:52] Jeff Roster: One slight one.

    [00:33:54] Ricardo Belmar: Just, just one slight 

    [00:33:55] Jeff Roster: have an 

    [00:33:56] Ricardo Belmar: uncooperative microphone that, that prevented us from capturing all that [00:34:00] gold commentary that we knew we were gonna get. But , but 

    [00:34:03] Greg Jones: app, Apparently Apparently there's some technology that can help with that.

    [00:34:06] That's 

    [00:34:06] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:34:07] Yeah. We'll, we'll, Jeff, we have to look into that for sure.

    [00:34:10] Jeff Roster: Oh man.

    [00:34:11] Ricardo Belmar: the next time.

    [00:34:12] Greg Jones: That all, all good!

    [00:34:14] Ricardo Belmar: All good. All good. Well, well, thanks again, Greg for joining us and thanks to Avanade for having sponsored us and giving us the ability to, to. Take on this series during n r f by letting us use your, your space which was such a, a, a fabulous, fabulous spot for us to, to capture some, some golden moments w with a number of really interesting people, and that will everybody's been able to enjoy in this series.

    [00:34:35] Greg Jones: I was gonna say, you're, you're always welcome.

    [00:34:36] Ricardo Belmar: Thanks very much. All right, Jeff, I think that is a wrap for 

    [00:34:39] Jeff Roster: this

    [00:34:39] Well, and thank you Ricardo, for letting me shadow you throughout this whole crazy week. I mean, you know, we've talked about doing this sort of a thing for a while and man, what a, what a crazy deal. What an awesome, crazy, fun way to cover N R F 2023. I think we captured some good memories and, and I cannot wait for what [00:35:00] you and I have planned for going forward.

    [00:35:02] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely, absolutely. Quick little hint your dropping there for you dropping for, for what's yet to come.

    [00:35:09] Jeff Roster: that's a, that the term is

    [00:35:10] Ricardo Belmar: listeners and viewers anxiously awaiting.

    [00:35:12] Jeff Roster: The term is foreshadowing

    [00:35:14] Ricardo Belmar: foreshadowing. There you go. There you go. All right, and with that we will sign off. Thanks everyone for joining us.

    [00:35:20] Jeff Roster: See ya.

    [00:35:20] Greg Jones: Thanks.

    [00:35:21] Show Recap

    [00:35:21] Casey Golden: Welcome back everyone. So Ricardo, you have to give us some more details. What happened to the original recording of this conversation? I, I, I understand there's a story.

    [00:35:37] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, there, there is. And as much as I'd like to find someone else to blame , I can honestly say I have no idea what happened. So, you know, Jeff and I set up all the mics all our equipment, just like we always did in the Avanade lounge for each of these sessions. But somehow despite, you know, all the, all the sound checks we did when we start before we hit that record button, When I went back to listen to that [00:36:00] recording that, that I got on my Zoom Podtrak recorder, it turned out that Greg's mic was somehow just not functioning at all, and we only had his voice spill over onto the other two mics, so he sounded totally faint and distant.

    [00:36:12] It just was not a useful recording at all. So Jeff and I had to go back to Greg after we all got back from N R F and we set up a remote recording session to wrap up the series. So of course that meant technically we didn't record this last one in the crossover series, live and in person at N R F, like the others in the series.

    [00:36:29] But in exchange, you know, we get to show off more video podcasts this season with this one.

    [00:36:33] Casey Golden: Yeah, and hopefully some of our listeners became viewers on YouTube for this one. I also really love how you guys wrapped it up by talking about the energy and emotion that everyone brought with them at N R F this year. I was there. I felt it, and I don't think I've ever seen that much at nrf. Have you?

    [00:36:55] Ricardo Belmar: No, no. I mean, that's a hundred percent of That's so true. This was a really unique N [00:37:00] R f I have to give a special shout out to Jeff Roster too for, for joining me on this little onsite recording adventure. We honestly didn't know if we'd be able to pull this off. For both of us it was our first true, legitimate attempt at some live onsite, in-person recording at an event like this.

    [00:37:17] I gotta say, we've all been so used to doing this remotely in, in our podcasts. and looking at each other like we are right now and a little square on our screens. It was just so amazing to have the chance to do this in person. It really brings a whole new feel to the podcast.

    [00:37:29] Casey Golden: Absolutely. I know. I really enjoyed listening and watching these. I hope our show listeners and viewers did too, and I just, I adore what Greg mentioned Avanade is doing with those startup showcases. It's just, I feel it's really important at nrf, so now I have to ask. , were you and Jeff hinting at the end there?

    [00:37:52] Are we able to say something here about what's to come?

    [00:37:56] Ricardo Belmar: Well, I think we're gonna have to keep listeners in suspense on [00:38:00] this one for a little bit longer, but let's just say this won't be the last time you see our two podcasts team up. In fact, we may be doing something even bigger next time, so just stay tuned, keep listening to the show you know, keep listening to our show.

    [00:38:11] Keep listening to Jeff's This Week in Innovation so you don't miss out.

    [00:38:14] Casey Golden: Fine. Keep everyone in suspense. I know it's worth it. And I'm going to give one last shout out to Avanade. We can't say enough about how grateful we are for you providing a space for you and Jeff and sponsoring this series for us. Thank you Avanade. And I do also wanna thank Jeff again. He's just absolutely awesome to work with.

    [00:38:40] And at this, I wish I could have joined you guys for those recordings. But as you know, N r F and Startup Life. Uh, soon we gotta divide and conquer

    [00:38:52] And one final thank you to Shish for helping us connect with 1MRobotics and Z [00:39:00]Blocks. They're doing incredible things.

    [00:39:02] Ricardo Belmar: I totally agree. And with that, Casey, this crossover event is a wrap.

    [00:39:07] Show Close 

    [00:39:07] Casey Golden: If you enjoyed our show, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. Wanna know more about what we talked about today? Take a look at the show notes and handy links for more deets.

    [00:39:31] I'm your co-host Casey Golden.

    [00:39:34] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c Golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure and follow the show on Twitter, at Retail Razor, on LinkedIn, and on our YouTube channel for the latest updates and content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:39:50] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:39:52] Ricardo Belmar: And remember, there's never been a better time to be in retail if you [00:40:00] cut through the clutter. Until next time. This is the Retail Razor Show.


    40m | Mar 3, 2023
  • S2E10d #NRFLive SPECIAL - Micro-fulfillment with 1MRobotics

    How do you leverage micro-fulfillment capabilities as a retailer? What are the costs and capital investment necessary? Micro-fulfillment is a hot trend to bring retail products closer to the customer to meet rapid delivery schedules. But is there a better way, at a lower cost, without capital investment, that can deliver the customer experience you want? Enter 1MRobotics, a nano-fulfillment as a service provider that turns the concept into a cookie-cutter approach the size of a shipping container!

    This episode continues our special podcast cross-over series, #NRFLive, with the This Week In Innovation podcast. In Part 4, hosts Ricardo Belmar and Jeff Roster speak with the VP of Sales at 1MRobotics, Gonen Gershuni1MRobotics delivers a nano-fulfillment center as a service to retailers, designed especially for urban deployments at scale. Join Jeff & Ricardo as they learn how nano-fulfillment can revolutionize retail with new use cases. Regular cohost Casey Golden also joins Ricardo for a quick introduction and recap

    This discussion was recorded live & in-person during #NRF2023, in the fabulous Avanade lounge. A big thank you to Avanade for sponsoring this series and making the recordings possible!

    News alert! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

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    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://bit.ly/RRShowPod

    Host → Ricardo Belmar,

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    Co-host → Casey Golden,

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    Read my comments on RetailWire - https://bit.ly/RWCasey


    S2E10d Micro-fulfillment with 1MRobotics

    [00:00:00] ​

    [00:00:00] Show Intro 

    [00:00:00] Ricardo Belmar: Hello and welcome to a special season two episode 10 part four of the Retail Razor Show. This is the fourth in our multi-part series recorded live and in person at the N R F 2023 Show in January. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:33] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome to the Retail Razor Show, retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. And once again, for this special bonus, welcome N R F fans to our hot take hashtag N R F Live mini-series.

    [00:00:54] Ricardo Belmar: So Casey, we are here again with our podcast crossover event with [00:01:00] Jeff Foster and the This Week in Innovation podcast. And thanks to our sponsor, Avanade, we were able to record in this series live and in person at the N R F Show in Avanade's fabulous lounge space overlooking the main expo floor.

    [00:01:12] Casey Golden: A big shout out to our friends at Avanade for giving you and Jeff such a great space to record from. They know how to get things done!

    [00:01:20] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. So let's dive right into this week's discussion. Casey, when I say micro fulfillment to you, what do you think of and what would you say if I said micro fulfillment specifically for dense urban locations?

    [00:01:32] Casey Golden: Hmm. Quick and smart fill-ins for your best sellers so you don't miss out on a sale?

    [00:01:37] Ricardo Belmar: Ah, well, I think you're gonna be fascinated by this discussion with our special guest, Gonen Gershuni, the VP of Sales at 1 M Robotics. Have to say, when Jeff and I sat down with him in the lounge to talk about how they're transforming micro fulfillment, especially for dense urban areas where, let's face it, you, you don't expect to find a lot of available space for really [00:02:00] large micro fulfillment centers.

    [00:02:01] And, and yeah, I know it sounds kind of odd to say large micro fulfillment centers, but that's the way, the way it goes. But 1 M Robotics, they're, they're talking about a fully automated, micro fulfillment center, that's basically the size of a shipping container. And did I mention they can easily convert it into a fully automated store that's customer facing.

    [00:02:18] We're, we're gonna hear about a lot of different possibilities and configurations of this technology.

    [00:02:23] Casey Golden: So the first thing I thought was, sounds expensive for a large micro fulfillment center. Now I'm intrigued when you said shipping container. So I'm ready for it. And you know how much I love powering the future of e-commerce, and this sounds like something really interesting to help those use cases.

    [00:02:43] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I, I a hundred percent agree. So let's jump right in and listen to Jeff and my discussion with Gonen from 1 M Robotics.

    [00:02:55] 1MRobotics Interview

    [00:02:55] Ricardo Belmar: Hey everyone. We are back at NRF 2023 [00:03:00] with another special bonus episode in our series here. I'm Ricardo Belmar, and I'm here with my special guest host Jeff Roster, host of This Week in Innovation.

    [00:03:09] Jeff Roster: Ricardo, how you doing today?

    [00:03:11] Ricardo Belmar: I am doing great. A little tired at this point after I lost track of how many days this is again, we start each of these sessions trying to remember where are we, , what are we doing?

    [00:03:22] How far into the event are we? And I guess that says it's kind of back to normal because in a normal NRF, I'd be lost by the time we get to the end,

    [00:03:30] Jeff Roster: I can see the finish line.

    [00:03:32] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, there you go. There you go. 

    [00:03:33] Jeff Roster: I can feel it. We're running through the tape. And what a tape it is to run through.

    [00:03:38] What what an amazing week couldn't be prouder of, of N R F, the industry, the tech community. They showed up strong strong energy. Literally, literally at the end of the show. And they're still laughing. Some of your colleagues at Microsoft are toasting. I know. I noticed you've giving up the champagne toast, just so you know.

    [00:03:54] I'm not sure I would've done

    [00:03:55] Ricardo Belmar: I know. Yeah, I know.

    [00:03:56] Jeff Roster: know. So just a fantastic deal. Excellent. All around. Could not be [00:04:00]happier, could not be proud of the industry.

    [00:04:01] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. I agree. I agree. And to that end, we are fortunate enough to have another special guest. So we're joined here by Gonen Gershuni of 1M robotics and Gonen I think we're just gonna jump right in. First of all, I'm, I'm super excited that we've got some time with you here to record, but why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about your background how 1M Robotics came to be and what your solution is, how you're helping retailer is, and, and give us the, the scoop on 

    [00:04:31] that.

    [00:04:32] Gonen Gershuni: Sure. So Ricardo, Jeff, thanks so much for this opportunity. Couldn't be more excited to be here with you today. What an amazing stage this is. I mean, NRF B Beck, B Beck larger, bigger than ever. And this is an amazing facility. Well done for the NRF crowd.

    [00:04:50] A bit about myself, Goen Gari, VP sales at one of robotics.

    [00:04:54] I joined the company a bit under a year and a half ago. Prior to that, I worked at another successful [00:05:00] Israeli startup called Bring. They're also here. Shout out to the Bring team. You guys are

    [00:05:03] Ricardo Belmar: know The Bring team. Yeah.

    [00:05:04] Jeff Roster: met them, I bumped into them.

    [00:05:05] Gonen Gershuni: Yeah. So

    [00:05:07] Jeff Roster: the

    [00:05:07] only company that actually had a bottle of wine that we toasted while we were, while, while we were talking.

    [00:05:14] That, that, that's a, that's a first now I've had, I've had people at, at happy hour bring, not in the middle of the day. So that was, that was a fun, fun interview.

    [00:05:22] Gonen Gershuni: It's yeah, it's always Happy Hour at Israeli Startups. And Israelis like the party, so it's a great it's a great company. I worked at Bring for about five years in various sales roles, from business development to global partnership sales, overseeing various strategic initiatives.

    [00:05:37] So this gave me, I would say, a very rich and deep understanding and background on e-commerce, last mile fulfillment and all that. Prior to that, I was about, I was in performance marketing for about three to four years, so for the better part of the last decade and a bit more, I wa I'm, I've been in various high-tech companies in very, at various lifecycle lifecycle stages and very proud to be at 1M robotics today.

    [00:05:59] In a [00:06:00] nutshell, one of robotics is a startup that's focused on automating hyper-local logistics infrastructure. It's a mouthful, but this pretty much means that we are creating urban facilities for last mile fulfillment that are leveraging automation and robotic technology to alleviate the main pain points of last mile.

    [00:06:19] Those two, those are being, those are mainly two challenges, unit economics and scale operating at scale while remaining ROI positive.

    [00:06:28] Ricardo Belmar: I think that was a mouthful, but I'm, I'm like it so far. So let me ask you this, give us a little more go down another layer and tell us how you're doing that.

    [00:06:36] Gonen Gershuni: Okay, great. So let's first start with a quick background story or the origin story, as I like to say in comics of 1M Robotics.

    [00:06:43] 1M Robotics was founded by co-founder and ceo, Eyal Yair, and co-founder and coo, Roee Tuval. Eyal is a seasoned entrepreneur having led various startups, this is his fourth, two were sold, one was less of a success story, but nonetheless, a great experience to be [00:07:00] had. And he brings a wealth of experience in sales, business development, and other related functions.

    [00:07:05] Roee Tuval co-founder and COO, brings a rich background in robotics, photonics and other related materials, material handling. The two collaborated as they got together to identify the main needs in last mile or fulfillment infrastructure, and they saw that micro fulfillment or just about any other large sized facility leveraged today, that's a hotly contested field, a red ocean as they, as it's typically called, meaning tons of competition, tons of players operating in the space, and they're all great formidable companies addressing some major pain points, but not last mile fulfillment, not rapid delivery. They are at best able to offer what's called same day order today, receive it later in the day toward the evening time at best. Again, most of the time it's next day, but really they saw a major gap when it came to rapid delivery.

    [00:07:54] And when we say rapid delivery, yes, it can be the quick commerce type of delivery increments of [00:08:00] 30 minutes and below, but it's just about anything below two hours.

    [00:08:04] And that was a, a really blue ocean with tremendous opportunity and a major need from just about any retailer and CPG brand looking to address or to reach their customers in a closer and faster, timely manner. So they saw that there was zero automation in that space, and that's how they decided to form this company to create urban facilities that are way smaller. So we're talking about facilities that are about the size of a standard store, convenience store, et cetera. So think some, think somewhere along the lines of hundreds to to thousands in the few of square feet.

    [00:08:40] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. So I, I take it then based on, on the size, right? When you, when, when I, when I think of micro fulfillment, I think of a larger format, large store, not the size of a distribution center, but, or fulfillment center, but something smaller than that.

    [00:08:54] So clearly larger form factor than you're talking about, which I guess makes it difficult to put that in an urban [00:09:00] environment cause it's hard to find that large space. So is the idea here then, that, by doing this in that smaller format, you're able to get a higher density in an urban environment for someone that wants to do this kind of rapid delivery.

    [00:09:12] Gonen Gershuni: It's twofold. First of all, spot on. Physically it's very challenging to place a micro fulfillment center in a dense, urban, metropolitan area, think downtown Manhattan.

    [00:09:22] It's impossible. Authorities wouldn't allow it. It's very costly and it would create lots of friction because those facilities are predominantly not 100% automated. Now, let's take a facility that's about the size of a standard seven 11 store Micro fulfillment operators would not take such a project on.

    [00:09:38] It's too small for them, and they also would have to adapt their technology solution to fit inside a way smaller form factor. And this is where we come in with our technology innovation. We're able to fit into very densely populated urban metropolitan areas and locate our, or deploy our facilities within a very small retail footprint. By introducing [00:10:00] automation, we're able to also do two things. For one, expedite workflows alleviate the pain of the human workforce, and in doing so, also completely eliminate shrinkage, human error and other related challenges.

    [00:10:12] Ricardo Belmar: So, so how automated are, are we talking about? Are, are you saying this is, this is a fully automated facility or is very light to no human touch required?

    [00:10:20] Gonen Gershuni: So we have two types of solutions, two types of installments or two types of systems, as we call them. One, an autonomous lights out facility. And that, as you said, Ricardo, is 100% lights out, an end-to-end automated facility. We've already got this deployed with various exciting customers around the world, such as Nespresso, such as AB InBev, et C.

    [00:10:41] And that is a, a facility that requires zero headcount. A customer places an order on an online channel, and then our system does everything picking, packing, and the pushes out an order for a delivery guide to collect or a customer pickup. In addition to that, this can also serve returns and [00:11:00] things are way faster and easier to do from one single, let's call it omnichannel presence.

    [00:11:04] Second option or the second infrastructure that we've created is what's called collaborative automation.

    [00:11:09] In cases where the, the human workforce is still required to operate some sort of function within the facility, we expedite and simplify workflows by introducing automation into the game, taking a fully manually relying operation and adopting it to this new reality.

    [00:11:30] Incorporating innovation into the story and automation makes things a lot faster. It's sort of like, think about the assembly line as it was first introduced in the days of. All the way to where it's at today with Tesla,

    [00:11:40] a lot more innovation, a lot less reliance on the human workforce while still having some workforce, some, some work tests done by the human operator.

    [00:11:48] Jeff Roster: Now you you showed the ne I can't even talk right now. My, my throat's so thrashed, the coffee example. How many SKUs was that in that automated footprint store?

    [00:11:58] Gonen Gershuni: So in that specific facility, because [00:12:00] we're talking about a rather limited product assortment to begin with, right? That's a few hundreds we can support all the way up to around 4,000 SKUs. And I would say another differentiating factor in our technologies is that we also support frozens.

    [00:12:13] That's unheard of in warehousing automation,

    [00:12:16] Jeff Roster: So 4,000 SKUs. What's a typical 7-Eleven. 

    [00:12:19] Le less than 4,000 SKUs. Okay.

    [00:12:22] Gonen Gershuni: Aldi US for example, they're around, they're somewhere along the lines of 2000 

    [00:12:27] Average quick commerce players between 1,500 to 3000 ma max. We are, we are not trying to address a hypermarket.

    [00:12:36] I am less relevant for that Costco, that Walmart, but for the small format stores, for the convenience store chains, for consumer, electronic, small format stores like the Best, like Best Buy is trying to now launch. This is a great fit.

    [00:12:49] And this is where we play. We're playing in the fast moving goods line where we're talking about product assortment that you want to get out your customers as fast as possible, offer that brand new [00:13:00] iPhone as fast as possible.

    [00:13:02] As you are doing the npi,

    [00:13:04] Jeff Roster: There's also a almost a loss prevention component of that too, I would assume. I, I'm, I'm in California and we have loss prevention's, a major, major issue.

    [00:13:11] You sort of solve that by no one's inside the, the store. 

    [00:13:15] Exactly. 

    [00:13:15] Wow. Interesting.

    [00:13:16] Gonen Gershuni: Yes, we provide the software suite as well, so we've developed our own wms.

    [00:13:20] It's not a must, it's not a mandatory element to, for our customers, but we do have live visibility and true inventory tracking at any single point. And this also allows us to provide demand forecasting, restocking, and replenishment reporting, and other smart alerts to support our businesses with their mission critical operations.

    [00:13:37] I would also add that shrink is a major pain point because at the end of the day when we're talking about consumer electronics, we, we are operate, we are already working with some leading apple distributors globally. And in many markets, the product it's that is being sold might be more costly than the human workforce.

    [00:13:53] One single human employee. And in such case, if you lose one iPhone, this is a major [00:14:00] challenge for you as a business. And we're able to completely eliminate that by providing live visibility to each and every single skew that we.

    [00:14:06] Jeff Roster: That's so interesting. Wow. How many deployments do you have of that? That that example where it's literally, I mean, it's, it's automation, but I mean, it almost feels like a giant giant you know, kiosk.

    [00:14:19] Gonen Gershuni: Yeah. So we've touched on an important point. Our system go, comes shipped in a container sized form factor, meaning we use standard shipping containers to ship our systems globally by land or sea.

    [00:14:32] This allows us to operate very flexibly and to ship out our system super fast. In addition to that, we can deploy the system just about anywhere, either as is, as a standalone unit within the container, and then it's a great way to address smaller towns, rural areas and also deploy this next to a venue or where ever.

    [00:14:50] Second option is to remove it from the container shell and just re and place the system as is within a retail facility within a retail real estate in such [00:15:00] case takes us about under two hours to deploy inside of a facility. So it's an off-the-shelf solution with almost with near as the zero launch time.

    [00:15:09] So this for a business is a game changer.

    [00:15:11] Jeff Roster: Yeah. So, so you are in fact an automated store.

    [00:15:15] I didn't realize that.

    [00:15:16] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah,

    [00:15:16] Gonen Gershuni: but I think that that's also a

    [00:15:18] Jeff Roster: I mean, you're, you're a really automated, automated store. I mean, cuz you're not even, I guess the difference is, you know, some of the examples we look at I don't wanna say which, which vendors, but I mean, you walk into the store, you pick it up and you, you know, so shop and go, or however you wanna say it.

    [00:15:31] You're not, I'm obviously not getting into the store, which makes you a perfect loss prevention.

    [00:15:37] Gonen Gershuni: Correct.

    [00:15:37] But I would add though, that in some cases, for example, let's think of Walgreens. Okay? They work with Verizon. Verizon effectively develop, gives them a store within a store, right? A designated section that's purely the product assortment of a, that Verizon is selling.

    [00:15:52] At Walgreens, we can also incorporate our system directly into a retail facility. So for example, this we be, we can be talking to a [00:16:00] retailer. And he might be thinking, okay, how do I utilize this within my existing real estate network? They can just allocate or designate, designate a specific zone for us to add to automate, and then they can have one third store automated for e-commerce orders and deliveries and colle and customer pickups.

    [00:16:18] And the other part be experiential. Have the customers, the walk-in traffic roaming around the store doing their purchases. Not nothing is interrupted. And this allows me to avoid that friction of couriers coming in, flocking into the store, while also having walking traffic roaming around.

    [00:16:36] Ricardo Belmar: Hmm. Interesting. But then, and then, So you have lots of different ways and that you can help because I, I'm assuming because of the automation, you could also operate in a truly totally dark, you mentioned before a lights out mode right? Where completely standalone everything is, is, is packaged up. You just have whoever's doing the delivery basically picks it up.

    [00:16:53] Gonen Gershuni: Yes. 

    [00:16:54] Ricardo Belmar: Right.

    [00:16:55] Gonen Gershuni: I would also add that because it's it's an automated robotic mechanism, we're able to also [00:17:00] leverage addition, I would say expansion dimensions. What I mean by that is that if, for example, the ceiling height within retail facility is around four meters. We're able to expand going higher, longer, or wider, accommodating the needs or the challenges and constraints of the actual retail facility.

    [00:17:17] So let's say it's an L-shaped facility, the system can be expandable to accommodate and to maximize on storage capacity. 

    [00:17:24] And in doing so, we can cover more SKUs. We can reach higher, wider, longer, whatever. Some, some, some specific areas where a human operator simply put would not be able to. I'm not four meters tall.

    [00:17:37] I wish I was 

    [00:17:38] Ricardo Belmar: right.

    [00:17:39] Gonen Gershuni: I'd have a promising NBA career.

    [00:17:41] Ricardo Belmar: Right. . Right, right. So there's so a lot of flexibility obviously in the, in the form factor you can take and how you support a given retailer. So and I guess that's the differentiator then for you versus other. You know, cause like you said at the beginning, there's so many other micro fulfillment players, but they're all geared around the much [00:18:00] larger form factor where almost each location is like, is like a custom build out.

    [00:18:04] Gonen Gershuni: Yeah. 

    [00:18:04] Ricardo Belmar: And you've almost made this into almost a cookie cutter approach for the retailer 

    [00:18:08] Gonen Gershuni: it's, exactly a cookie

    [00:18:09] Jeff Roster: I would a yeah.

    [00:18:10] Ricardo Belmar: yeah. 

    [00:18:11] Gonen Gershuni: an off-the-shelf solution with zero 

    [00:18:13] launch 

    [00:18:13] Jeff Roster: shipping in the cart, the container that you would just drop at a stadium or at a 

    [00:18:19] racetrack or something. You literally just drop it.

    [00:18:21] Gonen Gershuni: it. Indy 500, let's go.

    [00:18:23] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah,

    [00:18:23] Yeah 

    [00:18:23] Gonen Gershuni: do

    [00:18:24] Jeff Roster: somebody, there's somebody already there though.

    [00:18:25] Gonen Gershuni: No problem. You're right. But I think it's three main differentiators. It's size, scale, and the fact that we're off the shelf size-wise. Again, we can work in a very impractically, a way smaller facility that's about the size of a standard convenience store scale because the system is off the shelf.

    [00:18:41] This means that it can be deployed in zero time and can easily be deployed in many, many more locations. It's practically, it's practically something that can easily be duplicated to address more crowds, reaching more customers. And third it's an off the shelf offering so that we are able to mass produce these systems [00:19:00] and be up and running faster.

    [00:19:02] The, just to give you some under general understanding on the micro fulfillment space, a traditional facility requires around a year to just launch one single site. It costs in the millions, and it requires a lot of onsite construction. Here we're talking about a plug and play offering that costs a fraction of the price at an OPEX commercial model, meaning we're only pay, the customer is only paying us one a monthly usage fee.

    [00:19:28] No installation fee, no hidden costs. Nada. It's way faster and easier to adopt. I think that it's pretty much an an adoption or an adaptation of a SaaS model. Mm-hmm. on a hardware and software base.

    [00:19:41] Ricardo Belmar: Hmm. Wow.

    [00:19:42] Gonen Gershuni: It's an adaptation.

    [00:19:43] Ricardo Belmar: that's an interesting model!

    [00:19:44] Jeff Roster: That I know we're, we're, Ricardo and I both looked at each other and after five days of exhaustion, that, that, that perked me up

    [00:19:50] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, exactly.

    [00:19:51] Jeff Roster: And I, I didn't realize in the demonstration, you're literally an autonomous store.

    [00:19:55] I, yeah, I got the whole, the whole pick and pack or thing, but boy, that's a, that's a whole interesting [00:20:00] con scenario to say the least.

    [00:20:02] Gonen Gershuni: the retail. I think that the retail angle is clearly a very strong one for us in terms of product market fit, but we are also seeing high demand now also from coming from upstream, meaning taking this into a DC. A facility that still is very much manually operated and incorporating our systems directly into that to address a specific line of products within the DC or to take this into industrial use cases, auto parts.

    [00:20:26] Just think of an example. Let's say you're now about to board that plane taking you home, right? If right now there's a maintenance issue, they're putting out a, a real-time request, right? Calling the maintenance crew to bring that missing part, even a tiny. Every single, any single minute of delay is now costing millions to the airline.

    [00:20:44] Customers are now frustrated. They're, they're, they're annoyed. They're gone to demand compensation. So that's a lot of, that's millions of dollars in fines. We're able to address them with front, front frontline warehouse that is fully [00:21:00] automated with full visibility into inventory. This is also a game changer for the airline industry, and that's just off the top of my head. Yes, 

    [00:21:07] Jeff Roster: that's, I 

    [00:21:07] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, 

    [00:21:08] that's a big deal. 

    [00:21:08] Yeah.

    [00:21:09] Jeff Roster: Wow. 

    [00:21:10] Ricardo Belmar: So, so then if we look out into 2023 and this year and, and beyond, obviously you, you, you've got a really positive outlook on, on the potential here. I, I'm just thinking this year in particular, how, how would you gauge the retailer interest?

    [00:21:24] Just based on what you've seen here at the show? Are you expecting to have. A really successful 2023. You think you expect to see a lot of engage new engagements with retailers because there's a lot of pent up demand for this.

    [00:21:36] Gonen Gershuni: So I, yes, there's definitely a huge demand for this, but being a startup, we need to be minded to the fact that we should also be focused on the markets where we are seeing the immediate the, where there's a clear line of site on the ROI we're bringing for our customers and the value to be had.

    [00:21:53] If it's a nice to have. Then we, we'll probably not dive into any such opportunity. We're mainly [00:22:00] addressing the businesses that have, that have an immediate need for this. Whether it's urgency driven in terms of their customers demanding faster service, whether it's because of the tight SLA that they're promising to customers and are failing to meet or various other parameters.

    [00:22:14] I would say that the immediate sectors that we are addressing are those in retail, where there is a urgency for the product to.

    [00:22:22] And also an understanding on the retail side that automation is their way to go forward, their future for the business. We're not trying to replace an existing warehousing automation technology stack.

    [00:22:34] Contrary. On the contrary, we are happy to work alongside an MFC because we are not replacing them. It's an additional node in their supply chain, and we see this as an ecosystem play. Where're partnering up with additional players such as Microsoft powering their tech stack such as SAP maybe, or any other player, is an additional part in this holistic approach.

    [00:22:57] Ricardo Belmar: wow. 

    [00:22:57] Jeff Roster: Yeah.

    [00:22:58] Very

    [00:22:58] Ricardo Belmar: interesting. Very, yeah, [00:23:00] really fascinating. Wow. Looking forward to seeing how, how this plays out for you this year. Yeah. This is

    [00:23:05] Gonen Gershuni: When are you guys coming to either Israel or, or either dep, other deployments? 

    [00:23:09] Jeff Roster: You gotta invite me. 

    [00:23:10] I'd come in a heartbeat.

    [00:23:11] Gonen Gershuni: Okay. We need to check two things first, number one, that you that you are open to having lots of hummus. Number two, that you're open to drinking anytime of the day.

    [00:23:20] Ricardo Belmar: I, I, I think we've got those two covered. 

    [00:23:21] So, yeah.

    [00:23:23] Jeff Roster: so funny story on that. I've never, ever, ever liked eggplant. And well, well, you'd have to see how Americans cook eggplant. And I got, I got to Israel and we're having, I mean, I've never seen more hummus in my entire life.

    [00:23:36] And I'm eating, there's, I'm eating this and I go, wow, what is this? And the, the waiter comes and says, well, that's baba ganoush. 

    [00:23:42] Ahhh. I go, what's 

    [00:23:43] Ricardo Belmar: yep. I love Baba ganoush.

    [00:23:44] Jeff Roster: It's eggplant. ah,

    [00:23:47] Gonen Gershuni: I'm with you Jeff. I'm not a fan of eggplant. Eggplant is my nemesis, archnemesis

    [00:23:52] Jeff Roster: But I'll 

    [00:23:52] lead 

    [00:23:53] Ricardo Belmar: that baba gsh all day

    [00:23:54] Jeff Roster: I like saying it, I like 

    [00:23:55] eating it. So that is, that is a, that is an, an offer I will like gladly [00:24:00] accept.

    [00:24:00] Gonen Gershuni: Okay. Sounds good to me.

    [00:24:01] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. That'll work. All right. Well, Gonen, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been an, an another really special learning experience, I think for us to, to hear about what you're doing. And this is really fascinating. I'm looking forward to seeing how this grows.

    [00:24:16] Gonen Gershuni: Ricardo, Jeff, thank you so much for this opportunity.

    [00:24:18] I've been following your show for a long time now, and I love your work. Keep up your amazing energy and pretty much driving innovation across retail through your thought 

    [00:24:26] Jeff Roster: It's, It's,

    [00:24:27] wilted, but we'll rally when we get home.

    [00:24:29] Ricardo Belmar: And, and.

    [00:24:30] right. After we recover and 

    [00:24:31] Jeff Roster: me just say special thanks to Microsoft for Startups, Shish and, and Ricardo for what you've done up here. We're up in this beautiful suite overlooking NRF and there have been a per a parade of startups that have come through and, and I, you've just done a fantastic job.

    [00:24:46] So well done Microsoft and Shish. Looking forward to seeing more of what you do going forward.

    [00:24:50] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. And then I'll also add another special thank you to Avanade for having made this series that we did possible by graciously letting us use some of your space. And [00:25:00] helping us be, be quite flexible on the timing and our ability to react quickly to use this. So thanks to to both groups for, for helping us out on this series.

    [00:25:09] Gonen Gershuni: Just to chime in, thank you. Also, I'd also like to thank Microsoft, our close partners for their amazing work, Shish and the rest of the team. You guys are phenomenal. Keep driving the industry forward with your forward thinking, thought leadership, and amazing work.

    [00:25:22] And thank you Ricardo and Jeff.

    [00:25:23] Jeff Roster: Excellent. 

    [00:25:24] Ricardo Belmar: excellent. Thank you. 

    [00:25:25] Jeff Roster: Safe travels.

    [00:25:26] Show Recap

    [00:25:26] Casey Golden: Welcome back everyone. So, wow. Talk about endless possibilities with something that started out as just a small form factor micro fulfillment service. I mean, I can totally see this being integrated into other stores in urban geographies and maybe by e-commerce brands trying to offer rapid delivery.

    [00:25:54] So much opportunity here.

    [00:25:55] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, it's like I previewed at, at the start, Gonen goes through a number of use [00:26:00] cases that I just wouldn't have thought of as micro fulfillment as the solution for those.

    [00:26:04] Casey Golden: when you think about it. I can really see these guys taking off and being very successful.

    [00:26:11] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, a hundred percent. I, I certainly came away learning so much about new use cases for micro fulfillment with the way 1M Robotics can deliver it. Honestly, we, we may have to have Gonen or, or one of their founders come on the show next season just to give us an update on how they're doing.

    [00:26:25] Casey Golden: Absolutely. 

    [00:26:27] Well, Ricardo, I think that is a wrap for part four of our N R F Live crossover series. Can't wait to see how you and Jeff wrap up this next episode.

    [00:26:37] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, Jeff and I saved a really great fun discussion with Greg Jones from Avanade to wrap us up with a discussion on trends we saw at NRF. Plus a few thoughts on the startups in retail. So tune in next time for part five.

    [00:26:49] Casey Golden: Oh, I love to hear that. So that means this episode is a wrap.

    [00:26:55] Show Closing

    [00:26:55] Casey Golden: [00:27:00] If you enjoyed our show, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. Wanna know more about what we talked about today. Take a look at the show notes for handy links and more deets.

    [00:27:18] I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [00:27:20] Ricardo Belmar: If you'd like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c Golden and Ricardo underscore 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 the latest updates and content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:27:36] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:27:37] Ricardo Belmar: And remember, there has never been a better time to be in retail if you cut through the clutter. Until next time, this is the Retail Razor Show. 

    27m | Feb 27, 2023
  • S2E10c #NRFLive SPECIAL - web3 & blockchain with zblocks

    When you hear, “web3” and “blockchain”, if you’re like most retailers you might panic or realize that you just don’t know how to leverage these technologies in your retail business. Do you gain operational efficiencies? Reduce costs? Improve supply chain visibility? Deliver a better customer experience? Increase brand loyalty? Or is it all the above if done with the right technology partner?

    This episode continues our special podcast cross-over series, #NRFLive, with the This Week In Innovation podcast. In Part 3, hosts Ricardo Belmar and Jeff Roster speak with the co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of zblocks, Max Cacheux. Zblocks mission is to be retailers’ the easy button for web3 and blockchain! Max walks Jeff and Ricardo through numerous web3 use cases on customer experience, gated commerce, and loyalty programs, plus a few surprises. If you have questions about web3 & blockchain, you’ll find answers in this episode, recorded live & in-person during #NRF2023!

    A special thanks to our sponsor Avanade for making this series possible by providing an amazing recording space in their NRF lounge.

    Listen, or watch on YouTube, to see how much Jeff and Ricardo learn from Max about web3 & blockchain! Regular cohost Casey Golden also joins Ricardo for a quick introduction and recap.

    News alert! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E10c web3 & blockchain with zblocks

    [00:00:00] ​

    [00:00:00] Show Intro 

    [00:00:00] Ricardo Belmar: Hello and welcome to a special season two episode 10 part three of the Retail Razor Show. This is the third of our multi-part series recorded live and in person at the N R F 2023 Show in January. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:35] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome to the Retail Razor Show, retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. And once again, the special bonus. Welcome N R F fans to our hot take, hashtag N R F Live miniseries.

    [00:00:56] Ricardo Belmar: So Casey, we are continuing our special [00:01:00] podcast Crossover Event with Jeff Foster and this week and innovation podcast. We recorded this series live and in person at the N R F Show in the fabulous lounge space. Our good friends at Avena graciously allowed us to use overlooking the main expo floor.

    [00:01:14] Casey Golden: Special shout out to our friends and sponsors at Avanade for giving you and Jeff such an amazing space.

    [00:01:21] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. So let's jump right in. Casey, this episode is one that is near and dear to your heart. It is all about web three and taking the complexity out of it for retailers and consumers.

    [00:01:33] Casey Golden: I love it. I'm a big fan of a velvet rope strategy, so naturally I'm an advocate for gated commerce experiences and more efficient ways to manage VIPs and loyalty in general.

    [00:01:45] Ricardo Belmar: Well, you are going to love this discussion. Jeff and I had with Max Cacheux, co-founder of Z Blocks. Max talks to us about how Z Blocks is enabling so many use cases for retailers from gated content to NFTs and loyalty [00:02:00] programs in a way that any consumer can participate in, not just as Max calls them crypto enthusiasts and for the retailer, wait until you hear what some of the special sauce Max has cooked up for them to make everything web three as easy as pressing a button.

    [00:02:13] Casey Golden: Very cool, and I know our listeners have to be dying to get into the discussion now.

    [00:02:20] Ricardo Belmar: I agree. So let's jump in and listen to our interview with Max Cacheux, co-founder of zblocks. Soon to be everyone's new web three best friend.

    [00:02:30] Casey Golden: Looking forward to hearing this one. ​

    [00:02:37] zblocks Interview

    [00:02:37] Ricardo Belmar: Hey everyone. We are back at the NRF 2023 Show, continuing our bonus series. I'm Ricardo Belmar and I'm here with a special guest host Jeff Roster from This Week in Innovation. How you doing, Jeff?

    [00:02:50] Jeff Roster: I am tired.

    [00:02:51] Ricardo Belmar: It's like, I don't remember. I was gonna say which day it is, but I've lost track. I just know it's the last

    [00:02:56] Jeff Roster: It's the last day.

    [00:02:57] Well, actually it's not, some of us are still [00:03:00] working tomorrow. We have meetings Wednesday.

    [00:03:03] Ricardo Belmar: on Wednesday, so I can't even say

    [00:03:05] Jeff Roster: but I am exhausted, but I'm elated. Yeah, 

    [00:03:08] Ricardo Belmar: exactly. 

    [00:03:09] Jeff Roster: show, fantastic energy.

    [00:03:11] Ricardo Belmar: I'm with you on that.

    [00:03:12] Jeff Roster: just an amazing, amazing celebration of retail and the, the energy and the startup community, the energy and the, the, the tech landscape.

    [00:03:21] Fantastic.

    [00:03:22] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. I agree. Well, and, and to that end, we have one of those tech stars with us today. So I'm gonna introduce Max Cacheux, co-founder of Z Blocks. Max, how are you?

    [00:03:33] Maxence Cacheux: Very good. Great to meet you. Thanks for hosting me.

    [00:03:35] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. Thank you for joining us.

    [00:03:37] So why don't we just start, and Max, I'm gonna let you give your own introduction. Tell us a little bit about yourself, about Z Blocks, how Z Blocks came to be and, and what it is that you're doing for retailers.

    [00:03:47] Maxence Cacheux: Absolutely. So thanks for your opportunity. So I'm Max from Z Blocks. I'm one of the, one of the cofounder at Z Blocks and I've been in the tech space and enterprise space for more than 20 years.

    [00:03:57] And, What Z Blocks is [00:04:00] about, is about making blockchain adoption easy for enterprises, right? So we come from an enterprise and tech background at Z Blocks together with the, the co-founders. And what we realized more than a year ago when we started Z Blocks, is that there are many barriers for enterprises to add blockchain.

    [00:04:17] And we have created a platform for them running on Azure that give them the ability to build blockchain application quickly and easily without the complexity. So we're abstracting that complexity for them.

    [00:04:28] Jeff Roster: So you're taking the complexity out of blockchain?

    [00:04:32] Okay. , that's a very . Bold statement.

    [00:04:34] Maxence Cacheux: We want to be the easy button for web3

    [00:04:36] Jeff Roster: Okay.

    [00:04:37] Ricardo Belmar: I like that. The easy button for web three. Well,

    [00:04:39] Jeff Roster: what, you can be, I'll be your Guinea pig cuz I'm trying to do web three and there there's zero anything easy. So I'll be your Guinea pig to see.

    [00:04:46] Maxence Cacheux: There, there are many barriers for adoption. So we look at solving them. So,

    [00:04:50] Ricardo Belmar: Okay, well, let me back into that a little bit then. Talk to us a little bit about what are the, the most common complexities that hold retailers back from being [00:05:00]involved in a web three project That, that would speak to what you're simplifying essentially.

    [00:05:04] Maxence Cacheux: So I'll give you challenges that are applied to retailers, but also other verticals, right? I'm seeing five key challenge and these are like the five barriers that we saw that when started, right? So number one, you have a lack of blockchain developers, right?

    [00:05:17] They're hard to find, they're expensive. Blockchain programming language are complex. Number two web three World is different from the Web two world. I mean, we're talking about crypto wallet. You need your private key, your public keys and retailers and others are used to email ID. So how do you reconcile?

    [00:05:34] number three, retailers are looking at building in blockchain, but they want to connect to their existing systems, right? So how do you do that? How do you connect the, the two worlds together, right? And then a lot of them are looking at blockchains and seeing different protocols that are available. You have multiple layer one, right?

    [00:05:50] And which one should I choose for what use case? Can I build once and deploy another? Right? And finally, when you talk to their cfo, it's, I don't want crypto on the balance sheet. [00:06:00]So you need to solve all these barriers for them and make it easy for them to develop. Right? And that's where we come with our, with our platform.

    [00:06:07] Jeff Roster: So give us an example of what that would look like.

    [00:06:09] Maxence Cacheux: So one of the vertical use case that we built on the platform is a solution leveraging NFT or digital tokens that give them the ability to engage with consumers and they can engage with consumers in acquisition, in retention, and leveraging these digital token for loyalty program retention.

    [00:06:30] And we're seeing a lot of potential of the NFT technology for such use cases, right? Because it's becoming harder to acquire customers for them. So using web three, using blockchain for retention, for loyalty has a lot of potential and we're seeing a lot of very interesting use case around that and we're helping them in that space.

    [00:06:49] Ricardo Belmar: give me an idea what, when you have this conversation with a retailer around loyalty, I, I'm thinking of, and, and I'm, I guess this, the example here is you'd be talking to a retailer who [00:07:00] wants to add value into their loyalty program beyond, you know, let's say just offering someone discounts, which so many loyalty programs do.

    [00:07:06] But your, I'm guessing your message to them is, if by leveraging this technology, You're gonna have something much more tangible to offer in, in a loyalty program.

    [00:07:15] Maxence Cacheux: Yes. Yes. So we're, we're not telling them, you know, to throw away their existing program. What we are telling them is, Hey, if you add this additional layer, leveraging this additonal layer of blockchain, there's some very interesting use case that you can do, right?

    [00:07:29] So if you look at for example, the utility that you can provide with digital token, you can provide gated access to certain content. So it could be a website where I'm giving access to v i p customer to a pre-sales event, right? And only the NFT holder are able to access it, right? It could be an NFT or a token that give you access to an event in real life or in a, in the digital, right?

    [00:07:52] So, so on the very interesting use case around utility. The transferability, right? It's one of the key [00:08:00] property of these tokens makes some very interesting business cases, right? So you could have a membership that I can transfer to, friends that I could potentially resell. You could potentially collect royalty from the resell of that membership.

    [00:08:13] Right. So there's some very interesting use case around the transferability. What we're seeing as well is around customers that are creating collectibles and they're rewarding with these customers, with the collectibles, and there's a gamification around this collectible that can be exchange traded as a way to engage your existing community consumers as well.

    [00:08:33] Ricardo Belmar: I like this concept of, you know, the ability to offer the gated access to things or, or use that as a token to access things in, in, in real life events. Do, do you have some examples of, of retailers that are, are pursuing that and how they're, you know, what's the impact of them doing that?

    [00:08:48] Is what, what? I'm curious, you know, for example, when you have this conversation with the retailer , will they ask you, how do I measure the impact of offering this? How do I know this is gonna create more loyalty with my customer versus what I'm [00:09:00] doing today?

    [00:09:01] Maxence Cacheux: Yes. So that's, that's definitely a quick key question that they have. Right. Who is going to bring some move the needle versus my existing web two program?

    [00:09:09] So in many of this cases, it's very new. We might not know in advance, right? So what we do is that we're able to connect these NFTs and this blockchain solution to the existing CRM and marketing tools.

    [00:09:25] So they have the ability to do ab testing and compare what is the engagement of of this token, right?

    [00:09:31] So for example, we're giving them the ability to mint NFT that can be dynamically updated with different offers and push notification and token gated access. And they can provide some very interesting you know, token gate access to these customers, right? The token gated access that we see that makes sense is access to special offers e-com website or access to a special , community room where you can meet [00:10:00] other consumers that have the same interest as you so that you get a sense of community ownership as well.

    [00:10:05] So that's also an interesting use cases that we're seeing there.

    [00:10:08] Jeff Roster: how much work does it take to do that? So in other words, let's say and I'm gonna watch the San Francisco 49ers win this Sunday. And it's just, it's such a logical thing to say, if I'm gonna go to that game, why don't I just have coupons, programs, unique content related to that game? And why don't I send it out?

    [00:10:27] Why don't I brand that? Why don't I, you know Levi's Stadium is in Silicon Valley. Intel's all over it. Why wouldn't they create programs or something specific to that event? How hard is it to do that?

    [00:10:39] Maxence Cacheux: So we're making it very easy for the brand or the retailer to create this campaign, right?

    [00:10:44] So starting from a one click minting, right? So you just upload the content that you want. The NFT is being minted very easily. We can distribute that across different channel. And we make it easy so that a hundred percent of consumers are able to claim it. Right. [00:11:00] So I don't know if some of you have have been trying to claim in nft it's quite complex because you need to set up crypto wallet and keys.

    [00:11:06] So here we just do one click claim

    [00:11:08] Jeff Roster: never tried to claim an NFT for 

    [00:11:11] Ricardo Belmar: because of that complexity.

    [00:11:13] Jeff Roster: here.

    [00:11:14] Maxence Cacheux: Exactly. So here, that's what we looked at because when we talked to brands and retailers say, Hey, I want to engage a hundred percent of the customers. I don't want to talk to the crypto enthusiast, so, we're making it very easy. It could be a QR code on a big dashboard. It could be a, a text message, anything. And in one click with a social media id, you're able to get the nft either arrive in the wallet, you might not even know it's blockchain. Just look like a coupon

    [00:11:40] Jeff Roster: Why would I care?

    [00:11:41] Maxence Cacheux: You won't care.

    [00:11:41] Jeff Roster: a consumer, why would I care?

    [00:11:42] Maxence Cacheux: You don't care. Right. And, and we're able to update that dynamically. So we provide them with the platform to build these use cases. Right. And then based on what they want to do how they want to engage a consumer. We give them the ability to remotely update that token and provide different experiences while getting all the analytics [00:12:00] from these experiences from the blockchain back to their existing marketing tool.

    [00:12:04] Right? So back to the AB testing. How can I compare that versus my web two marketing campaign? What is the clickthrough rate? How are people engaging? Are they taking the offer? Are they, are they transferring it or not? So what is working, what is not working? So this analytics is really important for them, and we provide that to them as part of the platform.

    [00:12:23] Jeff Roster: so in that scenario, fully built out, when would I get that nft? When I walk in the stadium, do I scan a barcode? Does it come to me via text? Do I have to give, how do I, how do I actually start that whole process

    [00:12:34] Maxence Cacheux: imagine you arrive in the stadium. There is a big jumbotron, there's a big QR code. You scan that QR code on the jumbotron.

    [00:12:42] Then one click access. You log in with your social media id. It could be Instagram, Facebook, gmail, outlook series.

    [00:12:50] You get the NFT to write in the wallet, the wallet gets automatically created. You don't even know you are in the blockchain. So you have that token and it will be a branded wallet that is made [00:13:00] available to the brand.

    [00:13:01] And that could also be made available as part of the existing app. So we have a way to integrate with any existing mobile application from from the customer, right? So the onboarding is seamless.

    [00:13:13] Like a web two experience, right? Because we want to have everybody on board. We don't want to lose anybody, right?

    [00:13:18] So we're not only talking to the crypto enthusiast there. 

    [00:13:21] Jeff Roster: and the verification is in the social media login or the id Okay.

    [00:13:26] Maxence Cacheux: media login. And then what's interesting is that suddenly you can see from your crm, Hey, I have all this person who logged in, I have their social media. And now you have a direct relationship with.

    [00:13:38] So you can further engage them, right? So you can engage em during the event. After the event, they can receive an additional NFT that is memorabilia of that event that they attended, which could be a collectible. We would have value because that was an important event. There could be a video of the event, try to add, right?

