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Season 1 Episode 1
November 2, 2021

Can We Stop Being So Dang Binary?!?

What does it mean to build brands and products that people can't live without? Join Ingrid Milman Cordy, as she tries to answer that question and explores what it takes to make brands, products, and services hit the right recipe of connection, relevance, emotional attachment, and, of course, profitability. This is not just another eCommerce podcast, nor is it just another omnichannel podcast. This is a podcast for human-centric retailers.

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This Episode Sponsored by:

Infinite Shelf - Chatdesk
Infinite Shelf - Givz
Infinite Shelf - Opinew

What does it mean to build brands and products that people can't live without? Join Ingrid Milman Cordy, as she tries to answer that question and explores what it takes to make brands, products, and services hit the right recipe of connection, relevance, emotional attachment, and, of course, profitability. This is not just another eCommerce podcast, nor is it just another omnichannel podcast. This is a podcast for human-centric retailers.

The Lowdown

  • {00:05:26} The Need for Productive and Informal Discussions in the Industry
  • {00:10:09} The Importance of Human Centricity in Creating a Brand for a Show
  • {00:25:19} State of the Union and the Pendulum Effect 
  • {00:31:30} The Role of Innovation in Brand and Product Development

Associated Links:

  • Love your new host? Check her out on LinkedIn
  • Check out other Future Commerce podcasts

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Ingrid: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Infinite Shelf, the show about retail that I, Ingrid Milman Cordy as a digital and eCommerce leader, wanted to listen to, but that didn't exist. Here's a little about me as we get to know each other. I have been in the digital and eCommerce space for over a decade. I've had the honor of working at some of the most iconic companies helping build brands online that people love. Mac Cosmetics, Clinique, e.l.f Cosmetics, Ann Taylor, John Barbados and NUUN, just to name a few. I came up in the "golden age" of digital expansion, but really, I have some pretty vivid memories from when we eCommerce weirdos didn't even have a seat at the table. And now we, internet freaks, and geeks seem to have our filthy paws all over all aspects of retail. This is not another eCommerce podcast, though I love Brave Commerce if you do make a recommendation. This is also not How I Built This, but who doesn't love that show? This show is designed to have you follow me, your host and field guide, if you will, to explore what it takes to make brands, products, and services hit the right recipe of connection, relevance, emotional attachment, and, of course, profitability. I've also resisted calling this an omnichannel show. I can't think of a better way to ask if we can please stop thinking about things in such binary terms, like physical versus digital or traditional versus innovative. What I'm looking to learn and share with you alongside me are ways that we can learn from the valuable lessons of the past and use new and innovative ways in our journey toward world domination. Just kidding. {laughter} In our journey toward building brands and products people don't want to live without. We'll interview some super smart people from all over the retail world, ask questions I would ask as a leader, decision maker, and always try to remember what's at the center of all of this is the people we're serving, and let's be real, little about the inevitable profit margins we'll have to report. I'm so glad you're here. Let's hit it.

Ingrid: [00:02:49] Hello and welcome to Infinite Shelf, the show about retail that I, Ingrid Milman Cordy, as a retail leader and digital lady, wanted to listen to, but that didn't exist. Today, I have the honor and distinct privilege of introducing Brian and Phillip. Hey, guys.

Phillip: [00:03:14] Hey.

Brian: [00:03:15] Hey. We're being introduced. This is cool.

Phillip: [00:03:16] My how the turntables have turned.

Ingrid: [00:03:22] The turntables have turned. {laughter} I love that.

Brian: [00:03:26] I feel like we need a record scratch right there.

Phillip: [00:03:29] We sure do.

Ingrid: [00:03:30] Well, Brian and Phillip are of Future Commerce fame, and I wanted to have them on to help celebrate our first episode and also maybe explain how I tricked you guys into giving me a show.