    [00:13:55] And then they have the possibility to upsell you and engage for further events, right? It's [00:14:00] really, we're talking from a switch from CRM to orm Ownership Relationship management. Where?

    [00:14:06] Jeff Roster: om, yeah. Ownership

    [00:14:07] Maxence Cacheux: owner, relationship 

    [00:14:09] Ricardo Belmar: Owner relationship Management 

    [00:14:10] Jeff Roster: that one?

    [00:14:11] Ricardo Belmar: I can't say that I have, that's a new term on me. I'm, I'm paying attention here. I'm, I'm learning.

    [00:14:16] Jeff Roster: got a new 

    [00:14:17] Maxence Cacheux: new

    [00:14:17] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. ORM.

    [00:14:18] Maxence Cacheux: in the future. Brands are going to need to have a direct relationship with the wallet of consumers. Right. In the past you had a connect with the emails, but more, we're missing more. Many of our emails today, not everybody's reading

    [00:14:32] Jeff Roster: well by design,

    [00:14:33] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Right. Yeah. By design. Yeah.

    [00:14:35] Jeff Roster: just so you know, I am doing that on purpose, my friend, right?

    [00:14:39] Maxence Cacheux: So in the future, so having a connection to the wallet of consumer is going to be very important, right. The direct consumers. Without the platform in the middle, right? Having first party data in that direct interaction with your customers and also getting them the ability to choose what they share with you and how they engage with you.

    [00:14:57] Jeff Roster: I have [00:15:00] garbage, 95, 1 thirty4@yahoo.com that I give to retailers because they have proven to me they are not trustworthy with not spamming me. So you're telling me, I, I, now I'm gonna give access to a wallet, so, so I can't get rid of them. That's, I guess from a consumer that's a concern.

    [00:15:17] Maxence Cacheux: Yeah. But you will, you will accept to claim that NFT or that digital token because there is a utility in it, right?

    [00:15:25] If I'm a retailer and I'm just minting and distributed nft, you need to provide goodies, right? So if you're not providing value to that consumer, and with the roadmap of features that provide benefits to them, they're not going to be interested to engage with you. Right. So that's super important.

    [00:15:42] Jeff Roster: So okay, interesting 

    [00:15:43] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. 

    [00:15:44] So from the consumer's perspective on this, if I go through, I'm engaging with a retailer.

    [00:15:50] I've, I've done this. I, I'm not a crypto enthusiast, so I, I'm, I'm thrilled that all, I don't have to know anything about that, right. In order to engage in this manner I'm curious what, so what happens [00:16:00] as that same consumer goes to another retailer, Do they know that they have this crypto wallet that this digital wallet that's been created, are they taking that with them?

    [00:16:09] Does that sit with the re that retailer they got it from, or how, how does that part of this work for the consumer?

    [00:16:15] Maxence Cacheux: Yes. So typically what we provide, we give the ability for the retailer to mint and distribute these tokens very easily to any consumer. And when you click on that link that you receive either on social media or via text message or via email, right? Or in a jumbotron on a QR code that you see on a product, right? One click, you have a wallet that gets automatically created.

    [00:16:39] This wallet is a branded wallet, right? So it'll be a retailer branded wallet, and it gives the ability for the retailer to engage you through that wallet, right? So it's like a a direct connection between you as a retailer and the, and the consumer. Right? As a consumer, if I'm a crypto knowledgeable person or I already [00:17:00] have a wallet, I could potentially transfer that to another wallet where I have all my NFT or tokens, right?

    [00:17:05] But another retailers would not know that a retailer send me that token, right? So there's no sharing right of this data.

    [00:17:13] Jeff Roster: So how many wallets would I have? Hundreds.

    [00:17:17] Maxence Cacheux: You could have multiples. You may have you may have a issue of the brand. You love the retailer. You may have that, that wallet for that retailers like you have different loyalty card today, right? In your wallet. So you could have different different NFT wallet with different experience at the retailers are providing

    [00:17:31] Jeff Roster: so NFT wallet by store or a brand or Oh, okay.

    [00:17:36] Interesting.

    [00:17:37] Maxence Cacheux: The key is for the, the retailer really to provide utility to keep you engaged, right?

    [00:17:42] There needs to be a benefit for me to come back, being part of a community, getting coupon discount invitation tokens points that I can exchange. So this is really the, the key for a retailer to engage consumers. Right?

    [00:17:55] Jeff Roster: how far off do you see mainline adoption? You know, maybe 30, 40% of [00:18:00] retailers doing something like this.

    [00:18:01] Maxence Cacheux: So I think in this year we're going to see definitely a lot of movement in that space. You probably have heard about Starbucks.

    [00:18:09] Ricardo Belmar: right

    [00:18:10] Maxence Cacheux: starbucks have an amazing web two loyalty program and they decided to revamp that and basically add the web three layers to provide new experience to their consumer.

    [00:18:20] Program called Starbuck all this is going to be launched this year, and everybody's looking at that. There's still some secrecy here on that, but I think it's going to be a lighthouse. For many retailers and many B2C brands many of the, the brands that we're talking to, they are really looking at creating token based loyalty programs, right?

    [00:18:38] Airlines hotels. So it's happening across the ball in the B2C space, right? Because. It can allow you to create new experiences that are not possible in web two today. And it also provide an additional layer of security. Again, the transferability of these tokens make it very interesting in terms of new use cases as well.

    [00:18:58] So

    [00:18:59] Jeff Roster: Okay. [00:19:00]

    [00:19:00] Ricardo Belmar: All right. Interesting.

    [00:19:00] Jeff Roster: It's a pretty, pretty aggressive prediction. We'll see..

    [00:19:03] Maxence Cacheux: Yeah.

    [00:19:04] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Okay.

    [00:19:05] Jeff Roster: be watching that

    [00:19:06] Maxence Cacheux: But we need as Satya Nadella was saying few days back, we need a chat GPT moment in in web three and we think that's

    [00:19:15] right. 

    [00:19:15] Jeff Roster: that's a pretty, that's a pretty high bar to get over though, to

    [00:19:18] Maxence Cacheux: And I think the use case, the use case that we're saying where is a lot of interest, is really around loyalty, around the experience that you can provide, right?

    [00:19:25] So how do I engage consumer di differently? How can I get first party data, first party consumer engagement? There's a lot of interesting things we're discovering every day. I'm, I'm discovering new ways of using the technology, so every day. So there's a lot of use cases that are being brainstormed right now, so it's a fantastic space to be in.

    [00:19:44] So, 

    [00:19:44] Jeff Roster: Sounds good. Where am I gonna bump into your technology?

    [00:19:48] Maxence Cacheux: Cool.

    [00:19:49] Jeff Roster: Which, any, any examples today that I can use?

    [00:19:52] Maxence Cacheux: Yeah, you can use it for we did recently campaign an NFT marketing campaign for a major retail bank in Asia called [00:20:00] Access Bank. And what they wanted to do is to target younger audience, gen Z millennial, so they maintain thousands of NFTs.

    [00:20:08] And these NFT gave you the ability to enter into contest. And win the tickets for World Cup. Right. So the more you reshare the token and talk about it on social media, you could increase your chance of winning the tickets, right?

    [00:20:21] Jeff Roster: Thanks. Thanks for the warning on that one.

    [00:20:23] Maxence Cacheux: And they were able to see clickthrough rates that were much better than the existing web two marketing campaign.

    [00:20:30] And very interestingly, the quality of data that they got back to their CRM was very interesting because they were able now to engage directly with this consumers younger audience directly to try to convert them as customers. So that was a very interesting NFT marketing acquisition use case. The other use case that we're seeing is, are on the loyalty space, so brands that want to re reward consumer with experiences.

    [00:20:54] So again, the, the token gated access is very exciting around that.

    [00:20:57] Jeff Roster: Hmm. Okay.

    [00:20:58] Maxence Cacheux: yeah.

    [00:20:58] Ricardo Belmar: Interesting. Wow. [00:21:00] I guess definitely something we're gonna have to be watching out for Jeff.

    [00:21:02] Jeff Roster: Yeah. Boy. Oh boy.

    [00:21:03] Maxence Cacheux: And there's lot of use case. One that I didn't talk about as well is the digital passport certificate. We're seeing a lot of retailers looking at this either in the fashion or in white goods.

    [00:21:13] So a token being a digital passport certificate of your product where you can have your warranty proof of purchase. You could have all the maintenance if a white goods, for example if it's a fashion nft, you could potentially wear it in the metaverse in the game where some people are spending a couple of hours per day.

    [00:21:32] So there's also very interesting use cases there. So

    [00:21:35] Ricardo Belmar: Hmm. I, I guess the, the. Last question I have for you on that though, I just triggers from, as you were describing that, is there a particular segment or segments within retail that you think are more inclined to be the early adopters here?

    [00:21:48] You know, what you do, you expect to see it more in, fashion versus luxury goods versus home goods and, and so on. Are, are there leading segments that you expect to see this this year?

    [00:21:58] Maxence Cacheux: Yes. So we're [00:22:00] seeing a lot of traction in luxury in fashion with retailers that are also produce their own product rights. So, not Pure retailers, but designers and retailers because this token can have multiple properties, right?

    [00:22:12] It could tell the story about the brand. Who created this where did it come from? Was it responsibility stores or made, right? What is the, the story? It becomes like a proof of ownership, proof of authenticity. It could be a token that I transferred to someone.

    [00:22:27] When I'm reselling it and to the brand is like super important because you can then engage with the secondary market customers.

    [00:22:34] So for these type of retailers, fashion and luxury, it's a token that you can use from cradle to recycling for the full life cycle. You have very interesting use cases that are being explored by by those brands, 

    [00:22:49] Ricardo Belmar: Hmm, interesting.

    [00:22:53] Jeff Roster: My first nrf, I worried about point of sale devices, 

    [00:22:58] Maxence Cacheux: Yes. 

    [00:22:58] Ricardo Belmar: and here you are now waiting [00:23:00] for what, which retailer is gonna go dive into Web three

    [00:23:03] Jeff Roster: point of sale devices and merchandising. And in 22 years we've come from that, which was cutting edge technology at the time to where we're talking about this and some of the other things we've talked about in the last two or three days. Really just an amazing acceleration of what we're talking about.

    [00:23:19] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. Absolutely.

    [00:23:21] Maxence Cacheux: Yeah.

    [00:23:21] Ricardo Belmar: Well, max, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been a really illuminating discussion for me. I'm actually kind of excited to see where this is going. I think there's, you've described a lot of interesting use cases and scenarios that would let retailers do new levels of engagement.

    [00:23:36] I think, so this is gonna be really fascinating to watch.

    [00:23:39] Maxence Cacheux: Yeah. Thank you. Thanks Jeff. Thanks Ricardo. So very excited. So for what's coming up,

    [00:23:44] Jeff Roster: Our pleasure

    [00:23:44] Ricardo Belmar: Thank you. 

    [00:23:45] Maxence Cacheux: Thank you.

    [00:23:46] Show Recap

    [00:23:46] Casey Golden: Welcome back everyone. So are you as excited as us to watch how retailers and brands will use Web three and blockchain to transform their [00:24:00] customer experience? It's truly more than meets the eye.

    [00:24:03] Ricardo Belmar: Hey, wait a minute. I thought that was my line. I thought I'm the one who's supposed to make all the eighties pop culture references.

    [00:24:08] Casey Golden: As soon as I said it, I knew. Oh, at least you're a good influence, Ricardo.

    [00:24:14] Ricardo Belmar: Hundred percent. A hundred percent . So I have to say I came away learning a lot more about the challenges retailers are facing, implementing Web three and blockchain from listening to what max told us. But most importantly, now we've all got an easy button for this thanks to zblocks.

    [00:24:30] Casey Golden: Absolutely. 

    [00:24:32] Well, Ricardo, as amazing as this episode was, I can't wait to hear what you and Jeff come up with next. Who do we have to look forward in the next show?

    [00:24:41] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, Jeff and I have yet another super interesting person to talk to coming up. Next time, we are diving into what I'll call a new take on micro fulfillment that you might not have expected. So believe me, it's the one that nobody wants to miss.

    [00:24:56] Casey Golden: super, but now it's time to wrap this [00:25:00] episode. 

    [00:25:00] Show Closing

    [00:25:00] Casey Golden: If you enjoyed our show, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. Wanna know more about what we talked about today, take a look at our show notes and handy links for more deets.

    [00:25:24] I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [00:25:27] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter, at, Casey c Golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure and follow the show on Twitter, at Retail Razor, on LinkedIn, and on our YouTube channel for the latest updates and content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:25:43] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:25:44] ​

    [00:25:47] 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.​[00:26:00]

    26m | Feb 24, 2023
  • S2E10b #NRFLive SPECIAL - Last Mile Delivery Experiences with FarEye

    When you hear, “last mile logistics” in retail, what do you think of? This episode continues our special podcast cross-over series, #NRFLive, with the This Week In Innovation podcast. In Part 2 of the series, hosts Ricardo Belmar and Jeff Roster speak with the CEO and CMO of last mile logistics provider FarEye to learn how they are helping retailers provide the most flexible, efficient, and sustainable delivery experience to their customers while keeping costs down! You’ll also hear some interesting consumer trends on delivery expectations that may surprise you!

    Jeff and Ricardo recorded this session live, and in-person with Kushal Nahata, CEO, and Judd Marcello, CMO, of FarEye during the NRF 2023 Big Show. Special thanks to our sponsor Avanade for making this series possible by providing an amazing recording space in their NRF lounge.

    Listen, or watch on YouTube, to see how much Jeff and Ricardo learn from the FarEye team! And regular cohost Casey Golden also joins Ricardo for a quick recap and introduction.

    News alert! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your regular hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://bit.ly/RRShowPod

    Host → Ricardo Belmar,

    Follow on Twitter - https://bit.ly/twRBelmar

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    Co-host → Casey Golden,

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    Connect on LinkedIn - https://bit.ly/LICasey

    Read my comments on RetailWire - https://bit.ly/RWCasey


    S2E10b Last Mile Delivery Experiences with FarEye

    [00:00:00] Show Intro

    [00:00:00] Ricardo Belmar:

    [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to a special season two episode 10 part two of the Retail Razor Show. This is the second of our multi-part series recorded live and in person at the N R F 2023 Show in January. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:35] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome to the Retail Razor Show, retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. And for this special bonus, welcome N R F fans to our hot take hashtag N R F Live mini series.

    [00:00:55] Ricardo Belmar: So Casey, just like our last episode, this is a [00:01:00] special podcast crossover event with Jeff Roster, host of This Week in Innovation podcast. We recorded this series live at in-person at the N R F Show in the fabulous lounge space our good friends at Avanade graciously allowed us to use.

    [00:01:15] Casey Golden: Yes. A special shout out to our friends and sponsors at Avanade for giving you and Jeff such a great space to set up and record. These are not easy areas to find.

    [00:01:26] Ricardo Belmar: Oh yeah, ab absolutely, absolutely. Especially at the Javit Center. . So, so let's get right to it then. So, Casey, when I say Last Mile logistics to you, what do you think of?

    [00:01:36] Casey Golden: delivered to my door in two hours with a smile.

    [00:01:40] Ricardo Belmar: All right. Well then this episode is really going to fascinate you hopefully as much as it will our listeners, Jeff and I had the pleasure of interviewing Kushal Nahata, the C E O of FarEye, and Judd Marcello FarEye's, C M O, and wow, did we learn a lot about how retailers can make their last mile [00:02:00] logistics not only more efficient, cost effective and more sustainable, but also do it while giving their customers a much better, and dare I say, personalized delivery experience.

    [00:02:11] Casey Golden: Very cool. I'm digging it. And now I want to know how FarEye is doing all of that. it's a pretty tall order and let's face it, this is pretty much table stakes for any e-commerce operation.

    [00:02:27] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I, I, I agree. And I'll just say that if you're trying to balance between getting your delivery costs down with giving your customers what they want, this is an interview you want to take notes from. I don't wanna give away too much, but be on the lookout for some interesting trends on what consumers want more than fast delivery from their e-commerce orders.

    [00:02:47] Casey Golden: All right, now I'm getting a bit anxious. You know how much I love a good e-commerce discussion. Let's have it already.

    [00:02:54] Ricardo Belmar: I'm with you. I'm with you. So let's jump in and listen to our interview with Kushal and Judd.

    [00:02:58] [00:03:00]

    [00:03:03] FarEye Interview

    [00:03:03] Ricardo Belmar: Welcome everyone.

    [00:03:05] I'm Ricardo Belmar and I'm here with Jeff Roster, host of This Week in Innovation podcast, and we are continuing our NRF 2023 series with two special guests, Kushal Nahata, the C E O of FarEye. Welcome, Kushal.

    [00:03:18] Kushal Nahata: welcome. Hi everyone.

    [00:03:20] Ricardo Belmar: And Judd Marcello, FarEye's CMO.

    [00:03:22] Judd Marcello: Thanks for having us. Happy to be here.

    [00:03:24] Ricardo Belmar: Thank you guys. Thank you both for being here. So Jeff, why don't we just jump right in?

    [00:03:27] Jeff Roster: Sounds good.

    [00:03:28] Ricardo Belmar: Sound good to you? All right, so Kushal, Judd, why don't you give us just a couple quick sentences so we're all familiar with what FarEye does.

    [00:03:35] Kushal Nahata: Yeah. So look we, we are a last mile delivery platform. We essentially help all,

    [00:03:40] of us as consumers get the products delivered to our doorstep at the time we need, with the choices we want to make.

    [00:03:48] And we do that by enabling all the brands, retailers, and logistic companies to be efficient and do deliveries the way consumers need and want it.[00:04:00]

    [00:04:00] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. Excellent. All right, so we've got four questions for you that we're really interested in hearing about. So start off, let's talk about e-commerce. Of course. You know, obviously we're. More e-commerce spending happening. Retailers have been ramping up their capabilities around fulfillment, delivering e-commerce.

    [00:04:17] So with that influx in e-commerce spending, how are retailers reinventing their approach to delivering a better experience all the way to consumers doorsteps.

    [00:04:26] Kushal Nahata: So maybe I'll go first. Look, COVID was the time when generally the e-commerce took off for every single retailer because consumers couldn't move out, they can't go to these stores.

    [00:04:38] So everything happened online and one of the biggest challenge was the delivery network and capability didn't existed in the way retailers desired for it, and it was a sudden peak. So what we've seen retailers really innovating is going for a hybrid model.

    [00:04:56] And by hybrid, what I mean is a part of it [00:05:00] is their own fleet, which gives them more control, gives them directly voice of the customer how and what they need it.

    [00:05:07] And at the same time, they're partnering with third party delivery networks and which is not limited to let's say, top two or top three delivery service providers, but they're working with regional, with local delivery service providers as well. Now, how this helps is, it gives them scale, it gives them control,

    [00:05:26] And it also helps them optimize the cost because the local regional players are sometimes more efficient from a cost perspective, but then the challenge is they can't scale nationally.

    [00:05:35] So if you build that as a network, it becomes a super strategic competitive advantage for your brand. And that's what, if you see most of the top retailers have done in the last five to 10 years.

    [00:05:48] Judd Marcello: And I think, you know, in addition to what Kushal said, if you're a retailer and you're a prioritizing that innovation in your, in your logistics, in your delivery logistics, in your operations, creating efficiencies, Then that enables you to [00:06:00] then focus on the customer experience.

    [00:06:01] Cause that's the other area of innovation. And when you think about deliveries for consumer deliveries, the consumer now has so much control dictating what they want, where they wanna receive it, when they wanna receive it. You know, they've been fed the idea of next day delivery, same day delivery now. So now the consumer expectations are increasingly high.

    [00:06:21] And I think if you're a retailer today, if you're focused on making the delivery experience, From order to where they're on the website and they click the buy button to when that package lands on their, their front doorstep. If you make that seamless for the consumer, if you make it easy and it's convenient for them, and they have a sense of control in that, that is one way to win that consumer and ultimately win them for the long term.

    [00:06:42] Jeff Roster: So what exactly are you a platform that that gig economy folks can plug in ups, all that. And your, your ultimate customer is the retailer who's using you as a platform to figure out that last mile.

    [00:06:56] Kushal Nahata: Yeah.

    [00:06:57] So you need to understand that as a platform [00:07:00] to manage and scale deliveries. It could be through your own fleet where you are running some part of your fleet on your own, or it could be a logistic company.

    [00:07:09] Who has thousands of fleets of their own. It could be third party delivery network, which is what you said the gig workers and all are connected to the platform. So one, and then there is the orchestration. When the order comes, what's the best way to deliver that order with a super delightful experience to the consumer.

    [00:07:28] Judd Marcello: Mm-hmm.

    [00:07:28] Jeff Roster: Wow. So you're making that decision whether it's going out on a Uber driver or it's going out on UPS carrier or, or some other strategy, some other retailer owned, owned mechanism 

    [00:07:40] Kushal Nahata: Absolutely. And actually our journey starts a step before. So when you and I as consumers go onto the e-commerce platforms at the website, we help them, brands, show the right delivery options to the consumers.

    [00:07:52] In terms of when you're scrolling a product, when can you get it delivered? And then also, so first is giving those choices to the consumers [00:08:00] so that they find enough options to place the order. Then choosing the right delivery provider, and then providing the live tracking and experience. If you want to change the delivery, if you wanna change the time, you can do that.

    [00:08:15] And at the end, monitoring the entire journey from an operations perspective, that was it delivered on time and with a desired experience and with the cost that was planned for it or not.

    [00:08:28] Jeff Roster: Wow.

    [00:08:28] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, so so you really have components on the consumer side that address all the pieces the consumer wants, which is what you just described here, that all the communication points for that originate from the what they perceive as the retailer, right?

    [00:08:43] Telling them it's shipped, when it's coming, how long it's gonna take, if there's a delay, et cetera. But you've also got behind the scenes for the retailer's benefit. You're optimizing this process. You're always trying to find the lowest cost method, I'll say right to, to get that done.

    [00:08:57] Kushal Nahata: Absolutely. And look, [00:09:00] probably a decade ago, like each, each retailer or each store had its own experience. When you walk into the store, the colors, the way shelves are placed, the way products are placed. Now, the same thing you need to look at from an online perspective as well, that each brand needs to design that delivery journey, which is a part of its identity itself.

    [00:09:19] What are the options do I want to give to my consumer? How will they track and in respective of who's delivering? It's a branded delivery experience, which is promised by the retailer.

    [00:09:32] Jeff Roster: Wow.

    [00:09:33] Judd Marcello: And it's also, and one of the other things to throw in there too, it's not just marrying the consumer side and the logistics side in a way.

    [00:09:40] If you can get that right and you're in a position where you can innovate, it's also, it's how, what options you give the customer in order to receive their goods. So when you think about fulfillment and you think about innovation, like drone becoming more important, right? There are you, you can do drop off lockers if you're within a city.

    [00:09:56] So you create more optionality for the consumer to make sure they [00:10:00] can access that product. So delivery doesn't necessarily need to be to their front door, it could be to a space that's convenient for them on their way home from work. So you know that innovation. Then once you're starting to get the logistics piece worked out, and then you, you understand what your capabilities are, you can layer in that kind of like customer experience, innovation into the offering.

    [00:10:18] Jeff Roster: So you're the platform, the hub, you don't care whether that end deliverable is. Truck, a drone or a flying car in a few years, you, you don't, you don't care.

    [00:10:28] Whatever the evolution of, of that, that that vehicle or it's a robot or Wow.

    [00:10:33] Judd Marcello: Interesting.

    [00:10:34] Ricardo Belmar: You, you could plug

    [00:10:34] Kushal Nahata: we say it is, it's, it's definitely important what you deliver, but it's more important how you deliver 

    [00:10:41] Judd Marcello: Yeah. 

    [00:10:42] Kushal Nahata: Because as consumers, we are now hooked to the experience. How it's getting delivered to me. So brands really investing and improving their delivery experiene. And that's why last mile is super complex because one is the mode which is which type of vehicle is delivering, [00:11:00] but also if you go from where you're getting it delivered, it can be delivered from a store. It could be a fulfillment center, it could be a micro fulfillment which lot of companies are investing in, or it could be a distribution center as well. So you can have multiple points from where the products can be delivered. You can have multiple ways through which product can travel. But eventually what you want to optimize for is a delightful delivery experience at an affordable or a lesser cost.

    [00:11:29] Jeff Roster: Wow.

    [00:11:30] Ricardo Belmar: Wow. Well, so you've kind of, I think, almost answered the next question I was gonna ask you already, because, but let's maybe go in a little more detail because everything, you just kind of described Kushal, but I, I think it speaks really strongly to how, from the retailer's perspective, you're giving a much more efficient and optimized process versus the alternative, which would be that they have to do all of this themselves.

    [00:11:49] Kushal Nahata: right. 

    [00:11:50] Ricardo Belmar: Because you, you're giving them essentially this multi-sided platform that connects all the areas they need from consumer, retailer to whoever is doing the logistics. And do, [00:12:00] do, I mean, for example, do, do other third party logistics providers also plug in to you in order to get access to those retailers as well.

    [00:12:08] Kushal Nahata: Absolutely. So look, the way we were trying to solve the problem when we started as FarEye was, how do we democratize a delightful delivery experience at an affordable cost for every single retailer? It shouldn't be limited to, let's say, top one or top two retailers because it'll not be an offline only, never be an online.

    [00:12:27] It'll be an omnichannel the way we see and then we can, we can debate which category, how much percentage is online, how much percentage is offline. But as consumers, we want all options. We wanna get into the store, we wanna buy it from our website as well. We wanna get it today, we wanna get it tomorrow. Then sometimes we want it schedule delivery, which could be one week later.

    [00:12:50] Or we would say, look, it's a furniture, or let's say it's a large appliance and I need to be at home to receive that product.

    [00:12:57] So it can be only delivered between [00:13:00] three to 5:00 PM because that's the time I'll be at home. So now this is the options we all look, look for. And now just look it from a retailer's perspective, how much complex it is, and if you then decode the number of carriers in any single country.

    [00:13:17] Like if we just talk about America, each city has few hundreds of local carrier.

    [00:13:24] Ricardo Belmar: Hmm, wow.

    [00:13:25] Jeff Roster: Each city?

    [00:13:26] Judd Marcello: Yeah,

    [00:13:26] Jeff Roster: city. Because I mean, is each gig driver and individual driver, or is that part of.

    [00:13:33] Kushal Nahata: It's a gig drivers. Then you have small DSPs, which are serving in small neighborhoods. They're five to 10 drivers.

    [00:13:39] These are small entrepreneurs, and you want to create employment. You want to give them an opportunity. The problem is they're not connected to the retailers, so building a platform where they're connected gives them more business and it gives access to the brands and retailers to be able to do affordable deliveries [00:14:00] across the country.

    [00:14:02] Ricardo Belmar: Wow.

    [00:14:03] Judd Marcello: I think the other thing too, when it comes to, we're talking about a platform now where you can plug in other vendors, and it it, one of, one of the benefits of that is it's ultimately visibility and the thing that you really need visibility of to be able to address all the complexities in the last mile, like Kushal talked about.

    [00:14:18] The one consumer that has, you know, five or six demands in their individual delivery. And you have to hand that, handle that across scale. It's data, and you have to be able to have that le, that level of data visible to you in real time. So then ultimately you can optimize your entire operations through that.

    [00:14:35] And that, that data visibility piece is, is the biggest component. This is software. So everybody, everybody, it's all run on data and be able to understand your kind of universe of delivery data and to be able to optimize that goes a long way to servicing the customer, but also probably the most important thing, stat, I'll throw a stat at you.

    [00:14:53] 53% of all delivery costs exist within the last mile. So the last mile is in, not only is it [00:15:00] complex, 53%, so the last mile is complex, but it's also expensive. So the more you can do to decrease complexity and decrease cost, the better it is for your business. 

    [00:15:09] Ricardo Belmar: And and that 53%, I'm sure that's the biggest single piece the whole. 

    [00:15:13] Kushal Nahata: Absolutely.

    [00:15:14] And like at NRF, a lot of retailers come down to our booth today. And I think two, three different top patterns. If I say one, we work with one or two carriers, it's getting expensive. Everyone is increasing rates. December itself a lot of those top carriers have increased their rates, which is a public news.

    [00:15:34] We want to reduce the risk, but at the same time, we want to have control because if we can't track, if we can't promise a delivery experience, we will lose the customer. So you wanna reduce the cost by an ability to work with multiple carriers, but at the same time, you wanna have more control. And that's where I think the platform or a software plays a [00:16:00] critical role where you can not only orchestrate the right carrier, but you can track and then you use performance as a way to allocate more business. 

    [00:16:09] So it's somewhere a self incentivized model that you do deliveries on time, you'll get more business. If I do late, I'll get lesser business. So it automatically corrects. And I think some part of it around efficiency and around sustainability also ties in because if you try to look at it, look sustainability and cost, I don't think they are kind of on opposite sides.

    [00:16:35] I think they're primary on the same sides. If you're a super efficient company, Like if you produce what is getting a hundred percent consumed, you are a sustainable company in one way.

    [00:16:47] If you are able to have minimum number of kilometers to deliver to the consumer you are in sustainable company, but you're not just sustainable, but you're profitable as well because you're spending less [00:17:00] in terms of fuel.

    [00:17:01] You are having needs for lesser number of drivers. You need lesser number of vehicles to get products delivered as well. So, feel efficiencies and sustainability are fundamentally

    [00:17:10] sim connected problem. Specifically when you try to look at from a delivery and last mile perspective, like another pattern which we are seeing, retailers have started giving options to consumers that you can get it delivered same day, but here's a carbon friendly or a more sustainable delivery as well. And we don't need all products same day. But there was no incentivization for us to wait for another day or so, and, we want control. We want, as consumers control with us and we wanna make an informed decision.

    [00:17:41] So this just small option of a carbon friendly delivery with a small green color. We seeing consumers go and just click it there because they feel we are okay. And they also feel confident because they are making the choice. It's not really mandated to them. You're not taking away a [00:18:00] same day delivery choice from them.

    [00:18:01] But you're saying it's, it's again, like we all want to be more sustainable. We want to be informed and we wanna make our own decisions. So I think that's where the technology really plays a critical role where you're able to combine it and give it to the consumer's hand to make those choices.

    [00:18:17] Ricardo Belmar: And do you think it's trending more in that direction on the consumer side, that consumers want to click on that sustainable option

    [00:18:23] Kushal Nahata: It's is

    [00:18:23] Judd Marcello: absolutely

    [00:18:24] Ricardo Belmar: day delivery?

    [00:18:25] Kushal Nahata: So couple of options, like a lot of big retailers, they started where you are ordering, let's say, each day. They started saying we'll combine all your orders and deliver, let's say, on a specific day in a week. And consumers are okay with that because for them also, it's easier to get all the packets or all the stuff together.

    [00:18:43] Then other is if you want fast, you can get it, but you are okay to wait. And that's also helping. And somewhere they're also incentivizing back the extra money to the consumer where you're saying, we'll give you a gift coupon of $1 if you wait for two days. So [00:19:00] you're getting sustainable, you're getting some money back and you don't need it today.

    [00:19:05] So you are actually happy that ways as well. And they're saying, look, I'm a more sustainable consumer and I'm more informed in that respect.

    [00:19:13] Jeff Roster: Wow. Who holds those orders? If somebody wanted to consolidate three or four different orders, are you holding that merchandise in some warehouse or the retailer or how, you know, how, how would you orchestrate that?

    [00:19:25] Kushal Nahata: Yeah, and that's a great question. And that's where a lot of these micro fulfillments

    [00:19:29] Jeff Roster: question. You could tell I'm a logistics guy. I don't wanna own that inventory.

    [00:19:33] Kushal Nahata: a hundred percent. And that's where a lot of these micro fulfillment centers and dynamic planning is now started in the systems.

    [00:19:39] Jeff Roster: Oh, I see

    [00:19:40] Kushal Nahata: where based on the delivery date, you're setting up a pickup time and you know the efficiency of your network, you know the delivery time of your network.

    [00:19:48] And that's where I feel like logistics has really changed in last couple of years. It's become a hardcore data play now, like at any stream, you need to be able to [00:20:00] plan, you know exactly how much time it takes to move it from point A to point B. And what are the options you have now once you have that data that decisioning is taken care by ai or by optimization platforms to really get those things together and not making you hold inventory for a long term?

    [00:20:19] Judd Marcello: Hmm. That's, you know, it's one of the things that Kushal likes to say is that any company, any retailer or e-commerce company that considers themselves customer centric really needs to be a logistics and delivery company today.

    [00:20:30] You know, because, because there is, there's so much of, of what we do that is based on that, what they do is based on deliveries. You have to optimize that for all the reasons that we've been talking about.

    [00:20:39] Jeff Roster: Very cool. Very interesting.

    [00:20:41] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. So, let's talk about the returns process because obviously, and I think we're all gonna hear a lot about this during nrf, is, is that the return situation

    [00:20:49] it is so dramatically increased. I, I think you, you clearly must be uniquely positioned to help retailers with that whole returns logistics process.

    [00:20:57] Judd Marcello: Yeah,

    [00:20:58] Kushal Nahata: Absolutely. So look, [00:21:00] there's one perspective which I have, and recently we've seen a lot of companies move towards that, where I would say the free returns it was never free.

    [00:21:08] Judd Marcello: Yeah.

    [00:21:09] Kushal Nahata: someone paying for it

    [00:21:10] Judd Marcello: so many days

    [00:21:11] Kushal Nahata: while we were exploiting it.

    [00:21:13] Jeff Roster: the the most expensive thing in the, in the world's a free lunch. There is no free lunch. Dad told me that 40 years ago. It's still true to this day. Nothing is as expensive as a free lunch.

    [00:21:24] Kushal Nahata: Hundred percent. And so lots of these companies are moving away from free returns to you pay a fee, at least a delivery or a shipment fee. And this is just to make each one of us a little more responsible for what we are buying unless there's a product fault.

    [00:21:40] Judd Marcello: sure.

    [00:21:40] Kushal Nahata: So that's one part which we are seeing. But then the other is really optimizing the returns.

    [00:21:45] See there are certain product types specifically, I would say in furniture and white goods, where the cost of getting the product back from consumer to the warehouse, doing the quality check and putting it [00:22:00] back for a sale is more than the price of the product 

    [00:22:03] Judd Marcello: itself. It's so, it's so funny you mentioned that over the holidays spending some time with family. My brother-in-law bought, he has a pool out in the back of his house, bought a fire pit probably about four by four. Fire pit. It came dented. They called the company. The company said, we'll get another one out to you this week and you can keep the dented one because, and it was an expensive product.

    [00:22:22] I mean, we're talking, you know, hundreds of dollars and they. It, it's, we don't want it. It's gonna be too much of a hassle. You keep it. And they're like, what do we do with it? We said, they said, we don't care. We'll just get you a new one,

    [00:22:32] Kushal Nahata: So collectively, if you look at it, right, the cost of moving the product back from consumer to the warehouse, then adding the entire process cost to get it back to the supply chain.

    [00:22:44] And then it could be that you wanna sell it again. Or the lot of companies which have started the refurbished platforms as well, where they've rebranded and they're kind of selling for less for some of these products. I think the same example Judd said maybe it's dented or maybe it's not a hundred percent the same, [00:23:00] but you get it at a super cheap price as well.

    [00:23:02] So that's one side of it. But also logistically, how do you really optimize? And the, the interesting part is it's dynamic, so it's not static. Like you can't predict these 50 products or these 50 orders will be returned. You can do a certain ratio, but you don't know which products, which consumers would actually do the return.

    [00:23:23] And that's where we see last mile actually super dynamic as well, both from a forward and a reverse journey. And by doing a lot of these real time dynamic optimization, you are able to reduce the cost. A lot of times the vehicles are coming back empty, so you can do a lot of these returns in those empty returns as well when the vehicle is trying to come back.

    [00:23:45] Or you can plan one week, two weeks forward based on your forward journey and use the same trips or same vehicle. To do the returns as well. That helps you reduce the cost. You partner with the e-commerce platform to launch what is called [00:24:00] as a re-commerce and make that products available at lesser price.

    [00:24:04] So you're kind of a, making it more sustainable because you're not just throwing away the products or you're not giving it free. Like the example Judd said, like, because in that case, all of us would just go for free, and as you said, there's nothing. Call is free lunch ever. It's one of the most expensive part of the thing.

    [00:24:22] And then charging the consumer as well, I feel is maybe it's just a small basic fee, but just makes it more intelligent and more known to, if you're ordering something, we really need it, or we just trying to just shop around and maybe return back.

    [00:24:39] Jeff Roster: Yeah. You know what's so interesting about that? Oh God, it was probably seven or eight years ago where I first had a real conversation with an executive of one of the big companies out there that was really passionate about returns. Never spent 10 seconds thinking about it. And from that kind of anecdotal conversation in a bar to today the amount of conversations around it returns how expensive [00:25:00] returns are and how in some ways there's responsibility for the consumer to be maybe a little more judicious about returns, and then the counter is retailers and manufacturers have to be very, very serious about sizing and all the, I mean, so it's not just one side or the other, it's, it's this problem that everybody owns. But I think there's technology solutions for that, and I think we're sort of in the process of seeing that.

    [00:25:24] But I mean, I've probably, in the last three months I've heard more discussion about. we can no longer do free returns. It's just not sustainable. And which is an interesting argument on the sustainability side. So you're not, your position is not a takeaway from a consumer, but do you understand the cost of doing this. right. I, I, I'm just, any way to keep something from coming back in is fantastic from my perspective.

    [00:25:46] Kushal Nahata: Absolutely.

    [00:25:47] And I think you made a great point. It's not just the consumer, it's all the brands and the retailer side as well. So, and we've seen a lot of our customers who use the returns as well. So one part of a solution is it gives you insights [00:26:00] why the products were returned, and then you can bucketize and see the top buckets and you'll find interest.

    [00:26:06] So one of the, with one of the customers, the top most reason,

    [00:26:10] The image of the product shown online versus what this received as a product was different. Now these are things which is part of the control which business. So you fig if you want to reduce the returns, see collectively, and we can have sub-segments in retail, but it's about 30 to 35% of overall retail is online and one of the three orders.

    [00:26:36] It's kind of return cross categories. So if you look at it, there's almost a starting double digit return orders or return revenue, which is at risk of the total gmv which a business is having and which is lot of, so I'm talking about 10 to 15% of a gmv, which is flowing back to the retailer, which is a lot of money if you try to [00:27:00] look at it.

    [00:27:00] Now, if you a, make it more selective for the consumer by giving some of those options. But as a brand, if you figure out these are the top three reasons why consumers are returning my products or based on specific SKU specific regions, and just use that data to optimize, I think we've seen huge value in overall returns.

    [00:27:20] Also reducing by brands, improving the way they are making promises to the end consumers. And then also on the size, as you said, the sizes are not exactly. 

    [00:27:30] Jeff Roster: sometimes they're not even close and, and I'm, I'll say that as a is a man, I mean it, the, the, the range is, insane and that, so that needs to get fixed, that need that, that's on everyone.

    [00:27:40] And I think hopefully, I think what's really interesting is I never, ever would've called returns as a trend two years ago, three years ago today when, you know, cuz we're, Ricardo and I are gonna, are being asked constantly. What do you think the big trends are? Better management of re of returns. I wouldn't say it's the number one trend, but it's, it's definitely in my top.

    [00:27:58] It's near the top

    [00:27:58] Ricardo Belmar: near the top. Yeah.

    [00:27:59] Jeff Roster: the [00:28:00] cost is, I mean, it, it hits every, it hits everything. It's a, it's a revenue sink, it's a sustainability issue. Bring 'em all on. Let's fix this problem.

    [00:28:09] Kushal Nahata: Absolutely. Look, the top trends, at least we are seeing at Fareye, one is definitely optimizing the cost of delivery. That's like 59% of the retailers say that's their number one goal for 2023. And that obviously links to the returns part of the things as well, because that's the overall cost.

    [00:28:25] The other we are seeing is moving from pure speed to a committed delivery promise. So I think that's, that's an evolution we had as a, a overall community where it's not about delivering, deliver to me as fast as you can, but make a promise and deliver within that promise. I think that is the great progress I would see as a community.

    [00:28:49] And the third is more towards sustainability. Which kind of ties in, I don't see all of these as separate. I think they're connected. 

    [00:28:55] Ricardo Belmar: All, connected.

    [00:28:56] Kushal Nahata: And the fourth one is what you said as well, which is [00:29:00]managing returns well, both from reducing it, and then also what do you do with the products which are returned.

    [00:29:05] Ricardo Belmar: Right.

    [00:29:05] Jeff Roster: Good stuff.

    [00:29:06] Judd Marcello: It's it's, it's inter, you know, Jeff, earlier on in the conversation, you, you suggested our, our CU primary customer is a retailer. You know, and as somebody, you know, I'm a B2B marketer today, but I used to be a B2C marketer, and I think the mindset that we have is our primary customer is really the end consumer.

    [00:29:21] You know, if, if we're, if we're focused on the end consumer and building a proposition that will make things better for them and ultimately make them repeat customers, then our, our, our, our customer, the retailer, is gonna wanna do more work with us and ultimately, you know, deliver a better experience, delivery experience for their consumer.

    [00:29:36] That's the way we have to think about it. Consumer first

    [00:29:38] Ricardo Belmar: you're, you're really driving that brand loyalty for the retailer, right.

    [00:29:41] Judd Marcello: That's right.

    [00:29:42] Ricardo Belmar: the decision you're providing and kind of my take away from what Kushal you were saying is really it's that the promise they're making to the customer is becoming more valuable than the speed.

    [00:29:53] Judd Marcello: Yeah, 

    [00:29:54] Kushal Nahata: Absolutely. And some of the I would say industries within retail as well, if you look at, [00:30:00] let's say furniture or let's say white gloves, which weren't really as advanced as parcel deliveries, but now they, as consumers, we saying it doesn't matter.

    [00:30:10] We want the same experience. We want to track where the order is. We want to be at able to reschedule if we want to do that. And so a lot of.

    [00:30:18] Furniture big and bulky companies as well. We are seeing the same trend where they're trying to digitalize their supply chain, get realtime visibility, and then start optimizing.

    [00:30:29] Ricardo Belmar: Good stuff.

    [00:30:30] Jeff Roster: Good stuff.

    [00:30:32] Ricardo Belmar: Well, Judd, Kushal, thank you so much for joining us. This has been a, a fascinating discussion. I think I come away with a, a lot of learnings here on about last Mile Logistics 

    [00:30:42] Jeff Roster: Five, five years ago. I, there, there wasn't last mile. I mean, we talked about it a little bit, but maybe the last mile in the store, but never, I mean, the amount of innovation, of course this week in innovation, we love innovation.

    [00:30:54] It. It's insane how much is happening in this, in this last mile. And it's, [00:31:00] it's, it's great. It's great to cover it and I wish you you guys the best of luck in, in being more efficient more sustainable, helping retailers sort of figure out this whole craziness. And I tell you, just reporting the, the numbers that you're seeing might be enough to, for, for us as consumers to say, wow, we need to really maybe start to think differently.

    [00:31:15] So, so the best of luck to you.

    [00:31:17] Judd Marcello: Yeah. Thanks.

    [00:31:18] Kushal Nahata: Thank you so much. Thanks for having

    [00:31:19] Judd Marcello: us. Thank you very much. 

    [00:31:20] Ricardo Belmar: Thank you both.

    [00:31:21] Jeff Roster: Bye.

    [00:31:22] ​

    [00:31:27] Show Close

    [00:31:27] Casey Golden: Welcome back everyone. So did you catch that nugget about consumer preference for fulfilling a delivery promise versus speed of delivery? I know that's one of my main takeaways.

    [00:31:40] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, like I said, lots of amazing info from FarEye in this interview, and as Jeff said in the recording, it wasn't that many years ago that we barely talked about last mile logistics. And now look at all the great points Kushal and Judd made about lowering costs, being more sustainable. How to not only leverage your consumer preferences, but [00:32:00] doing it in a cost effective manner while, while still providing all the conveniences those consumers want.

    [00:32:05] Casey Golden: And when you think about all the consumer preferences, Kushal and Judd mentioned from keeping a delivery promise to having the flexibility to change that delivery promise once the order's already in progress, to just show how varied these delivery promises and expectations can be. From product type to product type.

    [00:32:26] When you think about it, we all know that getting a piece of furniture delivered is completely different than getting a new Prada bag.

    [00:32:35] Ricardo Belmar: A hundred percent. I certainly came away knowing a lot more about the finer details of Last Mile Logistics, and I, I have to say, FarEye is really doing something unique with their platform that's worth paying attention to.

    [00:32:47] Casey Golden: Absolutely. 

    [00:32:49] Well, Ricardo, I think that's a wrap for part two of our N R F Live series. I can't wait to see what's coming up next in part three.

    [00:32:57] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Jeff and I have even more [00:33:00] super interesting people to talk about coming up, including micro fulfillment and another one of your favorite topics, Casey Web three.

    [00:33:07] Casey Golden: Well, now you're just teasing me. Let's wrap up this episode. 

    [00:33:10] Show Outro

    [00:33:10] ​

    [00:33:15] Casey Golden: If you enjoyed our show, please consider giving us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Remember to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss a minute. Wanna know more about what we talked about today. Take a look at the show notes for handy links and more deets.

    [00:33:33] I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [00:33:35] Ricardo Belmar: If you'd like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c Golden and Ricardo underscore 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 the latest updates and content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:33:51] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:33:53] Ricardo Belmar: And remember, there has never been a better time to be in retail [00:34:00] if you cut through the clutter. Until next time, this is the retail Razor Show.

    34m | Feb 23, 2023
  • S2E10a #NRFLive SPECIAL - #TRI Friends Fireside Chat on #NRF2023

    In honor of the NRF Big Show we’re kicking off a special podcast cross-over series, #NRFLive, with Jeff Roster’s show This Week In Innovation. This episode is a very special, intimately authentic conversation between four top retail influencers, recorded live, and in-person during the NRF show.

    Jeff and host, Ricardo Belmar, join retail legends, Vicki Cantrell, CEO of Vendors in Partnership, LLC, and Ron Thurston, author of Retail Pride and host of the Retail in America podcast and tour. Together our four retail friends chat about the VIP Awards ceremony, RetailROI’s Super Saturday event, what they expect to see during NRF, the impact of innovation in retail, & the latest retail tech buzzwords. Plus, they reach an important conclusion about why retail is, after all, all about the people.

    Listen, or watch on YouTube, and join our four friends for the kind of discussion that can only happen when you’re recording live, and in-person in a setting like the NRF Big Show!

    News alert #1: The Retail Razor Show was a finalist for The Retail Voice Award at the Vendors in Partnership Award ceremony during the NRF Big Show 2023!

    News alert #2! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E10a #NRFLive SPECIAL - #TRI Friends Fireside Chat

    [00:00:00] Show Intro

    [00:00:00] Ricardo Belmar: Hello and welcome to a special season two episode 10 of the Retail Razor Show. This is the first of a multi-part series recorded live and in person at the N R F 2023 show from January 13th to 18th, otherwise known as N R F Week. And I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:37] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome, retail Razor Show listeners, retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike. And for this special bonus, welcome N R F fans to our hot take, hashtag N R F Live mini series.

    [00:00:59] Ricardo Belmar: Well, Casey, [00:01:00] this is an incredible treat for listeners and viewers. Just like our last episode, our top 10 trends and predictions for 2023, the recordings in this miniseries all happen live and in person. While you know about 35,000 or so of our closest retail friends swarmed New York City,

    [00:01:16] Casey Golden: I just loved recording face-to-face when we're just not, these two little squares from the shoulders up on a Zoom screen.

    [00:01:24] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So let's set the stage here for this series. Lot lot's happening. Cuz not only is this a special live and in-person recording series, but it's also a podcast crossover event.

    [00:01:35] Casey Golden: Wait really?

    [00:01:37] Ricardo Belmar: Yes, really we are crossing over with our fellow Retail Avenger, Jeff Roster and his This Week in Innovation podcast.

    [00:01:45] Here's what'll happen. So this episode kicks off our hashtag N R F Live series with what may be my absolute favorite podcast recording of our entire run so far.

    [00:01:55] Casey Golden: all time fave like that's saying a lot. I mean, I [00:02:00] adore Jeff, but this is an all time fave.

    [00:02:03] Ricardo Belmar: Yes, yes. Really of, of, of all time. Well, at least until the next one, but no

    [00:02:10] Casey Golden: All right. Well, with that kind of buildup you'll have to explain a little more so, spill.

    [00:02:15] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. Okay. So late last year Jeff and I were talking about our N R F plans, comparing how many places we, we overlapped and realized it would be a great opportunity to do a series of interviews of super interesting people at N R F. Friends we don't often see in person and just talk trends. Talk about what's hot at the show, what's coming next in retail.

    [00:02:37] So the crossover was born. And we thought, we'll, we'll jointly host these interviews and then we'll just release them all across both the Retail Razor Show and This Week in Innovation

    [00:02:45] Casey Golden: Very cool. I'm digging this

    [00:02:48] Ricardo Belmar: But wait, there's more

    [00:02:50] Casey Golden: in your best announcement voice

    [00:02:52] Ricardo Belmar: I'm trying to build up some suspense here

    [00:02:54] Casey Golden: We're already on the edge of our seat. 

    [00:02:56] Ricardo Belmar: So, so not only is this our first crossover series, but [00:03:00] it's also our first sponsored podcast.

    [00:03:03] Casey Golden: Ah, look at our podcast. It's adulting

    [00:03:06] Ricardo Belmar: exactly, exactly. We didn't realize just how popular we we've become. So while Jeff and I were making plans around who we tried to interview during N R F, there was one important thing we realized. We actually need a really solid place to sit down and record during N R F, because let's face it, the Javit Center isn't the most conducive to podcast recording

    [00:03:26] Casey Golden: It's not the most conducive for much. So I mean, I don't think we could do this while sitting in front of Starbucks either.

    [00:03:34] Ricardo Belmar: Right. E Exactly, exactly. But fortunately for us, our, our good friends of the show and avid podcast supporters at Avanade made us a really nice offer to use some space in their lounge area on the fourth floor, just above the expo hall. So fans of our show may have seen a preview photo of this setup on LinkedIn during N R F as we posted a few behind the scenes pics courtesy of the, the marketing team at Avanade

    [00:03:56] Casey Golden: Oh, big shout out to the marketing team at Avanade [00:04:00] for their support and for providing such an amazing space. I wish I could have been there for all of these.

    [00:04:07] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, we, we definitely missed you for those. And, and for this episode's recording, we were also fortunate to take advantage of another great spot in one of the conference rooms at the Microsoft Times Square office. Right after this year's retail ROI Super Saturday event had concluded right at the same location.

    [00:04:22] So extra fortunate. We happened to run into two very special friends of the show who've been on before. They agreed to sit down with Jeff and me to have an open conversation about our first two days at N r. About what we expected to find, what we might uncover during the show. And to be fair, Jeff and I pitched this as a quick 15 minute recording to them to convince them to do it.

    [00:04:42] And of course that turned into a nearly 50 minutes session because guess what happens when you have four retail friends get together? I haven't seen each other in person in so long.

    [00:04:51] Casey Golden: Yeah, we just don't stop. I'm thinking it would be very much like a friends' TV show reunion episode. You just [00:05:00] keep going and going because there is just so much happening in the industry right now

    [00:05:05] Ricardo Belmar: You, you said it. You said it. So, so we'll be hearing our, our conversation this episode with none other than retail legend, Vicki Cantrell currently c e o at vendors in partnership and organizer of the V I P awards event during N R F plus, Ron Thurston, author of the bestselling book, Retail Pride and Host of the Retail in America Podcast and tour.

    [00:05:25] And of course, to top it all off, since we're all RETHINK Retail, top retail influencers for 2023 just announced at the N R F show.

    [00:05:34] Casey Golden: Absolutely incredible and I'm so honored to be on the list this year and included, a big congrats all around to everyone for making the cut and sharing their perspective.

    [00:05:47] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and fun fact, this might even surprise some listeners and viewers, but Ron and I met in person for the first time at this n r F show.

    [00:05:56] You know, absolute, it's a like a pandemic story, right? I mean, as after all [00:06:00] these years that we've known each other. But this was the first time we actually met face to face in person.

    [00:06:06] Casey Golden: Wow. I didn't realize that. I actually met Ron during the pandemic in Dominican Republic.

    [00:06:12] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That's right.

    [00:06:15] Casey Golden: It's just, that is just an amazing little fun fact. You know, we forget how, how often we work with people that we've actually never been i r l with. 

    [00:06:28] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. And you, and you'll hear us talk about that in the recording too, cuz we all had stories that had happened to us just in those first couple of days.

    [00:06:35] Casey Golden: Yeah, I mean how could we build up this episode any more than we already have? So let's get to it and not keep everyone waiting.

    [00:06:44] Ricardo Belmar: Yes, I totally agree.

    [00:06:47] Casey Golden: Ah, I wanna point out one more thing.

    [00:06:50] Ricardo Belmar: Y you didn't just do that, did you?

    [00:06:52] Casey Golden: I did. But first I wanna point out that you've said multiple viewer multiple times now. And I [00:07:00] know we told our listeners they could see us on video and episode one of the season, but we've had some tech technical issues plaguing us all season long. . This is actually the first one we've released this season with video.

    [00:07:16] Ricardo Belmar: Good point. Good catch. Casey. Yes, yes. We actually do have video this time. And honestly we have our, our great friends at Rethink Retail. To thank for that Gabriela Bock, one of the producers at Rethink was gracious enough to record our conversation on video. And while what, if you're watching the video, you have to pay attention to just how small a conference room that was.

    [00:07:38] I don't know how she managed to stay with us for, for almost the entire time. Carefully walking around the room with video gear and it, it was just an amazing effort. You know, we, we had also told her it was gonna be 15 minutes and she thought, oh great. This is, this will be fun to do and sure enough turns into 50.

    [00:07:55] So, you know what, what an amazing effort and thanks so much to, to Gabriella and RETHINK for, for doing that for us.[00:08:00]

    [00:08:00] Casey Golden: Well talk about commitment and just incredible continued support. And if you're a careful viewer, you'll also catch another familiar rethink retail face in the background, taking photos. I won't give away who it is yet, but when we come back, we'll let you in on the scoop.

    [00:08:17] Ricardo Belmar: Okay, well, a, after this incredibly long intro that we've managed now, maybe our longest yet let's dive in and listen to what Jeff, Vicki, Ron, and myself had to say about the v i p awards, Retail ROI, N R F in general, and just the state of retail today and, and what we expect to, to happen this year.

    [00:08:35] And, and you'll see why this is quickly my, my favorite podcast we've ever done.

    [00:08:39] Casey Golden: Amazing.


    [00:08:44] #NRFLive - TRI Friends Fireside Chat

    [00:08:44] Ricardo Belmar: Hey everybody. I'm here with Jeff Roster and co-host of this weekend innovation, and you guessed it. This is part of our crossover series between our two podcasts. How you doing, Jeff?

    [00:08:55] Jeff Roster: I am doing fantastic. Ricardo, how about yourself

    [00:08:58] Ricardo Belmar: I'm doing wonderful. [00:09:00] And part of that I would say is true for you too because we are live and in person at the N R F show, which we haven't been in quite some time.

    [00:09:08] three years. 

    [00:09:09] Jeff Roster: Well, actually I was here. I was here last

    [00:09:12] Ricardo Belmar: you get bonus points for last year. You get bonus points for last

    [00:09:16] Jeff Roster: year, okay. The re the Startup community came strong last year

    [00:09:18] Ricardo Belmar: That's true. That's very true. You can, we'll, we'll leave that one there and then on that one there. And we are joined by two incredibly wonderful people in the retail industry.

    [00:09:28] Vicki Cantrell, how you doing? Vicki? And Ron Thurston.

    [00:09:33] Ron Thurston: Hi everyone. Happy to be here.

    [00:09:35] Ricardo Belmar: So we thought we would just kind of kick things off by talking a little bit about the first couple of events that have started N r F week this year starting with Vicki, with your event. Last night as of when we were recording this, the vendors in partnership awards ceremony.

    [00:09:49] Why don't you give us a, a quick recap of some of the highlights.

    [00:09:52] Vicki Cantrell: Oh, I'd love to. It was really an amazing night. Um, we, uh, I started this thing three years ago [00:10:00] and last night I think we kind of crossed a threshold because the message that I have dreamed about is really taking hold.

    [00:10:07] And it's about how we do business, not who does business with who. And really about problem solving, not solution selling, and. The things that really resonated with me last night and the things that people come up and say to me have to do with the fact that I say that, you know, people buy from people, they don't buy from companies.

    [00:10:30] Um, the gratitude that people had when they had to kind of put together their nominations and they realize. They took a breath and said how far they've come and they were able to recognize their teams. These are all the relationship aspects, um, that flowed through the night. Aside from that, it was a beautiful night, beautiful venue.

    [00:10:51] So much love in the room. We sold out. 

    [00:10:54] Jeff Roster: congratulations. 

    [00:10:55] Thank you.

    [00:10:56] Ricardo Belmar: a big achievement. Yeah.

    [00:10:57] Jeff Roster: I kind of liked it when I could move around a little bit. 

    [00:10:59] Vicki Cantrell: I know [00:11:00] you do.

    [00:11:00] Jeff Roster: so you know,

    [00:11:02] Ron Thurston: there were people here today are

    [00:11:03] Jeff Roster: quite as easy moving around this, time,

    [00:11:07] Vicki Cantrell: but uh, yeah, so, uh, we're really thrilled with the evening and, uh, a lot of great buzz and I just believe, I always thought I was pushing a rock uphill to take away this, this aspect of buyer, seller.

    [00:11:21] Yeah. But you know, it's that rock is moving. And so I'm thrilled.

    [00:11:27] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I, I, I, I like the way you put it because I really feel like your event, uh, so nicely demonstrate that it is a relationship.

    [00:11:35] It's not just buyer seller. Right. Right. It's a partnership between what we're all collectively trying to 

    [00:11:40] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah. Yeah. Everybody in the room is equals and that's what makes this the most special party. And, and people are not tired. You know, they're, this is their celebration. This is the celebration for the people that actually run this show and, uh, are gonna go through a grueling four [00:12:00] or five days that's gonna make or break their year.

    [00:12:03] Right. And why not. Let's celebrate for what they bring to the industry and what they allow us all to do.

    [00:12:12] Ricardo Belmar: Yep. I'm well said. Well said. Ron, what's your impression so far at like, I, I guess I would call this day two of nrf,

    [00:12:18] Jeff Roster: It's day two for us. I don't know about anybody

    [00:12:20] Vicki Cantrell: for sure.

    [00:12:21] Ron Thurston: a good one

    [00:12:21] Ricardo Belmar: for everybody, but for us,

    [00:12:22] Ron Thurston: you know, I had the, I had the, I've known Vicki for I think 15 years, so we go way back Tor Tory Birch years.

    [00:12:30] Um, and Vicky was generous enough last year to invite me to give out an award to retailer's favorite and this year I was nominated. So it was great to just be there and to be, even though I'm not a vendor, I feel like I know so many of the vendors. I've been a retailer, I have so many friends in the room.

    [00:12:48] It's just a joy. It's a joy to be there. And, and you're right, I think it's early. Everyone dresses up. Yes. You know, by Tuesday I have this feeling, you know, we'll, I'll be wearing jeans and

    [00:12:58] Vicki Cantrell: Right. It's sneakers. [00:13:00] Hundred

    [00:13:00] Ron Thurston: don't care anymore. But, um, it's a beautiful. Beautiful. 

    [00:13:05] Vicki Cantrell: my feet are already cooked, but, and I'm only on day one and this is a, this I have not factored in, so I, I gotta,

    [00:13:12] Ricardo Belmar: We're, we're all still learning

    [00:13:13] Jeff Roster: No sensible shoes then,

    [00:13:15] huh?

    [00:13:15] Vicki Cantrell: I have some

    [00:13:18] Ricardo Belmar: you, you can't get enough sensible shoes, I

    [00:13:20] Vicki Cantrell: That's true. 

    [00:13:20] Ricardo Belmar: Takeaway I have from that Yeah. No. No matter how much you try. So we're also all here on day two at one of my other favorite events of the week. RetailROI's Super Saturday. Uh, I was excited to be able to hosted this event at the Microsoft office in Times Square.

    [00:13:37] Um, Jeff, I think you wanna, sh you had some stats you'd like to share maybe on how we did

    [00:13:42] Jeff Roster: Well,

    [00:13:43] very well.

    [00:13:46] Ricardo Belmar: that's,

    [00:13:46] Jeff Roster: that's analyst speak for, Hmm. I think we were well over $320,000. It's, it was the,

    [00:13:52] Vicki Cantrell: the

    [00:13:53] closer to three 

    [00:13:54] Jeff Roster: Three 50. It was the second biggest year revenue wise. Um, the other [00:14:00] observations, uh, crazy energy. So I would agree with, um, you know, as, as, as somebody that was at, uh, Vicki's event, the energy was off the charts. That was the big speculation, um, that I was testing. You know, the, in the, the run up to N RF series I was doing is, what do you expect?

    [00:14:14] You know, and we were talking about make sure you have, you know, masks and, and all this and be sensitive to who people, you know, whatever. And that's, that's all that advice is all still. But, uh, I think, I think people are ready to rock and roll and the energy's off

    [00:14:27] Ricardo Belmar: The energy's there, right.

    [00:14:28] Jeff Roster: they're definitely wanna be sensitive if people are still have, have whatever issues, but, uh, solid energy.

    [00:14:33] We kind of got a sense of that. Maybe Wednesday, Thursday you could just start, I could start seeing the emails confirmed for, uh, v I p and definitely, definitely today for sure. This is day two and tons of energy. People wanna, you know, re reconnect. Um, I dunno about you guys, but, um, I've bumped into at least 10 people that I've known virtually

    [00:14:58] Right. For years now, who I [00:15:00] believe I have a legitimate relationship and I'm like,

    [00:15:04] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, no, that, that's

    [00:15:05] Vicki Cantrell: that's so true.

    [00:15:06] Ricardo Belmar: so, right Ron, Ron and I have now, I don't know, known each other I,

    [00:15:11] Ron Thurston: couple years.

    [00:15:12] Couple years now. Yeah.

    [00:15:13] Ricardo Belmar: we, this was the first day we finally got to meet in person.

    [00:15:15] Ron Thurston: true. It's really true. 

    [00:15:17] Vicki Cantrell: So I'm shocked because as, as well as Zoom does things, people look different in person,

    [00:15:25] And like somebody walked in who I've had probably 15 zooms with and choose about a foot taller than I expected. She walked in and I thought, and so you don't recognize, you know, it's, it's really something. There's gonna be a lot of that this, this

    [00:15:40] Ron Thurston: there will be

    [00:15:41] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah.

    [00:15:42] Ricardo Belmar: no, no doubt. No doubt.

    [00:15:45] So what's

    [00:15:47] everyone thinking now that we've, we've kind of had a taste of the energy after a couple of events. The, the full-blown show starts tomorrow. So what is everyone thinking? The vibe is gonna be on the show floor.

    [00:15:59] Ron Thurston: Mm-hmm.[00:16:00]

    [00:16:01] Vicki Cantrell: I would say that, um, because of this energy and, and what I'm hearing just in a few conversations of today and yesterday is, uh, and people are actually saying that, you know, the pandemic, so we're ready to get back out there.

    [00:16:16] They're using this kind of language and this is solution providers, and for them that means get back out there. I wanna go to events, I wanna pick and choose different types of events. I. You know, more involved in different types of things. And today we heard about two different vendors who are now heavily involved and didn't know anything about roi.

    [00:16:38] So when you, when you think about a little bit, right? You said that, oh yes, but, but you know, you just, because they are now. Wanting to be involved in new things, new ways, get back out there. I would say the watch phrase is get back out there and that's what we're gonna see on the floor that people are gonna be looking to [00:17:00] like, am I up to date on technology?

    [00:17:02] Let me stop at all these booths to really feel like I'm connected again. Yeah, that's what I think. 

    [00:17:08] Ron Thurston: And I think because there's been so much conversation about all the new ideas and all the new technology, yeah.

    [00:17:14] You actually need to touch and feel it. Yeah. Similar to shopping in a retail store, I think I'm excited to go down, you know, innovation. Lane and what are all these brands bringing? What are, what's happening? What are some big new ideas? Yeah, and you know, a lot of retailers, and I'm sure we'll speak about the Rethink retail bash coming up, but the minute I posted of, you know, hey, rethink retail is having this, the amount of responses that I received of like, I'd love to go, I'd love to go.

    [00:17:41] Yes. The willingness and desire to reconnect is powerful.

    [00:17:46] Ricardo Belmar: Powerful, yeah. Yeah, that's

    [00:17:47] right. That's right. So, well since you brought up the, the rethink retail that we're, I think we're all going to be at, uh, Monday night. What, what other, so day one, official day one, I'll call it right. For NRF Sunday [00:18:00] tomorrow.

    [00:18:00] That's on day two. Um, anything else anyone is excited to be going to, of the remaining

    [00:18:07] Vicki Cantrell: I'm sorry, but I can't not talk about rock and roll retail. I, I mean Yep.

    [00:18:14] Ricardo Belmar: I'm with you on that one.

    [00:18:15] Vicki Cantrell: That's, that's the other thing where retailers are so embedded in different fun areas of life. Yeah. Okay. Yes. They do charity work.

    [00:18:24] They go on trips. Mm-hmm. , they play music. They make a band, they

    [00:18:29] Ron Thurston: and it

    [00:18:30] Ricardo Belmar: comes together

    [00:18:30] Vicki Cantrell: together here, and it all comes together here.

    [00:18:32] Ron Thurston: Wow. So fun.

    [00:18:34] Ricardo Belmar: for that one too. That's another, another Monday, late evening. Oh my god. Activity.

    [00:18:39] Vicki Cantrell: Yes. And then of course the Retail Retailer Insiders

    [00:18:43] Ron Thurston: was just gonna say that one too. Yeah. Yeah. It'll be my first year attending that.

    [00:18:47] It'll be fun. You ready? Get ready. That's, that's all 9:00 PM on a Sunday night. A lot of

    [00:18:51] Jeff Roster: tie at that one. That's a little more raucous for sure. Um, very good. Um, lot of people, um, you know, so it's, the [00:19:00] energy is clearly here.

    [00:19:01] There's no doubt about it. The um, As ugly and hideous as Covid was, it clearly was a stimulant to, to innovation. I mean, we tracked that on this week. I think you did it on retail razor too. The, the, you know, I mean the number of BOPIS uh, setups were just off the charts, right? We now realize low code's, a real unique strategic advantage, uh, be able to move faster, more nimbler.

    [00:19:20] And so I think what we're gonna see is. I don't wanna say an explosion of innovation, cuz I would argue, I mean I've been tracking it for 20 years. It's, it's, I, I, I don't think things just explode, but they accelerate and the ability to innovate. And the fact that startups three or four or five years ago really weren't even, I mean, Vicky, when you were there, I mean you were just starting to bring the startups in.

    [00:19:42] They were always there. They were. I mean, I live in Silicon Valley. We've been doing startups really since Hewlett and Packard got together in 1938. So we're not new to startup. , but all of a sudden the industry has said, this is this giant opportunity to, to um, showcase this in this innovation has always been [00:20:00] going on.

    [00:20:00] That's why, you know, the big companies have, are, have been, uh, making acquisitions, but now we're, we're featuring these people and this is the, I mean, the heart of of businesses. These and some young entrepreneurs, a lot, not so young entrepreneurs, but that energy and they're being featured now and it's just.

    [00:20:19] And it's just gonna be, I think it's gonna be a celebration of innovation, is maybe the way I'm gonna 

    [00:20:24] Vicki Cantrell: it, Jeff, you know, I also wanna say something about innovation. That that overused word. Okay. And because when you say innovation, everybody thinks tech innovation. Mm-hmm. . Okay. But what the last few years have shown us is that innovation is across the board, innovation on how you speak to each other, innovation on how you.

    [00:20:45] teams work together. Innovation on how you approach something. By the way, you wouldn't, low-code wouldn't have such a, a presence if there was an innovation in how you do things, not just the tech. [00:21:00] And so people have really changed how they do business and that requires innovation of thought and innovation of mm-hmm.

    [00:21:10] how you use your people.

    [00:21:11] Ron Thurston: and Agreed.

    [00:21:12] Vicki Cantrell: You know, because retailers have to be like super agile.

    [00:21:16] Ron Thurston: Yeah. And, and it's only as effective as the adoption normally, which has to happen in a store.

    [00:21:23] Vicki Cantrell: Oh boy. Isn't that the truth? 

    [00:21:24] Ron Thurston: That's the truth.

    [00:21:25] Vicki Cantrell: That's it, 

    [00:21:26] Ron Thurston: there's so much 

    [00:21:27] new, there's a lot of, I'll say this, there's a lot of people who develop technology that have never worked in retail. And so there's Yes. I know it's a bold statement, you know, just gonna say it, know, 

    [00:21:40] Jeff Roster: We've got story. We got a whole podcast where, where we could talk, tell stories. Central office. No, it's not a central office. It's called a store. Please change that on your slide deck. I catch a lot of that. And you still see it at this store

    [00:21:53] Ron Thurston: You do. I mean, it's the 50% want to quit their job working in retail stat. I

    [00:21:58] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, right. Yeah.

    [00:21:59] Ron Thurston: it's those, [00:22:00] and so I think there's this whole concept again of what does the store need.

    [00:22:05] Ask the store. Right, right. Before you go and develop technology. Right. And there are, um, there's a solution that will be in the innovation aisle this year called Reflex, and they're doing on demand staffing. Yes. And so this is an actual need that is. In integral to the success of our industry. Yeah. To say that we need on-demand gig economy, style retail workforce, right?

    [00:22:29] Because the workforce is demanding it. They're demanding flexibility. So here's someone that's innovating this idea. Yes. And coming up with new technology. So don't just create something because you think it's a good idea. ask the people who need this technology and how they'll use it. So why I'm such a big Yoobic fan who were, you know, also nominated last night.

    [00:22:50] Yeah. They, they really listen to what the stores need. Yep. Stores and restaurants need, and it's, that's why the adoption's so high.

    [00:22:59] Jeff Roster: I'll [00:23:00] tell you a little secret. Um, there's a bunch of CIOs that the first question they ask a tech vendor is, tell me what you think of my store? 

    [00:23:07] Ron Thurston: That's a great question. 

    [00:23:08] Vicki Cantrell: Yes. 

    [00:23:08] Jeff Roster: want, you want to know

    [00:23:09] Ron Thurston: who

    [00:23:09] Jeff Roster: many vendors could wash out right up there? 

    [00:23:11] Vicki Cantrell: Yep. 

    [00:23:11] Jeff Roster: A

    [00:23:11] lot. A lot.. 

    [00:23:12] Ricardo Belmar: So these people 

    [00:23:13] Vicki Cantrell: have so basic,

    [00:23:14] hundreds, 

    [00:23:14] Jeff Roster: if not thousands of dollars to maybe fly travel, prepare for a meeting, and they did not go to the physical store 

    [00:23:22] Vicki Cantrell: mm-hmm.

    [00:23:22] Jeff Roster: and make some observations.

    [00:23:23] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:23:24] Jeff Roster: and, and it's just like, you know, it's just like a crocodile, just ready to pounce cuz the, you know, the cio Just first question, tell me what you think and, and it's not a trick question. No, I was in your store. It seemed busy, it seemed cluttered, it seemed really good. I liked the lighting. I did, I, it, it's easy,

    [00:23:41] Ron Thurston: Yeah.

    [00:23:41] Jeff Roster: you got to, you're telling me you're gonna try to do and you don't know their business and that's the point you're making and that's valuable 

    [00:23:48] Ron Thurston: really valuable. I, I asked that question often of management candidates, you know, and my office was right here in Times Square. There were six intermix stores in the city. Tell me the story you're in. Yeah. And [00:24:00] the the question could end. Yeah. You know, very quickly. Yeah. And so you're right.

    [00:24:04] Yeah. It's like, do your homework, learn what's necessary, learn what's important, and then help. Right. You know, help us be better because of it.

    [00:24:14] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I mean, I, I, I think that question is so powerful as to your point, RO I've used that myself being on the vendor side in a meeting with a group of retail executives, or I've asked them, well, More from a wanting to learn perspective. I said, well, tell me about your store. Tell me the last time you were in a store and what you thought were the biggest challenges.

    [00:24:33] And I was always surprised. Half the time I asked that question, I couldn't get an answer because I was, had a room full of people who couldn't remember the last time they had walked to their own stores. So I think that's one, to me, it was one of the most simplest basic things that everybody in the industry can do is just, you know, Go visit the store.

    [00:24:50] Yes.

    [00:24:51] See what's going on. Ask the people that are there,

    [00:24:53] what's 

    [00:24:54] Vicki Cantrell: wrong. So simple. Right.

    [00:24:55] So simple. so simple. 

    [00:24:56] Ron Thurston: simple. You know,

    [00:24:57] Ricardo Belmar: know? Well, we, we heard some examples today, right?

    [00:24:59] Vicki Cantrell: [00:25:00] Right. Sharon Sessions from From

    [00:25:01] Ricardo Belmar: Sharon. Yeah, true. From the Undercover, undercover 

    [00:25:04] Vicki Cantrell: Boss

    [00:25:04] Get to the source. It's that simple. , 

    [00:25:08] Ron Thurston: and

    [00:25:08] maybe it's not in New York City, you know, go, you know, as I have traveled across the country this year, I, I would be confident to say a lot of those stores in the, the heartland of this country have never been visited by an executive can guarantee it.

    [00:25:24] Yes. And so maybe get out of la, New York. Right. And go visits the flagship store, the low volume. Yeah. Not just flag low volume, you know. 

    [00:25:34] And look for those opportunities Yeah. That are available just by asking questions. 

    [00:25:40] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:25:40] Vicki Cantrell: Yep.

    [00:25:41] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I think there'll be a lot of those questions hopefully be asked over the next few.

    [00:25:45] days.

    [00:25:45] Ron Thurston: Yeah,

    [00:25:46] so too.

    [00:25:47] Jeff Roster: So what do you think the big buzzwords for the show are gonna be? 

    [00:25:51] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, that's a great question, Jeff.

    [00:25:53] You know, every nrf I I come to, it seems in recent years though, always start with, I'm sure this is the year every vendor's gonna [00:26:00] talk about ai. Mm-hmm. I, I still kind of chuckle a little bit. I forget which year it was, when it seemed like every time I turn around the expo floor, there was a booth with a robot in it and then, and now I want to kind of walk through and say, where did all the robots go? Yeah.

    [00:26:11] Jeff Roster: they're working, they're in the stores. Apparently working. I guess maybe,

    [00:26:14] Ricardo Belmar: I don't know. I don't know. I mean, I, I'm actually kind of interested to see what the buzzy words are going to be this time. You know, we we're kind of coming out of a year where the first half of the year, the big buzz was all about Metaverse.

    [00:26:27] Mm-hmm. . I don't, I don't expect that to be the one. I think there'll be some, I mean, I, I still expect to see some web three discussion maybe.

    [00:26:34] Ron Thurston: Mm-hmm.

    [00:26:34] Ricardo Belmar: I think there's definitely gonna be a lot of, 

    [00:26:36] maybe new applications. I'll, I'll put it that way, to ai you know, certainly things talking about pricing, I think that's a.

    [00:26:44] Vicki Cantrell: seems to be a lot of conversation around pricing.

    [00:26:46] Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly.

    [00:26:48] Ricardo Belmar: I expect to hear a lot about returns management. Yeah. Just given where we're at, you know, that being a, a solution

    [00:26:54] Jeff Roster: I agree a hundred percent. 

    [00:26:56] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Um, yeah.

    [00:26:57] Jeff Roster: just because it's so [00:27:00] unsexy. but it's, you know, returns are where profits go to die.

    [00:27:05] And yet, if we're gonna talk about being sustainable, I mean the, probably the least sustainable process on the planet is returns.

    [00:27:11] Ron Thurston: Agreed. 

    [00:27:11] Ricardo Belmar: Right, 

    [00:27:11] Jeff Roster: Just

    [00:27:12] you ship you ship thing 8,000 miles or however you process it, you got it out. and it's coming back and it's coming back in a far be worse condition than it left.

    [00:27:21] And it is a mess. And you're touching it again and every time you touch, you're hanging another dollar on that thing. Yeah. So if we can figure out how, and, and there were some great conversations today, like, you know, maybe we need to deselect some customers and I, you know, if we're gonna be serious about being sustainable.

    [00:27:37] Yeah. Why are you returning so much? Is it an issue with sizing? Which it clearly is. technology. Uh, solutions. They're, they're starting to become some, you know, AI models and, and 3D models and all that stuff. I mean, there's a lot of things that we can look at, but if somehow we can say, how do we, you know, how do we not return 50% or 60% of stuff?

    [00:27:57] That's a huge 

    [00:27:59] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. That's A huge one. [00:28:00] Yeah. 

    [00:28:00] Jeff Roster: Um, so I love that. So, re returns, I, I'm, How might debate with you a little bit on Metaverse. We'll have to settle up afterwards, but I'm much more of a fan of immersive commerce, which our friend Michael Zakour has, has 

    [00:28:11] Vicki Cantrell: that. Yeah. So we

    [00:28:12] Jeff Roster: can, we can talk about, uh, we can talk about augmented reality and not talk about, you know, getting

    [00:28:17] Ricardo Belmar: virtual

    [00:28:18] Jeff Roster: you know, 

    [00:28:18] Ricardo Belmar: part. Well, I'll, I'll tell you. I, I will. Concede one point on, on 

    [00:28:23] Jeff Roster: one 

    [00:28:23] I'm getting one, 

    [00:28:24] Ricardo Belmar: oh, you'll get one today. . Ask me again at the end, at the end 

    [00:28:27] Jeff Roster: I will 

    [00:28:27] Ricardo Belmar: You'll, I know you will, I know you'll keep, you'll hold me to that

    [00:28:30] I, I would say the, the one, because I know there are sessions about this, so that, that's why I'm gonna bring it up. And I've already talked to some folks about it and I know I see it with our customers, with the partners I work with. One really strong use case for Metaverse is digital. Um, especially with, uh, the consumer goods brands that we work with there, there's lots and lots of interest in that because you can just have, if you're building the digital twin, right, you have your entire operations modeled that you can play around with.

    [00:28:58] Come up with new operations, [00:29:00] new products, without ever having to touch anything physical and incur the cost for that. And you'll know upfront, now I built it in that digital twin. Now I know what the outcome's gonna be before I build version So I think.

    [00:29:10] Ron Thurston: that's

    [00:29:11] Ricardo Belmar: In my mind the most valid use case today,

    [00:29:14] today.

    [00:29:15] Cuz I know you're looking at me, Jeff, and, and you're thinking there's more to it than that.

    [00:29:18] Jeff Roster: Oh, I'm waiting. I'm,

    [00:29:18] Ricardo Belmar: I know, I know. You're, you're finding, I know you're waiting the pounce on me for that one, but I'm gonna say that's today's use case for metaverse. All the other ones I think, I don't know if it's this year.

    [00:29:28] I think they'll come. I'll, I'll agree with you on that one. It it's coming, but I don't know that it's, this year.

    [00:29:32] Vicki Cantrell: This has, this is in that same category of how much you have to pay attention. You have to be paying attention. But c, come where we are economically and where we are, it's going to be, I'm going to pay attention and I'm, but I'm also understand that no bright, shiny objects.

    [00:29:51] Right. Okay. And that's where it is still, you know, it's still that,

    [00:29:55] Ricardo Belmar: but you get some of the

    [00:29:56] core core pieces.

    [00:29:57] I think that to me is the, the key for some of these. And that's why I [00:30:00] keep bringing up the digital twin

    [00:30:01] Vicki Cantrell: Well, just like ai, 

    [00:30:02] the same core pieces,

    [00:30:02] you need 

    [00:30:03] Ricardo Belmar: pieces, right? 

    [00:30:04] Vicki Cantrell: You 

    [00:30:04] Ricardo Belmar: need that

    [00:30:04] fundamental

    [00:30:05] Jeff Roster: And that's why 

    [00:30:06] Ricardo Belmar: so you can build on, that's 

    [00:30:07] Jeff Roster: why immersive commerce is a superior word to Metaverse cuz you can get those pieces and you can kind of loop it. Cuz we, as analysts, we have to have something to hang that framework on. Cause we gotta study, we gotta survey it, we gotta forecast it.

    [00:30:19] You ain't forecasting Metaverse? Cause that's nonsense. 

    [00:30:21] Vicki Cantrell: Right? Right. 

    [00:30:22] Jeff Roster: Right? Um,

    [00:30:22] oh, it's, uh, $22 trillion. Okay. I picked what, it's ridiculous. What's that based on? But immersive commerce, you can break out ai, well you can break out AI's foundation, you can break out virtual reality, augmented reality, all these components.

    [00:30:34] And now you can build

    [00:30:35] a, you can build a deal. And I think that's probably a far better way for us to talk about it. And there's absolutely zero energy, pro or con around that 

    [00:30:44] Vicki Cantrell: Right.

    [00:30:45] Jeff Roster: And, uh, you know, unfortunately, I think the guy out in my, part of the, the, you know, states maybe kind of mucked up that word just won't say who

    [00:30:53] Ricardo Belmar: just a little low,

    [00:30:54] Jeff Roster: but, um, but no, I, so, so, we'll, so we'll have to, we'll have to, we'll have to square up, but I'm, I'm thinking [00:31:00] augmented reality, um, we've had it, we've had it in aviation for 20 years. 

    [00:31:03] Ricardo Belmar: Uh, yeah. 

    [00:31:03] Jeff Roster: I, trained in simulator, so pieces are not there. And I'll tell you the other thing that's the most interesting about this thing is not so much what Nike's doing in whatever the virtual reality world I think the best example is what Alta Cosmetics doing.

    [00:31:18] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:31:18] Jeff Roster: Um,

    [00:31:19] and

    [00:31:19] and they've got with Roblox and they've got a lot of young girls with moms playing in what sure sounds like a metaverse thing. So now you're taking it away from the boys playing world at war, and now you've gone, you know, a far bigger thing and there's clearly value there.

    [00:31:34] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah. And so

    [00:31:35] Jeff Roster: that, that's when I heard that story. And it's actually even a better to share, but.

    [00:31:42] that's telling me, okay, now we've, now 

    [00:31:45] Vicki Cantrell: something 

    [00:31:46] Ron Thurston: Yeah, and Altas such a great story because in every way, in every way, because it's accessible. You see it in, you know, the hundreds of locations, you see it all over the country.

    [00:31:56] You have a very in-store touch feel, experience it as [00:32:00] you want. You have a metaverse digital immersive version of it, and I think that's, that's what great retail is. It's that incredibly immersive way to think about it. However you choose to experience it, 

    [00:32:13] Jeff Roster: go. That's the point where you're not taking this entire heavy vision and you're just taking out the pieces. I mean, you look at like the smart mirrors that they're doing, where they're actually, they've actually invested in a, in an AI startup to be able to analyze skin. It's sort of started off as almost as a medical, uh, strategy.

    [00:32:29] To determine skin cancers and all of a sudden, hey, well you know what, if we analyze skin, then we can better, you know, this is obviously not my area of expertise, but uh, I paid for a lot of this stuff with a daughter and a wife, , 

    [00:32:39] I mean, that's heavy duty technology to involved in that business. And the other thing why I, I just love having Ulta on, on the pod is they have an investment firm 

    [00:32:51] Vicki Cantrell: Yes.

    [00:32:51] Jeff Roster: Okay. We're not talking about Walmart or Amazon now, we're talking and, and they're not small retailer. I mean, they're over $8 billion. So they're high, you know, they're not high. They're a [00:33:00] major tier one player, but they've set up an investment firm, so, they can go invest in the startup community for, for technologies that are appropriate to their business.

    [00:33:07] And they've already made some acquisitions. And now, so, you know, the problem I've always had is an analyst using Walmart. And now Amazon is an example. Everyone says, oh, you know, you're giving permission to people not to pay attention. Oh, I'm not Walmart, I'm not Amazon. you're $2 billion retailer.

    [00:33:22] You're a $4 billion, you do this. Or if, if you don't understand, somebody else 

    [00:33:27] is 

    [00:33:27] Vicki Cantrell: right. 

    [00:33:27] Jeff Roster: And that's, you know, we're in the business of being in business and so, innovation, how you look at it. That needs to be in a mindset. Now, I'm not saying spend top dollar, but I am saying start thinking about your business differently.

    [00:33:40] And most importantly, and this goes back to a bus ride, I don't know you remember in Honduras where we talked, started talking about the era of an intentional innovation.

    [00:33:47] Vicki Cantrell: Uh, that

    [00:33:48] absolutely right.

    [00:33:49] Absolutely 

    [00:33:49] Jeff Roster: You know, that was mid, that was more than a few moons ago, uh, I remember you and I were sitting there just kind of going back and forth and I was just expressing my frustration that the fact that retailers never, ever wanted [00:34:00] to talk about the mistakes they made from a technology perspective is, as an analyst.

    [00:34:03] That was so difficult because that's how we learned. Well, and then you said, you know, Appropriately no one wanted to, you know, seem like they failed. And then, you know, being a Gartner and having colleagues in my direct practice that were in other verticals, when I would share that with them, they'd say, are you crazy?

    [00:34:18] Our greatest successes in manufacturing were failures in theory. I mean, the 3M example of, uh, of um, uh, yellow, uh, stick notes

    [00:34:27] that was post-its Yeah.

    [00:34:28] it. That was like a failed glue experiment that, uh, that a guy that was in a choir wanted to be able to have some kind of a glue that he would stick so he could have his notes for, for singing and, oh, that glue that didn't work was perfect. We're, we're one of the few industries that don't celebrate, or at least didn't celebrate our failures. And that I think needs to change. And so if I can get 

    [00:34:50] retail, senior retail leadership to say, you guys have to push the envelope and you have to be okay.

    [00:34:56] Break the bank by failing, but fail fast, which is in Silicon [00:35:00] Valley.

    [00:35:00] We live by

    [00:35:00] Vicki Cantrell: right? Yeah.

    [00:35:01] Jeff Roster: Fail fast.

    [00:35:02] Ron Thurston: Yep, 

    [00:35:02] Vicki Cantrell: you know, it's different now. The mindset is different now. Before there was a fear of that because it always touched the customer, and the customer was delicate. Now, today's customer very different. Today's customer lives, breathes and sleeps and eats with.

    [00:35:21] Just

    [00:35:21] mess in, in, in every retail experience, in every restaurant.

    [00:35:27] You know, life, schools, education, politics, they live in a mess. Okay? So they are going to, and they don't make decisions about where they shop and who they shop with based on whether it was a perf. Perfect 

    [00:35:41] experience, right? 

    [00:35:43] They make it for different reasons. So again, you know, hate to beat a dead horse after 40 years of beating a dead horse,

    [00:35:51] It starts with the customer and it's not about the customer who's walking in your store. It's about understand the human, what is happening to this [00:36:00] human these days? What is their life like? What is their family like? Understand them. And then apply your brand to it. Not here's my brand. Where do I find a person who will like 

    [00:36:11] that?

    [00:36:11] Ron Thurston: could not agree more?

    [00:36:12] Vicki Cantrell: It's never been that way, but nobody, it just, it takes a long time to get that. And now the consumer, as they always do, is forcing. Mm-hmm. that so they are messier. So the retailer can be messier and be forgiven. And when the retailer says I was messy, I'm sorry.

    [00:36:34] have at it. That's great. 

    [00:36:35] Jeff Roster: Isn't that a better customer experience though? I'll, I'll, I'll

    [00:36:37] Vicki Cantrell: go. It is. 

    [00:36:38] Jeff Roster: if I, as a, if I as a retailer make a mistake, but then I fix it. Isn't that better?

    [00:36:43] Vicki Cantrell: Yes.

    [00:36:44] Jeff Roster: To that customer. Cuz then they, that's one that's, they perceive value in that they perceived honesty cuz it is in fact being honest. 

    [00:36:50] Ron Thurston: Right, right.

    [00:36:51] Jeff Roster: And you have a, you have a better, I think you have a better experience

    [00:36:54] Ron Thurston: You do. It's authenticity and I, I would say the customer appreciates it. But so does the store team. The store [00:37:00] team knows when you've done maybe not the right thing. So if the company comes, senior leadership comes back and said, you know what we.

    [00:37:08] We did make the right decision. We didn't spend money where we should have, and this is what we're gonna do differently. What that creates is retention for the store teams, which is probably another R word, along with

    [00:37:19] the recession word, which I think will also come up this week. Um, I think employee, employee retention.

    [00:37:25] I know I'm host, I'm, I'm doing, um, um, a panel tomorrow on that. I think this idea of what do brands need to do to hire, retain, and attract great talent. Yeah. It's, it's another 40 year like dead horse. To your point, Vicky , that you and I have been having this conversation also for many years, but it's, it's actually never been more important.

    [00:37:48] Yeah. And it's really hard to say that in 2023, it's critical. It's it, it will make or break the future of any brand not retaining their talent.

    [00:37:59] Vicki Cantrell: It's funny how it has [00:38:00] to do with people 

    [00:38:00] still all still after

    [00:38:02] Ron Thurston: still. It always comes back too. Yeah. Yeah. Which It's really good, but it's really, but it's messy.

    [00:38:08] I love Vicky's word because managing humans is messy. Yeah. And it's hard, and which is also why I believe. Many people don't want to talk about it because it's really hard. Yeah, yeah. And it's emotional and there's, that emotion is bigger than ever. So that

    [00:38:26] the ability to lead people in an inspiring way has never been harder.

    [00:38:31] Yeah. 

    [00:38:32] Jeff Roster: Yeah. You know what I like about that phrase, messy is, you know, one of the, one of the Metaverse technologies or uh, one of the 

    [00:38:41] Ricardo Belmar: Immersive

    [00:38:41] immersive commerce

    [00:38:42] Vicki Cantrell: technologies

    [00:38:42] Jeff Roster: technologies is live streaming. And now it's a done deal. It's a done deal in China.

    [00:38:45] It's a done deals Asia PAC, and we just think we're now beginning to experiment with My only worry about that is if we try to over, over produce the live streams and I'll, the example I'll point to is B N H photo,

    [00:38:59] Ricardo Belmar: [00:39:00] Mm-hmm.

    [00:39:01] So 

    [00:39:01] Jeff Roster: n h photo, A lot of this equipment is from B&H Photo 

    [00:39:05] Vicki Cantrell: right. I'm sure

    [00:39:05] Jeff Roster: look around. And so for, for folks who dunno who that is, it's just literally the best, uh, camera shop in the planet, I would argue.

    [00:39:13] Um, and it's, people are passionate. They're, the salespeople are exactly everyone you would want them to be

    [00:39:19] Passionate about the product, use the product for our photographers. And so when you go in, you have this amazing experience. Well, I used to, you know, cause I live in California and there there's only one store and it's in right here in Manhattan.

    [00:39:31] Um, you used to have to call in. , which was okay. And then they started doing text chat, which is actually okay, cuz then they could send links. Well, somebody said, why don't we just put a ca, we're a camera store, put a camera in there, . And the first one I did was like two years or whenever it was. And it was not 

    [00:39:47] a good, I mean it was a good experience, but it was not a fancy, I mean, it was like, This is not a great stream, but the content was crazy and I'm like, this is fantastic.

    [00:39:57] The guy's showing me this and he's, he's pulling out a [00:40:00] $3,000 camera lens and a 10,000, uh, Kathy, I put that one back. Okay. I didn't buy that one. . And then he brought over a cheaper way and I'm like, I'm like, this is crazy. And then, you know, Michael Zakour comes into your, your, uh, clubhouse and then he starts talking about what's happening in an Asia Pac.

    [00:40:14] And I said, oh, that's novel idea. Why don't we look east? And then I go, wow, okay. So my only worry about that is if we try to make it too, If we over produce it, I think was the word I was looking for. And just, just let it be authentic. Let it be

    [00:40:28] Vicki Cantrell: authentic, messy, let it be. Yes.

    [00:40:31] Jeff Roster: you were the one Vicky at, when you were at Tori Birch, I think you were talking about, were at, at some conference you were talking about like a, a fashion show or something you did where you had nutty response, I mean, crazy responses, right? 

    [00:40:44] Vicki Cantrell: Yes, because we, we did this test where we had such brand advocates. 

    [00:40:49] Okay. 

    [00:40:50] And it was. Path. I can't remember the name of it. But anyway, we went out to our customers and we made them part of the process novel.

    [00:40:59] Here, [00:41:00] here's here's four buttons. Which one do you like? Okay. And they feel so in the know. Yeah. Look, people again, when I, I, I just bang that drum about, it's about people. It's about people, and it's about community. They belong to a community. People wanna belong. That's what they want. Right? Whatever it is, two people, 10 people, 5,000 people, and they became part of an insider community by being asked their opinion. It was extremely powerful. Yeah. And so, Yeah.

    [00:41:33] Jeff Roster: I've never, I've never forgotten that story. 

    [00:41:35] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah. 

    [00:41:35] Yeah. It's just 

    [00:41:36] Ricardo Belmar: and just

    [00:41:37] so I'll add on to that with one interesting point from one of the sessions today, from the, uh, the gmu consumer study that, that, uh, Gotham has been on the show many times.

    [00:41:45] Uh,

    [00:41:47] Preview.

    [00:41:47] Jeff Roster: I haven't him on my show yet.

    [00:41:48] How 

    [00:41:49] Ricardo Belmar: I don't, well, I don't know 

    [00:41:50] Jeff Roster: oh man,

    [00:41:51] here

    [00:41:51] Vicki Cantrell: I can, I 

    [00:41:52] Ricardo Belmar: can yeah, maybe Vicki can pull some strings for you, Jeff, and get 'em on your. But he's, he's

    [00:41:56] kind of been a 

    [00:41:57] Vicki Cantrell: me. Maybe that would help.[00:42:00]

    [00:42:00] Ron Thurston: Wow.

    [00:42:00] Ricardo Belmar: be it. But he, 

    [00:42:02] Jeff Roster: is is full contact 

    [00:42:03] Ron Thurston: likes me too. He gives my book to his students. He likes 

    [00:42:06] Ricardo Belmar: me too! 

    [00:42:06] That's right.

    [00:42:06] Yeah. . Here you go. So I think you, you've missed the boat on that one.

    [00:42:10] somehow, Jeff. 

    [00:42:11] Jeff Roster: Yeah. Yeah. 

    [00:42:12] Ricardo Belmar: So, but he did mention, uh, he had one of those points, if you remember, on, on the data he previewed about,

    [00:42:18] Consumer pain points about having a, a, a store associate that wasn't helpful. It just wasn't around right when they wanted them to be.

    [00:42:25] Right. That one's, and the reason I bring that one up is because, you know, you, you've been saying this now for, for half of our recorded time, Vicki, about the, that messy connection. Mm-hmm. . Right. And I think, Ron, you may remember, we've talked about this before, with that store associate being the live streamer, because they're the one that has the connection with the customers that shop at that store, which is exactly Jeff's story with B and h. Right? Because you, you know that store , you are a passionate fan of that store. So how could they not get you to buy something through a live stream showing you what it is, what the [00:43:00] product is, when you can't be there in the store to physically touch it?

    [00:43:03] So I think that,

    [00:43:03] that, to me 

    [00:43:04] Vicki Cantrell: it doesn't have to be overproduced

    [00:43:05] Ricardo Belmar: No. 

    [00:43:06] It

    [00:43:06] just has to be 

    [00:43:06] Jeff Roster: that's, the

    [00:43:07] Vicki Cantrell: because it's people working with people.

    [00:43:09] Jeff Roster: and that's the key. And that's, I'm, I'm, I'm, you've gotta tweet out that term messy. If not, I'm stealing it because we need to make that, yeah. The standard. Don't screw this up. Right. Don't overproduce, sorry. Digital media folks, don't overproduce this.

    [00:43:26] Vicki Cantrell: Perfect Is the enemy of the good? Yes. good.

    [00:43:29] Jeff Roster: Make it clean, make it authentic. Make it honest.

    [00:43:33] Ricardo Belmar: And I think the best proof point, and we were all talking about this before. The mics were on, about how many people have we run into on the second day that we're here, that we all felt like we're talking to them for about 10, 15 minutes.

    [00:43:43] And so suddenly you realize this is the first time we're meeting in person , because we've only ever seen each other on Zoom calls and teams calls, and all these we're always just bit of square on

    [00:43:52] a screen

    [00:43:52] But we've done this for so long, now we feel like we have this existing connection 

    [00:43:56] Ron Thurston: it's true.

    [00:43:57] Ricardo Belmar: And, now we're in person.

    [00:43:58] But you know, like [00:44:00] Ron, we, we hadn't met in person before.

    [00:44:01] Ron Thurston: until Last night. Last night. Mm-hmm. . 

    [00:44:03] Ricardo Belmar: So that's, to me is the proof point, right? Yeah. you know, that kind of a, I'll call it sounds negative, but I don't mean it to be low production value livestream because it's authentic and 

    [00:44:15] Vicki Cantrell: Right.

    [00:44:15] Ricardo Belmar: It's messy 

    [00:44:16] Right, 

    [00:44:16] Vicki Cantrell: right. That's why there's such tremendous buzz. Now that you say that, that's what what I'm thinking, it's a combination of seeing the people you've known forever and being so thrilled.

    [00:44:25] Mm-hmm. to see that person. And at the same exact time, seeing a bunch of people that you've never seen in real life, only digitally. So you have this like, uh, information overload. 

    [00:44:38] Ron Thurston: right? Yes, it's true.

    [00:44:39] Vicki Cantrell: I have a, a statement I used to say like, when we were trying to implement systems quickly and let's get it done, I used to say, don't worry, be crappy.

    [00:44:48] Mm-hmm. . Okay, and so . So now we could say, don't worry, be crappy because it's authentic.

    [00:44:55] Ron Thurston: That's true.

    [00:44:56] And

    [00:44:56] Vicki Cantrell: add the authentic word. Yeah. 

    [00:44:58] Ron Thurston: Authentics a

    [00:44:58] good word for sure. It's,

    [00:44:59] [00:45:00] Yeah.

    [00:45:00] I think the challenge though, with some of that, that I've seen is it's just sometimes one more thing for the store to do. Yeah. So I actually think part of the conversation this week I'd like to hear is, what are you taking out?

    [00:45:13] Yes. Not what are you adding to?

    [00:45:15] Because it's, they've been asked to do BOPIS. They've been asked to actually do more returns from web. They've been asked sometimes then to livestream. They've been asked to chat from the website. Mm-hmm. , they've been asked to do many different things in stores. Yeah. What are you taking away so that the store can be that much better?

    [00:45:32] What can you handle maybe in the office? How do you use staffing in a different way? How do. Hire people just to do livestream. Yeah. You know, so there's a lot of different ways, but adding more because you're in love with the new technology and the store's. Like what the hell?

    [00:45:48] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah. Sharon made such a good point about that today.

    [00:45:50] Ron Thurston: She did. She 

    [00:45:51] said

    [00:45:51] Vicki Cantrell: you just don't realize that you're, that you're kind of piling on. Okay. 

    [00:45:56] And you know, when's relative when you get to, um, [00:46:00] economic hard times and people are being laid off this, one of my least favorite sayings in the world is do more with less. Okay. And I've always said, no, that's not what you transitioned to.

    [00:46:13] you, do less with less is what you do because there's always something to give up that does not hurt you. You just aren't thinking, you're not having innovation of thought. Okay. You're not looking at those things, those ham theory things that say, oh, why do you do that? Because I've always done it. So do less with less.

    [00:46:32] Mm-hmm.

    [00:46:33] Ron Thurston: Mm-hmm. . And if

    [00:46:33] you have less, maybe your budget is different in 2023. Right. What are your most important priorities Exactly. That are great for your team and great for your customer. And maybe you can't have everything you always dreamed of. Mm-hmm. , maybe this is not the year for it.

    [00:46:47] Right. And that's okay. , it's okay. Yeah. But you should still come to an NRF show, learn what's happening. To your point, Jeff. Mm-hmm. don't be one of those brands that didn't pay attention and we're seeing the news, those that are not making it right. They didn't [00:47:00] pay attention. So pay attention, but maybe you don't execute everything in 2023.