Phillip: [00:03:46] On no trick. I mean, no trick necessary. I think first I'm talking now, so I guess I'll start talking. You're one of the smartest people that I know. And not only are you that so brilliant, but when whenever we have these conversations with you, whenever we've had you on Future Commerce in the past, you know, we get off the recordings and I look at Brian and I'm like, "Why is she talking to us? She should have her own show," and you have unique perspectives and such a unique voice in the industry. And and so I couldn't think of a better person to partner up with to say, "Hey, we need to have different types of conversations in eCommerce and retail and omnichannel and someone who sort of challenges the status quo and asks why we do things instead of saying, "Here's how you do them." And I couldn't think of a better person to lead that conversation than you.

Brian: [00:04:42] Yeah, I totally agree. The first time I met Ingrid was actually when she was giving a talk, was on a panel, and she just outshone the other speakers on that panel by far. It wasn't even close. That's actually what compelled me to go talk to her. I was like, I have to meet this person. She is way, way smarter than everyone else that's speaking. I think at one point you were like, "Oh, I've been monopolizing the conversation, I should let you guys talk more." And I was like, "No, don't. You're the one that I want to listen to. I don't care about the other people on this panel." I think within the first few times I'm meeting you, I was like, "Ingrid, someday you're going to keynote NRF," because I actually believe that.

Phillip: [00:05:26] It's true. Aim higher than that, Ingrid. R.I.P. anyone else who is on that panel that's listening to this show right now, by the way.

Ingrid: [00:05:34] Aw.

Phillip: [00:05:34] But I'm curious to hear from you, too. What didn't exist in the world that you felt like needed to exist that this gives you the opportunity to talk about and to do?

Ingrid: [00:05:46] Yeah. I mean, I think you actually in your description of it really hit on something that I feel really connected to and that is just having conversations that don't exist in other places where, frankly, I'm honestly having the most interesting and thoughtful and enlightening conversations on like texts or Slack or dinners, like more intimate dinners with you guys, with other people that I'm lucky to know in the industry. And I'm just like learning so much, and I wanted a place that was a little less formal, but still productive. So just like I want to take those lessons and learn and listen and also share from the people that I get the privilege of having these intimate relationships with. But then, hey, wouldn't it be cool if we publish it for this audience who probably would also get the same benefit from those conversations? So, yeah, I mean, it's like the topics and stuff are all pretty much pretty similar. Like, we're all thinking about omnichannel. We're all thinking about in-store and digital and eCommerce and like social media. And how the heck do we create enough content for people to listen or people to come back to our brands? But the conversations just felt very like formal. And so, yeah, there's so much fun, silly, weird stuff on the internet that I want to be able to talk to you guys and talk to others people.

Phillip: [00:07:17] There's not enough fun in our industry. So serious all the time.

Ingrid: [00:07:22] Yeah.

Brian: [00:07:22] I think that's another thing that stands out about Ingrid is like she takes really complex and important things and makes them super, super enjoyable and fun and worth...

Phillip: [00:07:32] Talking about her as if she's deceased, like she's not here. She's right here, Brian.

Brian: [00:07:35] I know. I'm like, here, Ingrid, you are very good at this.

Ingrid: [00:07:39] Thank you.

Phillip: [00:07:39] You are very, very good at this. And like, I'm talking to the audience, Phillip. That's what I'm doing.

Phillip: [00:07:43] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, well you've got to you've got to believe that maybe you could credentials yourself. I mean, you've probably already done that to some degree just by over the years on our show. But you're a leader in businesses that have recognizable brands and have really just done work at the highest level. And that's I think I couldn't think of any one more fitting to have the kinds of conversations with the kinds of leaders that I think really can come across as more authentic as like, we're not exploring necessarily. It's not How I Built This. Like, we're not looking for a story.

Ingrid: [00:08:25] Right.

Phillip: [00:08:25] We're looking for those kinds of conversations that can only be had by people who are in the trenches.