    [00:47:05] Right. And I think it's a thought process that I'm not sure all retailers do. I think they come here sometimes looking for that, all the ideas, and then want to execute all of them. You know, 

    [00:47:17] Jeff Roster: Ron, you're the only voice in this industry for the store associate. I, I'm trying to think of, right.

    [00:47:22] Is there anybody out there that would've just said what you just said, ? And the answer is no. I never would've said it because it it, I mean, I'm not a, I, I mean, I grew up in a store. I, well, I grew up with a World War II combat veteran father who, who would say you will absolutely do more with less. Because I did during the Great Depression, but he's not the most scalable person, so you're the only voice that's really even speaking to that.

    [00:47:45] And how important is that? What can you take off the plate? Because it's just, it's crazy. 

    [00:47:50] Ron Thurston: crazy. And it, it doesn't always mean that you want to do less. Sometimes you need to do more or just, but I think it's, it, it's that point earlier. [00:48:00] Listen, learn. What does the customer asking for? What does the team need?

    [00:48:04] And then make a decision based on what you've heard, not the other way around. Right? Don't come to a conference call or to a, a big video call and say, guess what? I went to NRF and we're going into the Metaverse and you have, please don't say it, it's 300 stores on the call going. Okay. I can't even be on this call right now because I need to go ring some customers up, you know?

    [00:48:25] So I think there's this sometimes like misconception. Yeah. Um, and thank you for saying that, Jeff. I just 

    [00:48:31] think 

    [00:48:32] Jeff Roster: I just, it's just, you're such an important voice out there and you're the only voice out there. 

    [00:48:36] Ron Thurston: Okay. Yeah.

    [00:48:38] And which is odd to me, you know, as someone just because I, I came from stores, but if 80% of your revenue.

    [00:48:45] You know, comes from the store. 80% of the conversation should be about stores, in my opinion. Yeah. And it's not, it's not always the sexiest part, and it's the hardest 

    [00:48:54] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:48:55] Jeff Roster: know 

    [00:48:55] what? I have never

    [00:48:56] thought of that

    [00:48:57] Vicki Cantrell: before. Yeah, 

    [00:48:58] Ron Thurston: yeah.

    [00:48:58] Jeff Roster: Because I am willing to [00:49:00] bet in technology, 60 to 70% of the conversations around e-commerce.

    [00:49:05] Because it's all technology driven.

    [00:49:07] Ron Thurston: right? Yeah. I heck,

    [00:49:08] Jeff Roster: don't know how we would analyze 

    [00:49:09] that. Yeah. But I, it's gotta be that case. I've never thought about it in that regards

    [00:49:12] Ron Thurston: before and most of those people don't come from stores. Right. So I think that there's this sometimes, you know, and I do believe in this, and sure, Vicky would back me up.

    [00:49:23] Sometimes there's a lack of knowledge about the store because if you don't come from the store, you're uncomfortable in the environment. Yes. You actually don't know what questions to ask

    [00:49:31] Vicki Cantrell: And you think it's easier than it, than it is. 

    [00:49:33] Ron Thurston: That's exactly right. Right. So I would host often, you know, executive teams, or I would say to the office here in Times Square, I'm gonna be in Madison Avenue every Tuesday morning at nine.

    [00:49:43] before you come in, meet me at the store to 150 people in the office, right? I'll be there every day. I will answer all of your questions. I will walk you through the store. Uh, you don't have to do anything except listen to the team and I'll lead the conversation. I could buyers, planners, finance [00:50:00] it, everybody.

    [00:50:01] My, my own store team would come and listen and learn, but I did all the work for them cuz what happens?

    [00:50:08] people go into stores, they don't actually know what questions

    [00:50:10] Vicki Cantrell: Not a clue. 

    [00:50:11] Ron Thurston: Right? They

    [00:50:11] don't know. It's a way like, how's your business? Well read the flash. Like, you don't need me to do that. So I think that there's this almost fear, there's a fear of the store.

    [00:50:22] Yeah. 

    [00:50:22] Mm-hmm. that I'm personally trying to break down. 

    [00:50:25] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:50:26] Jeff Roster: Yeah.

    [00:50:26] Well, you know what's funny about that? So I, I really, a once I left my dad's operation and went off to college, um, I really was never in the store spot. I was in distribution and what do we have every year in distribution? We had a thing called inventory. And guess what we used to get to get, oh, we got all the people from the front office coming to.

    [00:50:43] Ron Thurston: help us 

    [00:50:44] Jeff Roster: and guess what we did about three days after -Unfix or fix all the help. So I, I was just thinking that, you know, I could really relate to

    [00:50:53] that. The last thing

    [00:50:54] you wanna see is, hey, we're from the upfront office, 

    [00:50:56] Ron Thurston: we're here to

    [00:50:56] help. 

    [00:50:57] No, they, they're very proud that they work in stores on black Friday. [00:51:00] They're exactly, they're very proud of

    [00:51:01] Vicki Cantrell: Yes.

    [00:51:01] Ron Thurston: Holding down the

    [00:51:02] Jeff Roster: turmoil. 

    [00:51:05] Ron Thurston: No, it's true.

    [00:51:05] Yeah.

    [00:51:06] Jeff Roster: Let's

    [00:51:07] put people, uh, in a high stress environment where everyone's on edge.

    [00:51:11] Oh, it's funny. 

    [00:51:12] Ron Thurston: Yeah.

    [00:51:12] Jeff Roster: So funny.

    [00:51:14] Oh, yay.

    [00:51:15] Yayy. 

    [00:51:15] Ricardo Belmar: Well,

    [00:51:15] I, I'm gonna throw out one last thing for us to get some opinions on because maybe the, the final piece that I think we are going to hear more about, because the couple of conferences I've been to last year, this came up, uh, and it's been an, a pattern in a trend, and that's retailers doing more B2B kind of services than just selling to consumers to, because it goes right, you know, it's a high margin. Helps with the revenue might not be a lot, certainly not in the kind of com transactional volume you get from your stores, but taking things that you're good at as a retailer, bundling them up, selling it to other retailers. I'm seeing a lot of that. I, I think I, I have to believe we're gonna hear and see a good amount of, of noise about and buzz about that at N R [00:52:00] NRF this week.

    [00:52:00] Ron Thurston: Hmm.

    [00:52:01] Vicki Cantrell: I think that, uh, there's a couple themes there that, that play into that. Okay. First of all, it's, this is the best industry in the world and the most resilient, and the most creative, and the most agile because you are dealing with that customer and every day is different. For a retailer, every day is different.

    [00:52:21] I don't know how else to say it. It's the truth, right? So since every day is different for, uh, a retailer, okay. In this world, nobody is doing anything by themselves. You can't be successful by yourself. This is why I talk about partnerships, right? Because what we've seen is the tech world coming together, spot solutions.

    [00:52:47] Let me add on to this. I can help you. , look at the partner networks. They've grown and grown and grown like crazy. Right? Right. And and same thing with people thinking more partnership oriented. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . [00:53:00] I've just gotten to the point where no one can do it alone. Yeah. And they shouldn't. Yeah. And I think that is at crux of this is, yeah, look, if I can't build it, let's go find it.

    [00:53:11] Let's work together. So

    [00:53:13] Ron Thurston: yeah, I would agree with that.

    [00:53:15] Jeff Roster: Well, I've always said, I think technology and retail is much more expensive than it needs to be because everything is competitive advantage, so we can't share anything.

    [00:53:22] So everything has to be custom developed. You don't see that in other 

    [00:53:25] Vicki Cantrell: Nope. Yeah, 

    [00:53:25] Jeff Roster: in manufacturing, they're all, I mean, the CEOs are all 

    [00:53:28] engineers. You're right. 

    [00:53:29] I mean, they just, they just like, okay, if, if we all design a better drill rig, let's just compete on who can get the, you know, raw materials to market.

    [00:53:37] Let's not compete on, Hey, I've got a, you know, A unique drill thing. I mean, it's just, it's crazy. When I, when I used to try to explain how retail operated inside my Gartner colleagues in other verticals, it was like they would look at us like, you are out of your mind, you're out of your minds. 

    [00:53:55] Ron Thurston: Um, wow.

    [00:53:56] Jeff Roster: and I get why we are, I mean, in some ways because we, I mean [00:54:00] we are the, the, we saw it in March and April of 2020 how thin the line of civilization is, it's one, it's one grocery, uh, supply chain. And if that supply chain would've crumbled, if, if the truckers would've said, Hey, listen, everyone's cutting and running and we're gonna cut and run too, we'd be, we'd be having a different conversation right now.

    [00:54:20] Vicki Cantrell: Yeah, 

    [00:54:21] Jeff Roster: Um, but, you know, let's just. Let's just maybe compete on doing better business and not necessarily on, I've designed conveyor some ways, you know, super unique. We'd be a better industry if we would would do that. We'd be, we'd be buying technology at a cheaper rate

    [00:54:37] Vicki Cantrell: Yes, sure. Yes, yes.

    [00:54:38] Ron Thurston: And I would argue that we're much more similar than we are different, of course, in many ways. And I think that's also often missed, that everyone thinks that their business is so special. Yeah. And, and they're not, you may you sell something different.

    [00:54:52] Yeah. But the core of actually how this industry operates is not that different. And I do think we have to be more open to learn. Open to [00:55:00] listen, open to, you're right. Maybe it's, I, I buy it instead of developing it. Right. I don't hire someone or you do it in a popup and I learn how to do it uniquely. But I do think we, we.

    [00:55:12] There's something, I don't know, Jeff, if you agree, there's something that we feel in this industry for every brand I've worked for, that no one does it as well as we do. 

    [00:55:21] we're the best at it. And therefore I'm not gonna share my secrets. Exactly. And I, I'd like to like break that down a little.

    [00:55:27] Jeff Roster: They're not secrets though, that's the thing. It's, it's like, you know, it's like, what is it? Um, uh, the emperor has no clothes. I mean, come on. It's, it's

    [00:55:35] software. The people that benefit from that. And it's a bit heresy cuz these are some of my clients, but it's the consultancies who. Get, get, have gotten away with, you know, mass customization. And so if we could just absorb technology, and by the way, a lot of software companies say, listen, just accept code at base and you know, you, you'll drive the cost down.

    [00:55:53] We'll be able to refresh what, and, you know, so it's, it's that whole mind shift

    [00:55:57] Vicki Cantrell: Look, remember, people are always gonna protect their [00:56:00] turf.

    [00:56:00] Jeff Roster: Hundred percent. 

    [00:56:01] Vicki Cantrell: And when you think, not, not just from a brand perspective, but think about the infrastructure that's inside retail, where you have the heads of departments, okay? and, and when we tried to break down those silos okay. And get the communities to work together, cuz they have to do that to, to, have a great business.

    [00:56:21] It's, people are very protective about their, whatever it knowledge, 

    [00:56:26] their, their unique knowledge, their power, their salary, their, 

    [00:56:30] you know, it's, it just goes to your core. And again, when you understand the person, you can deal with it in a, in a better way, but, You know, where that comes from is the protection of not what's mine.

    [00:56:44] And, and then I've seen where each person thinks about it differently. A marketer's gonna be extremely protective.

    [00:56:51] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm. 

    [00:56:51] Vicki Cantrell: a digital person is much more open and free about, so, , how you were raised in the industry is really [00:57:00] affects how you react and how you are seeing all the groups together.

    [00:57:05] They all have, CIOs have a very different personality. I'm not saying anything up or down, I'm just saying they all have a different

    [00:57:11] Ricardo Belmar: personal, different 

    [00:57:12] Jeff Roster: That's right,

    [00:57:13] That's fair 

    [00:57:13] Vicki Cantrell: They all totally valid and why and reason of how they grew up in the industry and now they're all. . Everybody has to work together. So it's, you're getting to the core of humanity.

    [00:57:26] Ron Thurston: Hmm. Wow. That's deep. . It is

    [00:57:32] Jeff Roster: and only only day two . 

    [00:57:33] Ron Thurston: That's true. 

    [00:57:34] Ricardo Belmar: And we're just getting started. Yeah. 

    [00:57:36] Jeff Roster: But we're we're just getting started.

    [00:57:38] Ricardo Belmar: That is probably a good place to wrap it up. What do you think, Jeff? 

    [00:57:41] Jeff Roster: Fantastic

    [00:57:41] I think so 

    [00:57:42] kick 

    [00:57:42] off I think so. Some of us have a San Francisco 49ers game to go watch 

    [00:57:46] Vicki Cantrell: along. Yes. .Some of us have to go to the next thing. . 

    [00:57:50] Ron Thurston: That's Yes, we 

    [00:57:50] Ricardo Belmar: right. There's a lot of

    [00:57:51] next things. for the next few days,

    [00:57:54] Well,

    [00:57:54] Vicky, Ron, thanks so much for joining Jeff,

    [00:57:57] and myself to kick off this series. I can't think of two better [00:58:00] people we could have asked to join us for a great retail conversation.

    [00:58:03] Jeff Roster: yeah

    [00:58:03] Vicki Cantrell: This was very fun. 

    [00:58:04] Jeff Roster: We need 

    [00:58:04] Ron Thurston: there, yeah,

    [00:58:05] Jeff Roster: like a little mini Ron podcast studio that we could tow 

    [00:58:09] Ron Thurston: tell 

    [00:58:09] Ricardo Belmar: right? That's 

    [00:58:10] right. 

    [00:58:10] Jeff Roster: Little foot wide Airstream. That would 

    [00:58:12] Ricardo Belmar: the mini air stream to go

    [00:58:14] Ron Thurston: It's, it's more glamorous than this little conference room, that's for sure 

    [00:58:17] Jeff Roster: tell you gosh, Ron, you 

    [00:58:20] I can't see an Airstream. I, every Airstream I see, I think of you. And there's an Airstream dealership in Morgan Hill too. And I, every time I go by that, I go, Ron over there, good good job, man.

    [00:58:30] Ron Thurston: Thank you. Just Thank you

    [00:58:32] . Thank you Thank you very much. 

    [00:58:34] Jeff Roster: well done 

    [00:58:36] Ron Thurston: thank you, Ricardo.

    [00:58:36] Ricardo Belmar: Thank you. Thanks everybody. Jeff, until the next one. 

    [00:58:39] Jeff Roster: Yeah, day three. 

    [00:58:40] Ricardo Belmar: Let's

    [00:58:40] day three. Let's 

    [00:58:40] go.

    [00:58:41] ​

    [00:58:48] Show Close

    [00:58:48] Casey Golden: Welcome back everyone. Damn, you didn't oversell that intro. Ricardo. Killer discussion. I didn't even notice how long it was. It just had [00:59:00] me wanting more and wishing I was in the room.

    [00:59:04] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, well, like I said, it, it's definitely getting my vote right now for best episode we've ever done. I mean, there, there, there's something to be said for capturing these kind of conversations in person, in a really small room among friends, and just a completely open discussion.

    [00:59:18] Casey Golden: Well, I hope our listeners and viewers enjoyed that. I know I did. I really wish I had been there, but next time.

    [00:59:26] Ricardo Belmar: Next time. Yep. And I'm, I'm sure this will not be the last time that you see this group get together for a chat. You can count on that and we'll, we'll, we'll bring them back for, for more in the future.

    [00:59:36] Casey Golden: So for those of you paying attention, if you caught our other Rethink Retail friend in the background, well, if you've guessed it, Julia, Raymond . You'd be right. Julia was watching through the glass outside the conference room, taking a few pics. I bet she didn't expect you guys would be there so long either.

    [00:59:58] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, that's so true. [01:00:00] That is so true. I'm sure she didn't think it would be quite that long. . Well, Casey, I think this wraps us up for the first part of our N R F Live mini-series.

    [01:00:09] Casey Golden: Indeed it does. Stay tuned everyone for the rest of the series and be sure to catch the fun not only on the podcast, but also This Week in I nnovation hosted by Jeff Roster. Ricardo, that's a wrap.

    [01:00:23] 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. Wanna know more about what we talked about today? Take a look at the show notes for handy links and more deets.

    [01:00:46] I'm your co-host, Casey Golden.

    [01:00:48] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to learn more about us and stay connected, follow us on Twitter at Casey c Golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure and follow the show on Twitter, at Retail Razor, on LinkedIn, [01:01:00] and on our YouTube channel for the latest updates and content. 

    [01:01:02] I'm your host Ricardo Belmar.

    [01:01:05] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [01:01:06] ​

    [01:01:06] 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. 

    1h 1m | Feb 3, 2023
  • S2E9 - Top 10 Predictions for 2023

    It’s a new year, and after wrapping up another NRF Big Show, we felt it was time to share our Top 10 Predictions for retail and retail tech in 2023! What will retailers focus on this year? How will consumer shopping and buying habits change? From the evolution of retail media networks and loyalty programs, to web3, the metaverse, and ChatGPT, what technologies make the cut and deserve your attention? Hosts Ricardo and Casey cut through the clutter and give you their top 10 trends for 2023 in this episode. See if their predictions match yours and let us know on LinkedIn!

    Plus, our new segment, Retail Razor Data Blades returns, with another special data insight from Georgina Nelson, CEO of TruRating, learned from their 100,000’s of point-of-sale customer survey polls. In this episode learn how aligning with consumer values still plays a critical role in consumer buying decisions!

    News alert #1: The Retail Razor Show was a finalist for The Retail Voice Award at the Vendors in Partnership Award ceremony during the NRF Big Show 2023!

    News alert #2! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023, 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock, and a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2023. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, Overclocked, and Tech Lore, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S1E9 Top 10 Predictions for 2023

    [00:00:00] Ricardo Belmar:

    [00:00:20] Show Intro

    [00:00:20] Ricardo Belmar: Hello and welcome to season two, episode nine of The Retail Razor Show. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:26] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome retail show listeners to retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike.

    [00:00:38] Ricardo Belmar: Well, Casey, this is the moment many of our fans have been waiting for.

    [00:00:43] It's time for our top 10 retail predictions for 2023, and as a huge bonus, we are recording live and in person in New York City right after the end of the N R F big show. We're literally sitting face-to-face and we never get to do that for this show.

    [00:00:59] Casey Golden: never, I [00:01:00] mean, we're always sitting face to face from the shoulders up, 

    [00:01:02] Ricardo Belmar: and a little square on a screen, but,

    [00:01:06] Casey Golden: I can't think of a better way to wrap up NRF than sharing our hot takes live.

    [00:01:10] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. We don't often get to do this live and in person.

    [00:01:13] Retail Razor Data Blades - "How aligning with consumer values still plays a critical role"

    [00:01:13] Ricardo Belmar: But first, it's time for the newest segment of our show Retail Razor Data Blades, where we talk real world numbers and slice through measurable consumer insights. It's a bit like, show me the math so I understand where this data's coming from and bringing us that slicing and dicing of data is Georgina Nelson, CEO of TruRating.

    [00:01:30] TruRating is changing the way retailers track how customers feel against how they spend with an innovative multi-channel feedback solution with an average of 80% response rate from consumers. Georgina will share with us some key data points and offer a bit of insight into what's behind those numbers based on their extensive customer survey data at the point of sale.

    [00:01:48] Casey Golden: Welcome, Georgina.

    [00:01:50] Georgina Nelson: Thank you so much for having me!

    [00:01:52] Casey Golden: So today's Retail Razor Data Blade segment is "how aligning with customer values still plays [00:02:00] a critical role".

    [00:02:01] Georgina Nelson: So, yeah, to that point, we wanted to really find out what was driving consumers loyalty behavior. As you know, as a time when retailers are, are feeling the, the pinch of inflation as of their shoppers. You know, we can often get to this race to the bottom where prices are slashed in desperation to, to try and win that customer loyalty.

    [00:02:25] And so we, we asked some simple questions as to what was driving that loyal behavior. Interestingly, we found just over smidgen, over 50%, so 51% of consumers said they were influenced by their loyalty card and by money off vouchers. , but a staggering 77% said what actually drives their behavior and their loyalty is whether their retailers' values resonate with them and they affiliated with it.

    [00:02:56] And so I think in this modern time of loyalty, [00:03:00] you know, that sends a really clear message for retailers to understand what values do their customers really affiliate with and how can they market those to them and ensure that that's understood and really build that, build that bond with their consumer base.

    [00:03:17] Casey Golden: Yeah, really backs up the, you know, communicate your brand and your values. Stop talking about price.

    [00:03:24] Georgina Nelson: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And you know, even just recently, we've still seen that over 75% of US consumers. They do want to buy ecologically sound products. They do want to buy organic when those choices are available. And so it's really to retailers, you know, don't scrimp on these initiatives just because times might be toughed because consumers are still are looking for those.

    [00:03:50] And looking for that stance in values to make their choices.

    [00:03:54] Casey Golden: Yep.

    [00:03:55] Ricardo Belmar: Georgina, it seems like for this to really be [00:04:00] beneficial for the retailers that are going to, like your data, is suggesting that they need to lean into this and, and not stop investing. They'd have to really understand how to communicate that to their customers to, to make it really worthwhile and beneficial.

    [00:04:14] Georgina Nelson: Yeah, I, you know, I think strategies need to be, it's not like a blanket one, one email, one shot in the dark. We really need to have a nuanced understanding of the customer base and what drives that loyalty. And then that needs to be communicated across a website, across product placements, across brand messaging.

    [00:04:36] And I think what's important is that, you know, all customers are not alike. You know, there's gonna be a mix. And what we see is that mix is more, you know, is obviously very prevalent at a store level. In terms of each store is a snowflake with different customer segmentation and really beginning to understand that at a store level, how you know, and testing and asking [00:05:00] customers now how have your, you know, have they understood the green initiatives which you are pushing?

    [00:05:07] Do they understand the drive on organic produce in, you know, understanding that awareness and then being able to tailor. Better coms and better marketing is absolutely key. And and we recommend doing that at a granular store level.

    [00:05:23] Casey Golden: I couldn't agree more. Well, that does it for another edition of Retail Razor Blades.

    [00:05:28] Georgina Nelson: Does this mean I get to keep the segment intro music every time? I'm on the show.

    [00:05:34] Ricardo Belmar: I, I think we can arrange that

    [00:05:36] Georgina Nelson: Thank you so much both.

    [00:05:38] Casey Golden: Absolute pleasure.

    [00:05:39] So now let's get right to those predictions. Ricardo, what would you say there are any underlining themes that we'll see across our 10 predictions?

    [00:05:53] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I think there are at least two big themes. One would be the impact of the economy, of course, [00:06:00] that's having on retailer investments and consumer shopping habits, and I think the second is frankly, gen Z.

    [00:06:05] We'll see how Gen Z's shopping and buying habits are gonna have a bigger impact this year than they have in past years.

    [00:06:11] Prediction #1 - Private Label take over

    [00:06:11] Casey Golden: Let's dive into number one. Private label is taking over our shelves. You all know that I love a good brand and I'm a label of label lover, but a lot of products have become brand neutral with the help of the homogenization of marketplaces, like Wayfair and Amazon marketing convenience over the brands that they carry. Many private label brands are actually in our cupboards without even knowing it.

    [00:06:41] Margin is king, especially during these uncertain economic environments. Retailers need the most control over the product assortment and the bottom line. Finding a lot of Gen Z doesn't have the brand loyalty in CPG that a lot of other generations do. 

    [00:06:58] Ricardo Belmar: yeah, I think that's [00:07:00] probably a key one right there too. Especially after a year of inflation consumers want lower cost options, but everyone still wants high quality. Nobody wants to go down in price and then get something that's just too cheap and not good enough. But I think the big difference that you just pointed out, it's, gen Z doesn't seem to care about brand loyalty, especially not with, with CPGs, might be a slightly different story if we're talking apparel or home goods. But I think at the end of the day, unless you're buying on the high end luxury side of home goods, most people don't care what the brand name is on it. It's just whatever looks good and feels good to them. When it's apparel, it all depends on who we're talking about.

    [00:07:35] Department stores for sure, probably would love to have a third of their sales or more be their own private labels, but the fact is a lot of 'em haven't traditionally been good enough for most buyers, but Gen Z doesn't seem to care.

    [00:07:46] Casey Golden: No. I mean, gosh, Shein did like a billion dollars in sales 

    [00:07:49] Ricardo Belmar: yeah, exactly.

    [00:07:50] Exactly. So , so, so what does that say? So yeah, I think that that's a, that's definitely a, a good number one to kick off the list. 

    [00:07:58] Prediction #2 - Retail Media Network evolution 

    [00:07:58] Ricardo Belmar: So let me take us to number two, [00:08:00] which for me is, is a big one. And everybody knows I love talking about this topic, and that's retail media networks and how they're gonna evolve. 

    [00:08:07] This year it's all gonna be about the, in-store media experience and how that gets combined with all the digital channels to really make a, a good end-to-end media experience that retailers can sell to brands. So, everyone likes to debate this a little bit because it seems like a trend and yes, we all know that Amazon has the majority of the share, but the fact is even if a retailer can get one percent, of this total media network share.

    [00:08:33] Those are big numbers and, and they're big numbers that come with big margins, so it really is helpful.

    [00:08:39] for a

    [00:08:40] retailer, and if, if we look at some relevant context to this, I mean, you've got a lot of things that are going on that make this special. I mean, one, there's all the first party data that retailers are getting from these media networks, and that's huge.

    [00:08:51] That lets them deliver really strong return on the a on advertising spend, right? Good ROAS for the brands. And one of the things we heard during nrf, that's a [00:09:00] big trend on this that I a hundred percent agree with. You know, you've got a decline in TV advertising in general. We've got cookies going away and, and we've got just in general, right, the digitization of the store.

    [00:09:10] All this stuff kind of combines to make it super attractive to actually put media bys and advertising at the point at which a customer makes a buying decision. So why would this not increase?

    [00:09:22] And there's even, I think more from that, I mean, you know, people also like to debate where is the, where are these dollars coming from?

    [00:09:28] You know, brands look at all these media networks and as a brand say, oh, do I have to spend now on 20 different retail networks in addition to all the other ads spend? I have? Well, well, maybe they do, but the truth is right, they're gonna shift the spend a little bit. So it, the, the answer is, you know, when you ask where do the dollars come from?

    [00:09:43] Well, pretty much everywhere else, it's not a retail media network. But I think probably the biggest threat is to Facebook or Meta and to Google because it's their ad dollar spend that's gonna go to these retail media networks, Amazon and everybody else.

    [00:09:54] Casey Golden: 100 Percent. They're already, brands have already and been shifting these [00:10:00] budgets and not by a hundred thousand dollars, but like numbers.

    [00:10:04] 875,000 for those month

    [00:10:06] Ricardo Belmar: it's big numbers. It's big numbers. And when you roll in, the more advanced networks, they're gonna have tie-ins to streaming tv. They're gonna have connections into, players like Netflix, Hulu, and everybody that are gonna tie into it.

    [00:10:18] And it's all comes down to audience data, right? And, and when you start applying this in-store, let's remember that 85 percent of all retail sales still happen in stores. So this isn't just an e-commerce play anymore. This is about doing what, you know, Doug Stephens and others used to talk about the store as, as theater, the store as media.

    [00:10:36] Well, this is the year that we're really gonna start to see that because of these retail media networks and, and I think the last thing I'll add to it is, The end goal isn't just, I think the media network. The end goal is for the retailer to introduce a collection of B2B services. They can sell to brands or, and even to other retailers.

    [00:10:54] So, sure, Walmart's the obvious first one to do it because of their size and scale. But that doesn't mean that, Best [00:11:00] Buy, couldn't do it or, or any other large enough retailer couldn't take exactly what they're doing in these services, bundle 'em up and sell 'em as a package. They're gonna have so much more first party customer data.

    [00:11:11] Every brand wants access to that.

    [00:11:13] Casey Golden: I agree. And everybody's spent a lot of money over the last decade on creating their audience and all of their customer data. So this is just another monetization strategy that they can go ahead and not put it all just into the individual products that they're selling.

    [00:11:29] Ricardo Belmar: That's right, that's right. And, and I'll just repeat again, one reason why I think this is such a, a major thing for the year, the margin is better than just selling products to consumers. So while it might not be, you know, it might only be a fraction of your total. Sales volume, it comes with a good margin.

    [00:11:45] So it just helps the financials for the retailer. 

    [00:11:48] Prediction #3 - Returns management is a top IT investment

    [00:11:48] Ricardo Belmar: So speaking of things that help the financials for the retailer, let's go on to number three. And I think that's all about returns management becoming a top IT investment. [00:12:00] Particularly powered with AI-based solutions because every retailer has an issue with returns right now.

    [00:12:05] It's not just because of of growing e-commerce buy, it's because it's just the new habits that consumers have had to buy more than what they need in return, what they don't after they decide. But this has caused massive logistics challenges for retailers. Huge cost impact. And it's one thing to say we just need to get consumers to not return things.

    [00:12:25] But the fact is you can't just change those buying habits for, for consumers, you need to really look at it and say, well, what can I do to prevent the cause of the return in the first place? So, yes, we all know that this is hardest to do in apparel because we still have issues with fit. There's new fit tech coming around.

    [00:12:43] We've seen some players in that. More and more of that is gonna be made available until that gets solved it's gonna be a real challenge to, to improve this situation in apparel. But if we look at any other product category, I think the key is retailers investing in solutions that are going to help them understand why the [00:13:00] returns are happening and then make adjustments.

    [00:13:01] And it might even be in some cases, as simple as your product page description on your e-commerce isn't good enough. And people are buying it by, because without realizing it's not what they want in the first place,

    [00:13:11] Casey Golden: a hundred percent better images, I'm seeing more 3D images, I'm seeing more videos available on the products. And I think that was pretty much the, one of the main topics that I heard from over the last week has all been about returns.

    [00:13:26] We need to control our returns, we need to reduce our returns. And I think, you know, we still have to remember, too, every single time that package hits the doorstep and we pick it up, we get a dopamine hit, We really don't need what's in the box. We just wanted that dopamine hit. So there's, you know, there's that, too, 

    [00:13:45] Ricardo Belmar: too there's, that too. 

    [00:13:45] Casey Golden: some consumer buying behavior here that has caused some, a little bit of package addiction.

    [00:13:50] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely. And that has a, a huge sustainability impact. So as we see retailers lean in more into sustainability issues and control than ha controlling that [00:14:00] returns problem is a big, big part of their sustainability process.

    [00:14:04] So, so that's definitely, I think gonna be a huge, again, huge area of investment is this.

    [00:14:08] Casey Golden: Yeah. If you're a brand or a retailer and you have a a 35% online return rate, you're not alone

    [00:14:15] that's right, 

    [00:14:15] Ricardo Belmar: that's right, that's right. And, and that's, you know, at the risk of the new pun intended, but it's just not sustainable to keep having those high return rates.

    [00:14:23] Casey Golden: Not unless you got a 60% conversion rate.

    [00:14:26] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly. Exactly. 

    [00:14:27] Prediction #4 - Store Automation for Frontline Workers 

    [00:14:27] Ricardo Belmar: So I'm gonna move on to number four. Continuing this little mini theme on where the investment dollars are going and technology, let's talk about store automation and how that's going to help frontline workers and store operations. Why?

    [00:14:40] Because the, that labor shortage retailers have had this past year. It's not going away. It's not going away this year. There's still an issue of you don't have the staff that you want, which means you need that store team to be more efficient in what they're doing, more productive, but you also need to retain them.

    [00:14:55] And retaining them means you need to make the environment better and and more [00:15:00] interesting, more enjoyable for them. So what are you gonna invest? When you're gonna invest in technology? Is it help get rid of all those mundane tasks that everybody doesn't want to do because they're not complicated, they're just kind of routine and they're tedious.

    [00:15:12] Find ways to automate and get rid of all, all

    [00:15:14] Casey Golden: mine. We all wanna walk the aisles and do a price change.

    [00:15:18] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly. Which, so, so things like electronic shelf labels comes into play here? I mean, that's not even a new technology, right? It's been around for a while, but because of the cost, no one's had a motivation to put it in.

    [00:15:29] Now we're starting to see a lot more interest in that because it takes that job away from the store team so they don't have to deal with it and they can do more work in front of a customer. Workforce management, right? More investment in shift management. Let your employees manage their schedules.

    [00:15:42] That's what every store team employee wants is flexibility in their schedule. Just give it to them. Put the tools in place, let all your store teams work with a mobile device, have the right tools on it. And then there's new things. We, we've talked on this show before about store associates leading your live streaming efforts from the store, especially in [00:16:00] smaller retailers.

    [00:16:00] There are plenty of associates who are good at this and who probably already have their own livestream effort on YouTube or something on their own time. So why not take advantage of those skills, put those skills to work, which by the way, is gonna make that job more interesting.

    [00:16:14] Exactly. For those story searches. Yeah.

    [00:16:15] Casey Golden: it, it makes it a longer job retention because what used to be like, well, I'm gonna do this for a year. It turns into potentially five years and moving actually into your marketing department, 

    [00:16:27] Ricardo Belmar: right? Which gives you a career path. And the whole goal is to make those jobs, not just jobs, but to turn it into a career path so that this is an area and a field that people want to work in now.

    [00:16:38] And that's is gonna start with this, this new level of investment in these technologies this year.

    [00:16:42] Casey Golden: I agree. I sure know. I expect people to know about the product when we walk up to them. Can't do that if they, they don't 

    [00:16:50] Ricardo Belmar: it. Absolutely. And they gotta have access to the data and the information or, or they, they're, you can't expect them to know everything as the retailers, so you gotta put the information

    [00:16:58] Casey Golden: Yeah, it's gotta be fine.

    [00:16:59] Ricardo Belmar: [00:17:00] Accessible. Exactly. 

    [00:17:02] Prediction #5 - BNPL explodes even more

    [00:17:02] Casey Golden: B N P L. 

    [00:17:04] Ricardo Belmar: Number five 

    [00:17:05] Casey Golden: Explodes or implodes. We'll see. But this holiday, B N P L got a big boost mostly from Gen Z. Regulators have started to look into this in 2022, but the debt this is causing could potentially, catch up in 2023. But we're seeing that they are expanding their businesses beyond their core, buy now, pay later product by launching new revenue channels, implementing new solutions, or even making new acquisitions.

    [00:17:41] To become more than just a BNPL, but to be a marketplace, to be managing customer acquisition and getting more brands and products through as a connection point, I think we'll definitely also see more sustainability and wellness for financial literacy and, and [00:18:00] financial wellness tools to increase that engagement and, you know, potentially mitigating some of the regulatory concerns.

    [00:18:07] But I think we'll, we'll definitely see something here mature as a product and a, and a space in general and could be a better opportunity for more brands to actually be exposed to some new customers and customer acquisition much like a, a marketplace.

    [00:18:27] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I think that, I think that one makes sense. And there's definitely, you know, again, that Gen Z connection o over the holidays for this one. I, I think you're right. We, we kind of predicted that last year.

    [00:18:36] It didn't totally happen the way we thought it would or as quickly as we thought. So I think it's, it's fair we're kind of shifting in a little bit to this year because it, it's just inevitable at this point. I, I think the more this grows, the more attention it's gonna get, the more of the financial stability issues matter for consumers. So it's gonna get looked at. And I think to their credit, right, the BM p l providers that they know this is coming and that's why they're all [00:19:00] kind of protecting themselves at expanding beyond that core. Like you said, Casey turning into marketplaces,

    [00:19:05] Casey Golden: they've changed their narratives. 

    [00:19:06] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:19:06] I mean I think at the end of the day you can kind of say buy now, pay later in of itself probably wasn't an entire business, it was a

    [00:19:13] Casey Golden: It was

    [00:19:13] feature. so Right. 

    [00:19:14] Ricardo Belmar: gotta be part of something else and, and that's what drove a lot of those acquisitions.

    [00:19:18] Casey Golden: it was a feature, not necessarily the, the

    [00:19:20] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly.

    [00:19:21] Casey Golden: And just coming outta holiday, we've got a, and then going into what many would associate as like a recession or an economic downturn. There's a lot of debt sitting out there. There's multiple players.

    [00:19:34] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:19:35] Casey Golden: So 

    [00:19:36] Ricardo Belmar: definitely, definitely.

    [00:19:37] Prediction #6 - CDP explosion

    [00:19:37] Ricardo Belmar: All right, Casey, bring us to number six. 

    [00:19:40] Casey Golden: Well, it's 2023 and everyone's a C D P. A term that, there was a few of us that knew what A C D P was, you know, three years ago.

    [00:19:49] Now its seems to be everybody is a C D P. . And at the same time, nobody knows what a CDP is.

    [00:19:54] Ricardo Belmar: is. . That's right. . It's so true. That's so true.

    [00:19:57] That's so true.

    [00:19:58] Casey Golden: So everyone [00:20:00] is, you know, essentially brands are continuing to build their own from scratch. While the marketplace landscape creates more sophisticated products these consumer data platforms create a persistent, a more unified consumer database and make this data accessible to other systems.

    [00:20:16] Really pulling in from all of these multiple sources, being able to have this, single customer profile and really be able to manage consumer data to support compliance and governmental regulation requirements. This is definitely becoming a bigger and bigger concern over privacy and security, consumer data loss and, and protection in general.

    [00:20:37] It's definitely a high priority for all retailers and brands right now, and even SaaS companies that are processing consumer data. But I think here is where we'll also see a big uptake in more productized solutions coming in with different AI and ML use cases that can be powered [00:21:00] because of the efforts going into scrub all of this data and create these, single API to be able to access it.

    [00:21:10] And I think it's gonna be able to drive a lot of personalization going forward.

    [00:21:16] So I am very excited about this trend.

    [00:21:19] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I, I agree. I agree. And I think you're, you're absolutely right that that , while everybody's either wants to be a CDP or claims to be a cdp, there's still a lot of confusion over exactly what is a customer data platform.

    [00:21:30] When you talk to retailers and understanding what, what can you do with it? What am I gonna use it for, and what's the right solution out there for it? And there are different, different products or different needs, just like in any other category, but this is definitely one that when you look at, like you're saying, anything related to all requirements around privacy and data security.

    [00:21:48] There are new regulations, variations by state, by country you know, it's just becoming really hard to manage all of this. So if you don't have the right platform underneath it all, then how are you really ever gonna comply [00:22:00]with everything? Not to mention, before you even get to how you're using all this data and your own marketing efforts to consumers

    [00:22:05] Casey Golden: Exactly. Just getting it in one place is one thing. Exactly. And being able to make an edit or a change or validate.

    [00:22:11] These are not simple builds.

    [00:22:14] Ricardo Belmar: right? Yeah, yeah. These

    [00:22:15] Casey Golden: heavy 

    [00:22:16] Ricardo Belmar: builds. That's right. 

    [00:22:17] Casey Golden: And this, this is gonna be involv. 40 different other software companies that are plugging 

    [00:22:22] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That's right. That's why 

    [00:22:24] Casey Golden: may or may not be new.

    [00:22:25] Yeah. 

    [00:22:25] Ricardo Belmar: So making the right choice is, is super important. And just making sure you have a good c d p is absolutely critical. Now it's, I think this, what we're saying, I guess we're saying this is the year that it becomes table stakes as you just have to have 

    [00:22:37] Casey Golden: this

    [00:22:38] yes. This is not, also not a fail fast product.

    [00:22:41] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. That's right. 

    [00:22:44] Prediction #7 - Loyalty program evolution 

    [00:22:44] Ricardo Belmar: All right, Casey, give us number seven,

    [00:22:46] Casey Golden: Loyalty. Loyalty. Loyalty programs are definitely going to be evolving beyond a point system or a punch card. I've never seen loyalty take such [00:23:00] a center stage as I have in the, the last probably four months of conversations and going into 2023. Retention, retention, retention, retention.

    [00:23:10] And I think that all kind of goes back to the CPM cost the lack of performance from Facebook ads, the marketing costs lower conversion rates, and really being able to engage your customer. , we're seeing more paid tiers as a new revenue source for a lot of brands to pay more for better service or, or additional perks.

    [00:23:31] And there's the web three evolution for the NextGen loyalty programs. And I think this is very interesting because there are so many. How do you communicate and how do you manage these VIPs online and in-store across different locations? via email

    [00:23:51] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. That's gonna work 

    [00:23:52] Casey Golden: well.

    [00:23:52] Right? You know, I mean

    [00:23:53] Ricardo Belmar: E emails that they're likely to ignore. 

    [00:23:54] Casey Golden: Right? Yeah. I mean, at the end of the day, we really go back to a email communication with our customer, [00:24:00] which is always one-sided. And so managing loyalty programs, potentially just by email not the best utility. And I see a lot of opportunity here with the blockchain and leveraging these different web three types of loyalty programs to manage this much better.

    [00:24:21] And with Unlockables, I think that there's a lot of room here to grow and I think it's one part of Web three that makes sense for retail because we don't have 10 VIPs. , we have 1.5 million globally.

    [00:24:38] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly. Exactly, exactly. I think this is one of our more interesting predictions, as well, but kind of putting it in context, what do you think then of what Starbucks is doing?

    [00:24:48] Casey Golden: I love Starbucks. I've never used a loyalty at Starbucks. I pay full price since I should have bought stock when I was like 10. I should own a

    [00:24:56] Ricardo Belmar: right? . 

    [00:24:56] Casey Golden: So I mean, I think that what they've done is great. I'm a big fan [00:25:00] of the vendor that they're using. Of course, I think we all are right. But I, I love the fact that they just moved on web three and went on with the loyalty program and really focusing on the retention piece because when you are a regular, you are a regular, not for a year, but like 20,

    [00:25:16] Ricardo Belmar: right?

    [00:25:17] That's right. 

    [00:25:18] Casey Golden: You know? 

    [00:25:19] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. We're talking real loyalty. Yeah. Yeah. Yep. And, and we know from, not even considering that the web three. evolution of this, which I think is going to have huge impact. But when you look at the most successful loyalty programs, right, I, I will call Starbucks existing one, one of those.

    [00:25:34] I mean, Ulta Beauty's loyalty program is massively successful. Like huge, almost all of their customers are in that loyalty program. So it'll be interesting to see how they evolve it. But this is, I, I think this is a big one, and, and. . I, I would stress too, you, you mentioned that, the idea of having paid tiers and full membership programs as part of these loyalties, so loyalty is finally becoming more than just a discount.

    [00:25:55] And, and I think now it's, yeah,

    [00:25:56] Casey Golden: And this is a way to actually make it a club tier [00:26:00] and manage it, because otherwise you're managing it literally in email segments,

    [00:26:04] Ricardo Belmar: emails that just get ignored.

    [00:26:05] Casey Golden: You just, they just get ignored. And it's just, it's not scalable solution. And I think that this could be, Really, really compelling to be able to scale one your own loyalty program, but to be able to collaborate with other people's loyalty programs.

    [00:26:20] So what if Starbucks loyalty program communicated to Ulta's loyalty program? And this is where Web three can play 

    [00:26:29] Ricardo Belmar: very 

    [00:26:29] Casey Golden: interesting, is it 

    [00:26:30] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:26:31] Casey Golden: the collaboration's a 

    [00:26:33] Ricardo Belmar: these an, an even more useful and, and valuable club like relationship

    [00:26:38] Casey Golden: Yeah. I'm not exporting my, my email list and giving it to you. It's against yeah, it's against compliance.

    [00:26:43] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. customer data. Yep. 

    [00:26:47] Prediction #8 - Anywhere Commerce vs Immersive Commerce

    [00:26:47] Ricardo Belmar: All right. Let's go to number eight, and this one I'm kind of referring to as anywhere commerce versus immersive commerce. Why? Because we all know that consumers want to transact commerce pretty much anywhere and everywhere [00:27:00] they are.

    [00:27:00] And yes, we, everybody says that all the time. We all know you can sort of, kind of do this with, with mobile. The fact is it's still not quite good enough and not always quick enough to meet your in the moment needs, with just a, a phone or, or mobile device. , so what's new in this prediction is that the context of where you are and how that changes how you would conduct that transaction? It's not necessarily the same process that you want as a consumer if you're in your car or on the subway or walking down the street versus sitting on your couch or sitting at a desk. I mean, each of these has different requirements in how you shop and how you buy.

    [00:27:37] And we've kind of generalized them to date, right? And maybe two or three different form factors. And, that's what we're saying. So, so to me, this idea of anywhere commerce is completely new kinds of solutions coming out. Some of them were at ces, some of them have been just started come out in, in the last year.

    [00:27:52] We'll hopefully be talking to some of those in future episodes this year. But it, it's all about adapting the medium to [00:28:00] work in a matter that still reduces that friction, eliminates complexity and makes it easy to transact commerce for the consumer in that contextual moment. And, and that's not quite the same as just saying mobile solves everything.

    [00:28:11] So that's the anywhere commerce side

    [00:28:12] Casey Golden: I mean, we've really, I mean, how many years have we tried to get live inventory feeds for physical stores to go with mapping, right? I mean, and I, I keep saying this over and over and over again, like when I am, you know, speaking with, with people over the, the evolution of commerce, our physical software is just not digitally native.

    [00:28:35] And so being able to work in real time it's, it's doable. And I think we're, we're finally gonna get to that point where you're gonna know the inventory one block ahead of you.

    [00:28:47] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I agree. I agree. And, and how it's presented to you matters. So you might need to know that inventory, but depending on what you're doing, it doesn't do you any good to be shown an image of it. Right. Or to be shown, how to find it. You just need to be told [00:29:00] that it's there. Yeah. And that's all you need to know in that moment to, to make a decision. So that kind of adaptability, it makes a difference and it has an impact on conversion.

    [00:29:08] So that, I think there's that. So now let's talk about the immersive commerce part of this. So that's the anywhere commerce piece. I like immersive commerce as a new term. And, and I'm gonna just kind of say this sort of for me replaces the broad. Metaverse discussion because I, I kind, if I break out the AR and the VR pieces for metaverse applications and, and look at, you know, how do you actually expect consumers to engage in commerce?

    [00:29:31] I, I still don't think every metaverse example we have now implies that everybody's gonna sit around with a lot of gear on their head and on their hands. And who wants to do that for hours at a time? 

    [00:29:40] Casey Golden: wants, who wants to be responsible for that for society? 

    [00:29:44] Ricardo Belmar: there's that too. So, I don't see that yet happening for just general commerce.

    [00:29:49] I mean, I can see it for, you know, if, if you're, if companies are hiring new employees and they want to do some new employee training and onboarding in a metaverse version of their [00:30:00] headquarters, I think that's a totally applicable use case. That makes a lot of sense when you've got so many people working remotely.

    [00:30:06] But that doesn't mean they're doing it for eight hours a day. It means they might do it for half an hour and then take a break and then come back in another half an hour or, or, or whatever it is. But it's not all day long and I haven't seen enough examples. Yeah, I mean, the whole point to doing this is not just to replicate a store, but to do things that you can't do in a physical space.

    [00:30:25] So we, we had Alan Smithson on here before talking about the mall in the Metaverse, and they're doing it a little differently, which I think is the right answer to enable you to do things that you couldn't do in the physical space, not just replicate it. But again, let's take the, the technology pieces out of it and let's look at, for example, AR. You can create as a retailer a really immersive experience with AR that lets someone understand the product.

    [00:30:46] Feel like they're engaging it, seeing it, feeling it, touching it without actually having it there. You know, this year's NRF had a lot of hologram demos of showing people what outfits might look like. Look, very three-dimensional. That's pretty immersive. I think the one thing [00:31:00] coming out of a pandemic, everybody wants to go back to this experiential retail, and that's where the immersive commerce comes in.

    [00:31:06] But you don't have to do it in the metaverse. So if you're a retailer, you know, where am I gonna invest money? And time and resources to do something that I expect to have a short term impact this year on consumers buy more from me. I think it's chasing those immersive experiences than chasing a brand new thing that the marketing team wants to do in the metaverse.

    [00:31:25] Casey Golden: I agree. And I think it's, it's also too we went with like the metaverse and it's something else and you need to go to it, to I don't know, what was it, say like, decentral land had like 31 user, daily active

    [00:31:36] Ricardo Belmar: something like that.

    [00:31:36] Casey Golden: Where it's just like, okay, maybe the user adoption, it's too far of a bridge.

    [00:31:42] So now everything's kind of coming back into a web two scope. To make it feel more immersive, but it's not necessarily using these technologies that are, are metaverse the way we defined it. I don't know. Or end of 2021 [00:32:00] all of last year. Right, right. You know, that too big a bridge. So now it's kind of changing.

    [00:32:05] So I think it's more about more about what than where.

    [00:32:08] Ricardo Belmar: Right.

    [00:32:09] Prediction #9 - web3 vs metaverse

    [00:32:09] Casey Golden: but it's, I mean, that can lead us into the, the web three versus Metaverse

    [00:32:14] Ricardo Belmar: which is our number nine,

    [00:32:15] Casey Golden: which is number nine. Web three is carving out its space in commerce. While the Metaverse is a marketer's new shiny object you know, where we have this underlining technology.

    [00:32:27] Can provide a more scalable utility and a more secure utility for a lot of different commerce applications. But it's not necessarily the metaverse. And I think that there's been some confusion over last year, everybody kind of figuring out what's an N F T, what's a digital twin, What is phygital, right?

    [00:32:46] Like all of these different opportunities. Where, and then we have the crypto crash So then it's just like, oh, maybe the hype's over. Web three is a definitely, I feel here to stay. Digital twinning has become [00:33:00] much more operational after all of these players experimenting in it last year, and we'll see more mature products and use cases from streaming the operational and production changes for business processes for physical apparel, phygital apparel and really being able to leverage almost another type of infrastructure as we go into more scalable and digital, digital native software solutions. And the metaverse, I see being more of like that new immersive marketing medium where instead of it being a flat Instagram image or a reel or a video this is an opportunity to move from broadcasting to interactive brand experiences becoming the destination.

    [00:33:48] But actually being able to have that fantasy that a lot of brands just can't afford to do in real life, you know? 

    [00:33:57] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I, I think at the end of the day, [00:34:00] Meta and our friend Zuckerberg out there really burst the bubble on, on the excitement to this I think. Everybody thinks that they're just failing by throwing good money after bad. And, and that's soured a lot of people on it.

    [00:34:10] But I agree. Digital twins is probably the, to me, the top use case that comes out of the metaverse. It's got real utility. There are lots of brands using that, especially on, on the CPG side to do a lot of new product development model their, their factories and production lines so that they don't have to.

    [00:34:25] Figure out and spend money in the physical world and to make changes. They'll know before they make the first change, whether it's gonna work or not, and how much it's gonna save by doing the digital twins. So there's real value there. And I think you're, you're right, the web three part of it, you touched on it before on the loyalty program, so that's got real, real world value in that.

    [00:34:41] So we'll see more of it. Yeah, so I think that's definitely web three versus the metaverse. I think Web three is gonna be the winner there this year. 

    [00:34:48] Prediction #10 - Generative AI

    [00:34:48] Ricardo Belmar: So let's move into the last one, number 10, which we would be remiss if we didn't have a predictions episode without talking about all these generative AI solutions that have come up in recent weeks, [00:35:00]whether it's ChatGPT and Dalle-2, all these things.

    [00:35:03] And what does that mean . To me this is, these are cool technologies, these are amazing applications of AI that retailers, just like every other business, are gonna figure out where and how are they gonna make use of it. I mean, you could see , something like ChatGPT being used to help write their marketing material.

    [00:35:19] For example,

    [00:35:20] Casey Golden: like, why did we not just ask the question and. In chat, G P T before the podcast,

    [00:35:26] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, we should, I'm afraid of what it would've

    [00:35:27] told us. , I'm afraid what it would've told us, wonder if would've, we would've matched up to any other ones. It tells us are the, the top 10 

    [00:35:35] Casey Golden: All 

    [00:35:35] Ricardo Belmar: like to know. Okay, so, so yeah.

    [00:35:37] Homework for all our listeners is go ask ChatGPT for the top 10. And my big question, would it list itself as one of the big predictions and big trends for the year?

    [00:35:47] Casey Golden: Right?

    [00:35:47] Ricardo Belmar: right. But if you think. There are tools coming out already to integrate these technologies into other applications, other areas?

    [00:35:55] I mean, I'm, I'm just thinking of you know, this, this could have an impact in changing how people search for [00:36:00] products. For example, if I'm a retailer and I incorporate this into my app, maybe there's new reasons now as a consumer for me to go into the app and not spend time going to Amazon or Google to search for products.

    [00:36:09] I can just do it in their app and I can do it in a conversational way by just talking to the app. I. I don't know. I personally don't think there are a lot of people asking Alexa or Siri to help them shop

    [00:36:20] Casey Golden: No, I mean, you know, it it, it comes back to garbage in, garbage out.

    [00:36:25] And so in shopping, we've had a lot of garbage in.

    [00:36:27] Yeah, right. I just wanna see pencil skirts that have a double, double kick plate.

    [00:36:31] I've never seen the word double kick plate on any e-commerce listing in my life. And I have to go store by store. Yeah. But there's opportunity here,

    [00:36:41] Ricardo Belmar: right? And, and. Connect the dots on this to our retail media networks and B2B services prediction.

    [00:36:48] I mean, you apply these things to all the media that you're putting into the network and how the retailer interfaces that with the brands there. There's impact on both sides of this, right? For the brands and using these technologies to generate the media they're [00:37:00] placing into the network on the retailer and how they're presenting it in store on digital screens.

    [00:37:05] There's amazing applications and potential here. I, it's this one. I think at the same time, it's easy to predict. It's also hard to predict because knowing exactly what we're gonna see retailers create with this, I, I don't think anybody can legitimately do that right now in January. But I think, you know, it would be foolish not to have this on any predictions list for the year that it's gonna have a major impact.

    [00:37:26] Casey Golden: No, I mean, it's really interesting.

    [00:37:27] I've spoken to a lot of people in this, more on the tech side of the space. Everybody knows what it is, but when I've spoken to some brands and designers and and whatnot, they've never heard of it.

    [00:37:44] Right.

    [00:37:44] It's too soon. 

    [00:37:45] there is definitely going, like, there, should

    [00:37:50] we move so fast for, for these, these retailers and brands on the tech side that, you know, they can't keep track of all of these things.

    [00:37:57] Thankfully there's, you know, a lot of retail consultants and a [00:38:00] lot of technologists that are really diving into here and finding the value . To bring back some type of a solution for Branson retailers with a use 

    [00:38:08] Ricardo Belmar: case.

    [00:38:08] Yeah. And, and I think this is a lot like what's we've been saying and the other predictions is happening with web three, right? Where we, where we're finally seeing major examples in loyalty. It's where the actual retail tech that's being used in some ways hides all of the complexities and, and things that you have to know to implement on the tech side for this or the retail.

    [00:38:27] The brand doesn't need to deal with it, the solution just doesn't. And I think the same thing will happen here once we start to see the tools. Right now everybody's playing around with the raw capability that ChatGPT gives 'em or Dalle two. But when that gets integrated with the right tools and APIs so that you can put it in other things, we'll see new retail tech solutions come up that are going to use this, but they're gonna deliver a business outcome for the retailer of the brand without having to know that this is what's going on in the 

    [00:38:54] Casey Golden: Exactly.

    [00:38:54] They're probably not even gonna know.

    [00:38:56] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. And And that's what's gonna help at scale

    [00:38:57] Casey Golden: what's coming in. Right. And I've seen a [00:39:00] lot more success on these solutions. when you have the context of the end use case. Right. And I'm, I think we're just gonna see in general a huge push of people from retail that are in tech are going to be making some really big moves in the industry.

    [00:39:20] I think the most need for a retail technology consultant in general. It's not about omnichannel, it's not about bricks, it's not about clicks. It's literally about getting a technologist to work with you that understands the retail

    [00:39:36] business. 

    [00:39:36] Ricardo Belmar: There's, there's a big opportunity there for the consultants in the industry and for all the, the services companies that are gonna help with implementations

    [00:39:43] Casey Golden: because it's a lot of, it's a lot of whiplash,

    [00:39:46] Ricardo Belmar: It is. Yeah. . That's right, 

    [00:39:50] Casey Golden: that's plus running your own business, you

    [00:39:52] Ricardo Belmar: Exactly. Yeah.

    [00:39:53] Casey Golden: has a job already, right? So

    [00:39:55] Ricardo Belmar: Kind of implied, not so much because it's not really worth as a prediction, but kind of implied across all of [00:40:00] these that every retailer is actually focusing on the core business while dealing with all these things.

    [00:40:04] So yeah, that's sort of a given to that. All right, well, those are the 10, those are our 10 predictions. So for all of our listeners and show fans, hit us up on LinkedIn. Give us your comments and feedback. Let us know what you think. And we'll be checking in throughout the year to see how we're doing on these, like we did last season and see what happens from there.

    [00:40:25] Casey Golden: I, I've never been more excited for a year to work in my life. like 2023 Yeah. Is going to be the most fun.

    [00:40:34] Ricardo Belmar: Right, right. There's so much potential here. Absolutely. Absolutely. . Well, Casey, I think that is a wrap for this episode.

    [00:40:42] Casey Golden: Love it.

    [00:40:43] Show Close

    [00:40:43] Casey Golden: We hope you enjoyed our show and we can't ask you enough to please give us a five star rating and review on apple podcast to help us grow and bring you [00:41:00] more great episodes. If you don't wanna miss a minute of what's next, be sure to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player. And don't forget to check out our show notes for handy links and more deets. I'm your host, Casey Golden. 

    [00:41:14] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to learn more about the two of us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow the show on LinkedIn and Twitter at retail razor. Plus our YouTube channel for videos of each episode and bonus content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:41:31] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:41:32] 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. 

    41m | Jan 25, 2023
  • S2E8 - #NRFforBeginners with Andrew Laudato

    Happy New Year from the Retail Razor Show! A new year means it’s time for the annual National Retail Federation Big show held in New York City. But what if it’s your first time? It can be quite overwhelming for retailers and retailtech beginners. Fortunately, we’re here to help by bringing you a seasoned NRF veteran with his best tips and tricks to get the most out of your NRF experience!

    Fan favorite friend of the show, Andrew Laudato, COO of The Vitamin Shoppe joins our hosts to talk all things NRF Big Show and share what he has learned over 20+ years of attending the event. We hope to see you at NRF!

    Plus, our new segment, Retail Razor Data Blades returns, with another special insight from Georgina Nelson, CEO of TruRating ,learned from their 100,000’s of point-of-sale customer survey polls. In this episode learn how inflation is impacting shopper buying habits!

    News alert #1: The Retail Razor Show is nominated for The Retail Voice Award at the Vendors in Partnership Award ceremony during the NRF Big Show 2023!

    News alert #2! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, Overclocked, and Tech Lore, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E8 NRF for Beginners

    [00:00:20] Show Intro

    [00:00:20] Ricardo Belmar: Hello, and welcome to season two, episode eight of the Retail Razor Show. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:26] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome, retail Razor Show listeners to retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike.

    [00:00:38] Ricardo Belmar: Well, Casey, this is a conversation I've really been looking forward to each year in January, pandemic year's, not withstanding, retail industry comes together for the largest event in our industry. The National Retail Federation's, big show in New York. At its peak, I think this event was right before the pandemic, 40,000 attendees from across North America and, and a lot of international visitors from all over the world.

    [00:00:59] Now [00:01:00] we're coming up on the 2023 big show next month from, from when we're recording this. So we're thinking listeners are probably hearing a lot of noise by now about what's gonna happen at this show,

    [00:01:10] Casey Golden: That's right. And they don't call it the big show for no reason. And since our specialty is cutting through the clutter and the noise, In retail to get to the useful bits that everyone wants to know. We thought we'd put together a special ed addition to our show to serve as a guide for beginners who are either attending their first show or feel like they could benefit from an experienced N R F veteran on how to navigate Javits.

    [00:01:36] Ricardo Belmar: And to do that, we invited a really incredible retailer with years of experience attending and leveraging the N R F event to the fullest to bring you this special edition N R F for beginner's episode. So today we are going to hear from no stranger to the show, Andrew Laudato, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe.

    [00:01:53] Casey Golden: So many great tips and tricks on how to make the best of the show, how to meet your goals as a [00:02:00] retailer attendee, and even more importantly, how to navigate my city, New York City. So if you're new to the N R F Show or to New York City, you're going to find a few nuggets here that are useful, in this conversation.

    [00:02:13] Be sure to have your notepads ready to go get that Slack channel open.

    [00:02:19] Retail Razor Data Blades

    [00:02:19] Ricardo Belmar: But first it's time for the newest segment of our show, the Retail Razor Data Blades, where we talk real world numbers and slice through measurable consumer insights. It's a bit like, show me the math so I understand where this data is coming from and bringing us that slicing and dicing of data is Georgina Nelson, CEO of TruRating.

    [00:02:37] TruRating is changing the way retailers track how customers feel against how they spend with an innovative multi-channel feedback solution that has an average of 80% response rate from consumers. Georgina will share with us some key data points and offer a bit of insight into what's behind those numbers based on that extensive customer survey data at the point of sale.

    [00:02:56] Casey Golden: Welcome, Georgina.

    [00:02:58] Georgina Nelson: Thank you so much for having me.

    [00:02:59] Casey Golden: [00:03:00] So today's Retail Razor Data Blade segment is "how rising prices are impacting shopper habits". Georgina, give us the data.

    [00:03:09] Georgina Nelson: Well, last time we chatted, we discussed how over 81% of consumers who we polled across our markets, and that was, yeah, over 170,000 shoppers had been noticing the, the pinch on the cost of living. So 81% were noticing, but then we thought, how, how is that actually impacting behavior? You know, what changes are people making in light of that and how is that affecting retailers?

    [00:03:36] So we asked whether people were driving less or more as a result, and we found that 63% of consumers in the US said they were driving less because of the rising gas prices. We also found out that 60% were cooking more at home, so eating out less and 74% were using a list [00:04:00] when they went shopping which is a big increase on our, on the previous times, which we've asked that.

    [00:04:05] And academic research shows that generally consumers spend 15% less when they have a list. It's that, that discipline and keeping to it.

    [00:04:14] Casey Golden: Interesting.

    [00:04:15] Georgina Nelson: Yes. So so it, it's really become clear to us that there's, when it comes down to discretionary spend, big ticket items, you know, consumers are definitely being more careful.

    [00:04:27] They're shopping around more, they're making less frequent trips when they're going by public transport. And that means that the retailers who are in urban areas where, where there's a great public transport network aren't at such a disadvantage.

    [00:04:42] Casey Golden: So Georgina, I know retailers and consumers alike have been feeling the burden of inflation for quite a few months now. I'm certainly shopping around more and being a lot more considerate about where I choose to spend my hard-earned dollars. , is it pretty much all doom and [00:05:00] gloom until inflation winds down, or is there some upside here for retailers?

    [00:05:06] Georgina Nelson: I think that's a definite upside when you think of that consumer shopping around. That opens a whole world of opportunity. You've got new consumers coming through your door and you've got a chance to to woo and turn them. And so you know, this is a great. Yeah, a great opportunity to win new loyalty with incredible customer experience, targeted marketing and comms, and yeah, and build that loyalty fan base.

    [00:05:34] Casey Golden: And I think there's something to say when, in any type of recession or inflation or any type of point when the economy's taking that pinch. Those consumers that continue to shop with you, they're really kind of top of mind as a brand is really top of mind for them. And it's, it's pretty important as you go into like a different economy to see where those customers end up flushing [00:06:00] out.

    [00:06:00] Overall, I would assume.

    [00:06:02] Georgina Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent. And I think it's around understanding, you know, what makes that that customer loyal? What are they, what are they affiliating with your brand? What products are they purchasing? And really getting into that deeper level of, of customer insight and analytics. . I think, you know, as we, as we look to how a, a lot of our retailers are fighting the, the inflation and the, and the pinch on wallets spend.

    [00:06:32] It's really focusing down on, as I said, the element of customer experience, but train, train, training, you know, the, the store cashier to actually be a brand ambassador. How can they promote recommendations? How can they promote upsell, and even, you know, simple things. We found that like such as asking a customer their name.

    [00:06:53] In some of these, you know, fashion environments, et cetera when that consultative sale really helps, we've [00:07:00] seen that drive average basket spend by over 30%. 

    [00:07:04] Ricardo Belmar: Mm. 

    [00:07:05] Georgina Nelson: Likewise, if a customer makes a, you know, if, if a cashier makes a recommendation. So, you know, all these, all these simple things which a retailer can, can take and train the teams and then see the, see the impact down at a store level are key.

    [00:07:22] Ricardo Belmar: Well, it all comes back to that experience, doesn't it? . Well, there we have another edition of the Retail Razor Data Blades.

    [00:07:28] Casey Golden: I'm listening for the cool segment music right now.

    [00:07:31] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. And with that cool update, let's jump right into the discussion with our special guest for our NRF for Beginner's discussion.


    [00:07:49] #NRFforBeginners with Andy Laudato

    [00:07:49] Ricardo Belmar: Today we're here with a retailer who's no stranger to the show and has extensive experience making the most of the N R F Show and all the activities during N R F Week in New York City each year.[00:08:00]

    [00:08:00] Casey Golden: That's right. So let's introduce our guest, Andrew Lodato, COO of the Vitamin Shoppe and former CIO of Pier one imports. Let's pave the way for the newbies coming to N R F this year. 

    [00:08:12] Ricardo Belmar: Welcome back to the show, Andy.

    [00:08:13] Andrew Laudato: Yeah. Thank you. Hello. Great to see you, Ricardo and Casey.

    [00:08:16] Casey Golden: So how many NRFs have each of you been to in your retail career?

    [00:08:20] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, so I've been to 20, 21. This will be 22. 

    [00:08:25] Ricardo Belmar: Wow. 

    [00:08:26] Andrew Laudato: I actually took a little stint outside of retail. Well, it sounds like a lot, but when you meet people there, you'll meet people with 30 plus NRFs under their belt. I consider myself a veteran, but certainly not a senior. Some, some of the people 

    [00:08:38] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. I think this is gonna be my, I, I've lost track, even though it doesn't sound like I should with like 11th or 12th nrf. So sometimes you're, you're totally right about that, Andy. I'll run into someone in those say, oh, this is my 20th N R f, and I'm thinking, oh, that, that's kind of making me sound like the newbie

    [00:08:55] Andrew Laudato: exactly.

    [00:08:56] Casey Golden: think I'm only at like six, so you guys have got, definitely got me beat[00:09:00]

    [00:09:01] Ricardo Belmar: Well, let's take a brief step back and for those who are the true beginners to nrf, let's define exactly what NRF is. And so Andy, how would you describe the, the jam-packed NRF week as its start, become called in the last few years? You know, of activity surrounding the actual NRF show and everything else that's going on in New York City during that nice bitter cold week in January that we're always also used to

    [00:09:27] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, so we all call it NRF or NRF Week, but actually NRF is stands for the National Retail Federation, and it's a retail advocacy and lobby organization. So most retailers are members of the National Retail Federation, and every year the NRF puts on several shows, conferences, events around different disciplines, technology, supply chain, digital store ops.

    [00:09:50] But in New York, once a year, they have what they call the "big show". So we just call it the NRF and but it's the big show. I don't know if this is true, but the [00:10:00] story is a hundred plus years ago. Retailers, you know, all got together in New York City and said, how'd we do over the holidays? I just imagined like 12 people in a room with a box of donuts and, and it really evolved from there. 

    [00:10:11] Ricardo Belmar: I wonder if that's true.

    [00:10:13] Andrew Laudato: I made it up, but It sounds 

    [00:10:14] Ricardo Belmar: good though. You can picture it.

    [00:10:17] Casey Golden: I'm like, it's a building filled with men in pleaded pants. So as a retailer, what should our goals be attending? What kind of ROI do you expect to get from this trip?

    [00:10:30] All about ROI

    [00:10:30] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, I case, I'm glad you used the term roi. I mean, people spend a lot of time and money to attend. You know, hotels in New York are 300 to $500 a night and then travel, you

    [00:10:41] Casey Golden: Put a P and L behind every event,

    [00:10:44] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, exactly right. And so, you know, so I think it's really important and if, you know, you get the opportunity to go, especially one of your first times, you know, make sure your company feels like they got their money's worth of their investment.

    [00:10:57] And so I always have goals. I think everyone [00:11:00] should set some goals, and mine are pretty simple, but, but I think they're powerful. My goal will be to come back from the big show with one to three brand new ideas, something I haven't heard, read, whether it's been on a podcast. So you get inspired whether you're at a formal session or a chat or a social and you hear something someone's doing or contemplating.

    [00:11:19] And to get one new idea that you can bring back to your business makes you know the investment palatable or, or worth it. Then I also have a goal of having, making three or more retail connections. Just to meet someone new finding someone in a different company that does what you did, or maybe they're ahead of you on some journey on either omni or digital or some path that's important to you.

    [00:11:41] So making that connection that you can follow up with later is really, really key. And then the last thing on my return on investment is to get a scorecard on how you're doing to honestly judge yourself when you, you talk to others and sometimes you find. Everyone's not as far as long. So sometimes you may be like, [00:12:00] wow, I feel like we're behind when you read all the hype and then you start talking to people about their reality. Or you may find that someone's way ahead of you on something and, and then that sets the standard that, Hey, we need, we need to redouble our efforts.

    [00:12:13] Casey Golden: That makes sense. I find that N R F. Different than a lot of other trade shows, has more customers join rather than some other trade shows and industry events where I find that it's a sea of vendors. I definitely feel like I get to meet more customers and more retailers that attend N R F. From like the daytime into the evenings, 

    [00:12:34] Andrew Laudato: Yeah. You know, and, and if you're new, you'll notice quickly that the NRF is kind enough to color code your badges. And so you'll be able to tell if someone is a, from a retailer, from a supplier, from the analyst, are they a speaker? So you'll learn the code pretty quick and if you are a, call it, you're a buyer, not a seller, you're gonna get a lot more attention walking down the aisles.

    [00:12:55] But yeah, you're certainly fine. Not, and not just, I would say not just a lot more [00:13:00]retailers, but a lot more principals. You're talking about CEOs and a lot of C-Suite also attend the show.

    [00:13:05] Validating the hype

    [00:13:05] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. That, that's true. That's true. I'm, I'm curious about one thing you, you just said there a minute ago, Andy, about Seeing how, how far along you are. I'm curious is when you're thinking about that, are you in, in a way trying to gauge and compare where you're at versus what all the industry hype might be before you get to the show?

    [00:13:23] And kind of, are you trying to see if while you're there at the show, can I level set around that hype? Is it really hype or is there something real there that maybe you are doing, and you don't feel like you're far off along, or maybe there are things that you haven't been able to figure out if you should be doing, but you keep hearing all this hype and you get to the show and you're trying to validate that.

    [00:13:41] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, you hear the hype and you try to validate it, right? So I'll make something up because this has been going on since my first N RF to talk about R F I D. 

    [00:13:50] It's gonna change the world and talk about that. And you know, you open up the press and people are like, oh, we solved all our inventory woes with the R F I D. So you sit down with [00:14:00] people and talk about what did it take, how was it, was it really worth it?

    [00:14:03] And you kind of get that honest. And if you meet with 25 people and ask 'em all about the same question, you really get a better feel for than just reading the article.

    [00:14:12] Ricardo Belmar: What, what about the sessions at N R F do, do you go to the sessions that are there and, and if you do, how do you decide which ones are worth your time to go to? And, and, and I guess the sort of second part to that is for this coming N R F, are there any sessions you're particularly interested in?

    [00:14:27] Andrew Laudato: So I think the sessions are extremely important. I think it's easy to not go because you end up getting all these invitations before. and the expo booth is, you know, for a retailer you can pretty much get in for free. That's not that difficult. But I think they're extremely important. So for me it's the keynotes because ultimately every NRF ends up with a feel to it or a theme. And, you know, I have some theories on what I think the theme will end up being this year. And I think it'll be around you know, your business in a tough economy. But I don't know. We'll see. And, [00:15:00] and I think getting to some sessions are important. The sessions that I like to attend are really about the, call it the bleeding edge stuff.

    [00:15:07] I'm actually I'll do a little plug. I'm the moderator of a session on digital twins on Sunday afternoon,

    [00:15:13] so I'm super excited about that topic and I know very little about it. So, you know, I'm gonna learn a lot being the moderator of that. So those are the kind of sessions I like. And then anyone who's done, done something you're trying to. So, for example, you know, we're at the Vitamin Shoppe, we just last year rolled out buy online store ships, BOSS. So any session on those we were eager to get to because we heard, you know, some learnings we can have from others.

    [00:15:40] Casey Golden: What would you, as a retailer, what kind of advice would you give to a, a technology vendor that's going for the first time? Because obviously we're there for you, right? So

    [00:15:50] Andrew Laudato: right.

    [00:15:52] I, I think the NF big show is the most amazing place to meet people for the first time and get [00:16:00] started. So my advice would be to try to have your meetings just about, have some coffee and get to know someone. I don't think you should try to demo in detail. It's loud, it's noisy, there's interruptions.

    [00:16:11] It's a horrible place to sit down and spend 45 minutes going through a new AI-driven planning system, right? People aren't gonna be able to focus, so, For technology vendors, you know, make plans up front of who you wanna meet with, reach out and make the meetings really as casual as you're comfortable doing.

    [00:16:29] And it may not feel worthwhile, but I think that's more worthwhile than trying to, no one, no one shop, no one shows up at the NRF big show with their checkbook, right? We're not shopping. We're there to learn and to make relationships. So that's my advice is just focus on the relattionship.

    [00:16:44] Casey Golden: It's great to know that you're really not there to shop Thanks for saying that out loud. Andy 

    [00:16:51] Ricardo Belmar: So, so, let me ask you then

    [00:16:52] on 

    [00:16:52] Andrew Laudato: I've never bought a single thing in 20 some years 

    [00:16:54] Yeah. 

    [00:16:54] Ricardo Belmar: I, I was just gonna say, yeah, I, I bet that was gonna be the answer. Yeah. It, which, which I think I kind of find with most retailers, I know that [00:17:00] that's always true. It's you know, it's, , you're not there to decide to buy. You're there to learn, right? You're there to find out and investigate and, and kind of help you help set up maybe some G rails around where you want to go and what you wanna look for.

    [00:17:12] Casey Golden: That's great. I mean that, that really helps everybody understand like what value they need to be thinking about providing when they show up.

    [00:17:18] Building relationships

    [00:17:18] Ricardo Belmar: So I guess maybe also along those lines, Andy, you know, just thinking in terms of from. , the retail tech vendors that are there, right. In so many cases. Right. And I'll, I'll speak from the vendor side here. You know, there's always a desire to try to show off what every, for every vendor, what we have to, every retailer that comes by.

    [00:17:35] And to your point, right, where you're, you're kind of saying focus on building the relationship, you know, it's not the best environment to go through a detailed demo and kind of thing. So so I'm curious, what, what, what advice would you have vendors who are. totally focused on making sure they have the right demo and the right experience to show off to any retailer that comes by.

    [00:17:53] What's your advice for, for that vendor? In terms of how they should present themselves?

    [00:17:56] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, let me start with something that people may forget about. It's [00:18:00] a good opportunity for. retail vendors to shore up their existing relationships. I mean, a lot of us haven't seen each other for three years. Right? So, you know, start with that. And again, I always talk about the principles are there. We're gonna, my ceo, Sharon Leite, gonna be at the nrf.

    [00:18:16] She's on the board of the nrf. So, you know, establishing and firming up those relationships. Because remember, we're wandering around CIOs, COOs, we're wandering around to these parties, events, and people are asking us, who do you use for this? Who do you use for that? that's kind of like, almost like a defensive, but focus on your incumbents first, like your existing customers. And then my second thing would be just to be, you know, I don't know what the right analogy is, but to be targeted. What's the point? A lot of people in my mind seem like they're, they consider winning the maximum number of meetings, but go for quality over quantity is what I would say. I mean, the people beg me to come meet in their booth where I have no interest and I'm not shopping. [00:19:00] And I tell 'em that, but it seems like they don't care. I mean, someone offered me a hundred dollars to meet with them, which I find really quite humorous. I like to go back and tell my younger self that, but why, why are they so desperate for me to come to their booth if they know I'm not interested?

    [00:19:12] I guess it's just a ticket count, right? So don't do that.

    [00:19:16] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, 

    [00:19:17] Andrew Laudato: 10 good meetings. Way better than 30 substandard meetings.

    [00:19:20] Ricardo Belmar: I is there, you know, is there any, like, any one thing that you've seen vendors do in the past that you just say to yourself, why do you, why would you do that? Please stop doing that. Don't do that again.

    [00:19:30] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, that tackle you when you're coming down the aisle, right? I mean,

    [00:19:34] Ricardo Belmar: Okay.

    [00:19:34] Yeah. 

    [00:19:36] Andrew Laudato: of us try to flip around our badge, but say you just interrupt me. Step in front of me. Start chatting. Give me your pitch. I don't know you. I don't know who you are. I know what you're doing. , I'm late for something and it's just that's gonna be, you talk about relationship building, you're starting with 

    [00:19:50] the 

    [00:19:50] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. Yeah. You're doing the opposite right there.

    [00:19:52] A few top tips

    [00:19:52] Casey Golden: So this is fascinating. So related question, what are your top tips overall? I'm a big fan of the [00:20:00] coat check, but what about lunch, et cetera. Have you ever done any lunch meetings like, away from N R F?

    [00:20:07] Andrew Laudato: Yeah. You know, it's important to have a plan and your first time at nrf. I mean, I, I'm glad you mentioned co check. Like you walk in and there's a long line to check your coat and you come, if you come the first day, you know you're, and you have to have a coat. I mean, it's New York City and January's cold.

    [00:20:21] It could be snowing, freezing rain, but just be like, have a plan. If you see a long line, I bet if you go down the place is really huge, you go down to another section. There'll be a no line, or someone might invite you to have, I know some, and I'm not gonna say who, but I know a vendor who built a coat check into their booth.

    [00:20:37] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:20:38] Andrew Laudato: You know, they get traffic and that's where my coat goes. And

    [00:20:40] Casey Golden: actually quite smart. I always find anytime that there's a line at an event that's really an opportunity to meet your neighbor

    [00:20:47] Andrew Laudato: sure. But say, you

    [00:20:48] Casey Golden: more organic conversation when you're both sitting there like complaining or waiting.

    [00:20:53] Andrew Laudato: Absolutely the line is Starbucks. You know, and I agree. And that's when they talk about having a goal of making, you know, at least three new [00:21:00] relationships.

    [00:21:00] Casey Golden: Yeah. 

    [00:21:01] Andrew Laudato: But you could get frustrated very quickly, like getting to Javits in the morning on a bus, and then waiting in a line. And then, you know, now all of a sudden you're missing the keynote.

    [00:21:09] And you go in there and there's no more seats and you're, you're nervous and stressed. And so have a plan. Get there early. Put your coat somewhere smart. Remember where you put it. The lunch at Javits is really almost inedible. It's horrible and expensive, and so I don't recommend at all leaving the Javits Center, you know, and you're gonna, it's gonna, Well, we sell plenty of healthy protein bars at the vitamin shop. Or on the floor, you know, these booths are gonna have popcorn and candy, but I would definitely plan on eating on the fly. The reason I say don't leave is that now you gotta get your coat again, and then you're gonna go somewhere. And if it's a sit down restaurant, that takes time.

    [00:21:45] So you're talking about an hour and a half minimum to leave, to leave the grounds for lunch. So I wouldn't recommend that. But yeah, just I would say have a plan for all these things and don't be frustrated and. if you wanna get your badge early, like you can sometimes get your badge at the hotel. They [00:22:00] have satellite places, so that's a nice little trick. If not, if you come in a day before, you can get it day before. They may even have ways you can print it. Read, read the instructions. They're not a lot, but sometimes, like, you need your ID or you need this or that, or, I don't know if they're gonna do with covid, but just read the instructions, be ready, and take the stress out by, by having a plan for these things.

    [00:22:17] Ricardo Belmar: So on on that topic of scheduling meetings, for example. You know, so, good, good tip. You mentioned, you know, don't, don't try to leave in the middle of, of the day from Javits and then expect to come back. What do you do around meetings? You know, for example, do you, do you try to avoid having too many meetings in a row?

    [00:22:32] Because I, I know I've always found like the biggest challenge, is Javits is bigger than you think it is. So just trying to get from one meeting to another can be tricky sometimes, especially if you're trying to go between floors and you gotta leave yourself enough time. But do you have a strategy for, for how you look at scheduling meetings on your calendar while you're there?

    [00:22:49] Andrew Laudato: Yeah. So not only is it really, really big, you got the people stopping you, like I mentioned earlier, right? So you got the gauntlet to try to get to your meeting, and so Plan your meetings with a map. And so they'll [00:23:00] lay out where the booths are and if you have, you know, you wanna meet with say, six people on a, on one of the days.

    [00:23:06] So what I would do is I would start, sit down and start with what sessions do you absolutely want to attend? And block those out in your calendar. And then you say, okay, who do I absolutely wanna meet with then reach out to them and, and I've already done a lot of this. I mean, you need to be doing this now, right?

    [00:23:20] These things, I laugh when someone will invite me to dinner, like the day before. I laugh cause it's been booked forever, right? So and then lay out the, the meetings kind of like from, you know, Javits is numbered from zero to whatever, 10,000. So either go left or right or right to left and, and be smart about it and just plan it.

    [00:23:40] And if you can, that's a big puzzle cuz they also have to be available. But plan your meetings and then you will encounter something that you want to see at the Javits that you don't know about before you go. So there's some balance. You wanna leave some free time, maybe at the end of the day to say, oh, wow, I, I met this person in the line at the coat check, and I want to go by and, and meet them.

    [00:23:59] [00:24:00] So leave some time for that as well.

    [00:24:02] Ricardo Belmar: what about some of the other big attractions during that week are all of these other ancillary events that are happening? Casey mentioned it, right? All the things in the, the celebrations, the dinners, everything happening all around the city outside of the Javits and outside of the show.

    [00:24:15] I would even say some of my favorite things that happen at N R F are those extra events. I think Casey would probably say the same thing. That's why you go to those too. And some are vendor led, some are vendor sponsored. Some are not really led in any way by a vendor. . They have a different purpose.

    [00:24:28] What are your goals and expectations around how you approach those events?

    [00:24:33] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, so for a lot of people, for me, you know, I usually never even came to New York City other than the nrf. So if you wanna see New York City, I mean, New York City's an amazing place so you could maybe plan some of your own time. One thing that may fascinate people like you may pick a night and only go have dinner with your coworkers. you know, I know you'd have to pay, your company will have to pay or you have to pay yourself, but you know, it's something you don't probably normally do back home is spend some time. So everything doesn't have to be, and you don't have to be [00:25:00] on, and you don't have to be here on a pitch. So that's something that we did all the time at Pier one.

    [00:25:04] We'd pick a night and just have dinner with, with all of our coworkers that came to the show. I think the long, the more people that attend a dinner, the longer it takes. And I actually have some math formula. I add like seven minutes for every attendee to my dinner. So when you start to get into these, number one thing I ask is how many people are gonna be there?

    [00:25:19] So, you know, if it's a 30 person dinner and a big room, you're looking at three plus hours. 

    [00:25:23] Ricardo Belmar: Mm-hmm. 

    [00:25:24] Andrew Laudato: I try to avoid those. I'd rather kind of bop from, call it a happy hour to happy hour kind of event where I can meet people and have one-on-one conversations. I know I keep talking about not eating, but there's plenty You're gonna eat, right?

    [00:25:34] There's gonna be 

    [00:25:35] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:25:36] Andrew Laudato: your bars and the popcorn and the treats, and then there's gonna be at these happy hours, we'll call 'em happy hours or cocktail. There's gonna be plenty of hors d'oeuvres and you know, kind stay on the fly is what I like to do. Maybe pick out that one night for a team meeting and then bop from event to event.

    [00:25:51] Casey Golden: There's one vendor, and I'm not gonna say who it is, but it's usually probably around like 11 o'clock. at every trade show. [00:26:00] They're like my before lunch stop because they have like this whole entire booth made out of Jelly Bellies,

    [00:26:08] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, like.

    [00:26:08] Casey Golden: I'm like, it's just great.

    [00:26:11] Andrew Laudato: I have a fun NRF story. So years ago I was talk talking to someone at a booth and they ordered out sub sandwiches they were delicious cuz New York you can find amazing delis. And then it became a thing. So the next year I'm like, Hey, are you guys gonna do that again? And they actually got to where they were bringing in hundreds of sandwiches and they reorganized their booth.

    [00:26:31] Well, the NRF got angry cuz they wanna make money or, or the Javits Center got angry cause there's rules and unions and so they shut it down. But I had a good thing going for a few years there. And, and so did they, cause they had, they had the, the lunch booth going so

    [00:26:44] Casey Golden: Yeah, I mean I find when you offer food at any trade show, even, you know, when I was on the fashion side, going to market feed people with good food and they'll stick around and come back,

    [00:26:55] Andrew Laudato: great.

    [00:26:56] New York City Tips

    [00:26:56] Casey Golden: All right, so we also have to recognize that if you're new to [00:27:00]NRF you also might be new to the city. and New York City is one of the most, is like the pure definition of a city And

    [00:27:08] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, I'd argue the best city in the world. I haven't been to

    [00:27:11] Casey Golden: city in the world.

    [00:27:12] Andrew Laudato: it

    [00:27:13] Casey Golden: I mean, granted, I just went to a couple really beautiful cities last week, but there's nothing like New York.

    [00:27:19] But it can be definitely overwhelming for a lot of new people, especially new people coming into you know, there's a lot of people that have new jobs, right? And this is their first time to nrf, first time in New York City. Where would you suggest a beginner to stay or how to get around? Something that they, they, they must see just because they're in New York City for the first time.

    [00:27:40] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, so lemme go back. First of all, it's about getting here, right? So there are three airports. There's the LaGuardia Airport, which most people think is where they need to fly, but there's also JFK, which is a little more of a hassle, but you may save hundreds of dollars or get a more convenient time.

    [00:27:54] Casey Golden: Mm-hmm.

    [00:27:55] Andrew Laudato: and then there's the Newark Airport.

    [00:27:56] And don't sleep on Newark. It's just as close to Manhattan

    [00:27:59] Casey Golden: I always [00:28:00] find.

    [00:28:01] Andrew Laudato: So there you go. And you know, so there's three choices for airports. Once you get to the airport, you gotta get to the city. The biggest hack now, now I take the subway, but I'm not gonna recommend the subway from the airport for beginner.

    [00:28:13] But the biggest hack is the oldest hack. It's cabs. So it used to be, yet I had to take a cab and then Uber came. But now everyone's taking Uber. So the cabs have no line. And there's an app that lets turns your cab into Uber called Curbed, C U R B E D. You download that app and there's a number in the back of the cab, you sync it so you don't have to deal with paying the driver.

    [00:28:35] So my hack at LaGuardia is just to go down and get a cab at the cab stand, no wait, and then all the people fighting over the Ubers in that parking garage deal with that. So that's that. So now we're, they're there. You get into Manhattan, where to stay. I gu I guess if you're new, stay at one of the sanctioned hotels on the N R F website. Now, you know, back years ago there was nothing out by Javits. It's out by the water in a rail yard, but now [00:29:00] there's Hudson Yards, so you're starting to see more restaurants, hotels out there. But another thing I will say is don't get on the bus to the NRF show. So there's buses from the hotels. It's so easy to take the subway and I know subways are scary, but there's a seven Subway, it's one stop from Times Square.

    [00:29:17] It goes right by Javitz. You don't need a card anymore, you just pay with your cell phone or even your Apple watch. It's the seven train. And you just take the seven train, west, you get off there. There's no other place to get off than the last stop. And you're right there. It's $2 and 75 cents. And that's my my big advice as.

    [00:29:37] Casey Golden: Well, as a transplant New Yorker, it's only three avenues. You can always walk it. I always like to remind people that like, we don't have cars. We just, you know, get your steps in

    [00:29:51] Andrew Laudato: Well, speaking of walking, whether you're walking to Javits or not, you're gonna walk a lot at

    [00:29:56] Casey Golden: walk.

    [00:29:57] Andrew Laudato: So I know we could, and you know, you're a woman, so you [00:30:00]could talk about shoes, but shoes become an issue cause you wanna look good. so. You know, wear, wear you're watching, you'll see how many steps you get in.

    [00:30:07] But even whether you take the bus, the subway, you walk to Javitz, once you get there, it's, you're gonna walk a lot. Around, you'll be walking basically for eight to 10 hours.

    [00:30:16] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, yeah, so much walking. So, you know, another interesting thing you brought up when we were ahead of this session and you were talking about, what, what kind of tips would there be? You mentioned a few things about, thinking about who's listening in your conversations. What did you mean by that?

    [00:30:29] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, so, you know, New York is what millions and millions of people live here, but it's, it becomes a real small world in the retail. So you get on a flight and it seems more often than not, the person's next to me, some kind of software vendor. And when you're at the bag claim, I've had people come up to me and recognize me from LinkedIn and so just be careful what you're saying about your company business personal.

    [00:30:50] Just assume that, you know, I mean, probably rare that it will happen, but it seems to happen a lot to me, so just be careful what you're saying on an airplane, in the cab, you know, when, as you're going around the [00:31:00] city, you know, so especially people start drinking, they get loud and, and people can overhear you. So, you know, I, I'd be careful about that.

    [00:31:07] It's just about, you know, being professional when you travel, I guess is a simple way to say it.

    [00:31:11] Casey Golden: I've met some of my favorite people and long-term friends from traveling and hitting airports during this time of year. People who worked at, at different consulting companies or technology vendors or retailers, literally from a flight delay to and, and having a chat, you know, over like an unexpected dinner at the airport or literally just sitting next to them on the flight.

    [00:31:37] So, I mean, it's a great opportunity. But yeah, somebody, the likelihood of somebody sitting next to you that's going to the same show. It's very high.

    [00:31:46] Andrew Laudato: Yeah. Now you could arrange for a ride. I've certainly used the opportunity to arrange for a ride. Like, Hey, let's grab a cab to the city together. Cause you know, there's two of you or three of you and the cab's gonna be 65 bucks and that's pretty nice to share. And then you got another [00:32:00] forty five minutes to chat with your new friend.

    [00:32:02] Groups of coworkers

    [00:32:02] Casey Golden: Yeah. Have you ever visited N R F as a part of a group? Where the whole company's kind of going. I know you mentioned doing company dinners but what is that? I've always gone solo. What is that kind of like when you've got a whole bunch of group of coworkers going together?

    [00:32:20] Andrew Laudato: I think there's a lot of positives. Like I said, you could have the dinner together. You can also divide and conquer. So, hey, I'm gonna focus, you know, so sit down with the group and say, oh, who's gonna go to what sessions? And then take notes for each other and come back and share what you learned. If you're all there on the same mission, maybe you can all hear something together. If you're all there looking at, you know, x, y, z category of software I would say, you know, to my tech friends, the introverts, it is, you have to be careful cuz with your, with people, you know. So you go to a party, it's a lot easier just to stay with them and talk to them, but don't do that.

    [00:32:51] Force yourself to break out and, and go make the new connections. And if one of your goals is to make at least three new connections, it sounds like Casey, you have no problem doing that. [00:33:00] But there are certainly people that come from more of the you know, technical side of the house or other places where they're not naturally extrovert.

    [00:33:08] So you gotta kinda force yourself to not just hang back with your coworker that you talk to, at least on Zoom every day.

    [00:33:14] Casey Golden: butterfly,

    [00:33:17] Andrew Laudato: So, you know, one trick I I tell people is to use the extroverts to your advantage. So say someone meets you at a social event, they could ask you, Hey, will you introduce me to another retailer? And so they may not just wanna walk up, especially if people are in a group. And that's the other thing, if people come in a group and they stay in the group, they're not really approachable, but someone like you would be easily able to bust

    [00:33:38] Casey Golden: Hi.

    [00:33:39] Andrew Laudato: yeah, so I might say, Casey, I really wanna meet people at, I don't know, coach or Louis Vuitton, and you're like, I know them.

    [00:33:46] Let me introduce you. Right? So the introverts can use the extroverts to build their relationships.

    [00:33:51] Casey Golden: Yeah, I always I was very shy growing up. Who would've thought? And I always go and try and find like [00:34:00] people who are kind of like being like a wallflower almost. And I'm like, oh, come on in. Get into the conversation or come join. Cuz you never really do know who that, who those people are, but I find that some of the introverts, they're, they're very good operators.

    [00:34:15] wanna know who you are I've, cuz otherwise it's like a whole bunch of a lot of social people. They're usually sales people

    [00:34:21] Andrew Laudato: Exactly. That's, yeah. That's

    [00:34:23] Casey Golden: I don't wanna talk to another salesperson. I'm like, where are some operators around here?

    [00:34:27] Andrew Laudato: exactly.

    [00:34:28] Ricardo Belmar: it interesting.

    [00:34:29] Andrew Laudato: Exactly. Mm-hmm.

    [00:34:31] Andy's favorite activities

    [00:34:31] Ricardo Belmar: So, so maybe re related to, to that note, I, I should have asked you earlier, Andy, I mean are, are in this NF coming up, are there other side events or other ancillary events around town that you're excited about this year that you're looking forward to?

    [00:34:44] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, you know, I'm very active and I know you are too, with the Retail ROI, which is the Retail Orphan Initiative. And you get to go and that's on Saturdays and there may even be opportunities still to attend, whether you're a retailer or a supplier. But that event is really, Amazing content [00:35:00] for learning amazing content about, you know, what the organization does for orphans around the world.

    [00:35:05] And it's a worthwhile cause, right? Just your attendance alone helps. So that's, I put that as number one is my favorite event. And I, I've been going since the original one. There's, even if you back up, you know, years ago the NRF started on Monday and went through Wednesday, the show. Then the CIO councils and the other councils would meet on Sunday.

    [00:35:23] So then the show started to move things backwards and then Greg Buzek put his thing on Saturday. Now there's Vicki Cantrell has something called vendors in partnerships, which is really exciting. It's about bringing together the providers and the retailers and giving an award show, and that's moved us back to Friday.

    [00:35:40] So it really has become, A weekend event, you know, now you're talking about traveling on Friday, spending the weekend and the show ends on Tuesday now. So again, it's not just about the Javits, it's about from Friday, Saturday. No, those are my favorite events. There's a Kathy Hotka Secret Event. You gotta know.

    [00:35:58] You gotta know to know. [00:36:00] So if you wanna get on that, you gotta figure it out. That makes it more fun. I hear about things even though after 20 years that go on that I had no idea. Or sometimes I find out there's something. So I, I also don't wanna pigeonhole people into what I do. Cause it's, it's amazing.

    [00:36:15] There are sometimes events at the big flagship stores in town

    [00:36:18] Casey Golden: Mm-hmm.

    [00:36:18] Andrew Laudato: or store tours. It's another thing we didn't talk about, but you know, especially if you come in a day earlier, stay an extra day, you can really do some retailing 

    [00:36:25] Ricardo Belmar: yeah. Visit some of the 

    [00:36:26] Andrew Laudato: lot of lot of store.

    [00:36:29] Casey Golden: highly recommend visiting stores during holiday season. No matter what type of of retailer you are hitting, the flagships in New York City is an experience in itself.

    [00:36:41] Andrew Laudato: and you know, if your company has stores in the city, absolutely. Make sure you get into those stores and say hi to those,

    [00:36:48] you know, store associates and you know,

    [00:36:51] Casey Golden: there's so many learnings. So many learnings. Even, even as a e, even as a shopper, right? You don't have to be in the own brand. It doesn't have to be a competitive [00:37:00]brand. Just being able to experience a fifth Avenue and hit up 10 different stores it's very rare that we get to, to see that level of quality and or just have that much.

    [00:37:10] To what a lot of the flagship experiences are. So I'm a big advocate. A lot of people come in from like, mid door tiers and so I think it's always pretty special when you have a chance to visit the flagships.

    [00:37:23] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I agree. I agree with that. I've, I've often done that when I'll, I'll stay over on Wednesday in, in fact, after the day after the show's over, just to do that, just to visit different stores around the city, just to get a, get a chance to see and experience what's new and what's special about those locations with, with so many flagship stores there and, and other interesting experiences to, to compare with.

    [00:37:44] Casey Golden: Yeah.

    [00:37:45] Your post-NRF recap

    [00:37:45] Ricardo Belmar: I guess that kind of begs the question, Andy, so you, we've gone through all these things to do while you're at nrf, all these things to do around nrf. What do you do after the show? You get back home, back to the office. Then what do you do?

    [00:37:59] Andrew Laudato: So, I [00:38:00] may, may sound nerdy, but I always write a report. So I always use my flight home to read all my notes and summarize what I learned, what I saw, and then I

    [00:38:08] Casey Golden: tired, Amy

    [00:38:10] Andrew Laudato: Well, you like, I mean, I used to be on a four hour flight. You got, you know, if you're not gonna nap, then you can at least do that. But if you don't do it, then you're gonna, you're already behind it work cuz you've been gone for four days.

    [00:38:20] Right. So then I just, you. Publish that to the exec team and peers and say, here, here's what I saw, what I learned. And that's the first thing. And then that's, it's justifying the ROI we talked about up front. So you know, you have so much fun, you wanna make sure you can get to go again. And so you make sure you justify the investment. Maybe then follow ups. I some thank yous for anything. If people gave me gifts or meetings, I'll, I'll do that when I'm back. And then things that you really. Wow, you have your one big idea you want to chase, so start scheduling meetings to talk about that back home.

    [00:38:54] Casey Golden: So I do have a conference hack for note taking that I found [00:39:00]extremely beneficial is I open up a Slack channel and I invite a few people into my Slack channel and I take notes in Slack and take pictures of the business cards as I get them. And so I'll have an entire Slack channel that the team is actually digesting.

    [00:39:15] Throughout the day and doing like end of day recaps and then already on it before I even get back. But I do

    [00:39:22] Andrew Laudato: I love it. That's

    [00:39:22] Casey Golden: Slack channel because it's mid-thought. I'll just go in there right after I meet somebody and leave notes. So I can remember contact no more pens and papers for me, but it shares it right with the team immediately.

    [00:39:34] So I've, I even had people get back to me and say, oh, This person is also friends with this person and they had just left this company and I literally was still in conversation. I was able to like have the extra contact. So it is nice to have that, that Slack channel open with somebody 

    [00:39:52] Ricardo Belmar: Oh, that's a great 

    [00:39:53] Casey Golden: all the recon. I'm so impressed by all of these like valuable tips and tricks and recommendations. I don't know where you were [00:40:00] when I went to my first nrf. It was very overwhelming for me. And just cause I didn't know who anybody was and how to navigate successfully because there's just so many vendors. But this is just amazing.

    [00:40:11] Is there anything that we've missed? Anything you wanna add before we, we close out, Andy?

    [00:40:16] Andrew Laudato: Yeah, look, it's, you can have some fun too, right? I dunno, what's that word? Boondoggle. But you're getting to go on a trip and meet some amazing people and see some amazing things maybe at a restaurant you couldn't normally get into or couldn't normally afford. So enjoy yourself. Have some fun, right? It's, it's not all work.

    [00:40:31] It's should be mostly work, but not all work.

    [00:40:33] Casey Golden: corporate accounts? Man, I missed those.

    [00:40:36] Ricardo Belmar: Well, well, Andy, I thanks so much for, for coming back to the show and, and joining us for this. Like, just like Casey said and some amazing tips and a really excellent guide to NRF for beginners. I don't know why I can keep track of all of 'em. I took some notes myself. Like I said at the beginning, this might be my 11th or 12th NRF, but sometimes I still feel like I'm the beginner learning all the the best tips and tricks on how to get through the week.

    [00:40:59] Andrew Laudato: [00:41:00] All right. Well, I look forward to seeing both of you there.

    [00:41:02] Ricardo Belmar: absolutely.

    [00:41:02] Casey Golden: Well, Ricardo, I think that this episode is a wrap. Thank you so much, Andy!

    [00:41:06] Andrew Laudato: Welcome.

    [00:41:07] Show Close

    [00:41:07] Casey Golden: We hope you enjoyed our show and we can't ask you enough to please give us a five star rating and review on apple podcast to help us grow and bring you more great episodes. If you don't wanna miss a minute of what's next, be sure to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player. And don't forget to check out our show notes for handy links and more deets. I'm your host, Casey Golden. 