Ingrid: [00:08:31] Oh yeah. And I'm like, I'm not a journalist, like, I'm going to be a terrible interviewer because that's not what I do. I'm going to ask people the questions like, truly, it's going to be embarrassing, but that's OK. I'm going to ask people to questions the same way that I would over a cocktail, a dinner party or something like that. And that's kind of the I think the difference is it's very, very, very much through the lens of me as a leader and as a human being and as someone who tries to look at things in a yes, definitely like happy and delightful way, because when you work so many hours of your life, you have to make it fun or else it's just it's not going to be bearable. And also because I'm just genuinely interested in what we do. I think it's so cool what we get to do is like create brands and products and services that make people happy and improve people's lives. And that's just an honor. So it's just fun to get to have conversations around that.

Brian: [00:09:31] Yeah, that's so cool and I think you were being extra humble earlier when you like, "Yeah, I have so much to learn," which is true. Of course, like we can all learn more, but I think just with your history, you've got a perspective as well and a lot to share about the experiences that you've had over the years. And like Phillip said, I mean, you've already credentialized pretty, pretty well. But like you have a very diverse set of brands that you've worked for all in different industries and in different roles. And I think that that's going to bring a ton to the show as well. I'm super excited.

Ingrid: [00:10:09] Oh yeah, I mean, if you don't want to hear my opinion, you shouldn't listen to the show. I'm very opinionated. {laughter}

Brian: [00:10:15] {laughter} Yes, I love opinions.

Ingrid: [00:10:17] Also why I am not a journalist. I have lots of opinions.

Phillip: [00:10:23] And you're better for it, too. The last thing I'll say is this has been, the process of helping you bring your perspective to creating a show has been enlightening for us in watching how much you push against the idea of the intersection of technology and the humanity of what we do and the centricity of where people who live on both sides of the transactions. There's the people who are buying and there's the people who are selling and they're human, and they're at the center of everything that we do.

Ingrid: [00:11:02] Yes.

Phillip: [00:11:02] And when we talk about Infinite Shelf, it's the stuff gets onto the shelf somehow and the stuff gets taken off the shelf by someone. And the shelf is just the table that's being set for the meal that is being prepared. Like we're all party to the shelf brings us together, but it's not about the shelf, it's about the people.

Ingrid: [00:11:24] Ah. That's beautiful.

Phillip: [00:11:24] And that, to me, hearing your thoughts on visualizing the brand of infinite shelf and what is the core of the why of why this needs to exist and the the topics, the content, the people that you're bringing to the conversation, like that's been so inspiring for me to see because you kind of keep bringing it back to the why. And I don't think enough podcasts exist with that kind of intentionality. We certainly didn't start Future Commerce with that kind of intentionality in the beginning, right?

Brian: [00:11:55] No.

Phillip: [00:11:56] And that's why I think that's what's going to bring depth to the thing that you're creating here is because you've spent a lot of time sort of obsessing about the details as to why it needs to be.

Brian: [00:12:06] I mean, just look at that artwork. Look at that artwork.

Ingrid: [00:12:10] The artwork.

Phillip: [00:12:10] Every part of it.

Ingrid: [00:12:11] We all like flipped our chairs when we saw it.

Phillip: [00:12:13] Yeah, we did. Knocked stuff over. And it took us like eight rounds to get there,

Ingrid: [00:12:17] Oh I know. Sorry about that.

Brian: [00:12:19] It worked out.

Phillip: [00:12:19] No, that's why, again, it's because of the vision and the partnership, right? Like we're bringing something into being...

Ingrid: [00:12:31] And it's about the swag, Phillip. It's about the swag.

Phillip: [00:12:33] That's what it is.

Ingrid: [00:12:34] I can't have a piece of art that I don't want to wear on a hoodie.

Phillip: [00:12:38] There it is. It's the universe of the swag.

Brian: [00:12:41] Oh my gosh.

Phillip: [00:12:43] I believe, truly that we kind of tap into a creative conscience that exists. It's like we're finding the thing. It exists, we're finding it. And to some degree, that's kind of how the brands that we work with kind of perceive themselves to be as like, it lives on a higher order, a higher plane of existence that we're all kind of discovering mutually together. And I like that to me, actually like gives significance or like purpose to the thing that we're all doing.