    [00:41:39] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to learn more about the two of us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow the show on LinkedIn and Twitter at retail razor. Plus our YouTube channel for videos of each episode and bonus content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:41:55] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:41:57] Ricardo Belmar: And [00:42:00] 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. 

    42m | Jan 6, 2023
  • S2E7 - Retail Transformers - Bryan Dove

    What is the future of ecommerce? How will dropship, marketplaces, & fulfillment evolve to serve an ever-demanding consumer? These are complex issues so we invited our latest Retail Transformer to help us cut through the clutter – meet Bryan Dove, CEO of CommerceHub

    Bryan talks us through how DTC brands and retailers alike can tackle these challenges while delivering the conveniences consumers demand – from communicating delivery schedules to fulfilling orders most efficiently, and so much more! Get your notepad ready to take notes because you’re going to learn why Bryan Dove is more than meets the eye in this nonstop stream of insightful ecommerce nuggets! 

    Introducing our new segment, Retail Razor Data Blades, with special consumer insights from Georgina Nelson, CEO of TruRating ,learned from their 100,000’s of point-of-sale customer survey polls. In this episode we learn how inflation doesn't impact everyone the same way!

    News alert #1: The Retail Razor Show has been nominated for The Retail Voice Award at the Vendors in Partnership Award ceremony during the NRF Big Show 2023 in January in New York City!

    News alert #2! We’ve moved up to #18 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list - please consider giving us a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts! With your help, we’ll move our way up the Top 20! Leave us a review & be mentioned in future episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, Overclocked, and Tech Lore, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. 

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E7 Bryan Dove

    [00:00:00] Pre-Intro

    [00:00:00] Casey Golden: Ricardo, I've got one word for you to describe this week's show, marketplaces drop ship fulfillment data. Okay. It's a whole lot of one words. Drop ship counts as a word, right? All right. Let's just say this is all about the future of e-com.

    [00:00:23] Ricardo Belmar: Y Yeah. Okay. So I'm not quite sure how many words that counts for, but I'm, I'm gonna go ahead and stick with e-commerce as the theme for this week, and following up our amazing episode with Polly Wong focused on direct to consumer. And we've got another amazing retail transformer on today's show to dive into the future of e-commerce.

    [00:00:41] Casey Golden: And this is really exciting. Like every e-commerce junkie out there listening or watching should be taking out their notepad right now and be ready for some golden nuggets and tips. Um, no pun intended, These strategies that will come at you faster than you can say, where's my package? 

    [00:01:02] Ricardo Belmar: That is so true actually. Actually, this is getting to be a habit, isn't it? Needing a notepad just to listen to the podcast. So should we 

    [00:01:09] Casey Golden: know if it's like good or bad. 

    [00:01:10] Ricardo Belmar: know, right. ,maybe we should just get this episode started or, or should we just make everybody wait a little more and keep listening to us talking about it?

    [00:01:19] Casey Golden: You're too cruel and obsessed with long introductions. Let's say we just jump in to the intro music already.

    [00:01:28] Show Intro

    [00:01:28] Ricardo Belmar: Hello, and welcome to season two, episode seven of the Retail Razor Show. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:01:55] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome, retail Razor Show listeners to retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologist, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike.

    [00:02:07] Ricardo Belmar: We're back with another incredible retail transformer as our guest this week, and if you're just coming from episode five, our special D T C retail transformer episode with Polly Wong, then you're really going to do the dance of joy for this one.

    [00:02:21] Casey Golden: Yes. And as a founder, I am so exciting. We're diving into the future of e-commerce, looking at marketplaces, drop shipping, fulfillment challenges, inventory challenges, and much, much more for the whole Commerce family in this episode.

    [00:02:37] Ricardo Belmar: Oh yeah, faithful Retail Razor Show listeners will learn exactly why Bryan Dove, CEO of Commerce Hub is more than meets the eye.

    [00:02:45] Casey Golden: I have to say that I love that we finally got to deep dive into the murky waters of e-commerce to really think about and talk through what brands need to get out of their e-commerce sites going forward and how they should grow, what the right tools are. What they need to be building and how they should handle their supplier relationships. There's just so much more to go into, like fulfillment strategies, managing inventory, and much of this will relate back to what Polly talked about, customer retention.

    [00:03:18] Ricardo Belmar: that, that's right. This discussion with Bryan is a nice bookend to our chat with Polly. I, I can't say enough that if you're a DTC founder or you're responsible for your brand's e-commerce and are looking at drop shipping or marketplace expansion to grow the business, wow are you here at the right time. This discussion combined with Polly's could just about be your best practices guide to success.

    [00:03:40] Retail Razor Data Blades - "Inflation doesn't impact everyone the same way"

    [00:03:40] Ricardo Belmar: But first it's time for the newest segment of our show, Retail Razor Data Blades, where we talk real world numbers and slice through measurable consumer insights. It's a bit like, show me the math so I understand where this data is coming from, and bringing us that slicing and dicing of data is Georgina Nelson, c e o of true rating.

    [00:03:58] Georgina will share with us some key data points and offer a bit of insight into what's behind those numbers based on their extensive customer insight data at the point of sale

    [00:04:06] Casey Golden: welcome, Georgina.

    [00:04:12] Georgina Nelson: Thank you so much for having me. 

    [00:04:14] Casey Golden: So today's retail razor data blades segment is "Inflation doesn't impact everyone the same way". Georgina, tell us more.

    [00:04:22] Georgina Nelson: So yeah. We've done some consumer insight research over the past few months to really try and understand how all these macroeconomic trends are influencing consumers in their shopping behaviors and habits. We sampled over 170,000 consumers across our key markets in the UK, North America, and Australia. And I think in terms of the nugget I wanted to shout about today was just really, I guess not surprisingly, the number of people who are noticing the impact on rising, rising cost of living. And that was a whopping 81% of consumers registered that change. But where I think it gets interesting and you, as you say, Ricardo, slicing and dicing that data is looking at the differences across demographics and age range. So when we looked at seniors, we found that 89% had been noticing the the rising cost of living. But take that, flip that up and look at those under 30 and only 75%. And so when you actually think about how the cost of living is impacting different demographics, I think it's, really focused on the rising cost of food, food bills, keeping your house warm and yeah.

    [00:05:39] And fuel, et cetera. And so you know, many of us, including me, did a, did a few stints living with mom and dad in my twenties. And so, you know, those household bills aren't, aren't impacting us as, as, as much. And and I think that's, you know, that's really the key lesson is that it's not, not a generic homogenous sweep all impact.

    [00:06:03] We have to really look at slicing and dicing that data and getting very granular insights about how, how these trends are impacting different groups.

    [00:06:11] Ricardo Belmar: So Georgina, we, we so often hear retailers being tempted to chase the newest and youngest demographic because they believe that's where the staying power is and the greater lifetime customer value might come from. But from the data you're, you're telling us, it, it seems to tell us really that retailers need to both tailor their messaging and their targeting unique to uniquely speak to each of those demographics to get the best conversion just based on how current economic conditions are impacting them differently.

    [00:06:39] So how would you say retailers should react to this data?

    [00:06:42] Georgina Nelson: Yeah, I, I very much agree. I think it needs to be a nuanced approach and you know, primarily to survive these times, retailers need to really invest in understanding their consumers. And, you know, as we saw through the pandemic, how. Quickly, these consumers are changing and keeping abreast of that. And so that means, you know, nuanced and targeted messaging to different consumer groups. But also I think it's down to a store level. You know, taking a very granular approach each, each store, as I always say, is a snowflake, and they have their own client. You know, their own customer mix. And so being able to get customer insight down to that store and granular level and really understanding that, that mix up. It helps you have targeted and nuanced strategies depending on that store. So, you know, if you do need to make a price increase, it might be an idea to, you know, look across the whole of North America, for example, and understand your, your base and, and share that distribution across different states and vary that price increase depending on the customer base, for example. So I definitely think that those retailers who are on the front foot with understanding their customers and being able to react really quickly to sentiment and changes in behavior are those who are gonna have the competitive advantage as we muddle through these times.

    [00:08:07] Casey Golden: It's great. Georgina, thank you so much for joining us today on Retail Razor's Data Blades,

    [00:08:13] Georgina Nelson: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.


    [00:08:20] Interview with Bryan Dove

    [00:08:20] Casey Golden: Things have changed now that we've sliced some data. Let's get back to the evolution of e-commerce with Bryan Dove.

    [00:08:27] Ricardo Belmar: And we are here with our special guest and latest retail transformer to visit the show. Bryan Dove, CEO of Commerce Hub, a leading provider of cloud-based e-commerce, fulfillment and marketing solutions for large retailers, marketplaces, consumer brands, and their suppliers. Welcome Bryan.

    [00:08:48] Bryan Dove: Thanks for having me.

    [00:08:49] Casey Golden: Really glad to have you join us, Bryan. Since our last call, we've both been really excited to have this conversation on marketplaces and fulfillment. Kind of touch on some drop shipping and what's been really what the future holds for all these areas for retailing in today's environment and our tomorrow's.

    [00:09:06] Bryan Dove: That's great. I'm, I'm excited to share, share what share what we've learned along the way.

    [00:09:10] Casey Golden: So just to get started, Bryan, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, Commerce Hub and how Commerce Hub works with retailers?

    [00:09:18] Bryan Dove: Sure. to start with Commerce Hub, the Commerce hub's got 25 years of history. We've been working with the largest big box retailers that are out there and, and really from the late nineties helping them enable and, and expand their e-commerce selection. So our customer lists. Our are the largest retailers you can imagine, folks like Walmart and Costco and, and Macy's and Nordstrom and Best Buy and so on.

    [00:09:38] We have a, we have a, a pretty, pretty meaningful number of customers in the large, large, big box retailer enterprise space. And what we've focused on since the beginning is helping them expand the number of items that they sell on their website. Where they have not had to have not had to purchase those items.

    [00:09:54] So classically referred to as Drop Ship. I think in modern terms there's drop ship, there's marketplace, and there's probably a blend of some other terms to, to describe that. We really just think about it as the unowned inventory. And for most of our, for most of our retailers, it powers it powers a significant portion and sometimes the majority of their overall overall online sales and almost always the majority of their overall online selection.

    [00:10:15] And for my personal background, I've been at Commerce Hub. Coming up on two years, so a little bit more than a year and a half. And then prior to this, I ran a travel business based outta Europe that helped almost a billion travelers a year worldwide. We were number one in 140, 150 countries. And then prior to that, I spent some time at at Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and and some other tech companies along the way.

    [00:10:33] Casey Golden: Amazing. So just to add a little bit of context for our listeners, the Commerce Suite, what does that mean to a brand or a retailer?

    [00:10:42] Bryan Dove: So we at Shop Talk this year, So back in March of 22, we, we launched what we branded as the Commerce Suite. And this was really our, our primary evolution of the history of the business. So historically we've been, we had been really narrowly focused on. Enabling drop ship and has been been quite successful.

    [00:10:59] It's a critical piece of infrastructure for all of these retailers that we work with. But as we were talking to our customers, what we heard is we heard lots of needs for expansion for flexibility, various customers experimenting with item, with ideas like marketplace. Now, if you ask five customers what they mean by a marketplace, you'll get 10 to 15 different answers 

    [00:11:18] Casey Golden: omnichannel.

    [00:11:19] Bryan Dove: Yeah. And, and so, so when, when you, when you really listen for the essence and, and push the labels to the side, what they were really looking for is flexibility in the way that they engaged with suppliers, flexibility in the way that they set up items and got them published to the site. Flexibility in striking different economic arrangements with different brands that they worked with.

    [00:11:38] And so our, our release of the commerce suite was really the first major step in that direction to go from a pure drop ship platform. To enabling that flexibility that allows, that allows our retailers and the brands and suppliers that work with them to, to flex between a drop ship model, a marketplace model, and be able to look at those differences really as, as almost like, like light switches that you could turn some on, you could turn some off and, and really enable that to work as well as there's some there's some lightweight catalog management and items set up automation that's in there as well, really to help enable brands and suppliers to take more control over their listings and and optionally over, over prices as they publish onto these different retailer platforms. And so that's really what's encompassed in our commerce suite that we launched earlier this year.

    [00:12:20] Ricardo Belmar: That's Great so really all kind of broadly encompassing all the major functions that any, any eCommerce brands really, really searching for. Right? Just in into one platform.

    [00:12:29] Bryan Dove: Y Yeah. I mean, if you, if you think all the way, you know, at a, at a million foot elevation, broadly speaking, retailers are trying to carry two buckets of goods. Things that they have. That they have purchased. So whether it's sitting in their warehouse to only be sold online or they purchased to bring into their stores, and then the rest of their selection are items that are still owned by either the brand or the distributor or the supplier that they still wanna list, but they haven't actually taken inventory possession for.

    [00:12:54] And when I, when I look at what our Commerce Suite enables, it really becomes that, that single platform to power all of your needs for your unowned inventory, we have a, we have a network not only of, of dozens to hundreds of retailers of the, of the largest retailers, but tens of thousands of brands and suppliers that are connected.

    [00:13:11] And so over the last, over the last 25 years, we've really built this, this network that encompasses virtually everybody of scale across the the North American eCommerce system.

    [00:13:21] Ricardo Belmar: Well, that's pretty impressive. so one of the things I think we should talk about along those lines too is around fulfillment strategies. So for any of the retailers, you're talking about in all these scenarios with this mix of owned inventory and other inventory that they have, how that retailer can create a really exceptional delivery experience , and overall fulfillment experience for their customer using, using your platform, how do you help retailers kind of unify their, that online marketplace or, and or drop ship capabilities that they're doing with their overall customer experience?

    [00:13:52] Bryan Dove: Sure. So, so I mentioned, I started, it's called a year and a half ago or so, and, and part of, part of starting, one of the great things about being in the, in the B2B space, in the enterprise space is it's, you can go talk to your customers. And, you know, I, I made a point to go out and talk to them when I started.

    [00:14:07] I, I still talk to a number of customers virtually every week now. But as I was just talking to 'em, I would just ask what problems are they thinking about? What are they worried about immediately? What are they worried about over the next couple years? And we really started to see this trend where historically organizations would really separate the fulfillment inside of their supply chain.

    [00:14:26] So thinking about everything from warehouses to fulfillment contracts to logistics, separate from the merchandising. Pricing and online sales, and it only really, almost really operated as, as almost two different business units inside the organization. And what we saw as an emerging trend is, I, I heard from more and more of these retailer executives and, and the executives at brands talking about intersecting the two, How could they use their knowledge on merchandising to better optimizer fulfillment and how could they use their, their expertise in fulfillment to better optimize their merchandising?

    [00:14:58] If you want just a simple example, you might price an. Or you might price shipping differently if you know it's sitting in a warehouse that's you know, that's a hundred miles from you. So if the warehouse is in the central Florida and you're shipping it to Orlando, I might offer you next day service for free because I actually know the net cost of that is gonna be cheap and I'm gonna delight my customer by saying, Hey, you've gotten a free upgrade to overnight, versus that item is sitting in a warehouse in California.

    [00:15:22] Well, I know it's not economically feasible for me to do so, and, and therefore I may go a more traditional round of saying, I'll just send it ground and it will be. In maybe four to six days. And so we heard just the early, the early inklings of some of these ideas without a lot of concrete plans. And so at the earlier this year, at the same time, we launched our commerce suite, we launched a new product offering for us in the fulfillment space that we call our delivery suite.

    [00:15:45] And what that has really focused on is, is helping retailers. A number of different individual items in their fulfillment chain. So things like as simple as the delivery promise, when will this item show up on the customer's doorstep, which most folks have, have pretty well under control for items that are in their stores and in their warehouses, but for things that aren't under their control that are sitting in the, these brands and supplier warehouses, they're sitting in three pls and remember this, I know an inventory makes up the, the majority of selection that, that a lot of these retailers.

    [00:16:17] They really have no control and no insight, and we were able to use the data that we have to be able to drive high quality and high accuracy estimates, and then you connect it into what shipping method to be used. Should I ship this by, by two day, by three day by ground? Well, it depends on what date you promise to the customer.

    [00:16:34] And then how do I manage the economics of that? There are lots of different ways to rerate, What, what warehouse should I originate that shipment from? Where, you know, I may, I may choose my secondary warehouse, but it might just be on the other side of a zone line, which is gonna materially save me money in shipping.

    [00:16:49] Because we work with all these suppliers, how do we drive better compliance of the ship method to be used so that when the retailer's planning on paying for say maybe a ground. How do we make sure that it actually gets coded as ground and doesn't accidentally get coded as, as three day error or something like this?

    [00:17:04] All the way to visibility and tracking and out to even the consumer facing technology so that they can see, where's my package? Let me, let me track it. When is it gonna be, when is it gonna be received? How could I receive text message updates? All of the really consumer facing functions. So we worked with a couple vendors in the space to bring these together and provide our, our retailers with an all-in-one package.

    [00:17:24] What we learned is we dug in. One. Most of our retailers were out purchasing individual solutions and while they could find best of breeds for each niche, what it meant was that they had a pretty high total cost of ownership in having to staff various IT people to set that up, to manage those, to do their own integration between all these tools to make them work seamlessly.

    [00:17:46] And second is that all of those investments had really focused on a lot of their owned inventory, their their first party inventory. And so what we really set out to focus is make our delivery products available and functional for whether it's first party inventory or third party inventory. But we, we saw a notable a notable gap in being able to optimize the fulfillment operations, both for consumer experience and for cost, and being able to do that for all of their third party and unknown items.

    [00:18:14] And we, we've seen, we've seen really substantial interest over the last six months, this was a completely new area for us. It's adjacent to what we've done on the, on the, on the unknown inventory platform. And we've seen great interest. We've seen a number of different pilots and a number of different customers already beginning to realize pretty substantial savings along the way.

    [00:18:33] And we, we think we're still pretty early days in how we integrate what happens on the fulfillment side and what happens on the, on the ordering side. And we think as we can bring more and more of that insight and intelligence. It ends up winning for everybody. It wins for the end consumer because they have more accurate expectations that more consistently get met and ideally get exceeded.

    [00:18:53] They have better consumers, have better visibility and better transparency to what's really happening. The retailer. Gets more, gets more accurate information to predict what's gonna happen, as well as getting better cost control, as well as taking out some of their internal costs and how they strip strip these together.

    [00:19:09] And then the, the fulfillment carriers also get excited by this because there's opportunities for them to get better insight into the data of what's gonna be there when they drive a truck to go pick up at a, at a three PL location, do they need to send a 20 foot truck or a 40 foot truck today? Or do they need to send three trucks or six trucks?

    [00:19:24] And being able to, to use that information to drive efficiency through the whole system ultimately results in everybody having lower costs and being able to return that in the form of lower prices to everybody in the, in the ecosystem. So we think there's a, there's a lot of legs to really further integrating these two and, and, and seeing more and more retailers think about how can they use those two halves of the business to inform each other and drive more, more value and efficiency into the system.

    [00:19:48] Casey Golden: It really sounds like you're building a lot of these distribution strategies into the software to optimize for these for a more flexible business model so that it's not as painful as we remember to be able to launch a new channel or to be able to communicate across some of these different departments. Fulfillment to merchandise planning to customer experience. Do you bring, do you find that a lot this process with launching the delivery suite or just implementing it I'm sure that you guys are bringing a lot of distribution strategy and options to the table that some of these retailers or brands just really thought was out of their reach of being able to deploy.

    [00:20:34] Bryan Dove: Yeah, I, I, I think one of the, one of the things that's really unique about, about the retail space is how, how substantial the scale differences are, even amongst the top, top 10 or top 15. And so if you just take, just take overall annualized sales as as just one metric of, of overall size, and you think about, you think about Amazon being in the 800 plus billion range in annual sales, then Walmart number two at 550 ish, give or take, and then you get to number three and four, and they're, they're in the 200 2200 30 billion.

    [00:21:07] Two 30 billion is still a a ton of money, a ton of volume, but if you look out on a relative basis, it's pretty rare to see the step from number one to number three, be a 75% reduction. I mean, you've got a four x difference between number one and number three, and you keep going down. You get from number number three and four at 222 and 30 billion folks like Costco and Target.

    [00:21:27] When you get to like number 15 on the list, you're. 20 or 25 billion. Now, again, 25 billion a year in sales is enormous. These are enormous businesses, enormous brands really delivering value for consumers. But there's still one 10th of the size of the folks who are number three and four. And so when you look at that dispersion in scale, there's, there's technologies and techniques and opportunities that are available to the, to the number one or number two players in the market that all of a sudden become less Less viable on an ROI basis to bring even to numbers 3, 4, 5, and so on.

    [00:22:02] And I think what's really unique about our, about our approach is that we do work with the, the virtually all of the large retailers that are out there. So we get to see what, what the best and brightest and retail are doing, and then we work with them to say, how can we learn from that? How can we, how can we bring that at scale?

    [00:22:18] And how can we democratize access to that insight and that technology in a way that benefits everybody? And again, what, what I, what I. What I really love about the retail space is as we can drive efficiency and and scale and, and flexibility into this platform, it ultimately results in lower costs, which in turn, because the sector is so competitive, results in lower costs and lower prices for consumers.

    [00:22:42] And so being able to drive that efficiency all the way through the ecosystem by. Scaling, scaling these best practices and, and democratizing access. But quite frankly, we'll really guide our, guide our path over the next several years. And we continue to listen to our customers about what are the most pressing and most important items.

    [00:22:56] But we think we have given our reach and engagement and the, the size and scale of, of what we internally call the commerce network of just the number of folks connected to it. We think we have a pretty unique position in the ecosystem to to democratize access to a lot of. A lot of these newer pieces of flexibility and, and efficiency.

    [00:23:14] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. So speaking of, you know, consumer expectations, let's kind of shift a little bit there cuz you've mentioned a couple times right, on how retailers needing that ability to. Deliver, I'll describe it as sort of the same or meet the same expectations. Right. Whether it's their own, their inventory or the unknown inventory.

    [00:23:31] Right. To your point, and if we think about how a lot of these expectations, I believe have changed or, or maybe been slightly modified a little bit of in recent years, certainly because of the changes in shopping behaviors during the pandemic. Now there's, I think, new pressures right on retailers on how they go about meeting these.

    [00:23:50] Customer expectations and certainly the old tools that they're used to using are, are probably not built to support the kind of mass, direct to consumer characteristics that a lot of these expectations are really. Calling for right now based on the new experiences that consumers got so used to during the pandemic years.

    [00:24:06] So so Bryan, I mean, when you look at this, what, what kind of impact are we talking about in this concept? Cause you've, you've mentioned a few examples of how , retailers using solution can really meet these expectations, deliver on those customer promises. And you've also talked about how it's not just about delivering the experience, but also doing it in a cost effective way, there's potential cost savings that can be had because you're doing things more efficiently. You know, I love the example you gave about how, you know, if you know that the particular item is in a warehouse that's relatively close to the customer's destination, then you can offer a different a different shipping shipping.

    [00:24:43] Still save money in, in the process. Right? Because you're not shipping it across the country to meet that requirement. Do you have some, some data points you can share some examples on, on just what kind of, , whether it's the cost savings or, or increases in, in customer satisfaction and things that you've seen with your customers.

    [00:24:58] Bryan Dove: Sure, sure. Maybe, maybe I'll share I'll share one that's that's quite solved and one that I think is really interesting. But as of yet, as of yet, unsolved, which I think is always, always interesting to talk about what else could come in the

    [00:25:08] Ricardo Belmar: Right. Right.

    [00:25:09] Bryan Dove: So in, in the, in the places that are solved maybe two data points that we see.

    [00:25:14] One is that being able to provide certainty of when something is going to show up on your door. Which sounds so, so rudimentary and basic, but yet what you'll see across a lot of sites is either they'll see high precision on the items that they have in their warehouses and stores, but low precision on the items that are sold through that are still, they'll still, still sitting in the vendor's warehouse.

    [00:25:34] You know, you might say, arrives in six to 10 days. Well, it turns out that that really hurts your conversion rate. And so a customer may come to that page, they want to buy that. But now they're worried six to 10 days. One, I might need it within a week, which is not unreasonable. And I don't know if it's gonna be there.

    [00:25:51] Two, it seems so fuzzy. I'm worried six to 10 days becomes 20 days or 30 days, or I worry it's on back order. There's all these things that we've, we've been trained as consumers that, that, that, that gives me low confidence. And so we saw, we saw with one of the large retailers just being able to give delivery certainty both on parcels things that'll fit in boxes. But also on, also on appliances and refrigerators and, and, and, and furniture and just large purchases. We were able to increase the conversion rate into the into the low double digits. So when you start talking about a, plus 10 or plus 12 or plus 14% relative improvement in conversion rate on those types of items, Those are, those are tremendous value creators for both, for the retailer and for the consumer.

    [00:26:33] They're already on the page, they're already on the specific item that they're looking for. This is not a, a top of funnel or browse behavior. This is the last step of add to cart, and, and we see that, We see that driving a, a tremendous tremendous benefit for consumers and for retailers. Similarly I mentioned in our delivery suite. One of the products that we work on helps give consumers visibility to where is their items, where are their stuff? And this is classically the number one driver of customer service calls. Hey, I was expecting this item on this date. Where is it? And so what we've seen is not only driving a better, higher quality consumer experience for where they can see what the, the actual status of their order is.

    [00:27:09] We've seen it result in 25 to 40% lower customer service calls. We've also seen it result in higher conversion of subsequent purchase. So I'll get that update mail that says, Hey, your items on the way. It'll be there on Tuesday. And there are some links there if in case I'm looking for additional items that might be related additional categories or sales.

    [00:27:28] And by doing that in a really consumer first way we've seen there was one example I saw that folks were seeing an increase of 300%. So a three x increase in the amount of total conversions and the total revenue from people clicking through that email. They had built it in-house. They upgraded from an in-house solution to the partner that we're.

    [00:27:46] They were seeing a 300% increase in that in that conversion rate. And so we see really, really dramatic gains that can be had when you're able to to really orient on and meet and exceed those consumer expectations.

    [00:27:58] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, three X is an amazing, amazing change, amazing improvement. 

    [00:28:01] Bryan Dove: amazing 

    [00:28:02] now and,

    [00:28:03] Casey Golden: like on that consumer side, like as somebody who lives in Brooklyn without a doorman, Delivery time and knowing when it's arrived, it affects whether or not I'm going into the city and when I'm gonna be back. And there's many of times I do not order something online just because it may not be on my doorstep when I get back.

    [00:28:22] Bryan Dove: That that's right. So that is an amazingly unplanned segue to the thing that I was gonna tease, I said is, is a growing trend but as of yet unsolved,

    [00:28:29] which 

    [00:28:30] Casey Golden: had somebody running around Brooklyn wearing a Monaco hoodie, and I spent three years looking for it, and

    [00:28:36] Bryan Dove: Yeah,

    [00:28:37] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah.

    [00:28:38] Bryan Dove: you're gonna, you're gonna run into them someday on the on the subway and, and you're gonna to have that moment of, how do I get this back

    [00:28:44] Casey Golden: that's.

    [00:28:45] Ricardo Belmar: Right

    [00:28:46] Bryan Dove: Just carry the printed receipt around 

    [00:28:47] Ricardo Belmar: Right . Yeah.

    [00:28:49] Bryan Dove: So, so speaking of that, there's, there's an really incredible trend that I think is still in, its in its early days that there's a lot that we can adapt the ecosystem around. So this notion of buying online, picking up a store, right? Classically BOPIS and when we, when we saw this spike over the last couple years, when you think about what happened in 2020.

    [00:29:08] Obviously the stores closed. You saw this massive spike in e-commerce adoption and at the time, all of us collectively believed this has just pulled the future forward. And what we've started to see is when you just look at the overall public retailer numbers and and public e-commerce numbers, you see that over 21 and 22 is things began to open up as we started to feel more comfortable in this pandemic or potentially get past it. You saw, you saw slower growth in the e-commerce space, and it almost starts to revert back to the historical trendline, historical average. Now, e-commerce is still up to the right over time, but that, that dramatic pull forward has started to start to ebb back to the, to the longer term 10 15 year trend.

    [00:29:46] What's interesting to me is buy a line pickup in store when, when you look at some of these BOPIS numbers that some of the retailers put out. They were not talking about 20% year on year gains. They were talking about things like 60% gains, 80% gains, a hundred percent year on year. You see some retailers, huge retailers talking more than 50 or 60% of all online orders are fulfilled by BOPIS.

    [00:30:07] Now to me, what's really fascinating is that that trend has not just been a spike in during 2020 and early 21. That trend has sustained and continues to grow. So now then I start to look at it and think, well, how is BOPIS working today? Really what it's limited to is it's limited to the stock that's on hand in the store that's around the corner from you.

    [00:30:26] And so if you think about the evolution of e-commerce, we went from only buying what was in stock at our stores to now having this access to this infinite aisle, this endless aisle where all of the items were available. And now we have this new emerging preference around BOPIS. Yet BOPIS now comes back to being restricted to only the items, only the items that are on hand in the store.

    [00:30:46] And so, you know, when, when I look at where is additional space for innovation by, by intersecting where consumer patterns are showing up, and what retailers are looking at is, we're, we're actively working with folks to figure out how do we expand what's available for BOPIS? How could we have you still get that convenience?

    [00:31:03] Maybe it's not one hour, maybe it's 12 hours. But if you ordered it tonight, how do you go pick it up from the store tomorrow so you don't worry about the item getting stolen from your doorstep, which is not only a Brooklyn problem, it's a pretty common urban problem. And we are, we are, we are broadly a an, you know urban plus plus suburbs population.

    [00:31:21] When you look at the population dynamics in a rural is a, is a relatively small portion of the population overall eCommerce spend. How do we make that safe to have things ordered at home? How do we make that safe to have the convenience so that, you know, you get that item and there's, there's a lot of drivers behind the, the rise in BOPIS There's another theory, which is, you know, we all work from home these days, or, or a number of us do.

    [00:31:41] And if you work from home, sometimes you're just looking for an excuse to get outta the house, but you still want the, the convenience of e-commerce. You don't wanna be waiting through aisles with a cart and picking out all the things you need. And so it, it does BOPIS provide that middle ground where you're, you're really getting outta the house, but not, but, Reducing the time spent on the part that you don't enjoy.

    [00:31:59] And so we're seeing this tremendous rise and looking at how we can help help expand that selection for what's available by Bopis. So you still get that endless aisle experience, but you're still able to leave the house, still able to go pick up the items that you want on your schedule in your time.

    [00:32:11] Casey Golden: No, I think that that's great and I think , it's really important, when so many sales start online and really bringing in. We have 80% of retail that's traditionally been in store. It only makes sense to be able to window shop or browse online and swing by and pick it up. The likelihood of you buying another item is higher.

    [00:32:32] And just being able to be more focused , when you're looking to make , a purchase today, you know I need something. I need it today. You go browse online and then if you don't have that pickup in store availability, or be able to filter those products to be able to say like, what is actually here?

    [00:32:53] Cause I'm gonna be swinging by, or I'm coming this direction and I need to pick it up. There's a lot of, there's a lack of communication there from online to the stores. Commonly, you know, if they don't have a really good program in place. I, I look at going to five, six stores to make a purchase. I wanna know what you have.

    [00:33:11] I don't wanna go to six stores. Physically . I am looking for something and I just wanna go to the store that has, has it or something that will suffice because I needed it tonight and it was last minute or whatnot. And I think that this is a big opportunity for a lot of brands to solve these inventory issues that kind of goes back to omnichannel. Really understanding where the overlap is, where your inventory levels are and how do you get it to the customer based off of like multiple options. Waiting five days is not ideal, but either is, you know, going to like seven stores in between your day to day trying to just find a sweater for a holiday party or for something. You know a lot of people wanted to get back out, but at the same time, in-store inventory was 10% of what was available online. And you'd go to the store and there's like nothing in the stores. All of these things were available online only. So big difference if you knew what your customers could pick up in store.

    [00:34:18] You could plan your in-store inventory a lot better too.

    [00:34:20] Bryan Dove: That's right. Well, and I think, I think you hit, hit the nail on the head with the, with the 10% number, which is, if somebody has, I'll make up a million s skews. They may have only 30,000, 50,000, maybe a hundred thousand in, in the store, minus whatever is currently outta stock or sold out. Cuz they only stocked one or two or three of, of a lot of these SKUs.

    [00:34:42] And so the idea that I need it tonight you know, you're pretty limited, but if you could get it in the morning. All of a sudden, what's available in the morning is 40,000 SKUs. Maybe not the full, maybe not the, the, you know, the, the full million skews, but maybe 40,000, maybe a hundred thousand, maybe 200,000, some meaningful portion of that million SKUs all of a sudden is available on relatively short notice that all of a sudden changes the, the way that you think about this, rather than waiting three or four days for it to get home.

    [00:35:09] Casey Golden: how you filter, how you search from like the first click is like, show me, this, I need it around this time. Rather than looking at product first, you're looking at filter my product based off of timelines and availability.

    [00:35:23] Bryan Dove: That That's exactly right. And, and I, you know what I find in the B2B space, the place I always try to anchor myself is I start from what is the consumer experience and work backwards. And I feel like if there's something that's, that meaningfully improves the consumer experience going from, you know, tens of thousands of SKUs to hundreds of thousands of SKUs that I can pick up within the next 12 hours, that's a great upgrade.

    [00:35:43] And then it turns out being able to do that drives better economic efficiency for the retailer and for the brand as well. And so now all of a sudden that becomes not just a viable option, but in fact sometimes a preferred option. And when you have this intersection of better for the consumer and more efficient and effective for for all of the businesses in the operational chain, that, that's really where I I where I start to see the magic light up.

    [00:36:06] And, and I think those are the types of scenarios and combinations that when we're talking with our customers, we really look for and say, Now is there, is there an interesting or unique way that we can invest to enable that scenario in a way that's gonna benefit every single member of the of the ecosystem?

    [00:36:21] And, and those we find are the winners that we really try to focus on.

    [00:36:24] Casey Golden: Yeah, your white boarding sessions sound like fun.

    [00:36:27] Ricardo Belmar: In this case, Bryan, isn't it really a situation where the data's there for the retailer and maybe not in one place, obviously, but in lots of different systems potentially, but to a certain degree where at this scenario you've just described in trying to solve this challenge, it seems like it just comes down to being able to collect the data from all these different areas and find the right way to surface that The corresponding insight that you're really getting at here, right into how do I make these additional products available to, to a a, a BOPIS customer right at the time that they wanted to be available knowing that I probably have an item somewhere, but it may or may not be in the right place at the right time.

    [00:37:06] Bryan Dove: That, that, that's exactly right. I think all of this data to somebody in the, in the ecosystem, they have all the data. The difficulty of can you find the right data? Can you, can you make it usable and can you intersect it in ways that ultimately benefits everybody? I think that's where, where everybody needs to focus on what they're great at.

    [00:37:28] You know, if I'm a retailer, what I'm, what I'm amazing at is finding my target customer segments, understanding what they're looking for, being able to reach them consistently and do so at, do so at relatively low cost. That that's how they're, that's how they're able to generate these, these large level of sales and, and do it profitably.

    [00:37:44] If I look at brands, they really understand their core customer and. Understand their tastes and preferences, and then they're able to, to get that to their customers, both through direct channels as well as through through retail channels. And you know, I, I look at companies like Commerce Hub and other technology companies in, in the e-commerce ecosystem.

    [00:38:02] Our focus is really on how do we take the data that's available, How do we take the, how do we find those insights of ways that we can improve a workflow that adds benefits and efficiency to everybody in the, in the chain. Democratize that through technology so that everybody gets access to those benefits and technology in a way that works for them.

    [00:38:20] And then this, the level of scale works for us. And so, you know, I think everybody's got a role to play and, and we try to, we try to do our best at listening to our customers and focus on ours.

    [00:38:28] Casey Golden: I think it's really great and I think that that's a, a wonderful term by democratizing access to technology because a lot of the times the technology costs are so large and to be able to obtain an ROI from it quick enough to validate that cost. Sometimes it's just, it's too much for a brand to be able to take on sometimes to be moved from number 15 to number eight, you know?

    [00:38:55] But 15 to number eight is huge. But these technology costs have definitely been almost gated by needing to be able to have a certain level of cash and resources to be able to implement some of the great solutions that are at that are available for the one Twos and threes.

    [00:39:15] Bryan Dove: Absolutely at, at a earlier point in my career, in my life, I spent, I spent about a decade building software for large hospital organizations. And it, you know, when you look at those, it's a, it's a, it's a different world than retail, but I think from a technology perspective, they were in a really similar place.

    [00:39:33] You have even more specialization you can imagine. The software for the radiology folks doing x-rays is different than the software for the cardiologist doing heart exams, which is different than the, the nurses doing general intake versus the the ICU and and everything else. And so they had hundreds of these individual pieces of software and the IT costs were just becoming overwhelming.

    [00:39:56] Cuz even if you just think I only need one person to maintain each product. Next thing you know, if you've got a, a group of three or four hospitals, you might have 1500 pieces of software, and you really saw, you know, 10, 15, 20 years ago, you started to see these, these hospital chains really start to crumble under the, the technology burden.

    [00:40:12] And, and out of that, you saw a few technology companies really rise by, by focusing on reducing that total cost of ownership. Easing that integration and making more and more of that functionality available to everybody, not just the two or three hospitals that, that had disproportionate scale, but really across the, the whole country and eventually the world.

    [00:40:32] And so having, having lived through that, and as I've gotten to know the e-commerce space more and more, I think there's a, there's a similar pattern that's starting to play out because e-commerce was, was so nascent for the first 20 years that it was just about, I need to have more items. I need to be able to reach more customers.

    [00:40:47] I need to be able to, I need to have more warehouse capacity, I need to have more fulfillment capacity. It was really about that scale up, but we've now started to reach this place where the scale, the growth, and the scale is swelling. And now it becomes a focus on efficiency. And I think the innovation that we'll see over the next 10 years is all about finding, not only can I take cost out, but can I increase and improve the consumer experience while I'm taking cost out.

    [00:41:11] And I think that's really where, where this notion of, of democratizing access to this technology and enabling some of these mid-size, mid-size folks or even the folks that have, have large scale and absolute terms. But, but under scale in retailer terms how do we help them compete with With the largest changes and with the largest businesses.

    [00:41:31] And, and then how do we partner with the largest businesses and help support them to, to spend their, their resources on the things that benefit consumers most rather than building infrastructure and tools. And so that's really how we focus on enabling the whole, the whole ecosystem.

    [00:41:43] Casey Golden: I think it's great. I really love seeing just a focus on your technology spend and how that affects the customer experience. We've been depicting the rules for a long time. And not really considering them in our software decisions. And now I feel that how any software impacts the customer experience is a conversation that's being had before contracts are signed.

    [00:42:04] And I think it's, I think that's definitely a step in the right direction.

    [00:42:07] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. And I think it also relates to an issue that when we last spoke with you, we talked about, if you have a retailer who able to spend on the right technology to help accomplish all these things. You're also kind of balancing that against what's the cash outlay for that owned inventory that you need to keep up with.

    [00:42:24] And given that we've kind of entered a holiday shopping season here, we know that the, the traditional retail approaches to really stock up on inventory for those holiday selling period. But there's also right, a model that says, You know what, what about having a more of a just in time merchandising?

    [00:42:41] Model for how you do this, particularly if you are becoming a marketplace. And I think you, you have some thoughts on, on this, right, Bryan?

    [00:42:47] Bryan Dove: Y Yeah, certainly. I, you know, I think fir first and foremost, if you asked a business, if you could meet all of your customer needs, would you rather put more of your cash at risk or less of your cash at risk? The, the answer is, The answer's pretty simple, right? I'd much rather conserve my cash and hold it in my bank account if I could still fulfill and meet all of my, all of my customer needs.

    [00:43:08] And so, You know, I look at that first as a trend and think, Well, if we can, if we land on the right side of that, then we're probably onto something. And then second is we look at, well, what are the, what are the barriers to meeting all of their, to meeting all of their consumer needs? And there are a number of them.

    [00:43:25] I mean, if we look over the last 18 months, we've all lived through these, these incredible supply chain challenges. And not only did you see the, the sometimes historical trends of, Let me boost the inventory I own, as we get into the holiday. But you saw a number of folks placing orders over the last 12 or 18 months to buy more inventory because they were just scared of having empty shelves.

    [00:43:44] And then what you saw in some of the public earning announcements earlier this year, you know, at the end of q1, at the end of q2, you heard people talking about now an inventory surplus. They'd built up all this inventory, but as demand began to contract, they ended up with surplus of what they didn't want and, and they have to start clearing it out.

    [00:44:00] And so we, we think one. Enabling retailers to conserve their cash or to choose to deploy it elsewhere. It, as long as they can meet all their customer expectations, it is better for their model. And so we really try to think about it less of what is the balance between owned versus unowned inventory and more, how do we enable more of the un unknown inventory to still meet all those consumer expectations?

    [00:44:25] And so when we, when we look at that, that notion of just in time merchandising, we think. How are we enabling more variety and more selection to still meet those consumer expectations? Things like next day Bo as a, as a place that we're looking at things like what we're already doing today of narrowing that expectation of when is that item really gonna be on my doorstep?

    [00:44:45] Or there's, there's other work that we've done with some of our customers where they may have multiple suppliers who provide the same item. And so how do we just automate the process of dropping through that supply? So when your preferred supplier sells through their. You don't need a merchandise person to go change things.

    [00:45:01] We just wanna fulfill from the next available supplier who has the next best, next, best offering, or next best price or next best shipping method. And how do we just automate that so it's not blocked by some, by some employee in the merchandising or supply chain team, quite frankly, to go in and hit, hit a green button to turn it on.

    [00:45:17] How do we just automate that process? And so we're, we're often looking for ways to take friction out of the system and, and bring some of that more real time and reaction. Experience to, to the offers. I, I think the, maybe the, the more, the broader trend around just in time merchandising is one that's gonna evolve quite frankly over the next few years.

    [00:45:38] And when, when I look at that, I heard I was talking to one of our retailer executives and, and he made a really interesting comment to me. And his comment was that he sees merchandising shifting from a group of folks who curate particular items. To a group who really curates and nurtures relationships with brands, and, and I thought that that was a, a really interesting notion.

    [00:45:59] We spent a lot of time talking about it. And what it really came down to is that if you think about the world of not just technology, retailers for years have been AB testing on their website, what is the page? What is the orientation that's gonna deliver the best, the best conversion rate, the best experience for consumers?

    [00:46:15] The best return rate I'm sorry, retention. But you have not seen a lot of that concept extend into the actual items that are being carried. And so where, where I heard this, this retail exec talking about really shifting to a relationship with brands and thinking, how do you entice a brand to just carry their whole catalog?

    [00:46:33] And you can almost start to use your website as a way to test if a, if a, maybe a brand has 10,000 items. Well, you're only gonna carry probably 200 of them in the. How do you know which 200 to carry and how do you start to let the website and your consumer demand through your website actually give you the data to know of these, of these 10,000 items this brand carries which of the 200 that resonate most with your customers.

    [00:46:58] And there's something really powerful about knowing that if you're on you know, abc.com, the customers who are already shopping there are telling you which of this brand's products they love most and then being able to upgrade that. So, A separate season, not a new wholesale order, not a new, not a new relationship or system setup or six month lag, but how would you change that from a per unit drop ship order or a pure unit marketplace order?

    [00:47:25] And how would you just order a thousand of those most popular I of those 200 popular items to just ship them into your stores directly? And so when we look at this, this notion of just in time merchandising over the next few years, we really see the technology doing more and more automation of the, of the easy and obvious tasks, enabling merchants to be far more sophisticated, far more data led, and thinking much more about relationships with brands and that escalation path that, that some of those SKUs are gonna be sold in the marketplace model.

    [00:47:56] Some are gonna be drop ship and some of they're gonna make it to the store. And how do we use data to, to really rethink that process and, and evolve it in a way that that just has, has yet to penetrate the, the way that we approach retail today.

    [00:48:07] Casey Golden: No, I think I, you, you, you beat me to the punch. My, my last question was really No, it was perfect. Was really about like what do you see the biggest change in commerce will be? That will be a new standard in, in about five years. And I think that just in time merchandising pan, like full stop, there's so much opportunity to make sure that the right product is being shown to the right customer at the right.

    [00:48:30] I've been a buyer in a former life, and yeah, you shoot from the hip. There's not a lot of data decisions that are made from that. And so there's such a huge opportunity of having the right product or that customer at the right time versus marketing a product to all the customers for a period of.

    [00:48:47] Bryan Dove: Well, as a merchandiser, as a buyer. What you're really trying to do is predict the future. You're trying to predict which products your customers will love most. 

    [00:48:56] Casey Golden: Without customer data

    [00:48:59] Ricardo Belmar: it's all about the data.

    [00:49:01] Bryan Dove: Well, you know, this is not an exclusively retail problem. I mean, across all of technology. For years and years, people have tried to, to, to predict the future of what, of what their customers would want in whatever sector they. And I think what, what we've learned across almost every sector is that at scale our opinions kind of suck.

    [00:49:24] Like our opinions aren't, aren't very accurate. You know, we have instincts in the directions our ability to read the market of the direction we should go in tends to be pretty accurate. But our ability to read the direction of the specifics and the details is pretty tough. And this is why you see, you know, AB testing is maybe the easiest thing to point to, but it's not the exclusive one.

    [00:49:44] You see across every industry and every sector, this continual shift to data driven decision making. And today, while it has penetrated things like the, the front end of the, of the retailers' website, it has not made it all the way into the backend, into the merchandising selection, into fulfillment strategies, into into warehouse locations and positioning.

    [00:50:05] There are, there are more and more places where we can use more data from the end. To drive better and smarter decisions and, and to let the data guide guide the way. And I think that is just a, a continual evolution that, that all of us have had to experience across basically every, every vertical because it's, you know, unless somebody's got a crystal ball, I don't know about, or, or a DeLorean that can go back in time, like predicting the future is, is it's really hard.

    [00:50:31] And so that, that's where we try to think about partnering with our customers to, to enable a more data driven approach.

    [00:50:35] Casey Golden: Yeah, everybody has an opinion in retail, right? And, you know, we've had to rely on that for, for decades. That opinion has carried a lot of weight on business decisions. And I think that, you know, we, I really appreciate you joining us today to dig into this much needed discussion as we approach the new year, new budgets holiday season.

    [00:50:57] Coming in really fast right now, so I have a feeling our listeners will hit the replay button and grab a notebook,

    [00:51:04] Bryan Dove: Oh, that's, that's very kind to 

    [00:51:05] Casey Golden: uh, re-listen 

    [00:51:06] Bryan Dove: both so much for having me today.

    [00:51:07] Casey Golden: , if any of our listeners, they, if they wanna learn more about Commerce Hub and how you might be able to help them, how should they reach out to you or, or follow you as, as you guys post more information and more case studies and things of that nature.

    [00:51:20] Bryan Dove: Sure. Easiest thing to do, just to learn more about our products and services, it's commerce hub.com spelled exactly like it sounds. You can also, we post a, a number of stories and, and, and insights that we've learned along the way. On the Commerce Hub LinkedIn account, that's probably the, the most active place where we post content or if anybody has specific questions or wants to get in touch.

    [00:51:37] I'm, I'm personally quite findable on LinkedIn. Feel, Feel more than free to just reach out to me directly and I'll happily direct you to the right folks on our team.

    [00:51:43] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. Fantastic. Well, thanks again, Bryan for joining us. We really hope to have you back again soon. This has been a really insightful discussion.

    [00:51:50] Casey Golden: I mean, I can keep 

    [00:51:51] you here all day. So Ricardo, I think it's that time for us to wrap up this episode, but thank you again, Brian. Really appreciate it.

    [00:51:58] Bryan Dove: All right, thanks, y'all. Have a great day.

    [00:52:00] Show Close

    [00:52:00] Casey Golden: We hope you enjoyed our show and we can't ask you enough to please give us a five star rating and review on apple podcast to help us grow and bring you more great episodes. If you don't wanna miss a minute of what's next, be sure to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player. And don't forget to check out our show notes for handy links and more deets. I'm your host, Casey Golden. 

    [00:52:32] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to learn more about the two of us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow the show on LinkedIn and Twitter at retail razor. Plus our YouTube channel for videos of each episode and bonus content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:52:48] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:52:50] 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. 

    53m | Dec 21, 2022
  • S2E6 – Holiday Special – Gifting

    What will the holiday 2023 shopping season look like for retailers? How are consumers adjusting their shopping, buying, and gifting habits this holiday season given the current economic environment? It’s our Holiday Special episode and we’ve brought in two incredible experts to dive into what’s really happening this season and explore what we expect the season will bring retailers.


    Meet Roshan Jhunja, Head of Retail for Square, who recently released their holiday Festive Forecast report based on surveying merchants and consumers, and Bridget Johns-Pavlopoulos, co-Founder of To&From, a premium multi-brand marketplace for gifts of all occasions.


    Square/AfterPay Festive Forecast Report available here: https://bit.ly/3EwpqP2

    To&From gifting marketplace: https://app.toandfrom.com/


    News alert #1: The Retail Razor Show has been nominated for The Retail Voice Award at the Vendors in Partnership Award ceremony during NRF 2023 in January in New York City! IF you’re a fan of the show, please give us your vote! You can vote here: https://bit.ly/VIPretail


    News alert #2! We’ve moved up to #19 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list, so please keep those 5-star reviews in Apple Podcasts coming! With your help, we’ll move our way further up the Top 20! Leave us a review to be mentioned in upcoming episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/


    Meet your hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.


    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!


    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring Made It On Stream (Xmas), from the album Lo-Fi Christmas, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno. Includes sound effects provided by Free Sounds Library.


    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    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




    S2E6 Holiday Special

    [00:00:00] Ricardo Belmar:

    [00:00:20] Show Intro

    [00:00:20] Ricardo Belmar: Hello and welcome to a very Merry and Joyous season two episode six of the Retail Razor Show. I'm your host, Ricardo.

    [00:00:28] Casey Golden: And I'm your holiday spirited cohost, Casey Golden. Welcome retail Razor Show listeners to retail's favorite jingle, bell filled podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike.

    [00:00:45] Ricardo Belmar: And if you didn't guess by our whimsical and seasonal intro, this is our holiday specials for 2023 episode of the show.

    [00:00:54] Casey Golden: So Ricardo did. Did you start your holiday shopping or this season?