Ingrid: [00:13:14] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:13:14] And like you said, fun is it the center. For me purpose is at the center. If there isn't like an ultimate purpose for people coming together over commerce, then I don't want to be part of it.

Ingrid: [00:13:26] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:13:27] Because I'm not interested in just facilitating a transaction.

Ingrid: [00:13:30] And frankly, it's so much out of respect for the audience. And, you know, because right now we're developing a product and a service that is going out into the world. And so all of the ethos that I advocate for when I'm on the brand side has to exist here, right? And hey, it's not going to be perfect from the beginning and we're figuring this out. But like, let's start out with this very, very vigorous way of advocating for the audience and making sure that what we are creating is something that they are going to be delighted by. And I think you're totally right. The purpose is at the center and it's definitely wrapped in like a funner candy coat.

Phillip: [00:14:11] We have a lot to learn from you. And speaking of fun, I think you have a game teed up for us.

Ingrid: [00:14:17] Yeah, it is called "Get Off My Lawn," a.k.a. "What The Kids Are Saying," a.k.a. "Terms Used on TikTok That I Need Described to Me, Secretly."

Brian: [00:14:33] Shoot, this is not going to go well. {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:14:36] I'm stoked, I'm stoked. All right, here we go.

Phillip: [00:14:38] Oh, this is, I'm so ready for this. I am so excited. I have never been more excited.

Brian: [00:14:42] This show where Phillip shines. Brian looks like an idiot, and Ingrid gets to learn.

Ingrid: [00:14:55] {laughter} Well in full transparency, I know what all these words mean, but I think it would be very, very fun to see if you guys do.

Phillip: [00:15:03] This is not fair. I've been boning up on TikTok for a month because I was feeling old, so I'm going to try very hard to. I'm going to... I have an unfair advantage.

Brian: [00:15:14] That game is called "How Fast Can Brian Google Things?" That's what this is.

Phillip: [00:15:19] Oh, I love that, actually.

Ingrid: [00:15:20] Oh my God. Well, I know from knowing you for so many years that that is hella fast is the answer. That's like a truly like measurable form of science is hella fast.

Brian: [00:15:30] Hella fast. Yeah, that's true.

Ingrid: [00:15:32] Ok, no Googling allowed, Brian.

Phillip: [00:15:34] One eighth of a what the heck is the name of the conference that we were using as a standard measurement of time? Remind me.

Brian: [00:15:42] eTail West.

Phillip: [00:15:46] That's the one. It's like he can do it in...

Ingrid: [00:15:49] One eTW.

Phillip: [00:15:54] All right. All right. OK. Let's do this. I'm excited.

Brian: [00:15:57] eTW PC

Ingrid: [00:15:58] OK, OK, OK, I'm going to... So it's kind of a mixture of like TikTok slang and just like regular like teenager slang. So Brian, you're not allowed to Google. If you don't know, you have to guess because I think that'll be just as entertaining, if not more.

Brian: [00:16:11] You know, what's awesome is like, you shouldn't tell us the answer, and no one should look it up. This is like Balderdash. You have to vote who you think is right as you listen, and then you can know. Then we'll tell you the real answer.

Ingrid: [00:16:22] No, no, no. We can't do that.

Phillip: [00:16:24] Brian, stop trying to make the rules up. You're a contestant.

Brian: [00:16:26] I'm good at Balderdash. I'm great at balderdash.

Ingrid: [00:16:29] I'm going to tell you why that can't work is because I, as a millennial, need immediate satisfaction.

Brian: [00:16:37] Google it. {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:16:40] Ok. Ok, here we go.

Brian: [00:16:41] Here we go. Sorry.

Ingrid: [00:16:42] I think the first one is a bit of a soft ball. So "No cap." What does no cap mean?

Brian: [00:16:51] No cap

Phillip: [00:16:52] Facts.

Ingrid: [00:16:55] Yes.

Brian: [00:16:56] Is this the answer fast enough?

Phillip: [00:16:58] I gave you a lot of time.

Brian: [00:17:00] No, no. I know.