    [00:00:58] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. Actually, [00:01:00] no, not really. I mean, had every intention to, honestly, ever since that second Amazon Prime day that we're not supposed to call Prime Day, cuz apparently I'm one of the few people who did buy things on that sale, but they were mostly for me and it didn't really help me get the shopping started early.

    [00:01:14] Casey Golden: Oh, shame on you, Well, didn't you know that every industry expert is saying customers started the season early? Maybe you just need to hear it from our two guests today to get you into the shopping season of giving mode.

    [00:01:30] Ricardo Belmar: Well, funny you should say that, Casey, because I bet many of our listeners are just like me and could use some insider knowledge on gifting and shopping ideas for the season. And by the way, did you start your shopping already,

    [00:01:42] Casey Golden: Of course I did. My grandmother taught me to shop for thoughtful gifts all year long, but there are always a few emergency pur purchases before, you know, black friday, of course.

    [00:01:52] Ricardo Belmar: Well, I should have known. So let's tell our listeners then all about our guests for today. Since we're not like other retail podcasts, we don't [00:02:00] just bring you a holiday special episode and talk about sales numbers for year over year stats for the season. No, no, no, of course we don't do that.

    [00:02:09] Casey Golden: Certainly not. I mean, if you just want those types of numbers, check out the reports on NR F'S website instead, we're bringing you some much needed insights into what retailers and consumers are, not just thinking. , but what they're actually doing so far this season.

    [00:02:25] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. Today we will be chatting with Roshan Jhunja, the head of retail for Square, who will be sharing some valuable insights from their recently released holiday forecast and survey of merchants and consumers.

    [00:02:37] Casey Golden: And we also have Bridget Johns co-founder of To & From a premium multi-brand marketplace for gifts of all occasion. Who will share some interesting data about how consumers are shopping for gifts, and maybe she'll give us a few hints on what the hot presents really are this season.

    [00:02:54] Ricardo Belmar: Well, I could certainly use some help in that department, so let's not keep everybody waiting and dive right into our [00:03:00] discussion with Roshan and Bridget.

    [00:03:06] Holiday Special - Gifting

    [00:03:06] Casey Golden: welcome everyone. We all know that finding that perfect gift is no easy task. But our guests have been making holiday shopping a lot more productive for retailers to prepare for the holiday season and less stressful on our pocketbooks. Alarming stat, 41% of Americans are willing to take on debt to gift shop with a whopping 15.2 billion is the estimated total of unwanted presents.

    [00:03:35] This is worth the conversation. We all say we're starting out our holiday shopping early this year, but what are we buying? What are the trends in who's shopping where and with what? Let's unwrap the holiday gift shopping season. This is our 2023 holiday special report.

    [00:03:53] Ricardo Belmar: And of course when the retail razor show does a holiday special, we don't just run through all the usual stats everybody else talks about. [00:04:00] You know the ones, how much will sales increase year over year? What categories will underperform or overperform, all the usual suspects? No, we like to take a different approach and leverage some real world experts that have read the pulse of both retailers and consumers.

    [00:04:14] So to help us unwrap this holiday special extravaganza. We brought in two experts on the topic, Roshan Jhunja, head of retail at Square joins us today hot off the heels of releasing Square, and AfterPay's festive forecast report, Roshan will be sharing many facts and stats from that extensive merchant and consumer survey.

    [00:04:33] Welcome Roshan.

    [00:04:34] Roshan Jhunja: Thank you, Ricardo Casey. Glad to be here.

    [00:04:36] Casey Golden: And since it's the season of Gift Giving, we've also brought in Bridget Johns, co-founder of To and From a Premium Multi-brand marketplace for every occasion guest to share interesting facts and figures about how people are shopping, why they're shopping, and. What they're shopping for. As we learn why To and From's mission is to change how we feel about gift [00:05:00] giving and receiving.

    [00:05:01] Welcome Bridget.

    [00:05:02] Bridget Johns: thanks so much for having.

    [00:05:04] Ricardo Belmar: let's go to you first. We're gonna talk a lot about your Festive Forecast report in this episode because we're all about the data on this show. So why don't you start us off by telling us a little bit about your background and what you do at Square and Afterpay, and explain to us the methodology in the survey and you know, who are the respondents?

    [00:05:22] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah. Glad to do that. So just to recap, square started with a purpose, which was to enable any individual or business to participate in the economy. And today,

    [00:05:31] 13 years after that,

    [00:05:31] founding, we've got a full ecosystem of commerce solutions from software to hardware, enabling merchants of every size type and complexity to run their business on Square.

    [00:05:39] That includes retailers, restaurants, beauty, personal care. And so my role at Square is looking after the retail vertical. So in particular, I'm the head of retail at Square. I've been at the company for six years. Before this I was largely in financial services, but kind of was interested in the mission and purpose of Square, and that's what sort of brought me and keeps me and, and my goal.

    [00:05:59] And I'm, I'm, you know, [00:06:00] the thing that keeps me excited and, and eager to get going every day is to empower retailers of all sizes to. By leveraging Square's platform. So I over oversee all the aspects of the vertical and we were really looking to create the best possible experience for retailers who run their businesses on square. terms of the methodology of this survey you know, like any good survey, it's important to make sure you've got a broad cross section. So we looked at both the consumer side 1000 consumers in the US as well as the seller side. So on the consumers, you know, we surveyed at the beginning of September, we made sure that we got equal gender representation.

    [00:06:33] We made sure that it was a broad demographic from, you know, the, the different regions in the us, northwest south, the Midwest, and, and. generationally, because that's increasingly an important access to look at. We made sure to include gen Z and millennials. In fact, you know, those kind of younger cohorts made up about 40% of the survey, but we also heard from Gen X, baby boomers and the postwar generation.

    [00:06:55] And so, you know, by doing so, we were able to draw out some meaningful distinctions between [00:07:00] how those different consumers operate. And then lastly, we also made sure to, to cover the seller side of the story. So we surveyed almost 600 square sellers in the us you know, of varying sizes, including some larger sellers.

    [00:07:11] And you know, one of the things that we did here was we looked year over year factoring, you know, some data that we have both on the square and after pay side. And yeah, eager to get into some of the the.

    [00:07:21] Ricardo Belmar: All right, fantastic. I'm looking forward to that. So Bridget, let's have you jump in here. You know, we've known each other for a long time now, but for listeners, why don't you tell us your background and what did you, and why did you get into the, the gifting side of the business and what makes gifting such a challenge?

    [00:07:34] And of course, what makes to and from unique.

    [00:07:37] Bridget Johns: Yeah. Thank you so much for asking. I've been in retail my entire life. I grew up on a farm and my first retail business was a corn stand when I was 10 years old. I moved on to more exciting retail. Worked for many years for brands like Ralph Lauren Home Collection, Tiffany and Co L'Oreal. And for the last 12 years as you know, Ricardo, I worked for Retail Next, which is an analytics company based in Silicon Valley, really focused [00:08:00] on brick and mortar data, data gathering of, of customer.

    [00:08:04] Action inside of brick and mortar stores. So as I started thinking about how I wanted to take my two sets of experience and bring them together to start my own company, gifting was obvious. It's my love language. It always has been. And I see a lot of pain points in today's gifting in the gifting world.

    [00:08:22] So those sort of break down into three categories that I talk about as discovery. It's hard for people to find good gifts. If you go to large marketplaces and you search for something, you are probably gonna be disappointed in those search results. there are No tools really for modern gifting.

    [00:08:45] On the digital side when you get outside of those large marketplaces. So there aren't things like widely adopted universal registry. There isn't a data set that really allows. Somebody to understand a consumer and their [00:09:00] preferences when it comes to when it comes to the people that are they're buying for and the occasions they're buying for them in their life.

    [00:09:06] And the third thing is, as Casey talked about, you know, 15.2 billion in returns of gifts, people don't like the gifts that they're getting. So our idea. That there is enough data in the market and that people will tell you about what they actually want as gifts, that if you bring it together intelligently and layer it in with some really good curation and some really awesome tools that help to just manage the day to day gifting that you can deliver a much better experience for consumers.

    [00:09:37] So that's what we're building at, to and from.

    [00:09:40] Casey Golden: It's great and it is all about consumers. So let's talk about the first step to any gift giving inspiration, stocking up on ideas and making a list. This is really where I see an opportunity for retailers to win customers over through product discovery. Where are shoppers getting their inspiration from holiday purchases?

    [00:09:59] Bridget?

    [00:09:59] Bridget Johns: That is [00:10:00] a great question and I think Roan will probably say the same. They get through inspiration everywhere and sometimes in the most unusual places. I have a 10 year old son who is a hockey player in a hockey mom's group on Facebook, and you would be shocked to see how much conversation is about hockey related.

    [00:10:21] For their hockey players. So I think, and it's like one of the things that we do at to and from is we get very precise about the occasion, the relationship, and the interests of the people who you're buying for so that you can get very targeted in really good gift recommendations.

    [00:10:38] Casey Golden: Roshan, your report has some interesting stats on this topic. What did your surveyed customers say about how they come up with their gift ideas?

    [00:10:46] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah, well, you know, picking up directly from what Bridget was touching on earlier family and friends, right. So, you know, what we found was that about. 43% of consumers are looking to family and friends of their top sources of inspiration. You know, and I'm sure that includes, you know, [00:11:00] Facebook forums and whatnot that that hockey thing resonated.

    [00:11:03] My father-in-law is an avid Giants fan. And you know if I could find the right place to source more giants gifts for him, I absolutely would. I think I've kind of exhausted what's out there. But for sure family and friends followed by being in. And you know, this is where retailers really get a chance to cultivate some of the in-store experience and make sure that it's a great place to discover new products.

    [00:11:22] And then, you know,

    [00:11:23] following along after that would be websites, blogs, and forums. And so, You know, obviously social media's gotten a lot better with targeting. You know, a lot of folks in their, you know, as they're scrolling their feeds are gonna you know, be presented with lots of ideas there.

    [00:11:36] But one thing that I will mention that, that I found relevant is that, you know, almost 20% of shoppers really are preferring products that are sustainable or ethical. So that's a pretty important trend, and one by the way that I expect to continue, especially as you know, gen Z continues to come into more purchasing power and makes up a larger portion of the consumer base.

    [00:11:55] Casey Golden: Speaking of Mary Zema and Mary Exes, I think there's a bit . Our, our, our [00:12:00] target markets have actually quite changed recently. So I heard Gen Xers spend the most money on gifts and they feel like they receive the worst gifts with 44% of them disliking what they receive. So since they're impossible to please end up the forgotten generation, let's just talk about Mary Zema and Gen in Gen Z, , because this is very interesting as like a prime.

    [00:12:24] Consumer target for a lot of retailers right now is, is trying to capture those eyeballs.

    [00:12:29] Ricardo Belmar: And I think as I looked through the festive forecast report, one of the things I took away is it seems like one of the indicators that younger shoppers, let's say Gen Z and millennials, are really looking to create something meaningful with gift giving versus just finding something they think will be a super interesting gift or, or item that the other person wants, which I think tends to be the way Gen Xers look, look at that concept. So I'm, I'm curious lemme go to you first. I, are you seeing trends like that reflected in your data at, to and from?

    [00:12:59] Bridget Johns: [00:13:00] Yeah, a hundred percent. So we have deeply attributed all of the products that are on our, on our platform. So we have 5,000 products across 500 brands, and each of those products is attributed for all the normal things that you would expect, like size and function and form, and. All those things, but also we have attributed across values that people care about.

    [00:13:21] So you're able to, you know, search for black own businesses or female female owned companies, or sustainable, or B corporation or whatever it is. And what we see is that not only do we overindex on search. With those attributes. So people are very highly interested in gifts that have a social tag attached to them, as Roan was saying before.

    [00:13:46] So we're definitely seeing that. But then we also see that those products lead to when you can find the product that has that social attribute, it leads to higher conversion. So, not only are people searching them, but they're also buying [00:14:00] and we see that across Across all of our demographics. So as a proud Gen Xer gen Xers also I think are interested in finding those right those right products that match the values of themselves or for someone else.

    [00:14:14] As someone once told me, he said, you know, I might know, not know what my girlfriend would like for her birthday, but I know what she's interested in. Like I know the social causes she's interested in. So it becomes this trigger that can actually help. The gift making decision, the decision making around gifting.

    [00:14:32] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. That's super interesting. So, Roshan, what, what else can you tell us from the findings in the report about these generational differences in shopping and are, are there different expectations from in each demographic?

    [00:14:47] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah. You know it's interesting because this is where a bunch of elements in the kind of the buyer journey may start to differ. I think, you know social media that I touched on earlier is certainly a more important influence for some of the, [00:15:00] the younger generations. I think 25% of shoppers, for example would spot gift ideas on Facebook or I.

    [00:15:05] I also think that it changes a little bit of the the buying timeline, whereas older generations are likely to get more of their holidays shopping earlier. We do have you know an emphasis on the younger generations trying to, and maybe waiting more towards promotional periods and, and sometimes even you know, pushing it right up until the holidays.

    [00:15:23] And so I do think that there's also a difference. Motivations, whereas older generations focus on value and making sure that the gifts are kinda targeted. There's more of an emphasis on the emotion from younger generations and kinda, you know the feelings that you know, they're creating meaningful connection.

    [00:15:39] And you know there's a, a sentimentality that's attached to.

    [00:15:42] Casey Golden: I like to hear that. So customers will look to family and friends for recommendations and in-store experiences and environments provide these high impact results for gift ideas. Sales may spur to get them to spend. Bridget, I can imagine disseminating customer behavior [00:16:00] during this season is difficult, and you mentioned that you have a lot of different types of tags and, and the way that you're indexing your catalogs and products.

    [00:16:09] How do you look at your assortment planning and really build those recommendation builders when it's not on the customer shopping, but who the customer's shopping for? I can imagine it's much more complex.

    [00:16:23] Bridget Johns: It's very complex and I think it's one of the reasons that gifting fails so often on the regular digital commerce experience. Like you don't have those normal tags that you would have in your regular life. Like we don't go shopping with our husbands anymore, like you. Walk around the mall and something catches your eye and you, your husband notices that something caught your eye just doesn't happen.

    [00:16:52] So we hear stories about husbands like creeping on their wives, fa Pinterest accounts, and , all of these wacky things that people do. But at the end [00:17:00] of the day, what you really need to do is you, I, well, the way we've approached it is, Assorted based on what we know as retailers. So a team of retail experts.

    [00:17:10] We've lived in brand, the brand, world merchandising world. Product world, understand the, you know, brands that we wanted to start with. And then we from there we've really led with the data, like what are customers telling us? How are they experiencing the platform? What are the things that are important to them?

    [00:17:29] You know, when we started, we didn't have a like mandate around values. And as we started doing a lot of consumer testing, one of the things that we heard time and time again was that consumers, as we've talked a little bit about really were leaning into the values of the brands that we were recommending.

    [00:17:47] So now I think. , probably 90% of our brands have some kind of a social tag attached to them. So if a customer is really wanting to shop their values, they're able to do that. And [00:18:00] it's the beauty of a digital business is that you can react really quickly. And we can flex up and down based on what we're hearing from our consumers and what their interests are at any given.

    [00:18:10] Casey Golden: And where does all of this excitement come from? You know, why are people gifting and, and how has that changed? You, your report mentioned kind of the, the purpose behind the why of this motivation for gift giving across these different demographics and the way that they look at it or feel about it.

    [00:18:31] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah. You know, what I'd say here is, is just, you know, again, to revisit why people are looking forward to the holidays. You know, the, the social connection is actually right up at the top of, of motives, right? I think we, we see a lot, especially the younger generations interested to see friends and family you know, the celebratory atmosphere.

    [00:18:48] And so, you know, but to lesser extent, you know, there is a, an important component of holidays that, that is really about gifting.

    [00:18:56] The good news is that in my book, you know, it's actually kind of a minority [00:19:00] that's focusing on gifting because it's expected, because it's traditional. And, and what you have instead is a big focus on showing love and care, putting a smile on somebody's face, you know, the, the, the good feeling you get from giving a gift.

    [00:19:12] And so these are all things that are kind of driving some of the behaviors out there. And so, you know, I think it's, it's important for retailers to consider how they can actually enable those outcomes, right? How they can Effectively cultivate their product assortment that aligns with what will make people feel good and, and make them feel like they're able to convey that love and care.

    [00:19:31] Casey Golden: A hundred percent. The the why leads to the what.

    [00:19:35] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, exactly. And you know, as you, as you I hear you saying that, RO I'm, I'm thinking about the opportunity retailers have to really lean into their loyalty programs during this season to help drive some, of these gift purchases. you know, do, do you have any. Tips for retailers just based on the research findings in the study or on what you would tell 'em to do and how to leverage or how to best leverage their loyalty [00:20:00] program.

    [00:20:00] Any interesting examples from some of the merchants you work with?

    [00:20:03] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah. You know, that's a great question. There's a couple of high level things I think that are going on especially this year, which is, you know, obviously we've had a lot of macro things going. On with inflation you know, and you know, symmetrically what, what our report found was. Despite what's going on out there, people are still interested in spending money for the holidays.

    [00:20:22] Consumers are gonna go out and the majority of them are gonna spend more. Some of them intend to spend, you know, quite a bit more. Still a very important time you know, for retailers to really think about how to reach those consumers now. But the, but the interesting aspect here is also that consumers are more than ever interested in.

    [00:20:38] Given that their money is, is you know, there might, it might not buy as much as it did before, really focusing in on what's gonna be a great value. And that's not always about the dollar. It sometimes comes down to things like return policies and, you know, a bunch of other value add components that retailers can add to kind of take some of the risk outta it and, and make sure that, you know, again, dealing with some of the the unwanted gift giving you know, there's, [00:21:00] there's ways to deal with that.

    [00:21:01] So, so as far as loyalty is concern I think this is a great time, especially for retailers that have oversupplied given some of the supply chain concerns and have just a lot of inventory sitting. There is a buyer out there for, for these things, right? But you may have to do a little bit more work to find them.

    [00:21:17] And so I think leaning into loyalty and marketing to make sure that you're kind of targeting the right people. And, and for some retailers that means doing so in different ways. Leaning into omnichannel, leaning into, you know, social channels to promote their items is gonna be super. So here, I would say that, you know, sending out marketing messages make sure that folks are, it's not just enough to, to have the sale.

    [00:21:37] People have to know about it. And, and there's, you know, a lot to choose from out there. So making sure that there's marketing messages that are promoting what's going on, keeping your brand top of mind. There was one seller that I would call out Sasha, who's the operations manager of the Chakra Shack, which is a spiritual gift shop in Laguna.

    [00:21:52] They're using Square for in person online this season. They're excited about using loyalty for the first time. It's something where, you know, they are really excited to [00:22:00] see what happens with customers in terms of, you know, how motivated are they by the rewards and the discounts? How's that gonna impact the business in the long term?

    [00:22:06] I really think that leaning into marketing, you know, especially with a lot of folks thinking about potential downturn next year, this is a really great time to kinda, you know focus. Refining your marketing approach because it's likely to be important for your business in the, in the coming months.

    [00:22:21] Bridget Johns: Yeah, and I would just, I would just add to that, that I think when you talk about loyalty, all of the things Rashaan said a hundred percent, but you also have to think about what's the value add for your consumer. And I'm surprised, especially in the, in the digital world, how few brands offer. Gift messaging and gift wrapping.

    [00:22:41] Two of the easiest things that you can do to really build loyalty for your customers and retailers, by and large fall short. Either the wrapping is terrible, there's no way to have a gift card, or it's so terrible that you wouldn't wanna use it anyhow. So just like think a little bit more [00:23:00] about what you would like as a consumer and build that into your loyalty program, I think could have a pretty tremendous impact.

    [00:23:06] Casey Golden: And just to validate that I do all of my Christmas shopping at one store. Because they offer free gift wrapping, beautiful note and free shipping

    [00:23:18] Ricardo Belmar: There you go.

    [00:23:19] Proof

    [00:23:19] Roshan Jhunja: That's amazing. I hope, I hope lots of retailers. Yeah. I hope the retailers hear

    [00:23:23] that. That's loyalty. If

    [00:23:24] Casey Golden: because I have a wonderful time shopping. I take it to the counter, I write my little notes and they gift wrap it and mail it out, and I'm done. And can go get a cappuccino and or a glass of wine

    [00:23:37] Bridget Johns: Yeah, really.

    [00:23:39] Ricardo Belmar: It's the way we all wanna shop

    [00:23:40] Casey Golden: not saying where I shop .It's not for everyone.

    [00:23:45] Ricardo Belmar: So I, I guess I, I want to kind of maybe switch a little bit here and talk about something, Roshan you touched on it a little bit a few moments ago, which is maybe the, in some ways the big elephant in the room for this season, which is, you know, everyone's worried about what impact of inflation may have on [00:24:00] shopping.

    [00:24:00] I think you've both kind of mentioned that if, if we go by what you're seeing so far, it actually maybe doesn't seem like it's causing consumers to shop less or to buy less at least so far at this stage in the holiday season. And I wanna talk a little bit about what, what the impact of buy now pay later has on

    [00:24:18] all of this , to be totally honest about it, right? Casey and I talked about this way back into our predictions episode at the start of the year, and we probably weren't the, the kindest people towards the, the category of type of payments and that, you know, our prediction was that there was gonna be a lot of consolidation in that space and that there was a risk that, you know, there may be regulators looking at what the impact on savings and consumers in general was gonna be, and I suppose you could make an argument that, you know, after pay becoming part of Square kind of speaks to that consolidation piece of it. But I think for the most part, all the other things we predicted on this one really haven't come to pass. And I think the momentum is still there behind buy now pay later.

    [00:24:54] So what I wanted to get into, and, and you have some interesting data on this in, in [00:25:00] the report, Roshan, on what impact, let's maybe start with the merchant side of it, you know, does offering B NPL to consumers, but both online and in store and across channels, what impact is that having this season on consumers either, either ability to buy their propensity to want to buy from a retailer that offers it, for example, versus one that's not?

    [00:25:20] Or what interesting trends are you seeing?

    [00:25:22] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah, it's great. It's a great lead in to say that you know, there were some predictions about this particular service and you know, looking at how it's been faring, I think is honestly, you know, the most important. And that is It's only increasing in terms of its importance for consumers, you know, and I think most online shoppers you know, have heard about it at this point.

    [00:25:40] And increasing more online shoppers this year, plan to use by now, later compared to last year from the, from the seller's standpoint from people that are offering this as a service. A hundred percent. Believe that it's going to help them with the, the younger demographics. So like the Gen Z you know, who are more, have a higher propensity to use by now, pay later.

    [00:25:57] You know, those are consumers that are citing an [00:26:00] interest in budgeting and immediacy, right? So, so wanting to actually have the item in hand at the moment. So being able to reach newer shoppers and I. We have seen this with more traction online for sure. But a lot of in-store retailers, what they're finding is that the need to have a coherent experience, you know, across channels.

    [00:26:16] This is the kind promise of omnichannel and always has been, is that, you know, your, and your ability to transact. Extends across all the various, you know, in-store, omnichannel, social, you meet your customer where they're in a consistent way. They know what to expect from you. And so I think that's a really important translation to make sure that, you know, those customers that maybe found you online or discovered you on social you know, have the same experience when they come to visit your store.

    [00:26:39] And, and that's just, you know, a powerful consistency and, and coherence kinda. But in terms of discovery a hundred percent. You know, there's a, there's a really impactful, you know, for, for the fa the fans of B now pay later who are looking to discover more sellers. I think there's several tools including you know, with Square and Afterpay, where you can actually use buy now

    [00:26:58] after pay supporting sellers [00:27:00] to kind of filter and discover who else out there might be able to support you with this really powerful buying mechanism.

    [00:27:07] You know, I think the stats are, are pretty telling here. It did start in Australia there, you know, there was you know, it skyrocketed in terms of its penetration both for consumers and, and of course for sellers. And in the US it is continuing to take off. We have now one in eight shoppers that would sign up for a buy now pay later service.

    [00:27:23] Like I said earlier, you know, it's trending up in terms of the number of online shoppers planning to use buy now, pay later, like after pay. So again, it's it's, it's here. I think the inflation inflationary impacts are an extra tailwind because you know, more people are looking to smooth the, the impact of their purchases and, and it helps a lot with budget planning.

    [00:27:40] Ricardo Belmar: Let's move into, talking about sales channels , one of the biggest recent debates going on in, the media about retail has to do with e-commerce, of course, since the pandemic taking over in store shopping is, is it true, is it not true? What, what's happened with social commerce? How does this all compare to the numbers of [00:28:00] people shopping in store versus these other digital channels and, and which one is likely to come out on top as the dominant format?

    [00:28:07] Which in some ways, I think a lot of times what consumers want gets lost in the noise. When we read about all this, all these reports in the media. So Roshan lemme start with you on this one. You know, given that this popular narrative right now for so long, and again, because of the pandemic, is that e-commerce was just gonna leapfrog all this growth.

    [00:28:25] Massive growth stores would close and suffer. Of course, it turns out that didn't happen. consumers are still going to stores and I think we're seeing in, in a surge now in consumers wanting to. In store and get that experience. you had some interesting in the surveys to both consumers, I think, and to your, your merchants about this.

    [00:28:41] What, what can you tell us and about what's happening here?

    [00:28:44] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah, I think you know, some of what we found in the survey was that Americans are most likely to get their gifts at online marketplace. You know, followed by discount department stores and superstores. One of the interesting things about this point you made about online is that in fact what we saw post pandemic was a lot of folks [00:29:00] interested to go back and reconnect with that in-store shopping experience.

    [00:29:03] And so, you know, while there was a very pronounced immediate shift when folks had no other option, we definitely saw it kinda rebound back to a place where people. Still value in store. Now, one of the most exciting trends to me personally is experiential retail, where, you know, interestingly from a staffing perspective, we've found that as brick and mortar retailers are adding staff to with in buyers to stores.

    [00:29:26] Who they're adding is actually, you know, baristas and, and more of this experiential aspect of, you know, coffee with your, your retail purchase. I know Casey values that, especially when she's done wrapping things up. You know, but, but it's kind of the, the retail store, the, the brick and mortar retail store as like a, a core component of your your neighborhood and your c.

    [00:29:46] And being a destination for folks you know, to get more than just a product. You know, also, you know, for bookstores doing book signings or, or music or, or coffee shops. And so I think that's in my mind one of the more powerful drivers of the channel mix is in store for discovery, [00:30:00] but also for experience.

    [00:30:01] But in terms of, you know, the, the, the buyer journey, this is an interesting one. It's not as cut and dry. You, you, you alluded to, you know, there's a lot of predictions out there in the media. It's not as cut and dry as you know, Hey, all, every, you know, online's gonna eat everything or social's gonna eat everything.

    [00:30:15] I think what we see instead is that discovery may happen in one place and that sometimes can be like social media More information often happens with, you know, researching, you know, product listings, maybe going in store to touch and feel and try something out, and the actual purchase may happen at yet a later time, whether that's via, you know, a conversational commerce with you know, the seller, like texting them, you know, what, I actually did decide to buy that thing.

    [00:30:38] Or, you know, maybe hitting the website. And so really it kind of this is, you know, the emergent omnichannel nature of, of shopping, right? It's kinda like your discovery to your. Finding more information to your ultimate purchase, and then even your return may all be at different places and at different times.

    [00:30:54] And so that's that kinda you know, in some senses muddies the waters, but but also make it more important to have a, [00:31:00] a coherent strategy of a presence across all the, your buyers wanted to. But in terms of the. The other point you raised on which social platform is it gonna be and, you know what's kind of most compelling?

    [00:31:12] I don't think that that there is a, a right answer to it. I think it has a lot to do with generational preference. I think there's always gonna be some social media platform or right around the corner, many of whom are trying to keep people on the platform. And by this I mean, if you are a retail seller one of the things that we're always encouraging folks to do is try to the grave you can to drive that purchase back to your site.

    [00:31:33] And the reason for this, Your ability to kind of have the customer information and to you know, be able to market to them is, is greatly diminished if, if it's, you know, entirely transacting outside of you know on a different e-commerce property. Right? And so there's also, there's a hundred percent powerful convenience, but this is where.

    [00:31:51] Being very deliberate about your strategy. Which products are you going to sell, and which channels and which marketplaces, and what, how then will you draw your [00:32:00] consumer back to learn more about your full assortment in, you know, on your website or in your store? I think that's an increasingly important strategy for, for all retailers to think about.

    [00:32:08] Casey Golden: are you seeing any trends around that buy online, pickup in store? I mean, I haven't had a lot of success with. That personally, but I know that it's been had huge growth over the, the pandemic and if it's carrying on here through holiday season.

    [00:32:22] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah, I think it's one of these things that along with the shift to e-commerce, the, the buy line pickup in store, buy. Buy online and return in store as well are here to stay. I don't think again that they're at the levels of engagement when there was no other option. But for sure we see increasingly retailers asking for ways to support this and looking for solutions that help them support you know, that flexibility of buy online and, and, and coming back to.

    [00:32:46] Casey Golden: I found it quite interesting that the report found that like 53% of customers are planning to purchase gifts online compared to in-store. But it still sounds like. E-commerce matters just as much as in store and you almost can't [00:33:00] operate one without the other. How do you see this with your reports and then just experience with Square being able to understand how that customer's buying online and in store.

    [00:33:09] Is there like certain KPIs that this is increasing, that it's 50 50? Is it 30%? Just kind of curious what, what that looks like from an omnichannel perspective.

    [00:33:19] With Square you have a really unique visibility to how much omnichannel business is driving each other.

    [00:33:26] Being able to track that customer from in-store purchases, online purchases. What does it look like? in the past has been kind of like a black hole and we just make assumptions. But you have a unique perspective.

    [00:33:38] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah. So what I would say here is I find that this varies a lot by the types of seller you know, with with our Square for retail offering, we tend to concentrate a lot on apparel. Where, where we see that a lot of discovery is happening online. We were just talking to hot Sam in Detroit.

    [00:33:51] A week or two ago, and they were describing how discovery online is a really important component of the, the buyer journey, but ultimately coming into the store [00:34:00] to engage with staff, to, to finalize that purchase, make sure that the, the fitting and whatnot is right. And, and that experience will be different for something that's a little bit more commoditized and not as bespoke.

    [00:34:10] You know, that requires kinda the assistance of an in store person. And so something like electronics or home goods, what we find is that there's a lot of folks who are willing to transact online. So the answer unfortunately isn't you know, as straightforward, although I, I will say that I, you know, they continue to be equally important channels.

    [00:34:27] You know, like you said before, you've got 53% of consumers planning to purchase. Gifts online compared to in store, that that's kinda an equal mix. And so really it, it goes back to that omnichannel journey that I mentioned where I think consumers really want a blend of online and in person experiences so they can purchase the way they want depending on what its, and you know, what they need in that moment.

    [00:34:47] Ricardo Belmar: So Bridget, obviously to and from focuses on the e-commerce experience and as you told us at, at the beginning of our session that, you know, you were looking to change things around [00:35:00] on, on solving discovery issues and gifting. , I'm sure you are now, you know, obviously well into the holiday season, seeing a increase in site visits and searches, et cetera.

    [00:35:09] What, what can you tell us about some of the unique trends you're seeing there? And I'm curious. How are consumers finding your site when they start their search for.

    [00:35:18] Bridget Johns: Yeah, so I think there are a few things that are important. I, you know, said before that you have to be where the consumer is. And for us that means being very precise about how we communicate to them. So we've talked a little bit about how we attribute and about how we organize our products to be able to.

    [00:35:35] Really dial into the occasion and the relationship and the preferences of the person receiving the gift. So because we've built our system to because we've built to and from, to allow for that, it allows us to be very precise in our marketing so we can very easily. Create a blog post about, you know, my sister who lives in a mid-century modern house who loves gardening.

    [00:35:58] So you can bring these [00:36:00] like disparate attributes together and create a very quickly create a list of gifts that will be appropriate for that person. And what that allows us to do is it allows us to meet the customer where they, where they are. To very specific Facebook group or whether it's a creator that's focused on a particular segment or topic or whatever it is.

    [00:36:20] And we've had a lot of success just being able to, to be so precise with the, the data and the assortment.

    [00:36:26] Ricardo Belmar: Okay, so you really do kind, kind of play on the whole discovery piece by creating these kind of interesting, inspirational moments of, of discovery. I, I would describe,

    [00:36:36] Bridget Johns: Yeah, and we do that across lots of different channels because customers are everywhere. So, you know, for one particular customer it might be a Facebook group for another customer, it might be a creator that's focused on gift wrapping and really like dialing into their audience and the. The types of people who like to follow their content, whatever it is.

    [00:36:55] So it's been like a really, a really interesting journey for me having lived my whole life in brick and [00:37:00] mortar to start being able to really dial into these little micro moments in a impactful way.

    [00:37:06] Ricardo Belmar: So Roshan mentioned this or touched on a little bit earlier and some of the sources of inspiration, I mentioned social media and that always makes me think about social commerce in general. So I, I'm curious, Bridget, what opportunity you see in the social commerce space in particular what you're doing at, to and from.

    [00:37:24] Bridget Johns: Yeah, I mean, it's been obviously a big important conversation for us, and I think there is so, so much interesting retail happening in the social commerce space, having, you know, Having studied retail for, you know, all of my career as, you know, I think being able to tap into that's critically important because it's such an important place for consumers and where they are and what they expect.

    [00:37:48] What we've done for this holiday season is we've allowed, we're allowing a beset of creators to create these custom gift lists that then they can kind of manage and share to their audience. So they can be pro, [00:38:00] you know, products from our assortment, but they can also be products that they. Think are interesting as gifts and we've given them some really good tools and the feedback has been very good so far.

    [00:38:10] We'll see through the holiday. Like I said, it's just a test we just launched in June, so we, you know, are still learning along the way. But we think

    [00:38:17] that, you know, giving tools to creators and, you know, having more visibility for social commerce, we think is important and will continue to be, you know, a growth area over time.

    [00:38:27] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, I have to agree with that as a, as a growth area for.

    [00:38:30] Bridget Johns: Yeah,

    [00:38:31] Ricardo Belmar: so makes me think, you know, timing is everything. and so back in holiday 2020, I, I wrote an article for the Robin Report about the death of Black Friday. And yes, it was meant to shock readers quite a bit. but my point was that Black Friday didn't really need to live on the way we're all used to thinking of it given how consumers started shopping so much earlier in the season, and frankly, how that actually helps retailers manage their inventory better and, and their pricing and discount structure for the season, particularly when we keep running [00:39:00] into these never ending supply chain challenges.

    [00:39:02] Roha, let me ask you, I mean, one of the findings I noted in the report where that. Younger generations might kind of spring into action with Black Friday and, and, and maybe Cyber Monday as well and get more shopping done. Whereas maybe, you know, gen Xer is like myself and maybe older generations, we might move a little slower and leave the holiday shopping for later and, and end up, you know, doing a lot more of that shopping in December.

    [00:39:27] Is there really a difference in timing for when each generation starts shopping from the findings you have and, and how should retailers react to thi

    [00:39:35] Roshan Jhunja: s?

    [00:39:35] Yeah, it's a, it's a great question on the timing. You know, for a while I think we all know that there was a bit of concern that the, the windows kept stretching earlier and, and, you know, are we gonna eat Thanksgiving dinners or are we just gonna go straight to the stores that day? And so I think what's interesting here is that, you know, we know that three quarters of Americans are gonna have their holiday shopping.

    [00:39:53] By December 1st. And so there's, it's more crucial than ever to kind of get started. Here we are in November you know, almost [00:40:00] halfway through it. And you know, I think Casey said she was already done. So you know, there's definitely evidence for, for starting earlier. That's not to say that folks won't be purchasing later in the season.

    [00:40:08] We do know that one in six are gonna start purchasing in earlier December, but by the time you get to mid-December, it's only one in 12. One of the ways to think about this is it makes it crucial to start your marketing as early as possible and to, to target on the channels that you think are important to get visibility out there.

    [00:40:25] But also it all is not lost, right? Black Friday, I think the term originated from, you know, retailers, you know, that might be in the red all year. Finally get into the black as they get into the holiday season. And so, you know, all is not lost if you kind of miss those early windows. I think still in December what you get is a lot of last minute shopping folks are, are still, like I said, there's a lot of consumer purchasing power out there.

    [00:40:45] So there's still a big windows opportunity to think about, you know, what inventory you have that you were interested in moving during the holiday season. And again, just continue to lean into marketing and discounting and make sure that you can reach those consumers that are trying to finish up their.

    [00:40:59] Casey Golden: said that [00:41:00] we weren't gonna focus on like the typical holiday retail trends that everybody else talks about. But what can I say? Like, show me the money we have to say a little bit before we close on what sales expectations are. Right. Ro in the report it says that 44% of retailers expect sales to grow this season.

    [00:41:19] Another 20% expect everything to remain pretty flat. Putting you on the spot here, how much of this do you think is due to inflation prices? Especially considering the expectations of heavy discounting? What's, what's kind of your prediction here?

    [00:41:35] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah, you know, It's, it's a good thing. You know, you let in with a follow of the money. Best I can tell folks are still spending and, and it's surprising in some ways because, you know, there is a lot going on. There's a lot of uncertainty and turbin in the world, but consumers are still spending.

    [00:41:49] And so really what I think, you know, in terms of retailers, they're kind of keyed into this and they know that you know, that there's still you know, transactions that folks are, are interested in. Some of the stats that we cited [00:42:00] earlier where there are significant portions of the consumer base that is going to spend more than last year.

    [00:42:04] Some of them ex expect to spend quite a bit more. You know, that right there is your inflationary answer. Even though those dollars are buying less, they're going to spend more of those dollars to make sure they can get the gifting done that they wanna do. And so, you know, yes, there's expectations in heavy discounting.

    [00:42:19] I would expect that to skew more towards the larger retailers. We've all seen headlines, whether it be Target, and you know you know, Some of the other folks that really leaned heavily into supply chain by overstocking. But I would say for smaller retailers, I don't know that there's gonna be as aggressive ing.

    [00:42:34] We do know that, you know, most folks in order to be moved by a discount, it needs to be 20% or more right. For them to even consider that changing their behavior. But here I would expect that I expect that retailers are still gonna see a lot of strong purchasing this holiday season.

    [00:42:48] Casey Golden: Bridget, I'm not gonna let you escape this one either. What is your overall hot take on sales this season? I come from a world of luxury, so there's no discounts on designer handbags. They're under the trees , [00:43:00] but.

    [00:43:03] Bridget Johns: Yeah, I think it's, it's interesting. I mean, I have been really impressed with actually the transparency from brands particularly the direct to consumer brands where they have. Not started their discounting, but they have told you they're going to start it. So you get an email that says, our friends and family or our Black Friday is going to start on this day, sign up to be on the list.

    [00:43:25] So it automatically puts it in your mind and you're like, okay. Like I, to me, that is one of the biggest shifts in email marketing. I haven't seen it and. Past years where you're getting like proactive notifications that the, you always know the sale is coming, but for D to C brands to be like, okay, next Friday we're gonna have 20% off, so be ready, or, you know, get early on the list.

    [00:43:47] I think it's super interesting this season. And I, I agree with Roshan. I like, I think it's going to be like flat to up. I don't think it's gonna be down.

    [00:43:56] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. I think everyone will be happy to hear

    [00:43:59] Bridget Johns: I [00:44:00] also don't, I also don't, but I also don't think it's gonna feel like a win

    [00:44:03] because I think retailers are gonna have to work so hard to get that flat up that it's gonna feel very painful.

    [00:44:11] Casey Golden: Very painful. I mean, we're not really used to this holiday rush. Right. And if they're. They're budgeting their staff and increasing their budgets on the experiential associates. In moments like baristas rather than store staff. I think we can expect that there's gonna be some longer lines. Longer hours, rather than hiring more staff.

    [00:44:30] Everybody's just gonna be working longer, so, Take it easy on everybody working in

    [00:44:35] stores this season. Be kind, find your patience. Bring your own hot cocoa

    [00:44:42] Ricardo Belmar: That's

    [00:44:42] right.

    [00:44:42] Casey Golden: if you have to.

    [00:44:43] Ricardo Belmar: telling stat, maybe what we're all gonna look at after the season is what was the margin pressure for retailers? So wherever the sales end up, I, I think even if we all say it's flat to up how, much of those dollars, you know, translated into [00:45:00] margin for retail, I think that's gonna be the, the big question.

    [00:45:02] So, to close this out today, Roshan, If you could leave our retailers retailing listeners your top holiday tip, what would it be.

    [00:45:11] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah, look a lot of what we covered today, including omnichannel and wanting to meet buyers where they are as well as making sure that you're leveraging your discounting. I think you really have to lean into the data. Here the top tip I have is to make sure that your inventory management system, your, your catalog management is up to date.

    [00:45:29] You can lean heavily into those reports, right? So, you know, one of the things that Square's been doing to empower retailers is to make sure that we allow you to have insights into your data where, you know, to your point on margins, right, and your costs are good, sold. But also, you know, what's selling, you know, what are your velocities like, and, and what should you do as a result?

    [00:45:43] And maybe the things that are moving less quickly need more aggressive discounting. So I would say that the, the more you can leverage digitizing your catalog and inventory information, the less, like the more able you are to sell effectively online. The less likely you are to run out of inventory unexpectedly, right?

    [00:45:58] And, and those dreaded outta stock [00:46:00] moments. And most importantly, you can leverage that reporting. You can learn from what you're, if you've been doing this for a year, you can learn from last year to project, you know, how you need to run this holiday season. Or you can leverage what's happening now to predict the future.

    [00:46:11] And so I would say really emphasize leaning on your, your digital systems to kinda power you through this holiday.

    [00:46:18] Casey Golden: So to bring us back to the present. Pun intended. Bridget for everyone starting to shop. I mean, you've got quite a special destination for gifting at to and from, but what are the hottest items under the tree this season? What does everybody want? What are people buying?

    [00:46:35] Bridget Johns: Yeah, I mean, I don't know if I have like the hot take. This is the gift because we're all about that personalized gift that's very specific to you. But we do see gifting breaking down into three very distinct categories. Val values led not value, but values led gifting. So what is important to the person you're gifting for?

    [00:46:56] I think the second area that we haven't really talked about, but I think is [00:47:00] very important, and it's. Been a bit of a trick I think from retailers is personalization. Cause you can't return something that's personalized. So I think like the personalization has been very key in finding ways to make those gifts feel even more special.

    [00:47:16] And then the third trend that we're seeing are gifts that really help you spend time together as a family. I think that's something that has continued post covid. Like people have learned that they actually like spending time with their family. And I think that trend.

    [00:47:30] Actually continues. Like I think that's not something that has gone away.

    [00:47:34] So I would say those are the three areas. And then, you know, if you're a mid-century modern lover who, you know, likes gardening, you're gonna get something very different than the hockey mom.

    [00:47:45] Ricardo Belmar: That's very true. Very true. Well, Bridget, Roshan, this has been a fantastic discussion. We can't thank you enough for joining us today for our holiday shopping special episode. We covered so much ground. I can't believe how time has run out on us so [00:48:00] quickly.

    [00:48:00] Roshan Jhunja: Yeah, I had a fantastic time chatting with you all. Thanks for having me on.

    [00:48:04] Bridget Johns: Yeah, I really enjoyed it, so it was a lot of fun.

    [00:48:06] Casey Golden: Thank you both for joining us. This show is a wrap

    [00:48:10] Closing Wishes

    [00:48:10] Casey Golden: wrapping up this holiday special edition retail razor show and wishing our guests and listeners a very merry holiday. We hope you slay your sales targets and delight your customers this festive season.

    [00:48:22] Show Close

    [00:48:22] Casey Golden: We hope you enjoyed our show and we can't ask you enough to please give us a five star rating and review on apple podcast to help us grow and bring you more great episodes. If you don't wanna miss a minute of what's next, be sure to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player. And don't forget to check out our show notes for handy links and more deets. I'm your host, Casey Golden.

    [00:48:54] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to learn more about the two of us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c golden and Ricardo underscore [00:49:00] Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow the show on LinkedIn and Twitter at retail razor. Plus our YouTube channel for videos of each episode and bonus content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:49:10] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:49:11] 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.

    49m | Nov 23, 2022
  • S2E5 - Retail Transformers - Polly Wong

    Direct-to-consumer. DTC. What emotional response do those words conjure for you? The formula for DTC used to be simple – spend marketing dollars to acquire new customers. Today, customer acquisition costs can be 10X higher than they used to be, so what should be the new strategy in these challenging, post-pandemic economic times? Polly Wong, president of Bellardi Wong, and our latest Retail Transformer, has the answers. Polly’s agency works with the best, most successful DTC brands and she is sharing the best practices every DTC founder, brand manager, and category manager need to know to be successful in this episode! Should you open stores? Leverage print? Catalogs? Is Facebook still worthwhile? What about TikTok? Listen and find out!

    News alert #1: The Retail Razor Show has been nominated for The Retail Voice Award at the Vendors in Partnership Award ceremony during NRF 2023 in January in New York City! IF you’re a fan of the show, please give us your vote! You can vote here: https://bit.ly/VIPretail 

    News alert #2! We’ve moved up to #19 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list, so please keep those 5-star reviews in Apple Podcasts coming! With your help, we’ll move our way further up the Top 20! Leave us a review to be mentioned in upcoming episodes! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno.

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E5 Retail Transformers - Polly Wong

    [00:00:00] Pre-Intro

    [00:00:00] Casey Golden: Ricardo, I've got one word for you to describe this week's show. Dtc. 

    [00:00:06] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, so Casey, I'm thinking that's technically three words, but, but nevermind that. Um, I don't think we've done an entire show focused on DTC before, have we?

    [00:00:13] Casey Golden: Hey, I didn't write the script. So

    [00:00:21] So this is exciting and. I'm especially pumped for all 

    [00:00:24] the DTC founders out there tuning in. This one is for you.

    [00:00:28] Ricardo Belmar: That's true, and honestly, if you're a direct to consumer founder listening or, or watching us on YouTube, stop right now. Go grab a pen and paper or your iPad or whatever you like to use to take notes, because believe me, you are going to be writing things down nonstop in a mad fury throughout this episode.

    [00:00:45] Casey Golden: Oh yeah. The tips and tricks are going to be flying. And you just don't wanna miss a

    [00:00:50] minute.

    [00:00:51] Ricardo Belmar: So should we just start the show or should we make listeners suffer a little bit more first, with more of our carefree and eloquent banter,

    [00:00:56] Casey Golden: Oh, you're so cruel. Let's get to the music already. 


    [00:01:19] Show Intro

    [00:01:19] Ricardo Belmar: Hello and welcome to season two, episode five of The Retail Razor Show. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:01:25] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome to the Retail Razor Show listeners, retail's unapologetically authentic podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everybody else in retail and tech alike. 

    [00:01:39] Ricardo Belmar: We are 

    [00:01:40] back with another 

    [00:01:41] episode in our Retail Transformers series, and honestly, if you thought last episode's guest, Alan Smithson was an absolutely incredible, never ending source of value on the Metaverse, wow are you gonna be blown away with today's guest and topic!

    [00:01:54] Casey Golden: Yeah. As a founder, I'm so excited we're going to dive into this world of D to C and talk with amazing expert that's working with most of the top D to C brands out there. You would not believe how much knowledge she has to share, and that could really impact your DTC business by multiples 

    [00:02:16] Ricardo Belmar: Indeed! Faithful followers, you will learn exactly why Polly Wong is more than meets the eye. This may go down as one of our most listened to episodes. We're gonna hear about what the right marketing and media spend mix should be for customer acquisition today. Because honestly, if you think it's the same as it was in the early days of D to C, boy are you in for a shock.

    [00:02:35] Casey Golden: Yeah, I mean, did you even consider print, like say catalogs? I bet you didn't. You will after this episode.

    [00:02:44] Ricardo Belmar: And then there's all the tips you're gonna hear 

    [00:02:46] on growth strategies, how to activate your CRM for more profitable growth, retargeting those customers. And what about opening stores? Have you thought about where to open stores? 

    [00:02:55] Casey Golden: There's just so much we could list. I mean, you're going to hear so many incredible 

    [00:03:00] nuggets on marketing, roi, ROAS, and just so much more. 

    [00:03:04] Ricardo Belmar: All right, then let's get to it. 

    [00:03:06] Casey Golden: Let's roll.


    [00:03:12] Polly Wong Interview

    [00:03:12] Ricardo Belmar: And we're here with our special guest and latest retail transformer to visit the show. Polly Wong, President of Belardi Wong, which some people may know as a direct to consumer marketing agency. But more on that in a moment. First of all, welcome Polly.

    [00:03:26] Polly Wong: Thank you for having me.

    [00:03:27] Casey Golden: It's great to have you on the show. Since we first met you, we've both been looking forward to this conversation and really digging in. So excited 

    [00:03:36] Ricardo Belmar: Polly just to get us started, why don't you give us a more complete introduction of yourself and tell us about your company and what you do.

    [00:03:42] Polly Wong: You know, I've been in retail for 25 years. I've had an incredible amount of experience. Really. It's both on the client side at some major retailers. I started 25 years ago at eddiebower.com. I was fortunate to work at Williams Sonoma Inc across their portfolio of brands before jumping to the dark side to the agency side, which is a lot of fun and an incredible learning curve.

    [00:04:06] It's like learning on steroids, I like to say. Today at Belardi Wong, we have 400 active clients, about 90% D TO C brands. Of course, D to C brands have stores as well. And then some very large retail brands that that all of you would know as well. A tremendous amount of experience in fashion, at home decor, furnishings also in some niche categories as well.

    [00:04:28] We definitely do tend to work with premium brands targeting an affluent consumer. So much of the vantage point that I have to share with you today is really from that angle of brands who are really targeting, you know, an affluent consumer. The folks out there buying, you know, two or $300 sweaters and expensive shoes and $5,000 sofa.

    [00:04:47] So I, I like to make that clearer, but we're really privileged just to have an incredible vantage point into the industry. 

    [00:04:53] Casey Golden: Really excited to dig deeper in this. As I mentioned before, I'm very intrigued in, in, into the side of the business of marketing. Compared to a lot of the more traditional route that have been taken over the last decade. So clearly you're focused on direct to consumer brands, both old and new, but certainly more established brands.