Phillip: [00:17:02] I gave you like three or four eTail Wests on that one.

Ingrid: [00:17:05] eTWs. {laughter} Perfect. Ok, so yes, no cap. Also, "cap" right can mean cap is BS, right? Like that ish is cap. Or are we allowed to curse on the show? I guess we'll find out.

Phillip: [00:17:21] You can curse. It's your show.

Ingrid: [00:17:21] There's like Apple Podcasts like, I don't know, are they going to like shadow ban me or something?

Phillip: [00:17:27] They're going to have to shadow ban a lot of podcasts.

Ingrid: [00:17:30] Oh fair. Ok. All right. Next one. So you got that facts?

Phillip: [00:17:35] Brian, can you use cap or no cap in a sentence?

Brian: [00:17:40] I can quote Kanye. Ok. Ingrid's great at hosting a podcast. No cap.

Ingrid: [00:17:49] Thank you, Brian.

Phillip: [00:17:50] That's facts, Brian.

Brian: [00:17:52] I used it right, I think.

Ingrid: [00:17:54] Yeah. No, it's perfect. Perfect. Ok. This is not a term. It's more of a hashtag, but #xyzbca.

Phillip: [00:18:05] Oh, I don't even know this one.

Ingrid: [00:18:07] Oh yes, OK. I even stumped you up on number two. Mister, "I've been on TikTok for a month." {laughter}

Phillip: [00:18:15] Yeah, I have been. I'm on like Ouch Guy TikTok, though, and Berries and Cream TikTok, so it might be a different thing. x y z b c a. Okay. Well, BCA's are the things that I take to aid recovery after a workout, and I use NUUN. So I'm going to guess that it has something to do with a recovery drink.

Brian: [00:18:39] OK. Here's my guess

Phillip: [00:18:41] That's the stupidest thing I've ever said out loud.

Brian: [00:18:43] So I'm actually a Gen-Xer at heart. If you ever listen to Future Commerce or maybe even older, potentially, so I'm going to say that, "XYZ" back in my day is like when your fly was unzipped. So I'm going to say that something is open that shouldn't be open. I don't know what that thing is. I don't know what BCA is. Probably like, like you're exposed in some way that you need to get called out on.

Phillip: [00:19:09] Wow. BCA, by the way, when I was when I was in high school and college was the Baptist Collegiate Athletes Association. So that's also not helping anything here.

Ingrid: [00:19:23] I bet that's... Yeah. Well, both valiant guesses. {laughter} I like the free promo for NUUN hydration that you can buy at, from you Phillip. But actually so xyzbca hashtag is truly means nothing. It is a tactic for people to get more views on their content. So it's kind of like remember when you would like hashtag on Instagram, like #instagood or like those really embarrassing ones that like I hope people are still not using, but it's another version of those. But for TikTok,

Phillip: [00:20:05] So it means nothing, but it is heavily trafficked, so people use it.

Ingrid: [00:20:09] Exactly. Exactly. #instagood. Please don't use that. Ever.

Phillip: [00:20:14] I mean, Future Commerce might actually just be... We could rename it to #xyzbca.

Brian: [00:20:21] That's a good idea. Let's just gray hat all of our SEO.

Phillip: [00:20:25] Is there anything like that? There's stuff like that that exists in retail and like that exists. That's a it's a gray hat technique, right? That's what that is, to some degree.

Ingrid: [00:20:35] Yeah, I mean, I'm just here to to share all of the gray hat secrets.

Brian: [00:20:41] I feel like you're exacting revenge on me right now because the way that I met you was through Buzzword Bingo.

Ingrid: [00:20:48] Uh huh.

Brian: [00:20:48] And you're like flipping the table.

Ingrid: [00:20:51] Full circle.

Brian: [00:20:51] This is full circle.

Phillip: [00:20:53] This is good. Let's keep it going.

Ingrid: [00:20:54] All right. All right. Here we go. The next one is "on God."

Phillip: [00:20:58] Brian knows this one. I know he knows that.