    [00:05:10] I think based off of what you said, one of the areas getting a lot of press lately in the D to C space is really how the marketing spend is being shifted from Facebook, Google, versus other mediums. Can you tell us a little bit about what's happening here with D to C brands and how that's changing this marketing mix?

    [00:05:30] Polly Wong: Sure. So it's been a really fascinating year to watch how the Apple platform changes have really impacted all of the digital platforms. Specifically meta we've found, as an aside, we've found that really Google is quite a resilient, steady, reliable channel. You know, Google continues to make enhancements that work for advertisers.

    [00:05:52] Performance Max on Google has worked very well for our clients over the last several months, so, so Google's very kind of reliable and steady. Google has had 10 to 50% increase, 10 to 15% increases. And, you know, costs, but really in line with kind of all the cost increases we're seeing across the p and l as a brand or as a retailer.

    [00:06:12] So really the challenge on the digital side in the last year has really come from meta and the Apple platform changes basically led. To less effective targeting and less effective measurement. And at the same time that our clients have seen a less effective measurement and less effective targeting on meta, they've also seen some pretty steep double digit increases on CPMs, on meta or Facebook, if you will.

    [00:06:38] And so we've seen dramatic underperformance in the last year, specifically in the social landscape. And so, you know, D to C brands inherently were built on Facebook and Google. The inherent DNA, if you will, of, of D to C brands is that one, they're performance based marketers, and two, you know, they're just wholeheartedly focused on new customer acquisition.

    [00:07:01] And so now you've seen that this Facebook channel just, you know, one of the top two most critical channels for new customer acquisition for DTC brands has really begun to plummet in the last year. I know across our client base through August, our clients have spent 19% less this year versus last year on Meta.

    [00:07:21] And that's because of the significant underperformance. But obviously Meta has taken the lion share of most of the marketing dollars for D2C brands. So, the question is, where is it going? You know, where are they shifting marketing spend? And that's been really interesting to 

    [00:07:35] Casey Golden: That's great, and you really mention it as like a CRM strategy. 

    [00:07:39] Is that, Is that right? 

    [00:07:40] Spending shifts and pivots

    [00:07:40] Polly Wong: Yeah, so I think, well, I think we can talk about kind of where they're shifting their spend, but also, you know, what are some of the, the pivots that D to C brands need to make in order to be successful. And I think most D2C brands have not realized yet that the most incredible asset that they have is the customer file, the customer database.

    [00:08:01] That they've built up over the last five to 10 years. Now they've spent millions and millions of dollars building their customer file. New customer acquisition always comes at a cost. It's an investment. You cannot have a profitable business when you are only focused on acquisition as a fact.

    [00:08:15] Casey Golden: Oh my God, can you just like, say that 

    [00:08:17] Ricardo Belmar: we should just frame that just to make that clear for, for everyone who's doubting that 

    [00:08:22] Casey Golden: We're putting that in bold print.

    [00:08:24] Polly Wong: Yes. Also I'll just go out on a limb and also say you can't have a large, scalable, sustainable business when you only have a handful of product as well, we can get to that later. But definitely you can't just single handidly focus on new customer acquisition so I actually see, you know, there's a lot of headwinds right now, but I see a major tailwind that D to C brands could lean into is really crm, right? You know, I've talked to many, many brands over the years that when you ask them, they say they spent a hundred percent of their marketing budget on acquisition, and it's almost like crm, customer retention management. It's just an afterthought, right?

    [00:08:59] Like, Oh, we have email now, of course they'll say, We have email and sms. But there are really five major channels in the CRM toolbox, and we don't see D to C brands leaning into that. It's a discipline and a skill set they need to evolve to very quickly because that's where the profit is going to come, as we kind of stare down some economic uncertainty.

    [00:09:18] So the five channels that we really think about, obviously e email. Second is sms. Some clients have leaned into it very quickly. Some have not. It's still a huge opportunity. I, for one, wondered at the beginning if really SMS would just be shifting sales from email, but we do find that SMS is an incremental revenue driver.

    [00:09:37] So you've got email and sms. Obviously D to C brands are pretty good at targeting their customer file on Facebook, but they let it work too often on its own. And you really have to think about the segmentation and targeting of lapse customers. You have to carve out specific marketing dollars at targeting customers who've not bought from you in over a year.

    [00:09:58] There's still a better focus for your marketing dollar than pure new customer acquisition. And so you really wanna target your lapse customer file, on Facebook, and you wanna make sure you're looking at the frequency and the messaging and the targeting and the testing against that segment. 

    [00:10:13] So now hopefully you've got brands, you know, leveraging and leaning into reactivation on social. I think what we don't find enough is actually proactive spending on search with your lapse customers. Let's say that Mary Jane bought a sweater from you a year and a half ago, and now Mary Jane is on Google searching for a turquoise turtleneck sweater.

    [00:10:36] You should be there targeting her. You should be buying that ad against Mary's search, right? Her click, you should be targeting her. And so really targeting lapse customers when they're searching for your product is a huge opportunity. We don't see clients carving out marketing dollars to really have that kind of proactive approach at customer reactivation on search, so I think that's a low hanging opportunity.

    [00:11:00] And then for definitely print. So all 400, you know, retailers and brands here, at Belardi Wong, are in the mail. They're leveraging direct mail and catalogs for customer retention. It's extremely effective. And driving up purchase frequency and revenue per customer and overall lifetime value. The great thing about print is that, you know, you've got a hundred percent reach.

    [00:11:22] So if you want to target Mary Jane who bought from you a year and a half ago she's gotta at least touch the piece to recycle it, so you've got a hundred percent reach. All of our data over the last year as we've looked at it, we've found that if you want to target a specific customer at a specific time within social, you've got about an 18% chance.

    [00:11:43] Basically, you've got an 18% chance of reaching who you want. When you want to on Facebook, and that's because you're competing with other advertisers for her impression. Mary Jane your customer only has so much impressions and frequency on Facebook and you're competing with other advertisers, and especially in our case, as I said, our clients tend to target, you know, affluent consumers and so Mary Jane is a great shopper and there's a lot of advertisers who want her impressions, and so you can't be sure that you're going to reach her.

    [00:12:13] And on email, you know, maybe you're lucky if you've got a 20, 25% open rate, but once you start looking at your lapse customers, maybe you've got a 10 or 15% open rate. And so the only way that you could make sure that you get a hundred percent reach is in the mail. And so we see this CRM toolbox with email, sms, social, search and print really is a major opportunity for D to C brands who built very expensive customer files at this point, to really lean into that as a major growth strategy.

    [00:12:42] Casey Golden: It seems so basic, but yet at the same time, like, but nobody's doing it. , Right. Is to like really go back into that core of, of all those customers.

    [00:12:54] Ricardo Belmar: And I, and I thought that a lot of these DTC would have used search when. came up, right, to try to get that initial customer acquisition. So I, I find it kind of curious that if, maybe I'm wrong about that, but I, it seems to me that that's one of the original tactics I expect to see DTC brands use at the start, maybe they don't come back to it, to your point.

    [00:13:15] Polly Wong: You know, we don't see a fine level of segmentation and targeting honestly, within digital media buying. You know, I, I think about digital media agencies and I think of them as master tinkerers, and I can almost just see all the people behind the scenes, almost like behind a clock, you know, turning the dial a little bit this way and a little bit that way.

    [00:13:33] And it's really about bids and CPMs and it's about creative and frequency and the type of ad. It's really not about. Okay, This is our cheerleader cohort. This is our loyalist cohort. This is our, you know, former cheerleader cohort meeting. This used to be a best customer, and now she's not a best customer.

    [00:13:52] What percent of our spend are we going to target against her? What should be the target cost to retain? You know, the industry talks about the target cost of acquisition, you know, the cost to acquire a new customer, but you never hear anyone talk about the cost to retain a customer. And I think we're gonna have to see a major shift in how people think.

    [00:14:11] I think that's the one thing in my, my 25 years in retail. I think there has to be an inherent pivot for D to C brands to embrace some of the real kind of retail operation discipline that has existed, you know, for many years and has allowed companies to exist for decades and to become billion dollar retailers.

    [00:14:30] And that definitely includes financial planning. It includes inventory planning, merchandise planning, and definitely really thinking about, you know, your target customer and your segmentation and CRM and how you're allocating those dollars.

    [00:14:46] Casey Golden: I always say, if you spent 

    [00:14:49] half as much time retaining your customers as you spent all of these resources on acquiring them, you'd have a completely different business.

    [00:14:58] Polly Wong: Yeah. You know, and I think we we're seeing, I think it's actually kind of exciting. There are definitely always some D to C brands who are leading in the space and we see. Really three major growth strategies and definitely activating more channels for both CRM and for active acquisition. You know, testing TikTok, testing connected TV or streaming tv, leaning into print for both acquisition and crm.

    [00:15:22] And so definitely activating more marketing channels is an important opportunity for D to C brands. But also, I can emphasize enough, and I touched on this earlier, as a matter of fact, the more product you put in front of. Across categories and price points, the more revenue you will drive from her. And I always tell people, I learned two things in my years, at Williams Sonoma Inc.

    [00:15:45] When I was on the client side. The first is that the best way to drive response rates is to have a range of product across categories and price points. So, okay, you know, she bought a sofa from you, what is she gonna buy next? And that's why you see these types of brands have an incredible assortment in tabletop and seasonal decor and all of those other categories, bed and bath.

    [00:16:06] The second thing I learned at Williams Sonoma I tell people, is that on my second day on the job Chuck Williams himself, so I'm dating myself a little bit, he said to me, Polly, you know how you sell a $200 toaster? You put a $400 toaster next to it? And I never forgot that 

    [00:16:19] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. And, it completely makes sense. I mean, I to, I have to give credit to William Sonoma, right? Who has, mastered that technique of positioning and curating the right selection at different price points to drive a particular one that you might wanna drive, I think they, I've an amazing job at doing that, and that's certainly a lesson a lot of DTC brands would need to learn.

    [00:16:40] And, and also kind of speaks. Theory, I've always put out that, you know, so many of these DTC brands that came to be, know, is digitally native, know, wanted to just disrupt one particular product they started with that one product and I always felt that, you know, the one question that does not get asked when they're seeing some initial success, right?

    [00:17:02] They're getting a lot of new customers, they weren't thinking through, okay, what's the frequency with which these customers I've paid to 

    [00:17:10] Polly Wong: Yes. 

    [00:17:11] Ricardo Belmar: now in some way are going to buy again the 

    [00:17:14] Polly Wong: Yes, exactly. 

    [00:17:17] How often? ,

    [00:17:18] Ricardo Belmar: most things people don't buy every week.

    [00:17:20] Polly Wong: Absolutely. So how often do you need to buy a mattress and how often do you need to buy a suitcase? Right? Thinking 

    [00:17:26] Ricardo Belmar: Two. two, good examples.

    [00:17:27] Polly Wong: popular, 

    [00:17:28] Ricardo Belmar: good examples. 

    [00:17:28] Adopting Basic Retail Operations

    [00:17:28] Polly Wong: Brands that we've seen now struggle to grow. Absolutely. You know there are some really great smart brands out there. You know, we've seen a lot of the really high growth soft goods companies, so bedding companies, you know, there's a reason why they launch into lounge wear, right?

    [00:17:43] There's a reason why they launch into bath, right? So you see these bedding soft good companies launch into other categories because, okay, so I bought a set of sheets. I bought, you know, a beautiful comforter, but what am I gonna buy next from you? And you've seen home brands lean into apparel.

    [00:18:00] You've seen apparel brands lean into home. You know, we're going to continue to see that. Absolutely. But honestly, you know, we were just putting together some strategies internally for clients cuz there are, as I said earlier, a significant amount of headwinds, I think facing brands and retailers in the next six to 12 months.

    [00:18:18] There's a lot of really inexpensive ways that don't require a lot of research and development that don't require a lot of product development and long timelines. We were doing an assessment for a women's apparel company. And we were looking at their tops and we were looking at tops and the price points and the sizes and the colors of their competitive set.

    [00:18:38] And as we were looking at the tops, we realized, you know, you sell that long sleeve basic tee in four colors, but on average your competitors sell their long sleeve basic tee in eight to 10 colors. And also you sell yours for $8 more on average. And so maybe if you could take and just add color ways, take your top selling.

    [00:18:59] Products and add new colorways. Think about, you know, how much would a four, $6 price cut to be competitive? What kind of incremental revenue would that bring? And I think it's that type of merchandise analysis and merchandise planning and inventory management that honestly is a discipline that D to C brands don't inherently have.

    [00:19:17] So it's time, as I said earlier, to hire some good old fashioned retail operations 

    [00:19:21] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. Yeah, I think that that's an 

    [00:19:22] That. an excellent point and 

    [00:19:23] it's one that I think that has never been quite so obvious, right, to the DTC brands, because they had that single minded, I have this one product that we're gonna disrupt. It's this one product category, this one selection we're gonna disrupt. And there wasn't enough thought to, Well, what happens next? After you've done that? 

    [00:19:37] I, do wanna ask you one question because you know, when Casey and I were thinking of, what we, we were gonna learn from you in this episode, and we thought, it really tells a story about that we think of as, you know, making old media, new media in a way, in a sense that as you've been describing to us now, different marketing mix and moving from a lot of pure.

    [00:19:57] Digital marketing spend to other perhaps more, more traditional, maybe some non-traditional, because I heard connected TV in there as well. But I'm really intrigued by the success your clients are having in print and with catalogs, which call that maybe the most traditional option a lot of brands can go with.

    [00:20:14] and when we've spoken to you before, you've mentioned that. When people hear catalog, sort of have an idea in their head of what that might look like. But what you're now with your, your, your clients is not exactly the same kind of format. I, I think it's a much. And maybe you could tell us a little bit more about what's evolved in this, in the print catalog space.

    [00:20:33] Polly Wong: Yeah. They're not your mother's catalogs anymore. You know, it used to be that you have a hundred page catalog and you've got, you know, five to 10 items per page and you put the whole store inside the catalog. And it used to be that, 80% of catalogs went to women over 55. And she only bought what she saw on the page.

    [00:20:51] And there's been just really a fundamental shift. First of all, there is a significant amount of print pieces folded pieces, catalogs going in home, The 20 year olds, 30 year olds, 40 year olds. And so now the catalog isn't something you, you shop from the, the catalog or the direct mail piece is a channel driver and it's driving her to the store to buy or is driving her to e-commerce to buy.

    [00:21:15] And over the years, as we've analyzed the results, we've seen and found that actually only about a third of the product that she buys after she gets the piece was depicted in the piece, meaning that two outta three times what she buys was not in the actual piece, but it drove her to the site or it drove her to the store.

    [00:21:34] So she thought she wanted one sweater, she got to the site, she bought a different sweater, So as we began to understand that there was a new purpose to print that really it was to drive her to a channel to engage and then to buy, right? Always measuring, of course, the ROAS, actually, I think it's ironic, catalogers were really the original D to C brands and catalogers were always performance based marketers.

    [00:21:57] So I like to throw that out there. But today, especially for our fashion clients and our home brand clients, definitely catalogs look more like look books they're more aspirational, more lifestyle photography, more storytelling. You know, we actually one of the most successful catalogs in history and the thousands and thousands and thousands of campaigns we measured, when you open up this catalog, the first two spreads are actually just really an aspirational story.

    [00:22:25] And yet it was extremely productive as measured by sales. And so really you're here to engage the customer and to drive her to a channel to buy, and that is the ultimate goal. Now, what we've found, depending on the product assortment, depending on the price point, depending on the target consumer, First of all, you don't have to send a full, so full, huge catalog anymore, right?

    [00:22:46] So most of our clients are sending catalogs that are maybe 28 or 36 pages, but not, you know, 80 plus pages. So you don't have to send her as many pages. You don't have to put the whole store. In the catalog, you wanna just say, Here's our our new products, here's our best sellers, and you wanna be compelling and you wanna send her to the channel to buy that she wants to buy in.

    [00:23:08] And then also we've seen a whole new lifeline because print is acting as this channel driver and you don't have to put the full assortment in front of her. We've seen an incredible amount of success with folded pieces. You know, here is our top five new products of the season. Check it out online, check it out in store.

    [00:23:25] And so we've found that there's a different messaging and creative strategy also because of this kind of new purpose and how consumers are interacting with print. And I should say that it, it has been an amazing ride. Really just, you know, hundreds of new brands in the mail the last couple of years.

    [00:23:42] But, you know, starting over a decade ago, we launched brands like Shutterfly, Minted, Revolve, Zappos, One Kings Lane. You know, we Allbirds, right? We started with Allbirds had zero customers. You know, over a decade ago we launched all of these brands into the mail. And so some folks I think already could see it, you know, early on.

    [00:24:03] I think what's happened is that the cost of digital marketing has become extremely competitive and saturated and promotional and expensive, and you can't always reach who you wanna reach. There's an amazing amount of real estate in print to tell your story and to put your product, and also it's effective for both.

    [00:24:20] Crm. I would say that mailing customers is like printing money, but also for new customer acquisition. We tend to work with premium brands and you know, to get someone to buy a $300 sweater from you when they've never heard of your brand before, the amount of real estate goes a long way in convincing new customers to buy.

    [00:24:36] Ricardo Belmar: That's a good point cuz in those scenarios, right, you're really asking that new customer to buy your story as much as your product.

    [00:24:43] Polly Wong: Absolutely. And you know, I think there's an amount of credibility and authority just as stores give D to C brands credibility. I think the same is can be set of print and I like to say that millennials can spot a manufactured brand from a mile away. And I think that there's an amount of real estate that you have to tell your story.

    [00:25:03] And if it's authentic, like we have clients, brands like Outer known who just have incredible, authentic story around sustainability and apparel. And a really, you know, just a huge commitment to that as a business. And they're able to build that story with their community through print 

    [00:25:19] On Opening Stores

    [00:25:19] Casey Golden: one of the initiatives that's been happening lately that has me very excited, just cuz I think we all kind of started in stores, is more of these digitally native brands or pure play brands actually opening up stores and more pop up. I'm a big advocate of the in-store experience. Not that many of us have had one lately, but with the world closed for a little bit.

    [00:25:42] But I think it's a great opportunity to actually connect. Are you, are you helping them essentially kind of understand where they should be potentially opening up stores or opening up popups or working on that strategy based on, because you guys know so much about where the consumer lives and that community, 

    [00:26:02] Polly Wong: Certainly you can build models regarding, you know, around trade areas to understand where your customers are at today and where your perspective best customers are at. I think to answer your original question though, you know, around just this kind of continued push of D to C brands in stores, honestly, it's really, really very simple.

    [00:26:26] in any category, more than 50% of sales are still in physical stores. So if you're not selling either in your own stores or on the floor at Nordstrom's, for example, if you're not building your wholesale network, then you're missing out on 50% of your market. And so that's really what it comes down to. I think one of the things that I find more encouraging today about the retail landscape than I did before the pandemic.

    [00:26:54] Before the pandemic. You just saw almost an absurd level of store openings from DTC brands. Brands that were suddenly opening 20, 30, 40 stores a year. When you open stores that quickly, you're not going into just a markets, you're not negotiating the best real estate deals. You aren't taking the time to build the models to understand where your customers are and where your best.

    [00:27:17] New perspective customers are, but I think what's great to see is I'm seeing a more cautious approach. I'm seeing the D to C brands understand they need to have a physical footprint and that maybe at the same time, now they're only opening up five to seven stores a year. They're also exploring partnerships with department stores and other retailers to be on their floor.

    [00:27:38] We have so many brands that we work with who sell on the floor at Anthropology, for example. And so I think that most of our clients have realized you have to have that physical presence in order to reach your customer where she's at when she's shopping, and also because it's a significant business opportunity.

    [00:27:55] I also think, I mean, there's no question, you know, there is, I think, better real estate deals to be had in 'A' markets because of the amount of store closings in the last couple of years, I think there are still some significant opportunities in terms of finding the right space, the right price with the right consumer.

    [00:28:12] And so I think that's very encouraging. I think from what I've last seen, this is gonna be the first year in a very, very long time where the number of store openings will actually outpace the number of store closings 

    [00:28:22] Casey Golden: Yeah. I kind of saw, you know, it's nice to see that this, this natural transition, essentially it's all coming back to all these different channels and touch points where there was that moment. where it's just like you just need to be online and everybody else is doing it wrong, and then you just see it come full circle where they're starting to join. We've already went through this cycle.

    [00:28:45] Polly Wong: Well, you said it yourself. Yeah, you said it yourself. What's old is new again, honestly, to me, advertising on podcasts, it's radio. to me, connected TV is TV advertising, right? Like it's all we've been through these channels. Even outdoor media is having a huge resurgence right out of home media. And so I think that, you know, what it really comes down to is that the most sophisticated marketers have realized that you need a channel mix.

    [00:29:13] Online, offline, you need to be where your customer is at. You need to have multiple distribution channels, you need to have multiple products. And I think that the high growth brands, you know, have realized that, and I think everyone else is beginning to learn as well.

    [00:29:25] On marketplaces 

    [00:29:25] Ricardo Belmar: So let me ask you too, on, on, that Polly, one of the areas that I, I think is also interesting here is how these brands leverage different marketplaces you know, within that channel mix. I mean, what, what are your thoughts there and how do you advise brands around marketplaces?

    [00:29:39] Polly Wong: Definitely D to C brands have had a lot of, you know, trepidation around the marketplaces. I definitely think though that they're going to be forced to consider it. we've already found is, we've just discussed that you can't have an e-commerce only business. And so we saw these e-commerce brands open up stores, and then we saw them add wholesale partners. And so now really the last major distribution channel as a source of revenue growth is the marketplaces.

    [00:30:03] And historically, D to C brands have been very protective of their brand's message and of their new customers. And they don't want to let anyone kind of expose their brand other than how they want it presented. However, I do think that the pressure to continue to drive revenue with all of these headwinds and because the reality is that all consumers are on the marketplaces, and you know, now we've got Macy's leaning into their marketplace.

    [00:30:30] I mean, every single major retailer is going to have their own marketplace online as well. I think you have to be there. I think, you know, we're finding clients kind of tiptoe into it. They're testing different strategies. They might only put part of their assortment within the marketplaces. They might actually develop a specific collection for the marketplaces.

    [00:30:50] So definitely I think they're cautious. But I think that they're going to be forced to consider trying it in ways they might not have a few years ago because they've gotta drive revenue growth. And because there are so many, you know, headwinds, unfortunately at the moment,

    [00:31:05] Retail Media Networks

    [00:31:05] Ricardo Belmar: So one of the other big trends that we're talking about this season on our show are retail media networks. We've, dedicated an episode on it. I was just at the grocery shop event and that was a huge, huge trend there as well.

    [00:31:17] So I'm curious, what, what's your recommendation for brands around you know, whether it's with the marketplaces that they may be new to or as they're getting into stores and, and wholesale agreements there? How are you advising DTC brands around retail media networks?

    [00:31:31] Polly Wong: You know, it's interesting. I don't think that we'll see D to C brands leverage their own assets and their own impressions and their own emails and their own social for advertising income and revenue. Because D to C brands usually are not big enough to actually make it worthwhile to suddenly open up their own assets for advertising, but certainly as it relates to the really large retailers and the real large marketplaces, I don't know why you wouldn't choose to advertise there.

    [00:32:01] You know, in order to make that advertising work, those platforms have to offer the level of targeting and segmentation that will drive the performance to justify the CPMs and the media spend. Why would you not test it? I mean one, I think really positive quality of DTC brands is that usually they're willing to test anything.

    [00:32:19] And I think in this case, not only why would you not test it and consider it, as long as you know that your target consumer is there from a sociodemographic profile perspective. But in some cases, if you are going to play, for example, on the marketplaces, you have to buy media on the marketplaces. It's not like if you build that, they will come.

    [00:32:37] You've gotta have the advertising dollars to actually support your sales on the marketing place on the marketplace.

    [00:32:42] Casey Golden: for a lot of our listeners. I'm sure they've been nodding their heads as as you speak. There's a lot of question marks though still 

    [00:32:49] for anybody who hasn't been looking at their, their media spend in this way. What should brands be looking at a D to C or D to C brands? Be looking at a media spend breakdown.

    [00:33:01] You know, what portion are you seeing more of a trend? Because we see it's so scary to move a portion of your business over to something new, even if it's starting to break, There's what are, what do you see more as a breakdown? Just so people can go ahead and make the shift and just close their eyes and go

    [00:33:21] Polly Wong: Yeah. large brands that we see, large brands and retailers that we see doing well, that are significant in size and have e-commerce and have stores, they've really shifted to almost a 40, 40 20 marketing mix where 40% of their spend is digital marketing. 40% is offline, which could include actually tv, radio, print, out of home media.

    [00:33:47] And then 20% is really PR partnerships, sponsorships, influencers, you know, things around content and community. So, You know, to 40% across the digital channels, 40% across all kind of other, you know non-digital channels. And then what's really encouraging to see and smaller brands can't afford often to spend, you know, top of funnel.

    [00:34:12] But as a matter of fact, high growth brands do spend top of funnel. And so you'll see the. Companies are beginning to carve out 10 to 20% of their spend. So they get the pr, they get the influencers, they get the sponsorships and the partnerships that allows them to build community.

    [00:34:27] Launching Direct Mail

    [00:34:27] Casey Golden: So if there's a, if there's a direct to consumer brand right now that's listening what's the ballpark range they'd need to be? Looking at for budgeting to launch a campaign a, a direct mail campaign.

    [00:34:40] Polly Wong: Okay. Well, I thought you were gonna ask a bigger picture question. What percent of top line revenue do you have to spend high growth, emerging brands are spending, you know, 20 to 25% of top line revenue on marketing. Mature businesses spend closer to 10 to 15% of top line revenue on marketing and big retailers and wholesale brands might only spend, you know, six to 10% of their top line revenue on marketing.

    [00:35:10] But definitely if you're an emerging DTC brand today, you're definitely spending 20 to 25% of your top line revenue. So for every hundred dollars, you're spending 20 to 25 dollars. To get that. So just in terms of what you have to spend as an emerging brand to get traction. Absolutely. If you think you can build a brand from scratch that's spending, you know, $10 on the a hundred dollars, it'll never happen.

    [00:35:34] Unfortunately, those days are, are past us in terms of, you know, really testing print, well here at Ballardi Wong, we only, you know, we run the largest, you know, Scalable, sophisticated programs in the country. So we don't do anything small, cheaper, schlossky. So we're, we're a little bit more on the premium side here . Really to get.

    [00:35:52] A solid proof of concept with all of the industry best practices in place for both CRM and acquisition. You're looking at about a 75 to a hundred thousand dollars test in print and we've launched over 250 DTC brands into the mail successfully. And even little baby ones with a few thousand customers and they're all spending that much money.

    [00:36:11] So on their first campaign still less expensive, you know, still half as much as a three week TV campaign. So,

    [00:36:18] Casey Golden: mean hey, I mean, I mean that could just be one post by a tick, a certain, a couple TikTok influencers too. So, I 

    [00:36:25] mean, you 

    [00:36:26] know, 

    [00:36:26] Polly Wong: That's the, you know, here's the ironic thing. You can put a beautiful full size catalog in front of a consumer for 85 cents. Your cost per click nowadays is, you know, two or $3. So the thing that's really crazy is that you can mail. 4, 5, 6 catalogs to a highly targeted audience for the cost of one click.

    [00:36:47] So I think that that's, you know, it seems expensive, but actually, quality touch, yes, it's 

    [00:36:54] Casey Golden: I agree. And it's really just being able to say like, instead of spending that hundred k, the 200,000 on this, let's just go ahead and move it over here and run a test. Because I think everything that you've really kind of ran through through this conversation and what you guys are doing is just, it's, it's incredibly compelling. And it's a lot of things that potentially these customer bases or the brands are just not as familiar with because they don't have a lot of seasoned retailers in their company orgs. And so a lot of it, we see somebody doing something or like, you really only have one product. Like you do realize that there's like issues with this who gave you. You know, and then now those 

    [00:37:43] conversations 

    [00:37:44] Polly Wong: think, well, you know what's gonna be really interesting to see is that it's not gonna be very easy. We're already finding this. We actually do due diligence on D to C transactions because of all of our experience at Belardi Wong. And not this summer, but last summer we worked on six transactions, and this summer we didn't work on any transactions.

    [00:38:03] I think very quickly. It's going to be a very tough landscape for raising dollars at this moment in time. And already the industry has become a little bit weary because some of the evaluations and the losses that have happened over the last couple of years. And so I think companies are gonna have to be scrappier and smarter because it's not gonna be so easy to get someone to give you, you know, 20, $30 million just like that. 

    [00:38:25] Casey Golden: Yeah. no, I mean yeah, I think it's great. I mean, I, I think that this is, I'm really excited to see some comments once this kind of goes, gets pushed out because I know that this is gonna be some new content that they haven't really thought about as even an option think it's 

    [00:38:39] Using Influencers 

    [00:38:39] Ricardo Belmar: I I, do wanna go back to one thing that you mentioned in the 40 40 20 split where you had in that 20%, you know, kind of lump together in, in pr, things like influencers, and that tends to get a lot of attention. Around, you know, what brands are spending with influencers and how they're using them.

    [00:38:56] Are they on TikTok yet? What? are you seeing there that's actually successful?

    [00:39:01] Polly Wong: You know, the truth is, is that for most clients you know, influencers can reach a small target community. But we haven't seen for most clients a huge amount of scale unless you're willing to spend, a few hundred thousand dollars, with an influencer who really has significant reach and real influence on what consumers are buying.

    [00:39:25] We just haven't found that for most of our clients, that actually influencers can drive any kind of sustainable scale. So maybe you pay a lot of money and you know, Mary Jane, the influencer does a series of posts maybe over two weeks about some of your new product. Maybe you get a momentary surge in sales, but it's not sustainable and you can't continue to spend those kinds of dollars for those really high touch posts. And so the one challenge that we do find with influencer marketing is it takes a lot of leg work to implement and it is often not truly scalable. It's also kind of interesting to see what's going on on TikTok, because definitely, you know, that that cut meta spend is shifting to TikTok. But TikTok is also hard to measure for the same reasons that it's hard to measure meta, right? Because of platform changes and challenges. And for the most part, because it's hard to measure the return on ad spend, on TikTok, it tends to be a top of funnel channel. Well, I can tell you that in a recession the money for top of funnel marketing is going to dry up very quickly.

    [00:40:37] And so you're gonna be focused on those channels that can drive real performance and ROAS because you just don't have enough funding to, to, to, to spend on those top channels. So it'll be really interesting to see, over the next six months how advertising dollars shift around. I usually feel pretty comfortable giving my predictions for retail sales and e-commerce sales, but honestly, at this point, just hand me an ball. I have 

    [00:41:01] Ricardo Belmar: I think that's where 

    [00:41:02] Polly Wong: I'm gonna continue to be I'm gonna continue to cross my fingers and my toes and hope that at least for our clients, that affluent consumers are still spending 

    [00:41:09] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. And so, so on what you just said, right around top of funnel and those, is there an argument to be made that if you're going to spend on influencers or TikTok, that you're, you might wanna save that for when you have a new product launch versus just trying to drive sales of an existing product? 

    [00:41:27] Polly Wong: Absolutely. It's not something 

    [00:41:29] Ricardo Belmar: Right. Because you scale it right 

    [00:41:31] Polly Wong: you're gonna turn it on. You can't, you're gonna, you're gonna turn it on maybe three or four times. You know, in the world of retail, we think about five seasons winter. Spring, summer, fall, and holiday. And so you're really going to lean in just a few weeks of each season into your influencer marketing and that spend and really, lean into your peak sales curve to drive those new product sales and to get that reach.

    [00:41:55] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. If that makes sense. That makes complete sense. So, so last question for you Polly, and if, someone were to come and ask you right now, what's your top recommendation when you think about growth strategies for a DTC brand, what would you tell 'em?

    [00:42:07] Polly Wong: Considering the economic uncertainty, the headwinds and the rising costs across the entire p and l, I would say that my top two recommendations are to one, lean into crm. Make sure that you're activating all five channels targeting your existing customer base, and then two, Because you're targeting your existing customers, continue to focus on your product category expansion, you know, what is your range of product across categories and price points.

    [00:42:37] Consumers may start spending down they may be more value focused than ever. So, you know, what is your good, better, best merchandise strategy, right? Not only are you adding simple things like more color skews to your long sleeve t-shirt, but you know, is there a good, better, best strategy for your product?

    [00:42:53] Motorcycle clients we've have worked with have done this extremely well. There's a good, better, best motorcycle helmet and the best one has got bluetooth and all kinds of fun things in it. And in, in addition to keeping your, your, your head safe. So definitely I think, leaning into your customer file is a tremendous, profitable asset.

    [00:43:11] And then just giving existing customers more to buy. I do think there's plenty of time to lean into new customer acquisi. You know, as we begin to see some of the, the economic uncertainty clear up, hopefully by spring, I actually am quite confident that I do think things will level out and I think we'll be back sailing along by spring of 2023 is, is my hope.

    [00:43:33] So fingers crossed. 

    [00:43:34] Ricardo Belmar: I think you maybe, may be right about that. And it kind of says that if I kind of read into, the two areas you highlighted for a lot of DTC brands, there's probably some new hires they need to look for to help them with those strategies, particularly around merchandising those new products.

    [00:43:47] Products like you talked about earlier.

    [00:43:49] Polly Wong: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think you have to, and also to pay attention to the competition. You know, it's amazing to me. I think brands do tend to be inwardly focused and. You know, maybe now people will have the time and to kind of step back and say, how does my assortment look compared to my competitors?

    [00:44:06] What are my price points? What are my size ranges? What are my number of colors? You know what is my returns policy? You know, how do I stand up against the competition? Everybody's gonna have to just be a little bit smarter. 

    [00:44:16] Ricardo Belmar: I think that's another great point. I mean, I, even on for traditional retailers, I, I can't count how many times in the past I've been in, in a room with retailers and asked them, Well, when was the last time you walked one of your competitors' stores to see what they were doing? you know, I, I, I don't know sometimes whether I wanted to laugh or cry at the fact that they were just crickets in the room and nobody responded when I asked that question.

    [00:44:38] so there's definitely some truth to that.

    [00:44:40] Polly Wong: Absolutely. 

    [00:44:43] Ricardo Belmar: Well, thank you So 

    [00:44:44] discuss. I'm probably gonna go down as one of the, our, our most commented episodes with so much in good information and, and advice and I think really unique details that you've helped surface here for, for DTC brands as they grow into, I would call becoming a, full channel retailer in a sense.

    [00:45:03] and really didn't, know, cover a lot of ground around making old media, new media, like we started to talk about earlier.

    [00:45:09] Polly Wong: Great. Well, thank you so much for having me. It's been fun this afternoon to connect with you and I, I hope you both have a, a lovely fall season.

    [00:45:16] Casey Golden: Definitely. For our listeners who have been furiously taking notes during this episode, what's the best reach way for them to reach out to you or follow your company?

    [00:45:26] Polly Wong: Yeah, obviously we're on the social channels, but if you wanna reach out through the contact us page at Belardi Wong, if you would like to talk to me directly or have any questions or comments for me directly, I know that they'll, they'll make their way to me and I'm always happy to chat and connect.

    [00:45:39] Casey Golden: Great.

    [00:45:40] Ricardo Belmar: Well, thank you again, Polly, for joining us. We hope to have you back soon.

    [00:45:43] Polly Wong: Thank you so much. Have a great one.

    [00:45:45] Casey Golden: You too. That's a wrap, Ricardo.

    [00:45:48] Show Closing

    [00:45:48] Casey Golden: We hope you enjoyed our show and we can't ask you enough to please give us a five star rating and review on apple podcast to help us grow and bring you more great episodes. If you don't wanna miss a minute of what's next, be sure to smash that subscribe button in your favorite podcast player. And don't forget to check out our show notes for handy links and more deets. I'm your host, Casey Golden. 

    [00:46:18] Ricardo Belmar: And if you'd like to learn more about the two of us, follow us on Twitter at Casey c golden and Ricardo underscore Belmar, or find us on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow the show on LinkedIn and Twitter at retail razor. Plus our YouTube channel for videos of each episode and bonus content. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:46:35] Casey Golden: Thanks for joining us.

    [00:46:36] 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. 

    46m | Nov 9, 2022
  • S2E4 - Retail Transformers - Alan Smithson

    Interested in the metaverse and need to know how to get started? Meet Alan Smithson, founder of MetaVrse, multiple TED Talk speaker, and builder of “The Mall” in the metaverse, but not just any mall! If there were a hundred-page encyclopedia of the metaverse, Alan would fill every page but you’d still need more room to cover his vast knowledge of all things metaverse. It’s season 2, episode 4, and we’re continuing our Retail Transformers series – you’ll see why Alan Smithson is truly more than meets the eye!

    Alan tells you what you need to get started with the metaverse, but takes us on an even deeper journey that touches on the future of jobs in digital technologies, how education needs to change to keep up, how the metaverse could make the world a better place, and of course, why shopping should be fun again! Plus, we’ll learn why asking children what they want to be when they grow up is the wrong question to ask. The real question is …

    News alert! We’re back at #20 on the Feedspot Top 60 Best Retail podcasts list, so please keep those 5-star reviews in Apple Podcasts coming! With your help, we’ll move our way further up the Top 20! Leave us a review and be mentioned in a future episode! https://blog.feedspot.com/retail_podcasts/

    Meet your hosts, helping you cut through the clutter in retail & retail tech:

    Ricardo Belmar, a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer for 2022 & 2021, RIS News Top Movers and Shakers in Retail for 2021, a Top 12 ecommerce influencer, advisory council member at George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation, and director partner marketing advisor for retail & consumer goods at Microsoft.

    Casey Golden, CEO of Luxlock. Obsessed with the customer relationship between the brand and the consumer. After a career on the fashion and supply chain technology side of the business, now slaying franken-stacks and building retail tech!

    Includes music provided by imunobeats.com, featuring E-Motive, and Overclocked, from the album Beat Hype, written by Hestron Mimms, published by Imuno.

    The Retail Razor Show

    Follow us on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/TwRRazor

    Connect with us on LinkedInhttps://bit.ly/LI-RRazor

    Subscribe on YouTube: https://bit.ly/RRShowYouTube

    Subscribe on Apple Podcastshttps://bit.ly/RetailRazorShow

    Retail Razor Show Episode Pagehttps://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


    S2E4 Retail Transformers - Alan Smithson

    [00:00:00] Pre-Show Intro

    [00:00:00] Alan Smithson: Good morning. Retail Razor. No, maybe too much. 

    [00:00:05] Ricardo Belmar: actually we might, we might use that at the, in the intro beginning. 

    [00:00:07] That was pretty 

    [00:00:08] Good. ..That 

    [00:00:09] Alan Smithson: like bit connect . I wanna go to a crypto conference and start doing that. Bit connect

    [00:00:17] Ricardo Belmar: Now that would be fun to see. 

    [00:00:19] Alan Smithson: Too early maybe. Okay. We'll just start now. 

    [00:00:21] Ricardo Belmar: Okay. All right, here we go. Here we go. 


    [00:00:23] Introduction

    [00:00:23] Ricardo Belmar: hello, and welcome to season two, episode four of the Retail Razor Show. I'm your host, Ricardo Belmar.

    [00:00:49] Casey Golden: And I'm your co-host, Casey Golden. Welcome Retail Razor Show listeners to retail's favorite podcast for product junkies, commerce technologists, and everyone else in retail and retail tech alike.

    [00:01:01] Ricardo Belmar: And we have a truly special treat this week. Following up from our season debut episode on the Metaverse, we are back to talk more metaverse this week, aren't we?

    [00:01:10] Casey Golden: Yes, and I'm excited. Our listeners and viewers should be excited because this week we're not only talking Metaverse, but we're continuing our Retail Transformer series with special guest, Alan Smithson, founder and CEO of the company, Metaverse.

    [00:01:24] Ricardo Belmar: Yes. Our faithful followers will learn exactly why Alan is 'more than meets the eye'.

    [00:01:31] Casey Golden: Aww, you're gonna use that line, every time for these series, aren't you?

    [00:01:35] Ricardo Belmar: Absolutely, a hundred percent. I am totally here for that.

    [00:01:39] Casey Golden: Okay, so let's talk about Alan. There are few people in the early days of the Metaverse that can talk in depth about what retailers need to look at when building their metaverse strategy.

    [00:01:49] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, when we first talked to Alan, you know, when he first came to one of our clubhouse rooms, I was really impressed. And just like you said, he's got the knowledge about the metaverse. We'll also hear about his solution, the mall, that he's building, that will really change how retailers look at the metaverse.

    [00:02:03] And listeners or viewers are gonna come away with a really smart plan on, on how to attack the metaverse and get experimenting right away, just like we predicted back in season one episode four.

    [00:02:13] Casey Golden: And experimenting, and experimenting, trying things out is a matter of showing up and learning how to experiment. Alan hits on all of these topics and more honestly, each episode this season has been incredibly informative, but our guest energy is solid, true innovators. I don't know how we keep doing this from one episode to another, but keep those notepads handy.

    [00:02:35] You'll need it.

    [00:02:37] Ricardo Belmar: That's right. I mean, we could go on and on about all the juicy details Alan will talk about, but I think I can sum it up by saying if you were gonna write a hundred page Encyclopedia of the Metaverse, Alan would be on page one all the way through page 100, and you'd probably be asking for more pages after that.

    [00:02:54] Casey Golden: Agreed, so let's get to it then. Our interview with Alan Smithson co-founder of MetaVrse. 

    [00:03:04] AlanSmithson Interview

    [00:03:04] Ricardo Belmar: And we are here with our very special guest, Alan Smithson, co-founder of the company MetaVrse, whose mission is to enable creation in the Metaverse for everyone. Following from our clubhouse session in our season one opener on the Metaverse and one of what's likely to be many more discussions we'll have on the metaverse going forward.

    [00:03:23] Alan, welcome to the Retail Razor Show. 

    [00:03:25] Alan Smithson: Thank you so much, Ricardo and Casey. Thanks for having me. This is so, so exciting. You know, we we got to meet in person before these things, which is super cool, you know, and normally it's the other way around. You do all these podcasts and things, and then you finally meet somebody, you're like, Oh, yeah.

    [00:03:38] So it's really great to see some familiar faces and, and dive into the, the Occam's razor of retail .

    [00:03:46] Ricardo Belmar: exactly

    [00:03:47] Casey Golden: I'm so glad to see you Allen and having you here with us this morning. I'm just really excited to catch up and learn what's been going on since the last time we saw each other. 

    [00:03:59] We're 

    [00:03:59] Alan Smithson: many things. 

    [00:04:00] Casey Golden: right. We're not casting from the, the metaverse yet. But who knows? This time next year, a seismic shift is taking 

    [00:04:06] Alan Smithson: time next week we're gonna be releasing some cool stuff and we built in full video chat capabilities into our project. So we'll get into that later. But yeah, the three pushed some technology that will allow us to do this inside of virtual world.

    [00:04:21] Casey Golden: Interesting. Yes. Experiences on the internet are expected to be more immersive, three dimensional and virtual with the realization of web three . I believe the metaverse will will play , an integral role in product discovery and brand experiences.

    [00:04:36] Some people are saying it's dead and now it's like coming back. Some people said it's, this is just natural traction. So I mean, I think we're all here for the dips and we're all here for the eyes.

    [00:04:47] Alan Smithson: I really love the articles that say, you know, the Meta versus Dead or, you know, these are the same articles that in 10 years from now, people will look back and go, Oh yeah, you, you're the guy who wrote the internet as dead article. Good for you. You know, that really inspired a whole generation of people to build the internet, so, 

    [00:05:04] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah, it's like how many years ago when everybody was saying physical retail was dead,

    [00:05:09] Alan Smithson: I mean, yeah, like you can say everything's dead. Look, when we invented tv, people said, Oh, this is gonna replace radio. Every car still has a radio in it. 

    [00:05:20] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. 

    [00:05:21] Alan Smithson: like, radio didn't go away. It just changed and morphed. And you know, now we, now we have Spotify. Okay, maybe radio is not the primary thing, but it never died.

    [00:05:32] You know, TVs didn't go away when we got the internet. You know computers didn't go away when we got mobile phones. And, you know, mobile phones aren't going away anytime when we get VR and, and AR glasses. So, you know, adding new mediums does not necessarily mean that you, the other one fades away and dies, you know, it just becomes another medium.

    [00:05:51] There's, , let's say 10 years ago you had, I don't know, a billion people on the internet. Now we have 4 billion people on the Internet. Like, you know, the, the time right now is, is explosive growth. I mean, companies are raising, hundreds of millions of dollars, you know, tens and then hundreds of millions of dollars for internet technologies and metaverse technologies and web three technologies.

    [00:06:14] You know, this is just the money going in to invest to the future. So, I mean, we're in for a, a really, really interesting next, I guess, eight years now that we're almost kind of at the end of 2022. , By the end of this decade, the world will look very different than it does today,

    [00:06:30] Ricardo Belmar: Oh yeah. Yeah,

    [00:06:31] Casey Golden: I agree with that a hundred percent.

    [00:06:33] Ricardo Belmar: so, 

    [00:06:34] Alan Smithson: none of the things will be dead.

    [00:06:35] Ricardo Belmar: Yeah. No, none. None of it. We're just keep adding more and more I think as we're gonna get 

    [00:06:39] into 

    [00:06:39] Alan Smithson: more people coming on the

    [00:06:40] internet and more 

    [00:06:41] Casey Golden: I'm 

    [00:06:41] all 

    [00:06:41] Alan Smithson: I like reading. 

    [00:06:42] Casey Golden: web, like 6.0 already, right?

    [00:06:45] Alan Smithson: Why don't we have six G? I mean, my 5G phone doesn't really do anything for me. I'm like, 5g. I still have no signal. What the heck?

    [00:06:55] Casey Golden: It's still a marketing boy.

    [00:06:57] Alan Smithson: I bought a big phone that folds in half so that I can have all the things

    [00:07:02] Ricardo Belmar: And you're still waiting. And you're still 

    [00:07:04] Alan Smithson: That's the wait. I still

    [00:07:05] Ricardo Belmar: so 

    [00:07:06] Alan Smithson: but the technology's getting super fast. The the one thing that's exciting that. Most people are consuming the internet on a mobile phone now. Mobile phones and computers are the kind of dominant, but mobile phones kind of leapfrogged and it's places like Africa. They, they just bypass computers altogether and just went straight to phones.

    [00:07:22] Same with China. And so the phone technology is

    [00:07:25] Casey Golden: say, with 10 year olds,

    [00:07:27] Alan Smithson: exactly. 10 year olds in the Chinese, they, they just bypass computers all together.

    [00:07:32] Ricardo Belmar: Right. 

    [00:07:33] Alan Smithson: But yeah, the, the world is using mobile phones to access the internet, and the mobile phones are getting so good. You know, the iPhone 14 came out y. These things are super, super computers now.

    [00:07:45] I mean, if you, One of the people that I, I really think highly of is a guy that runs this company called Otoy. They're a rendering engine and I can't remember the guy's name, but they came up with this concept of the render token. This was way before the whole crypto craze, and they said, What if we could tap into everybody's phone and computer and do batch rendering around the world?

    [00:08:06] So let's say Disney as a project, right? And they, you know, they need 500 servers to, to run this, you know scene of a Disney movie. Well, can't we then just push it out to a thousand phones, Have everybody, you know use the GPUs that are bit, you know, kinda sitting idle for most of the time on your phone.

    [00:08:22] Can we leverage that and then pay people for, for using this idle time on their phones?

    [00:08:27] seem to take off because I think it was a bit early, but that ability to tap into the billions of smartphones and computers out there and the processing power that is sitting idle, I think is going to be a key part of the metaverse moving forward in, in kind of the long term strategy. I mean, this is not, it's not an overnight thing. Nobody's really figured it out yet. But if we can do that, you think of how many computers around the world we could tap into for ai, for modeling, for protein folding for, you know, the good of mankind.

    [00:08:55] We can really use these these idle devices that are sitting idle for, you know, let's say most people, their phones are only sitting idle while they sleep, but

    [00:09:04] you know, it's, eight hours of sleep, depending on who you are. Casey, who only sleeps four hours a night,

    [00:09:12] What is MetaVrse & The Mall

    [00:09:12] Ricardo Belmar: Right. Well, Alan, so, diving into this space a little bit more, tell us a little more about what Metaverse is in your company and what you're doing and what you're and what that means for retailers and brands.

    [00:09:24] Alan Smithson: So we we started a company called Metaverse back in 2016, spelled M e t A V R s E, you know, for the vr idea, we built all sorts of projects in, in virtual, augmented, mixed reality, and 3d. We've done over 160 projects now but we've done everything from building retail locations virtual stores.

    [00:09:43] We've done virtual showrooms for automotive. We have built virtual training for, for medical, for consumer electronics. We did a lot of work for Samsung where we took their their new phone models, actually including this one, and then we animated them opening and you could turn it around and, you know, look inside and all this stuff.

    [00:09:59] We did a bunch of stuff for Samsung. We built virtual showrooms for MasterCard, but all of these things were actually built on our own engine. And so over the years we actually were building and working on our. What you would call a game engine or a creation platform. So similar to Unity and Unreal we have our own base, you know, rendering technology that allows us to render directly to the internet, directly to a web browser on a mobile phone.

    [00:10:24] So one of the, the claims to fame for us is that we have a low code, easy to create platform that bypasses the app stores. We actually don't have to go through Apple or Google. We just hit publish. It goes to a browser and works on any device. So this is super powerful and we really set up a goal in mind to build a platform that would let anybody participate and create in the Metaverse.

    [00:10:47] And so our mission is Metaverse creation for every. That's you know, that's always kind of been our ethos. It used to be XR creation for everyone, and then the whole world moved to the word metaverse. So we're like, Okay, well I guess we should jump on the bandwagon. Even though we started the bandwagon,

    [00:11:01] Casey Golden: What was xr 

    [00:11:02] Alan Smithson: virtual augmented mixed reality or XR or extended reality is like a

    [00:11:06] Ricardo Belmar: yeah,

    [00:11:06] so it mixed, all of it

    [00:11:08] Alan Smithson: Yeah, I mean, we, we were all in on xr. We did the XR for Business podcast. We did the XR for