Brian: [00:21:01] Uh, no, don't know it. I'm going to say... I don't know what that means.

Phillip: [00:21:05] What does that mean? You just said you can quote Kanye and he had a whole on his...

Brian: [00:21:12] I know.

Phillip: [00:21:12] But you don't know what it means?

Brian: [00:21:13] I don't know what it means. I didn't look it up.

Phillip: [00:21:15] "That's on God." What do you think it means?

Brian: [00:21:18] It's like it's not on you. It's on some other higher power. It's like, "Look, this isn't on me. This is on God. It's not on me."

Ingrid: [00:21:29] That's actually a better use for it. But that's not the in practice use for it.

Phillip: [00:21:33] I think it's like basically saying, like, "I swear."

Ingrid: [00:21:37] Yeah, it's kind of like, remember how we can no longer say, Well, yeah, so the Kardashians used to go "Bible," and it was like, you know, "I swear on my Bible." Now it's "on God" because no one's allowed to say "Bible" anymore.

Brian: [00:21:52] That was pretty good.

Phillip: [00:21:53] I didn't know that we could say that. "Bible"

Ingrid: [00:21:56] "Bible"

Phillip: [00:21:57] Wow. There's so much I don't know. I'm realizing that now.

Ingrid: [00:22:01] It's a wild world. I got to keep you on your toes, Phillip. Ok, here's I think this one's good. This one's good. Radio

Phillip: [00:22:09]  [00:22:09]That the mentally handicapped Cuba Gooding Jr. a leading role. Remember that from the nineties? [00:22:17]

Brian: [00:22:17]  [00:22:17]It's a great movie [00:22:18]

Phillip: [00:22:18]  [00:22:18]Movie called radio. [00:22:19]

Ingrid: [00:22:19]  [00:22:19]No, I don't. Don't. You've never seen radio. No. Should I watch it this weekend? [00:22:25]

Phillip: [00:22:27]  [00:22:27]And probably not, it's not a great movie, does it? [00:22:30]

Ingrid: [00:22:30]  [00:22:30]Does it sort of like not stand the test of time? Is it highly offensive now? [00:22:33]

Phillip: [00:22:33]  [00:22:33]It's probably like this is a movie that would never get made today. Yeah. Do you remember there's like a whole genre of movies like that? There was like the other sister and and by the way, Brian and I had this argument total total, total side trail here. But Brian and I had this argument that I thought the movie Rudy was about a mentally handicapped boy who attended college. And apparently that's not. I just read that into the subtext, but it's not like Samwise Ganji. Just, you know, he just he's fine. He just wound up playing football. I thought it was simple. Oh, good. [00:23:13]

Brian: [00:23:13]  [00:23:13]Anyway, have not seen Rudy, either. [00:23:16]

Ingrid: [00:23:16]  [00:23:16]I've seen Rudy. [00:23:17]

Brian: [00:23:17]  [00:23:17]Oh, OK, Rudy is a good movie. [00:23:19]

Ingrid: [00:23:19]  [00:23:19]Yeah, yeah. [00:23:20]

Phillip: [00:23:21]  [00:23:21]Ok, maybe there's something about Notre Dame in there, and I thought, like, there's the whole hunchback sort of, you know, tie in. Ok. I have no idea what radio means. I'm busking. I was like trying to google it on the sidewalk. [00:23:33]

Brian: [00:23:33]  [00:23:33]I'm a Googler, but I'm playing by the rules. [00:23:36]

Ingrid: [00:23:36]  [00:23:36]Good job. Good job, Brian. Well done radio. Oh, [00:23:40] Do you have a guess?

Brian: [00:23:42] No. Go ahead. Just tell me.

Ingrid: [00:23:43] All right. "Radio" means you posted something and you've got crickets. Radio silence. No comments. No likes. Just like a really sad, womp womp. Radio. It has to be radio in order for it to be deleted. Yeah. So the existence of it before...

Brian: [00:24:05] "Didn't you post something about that?" No, I deleted it. It was radio."

Ingrid: [00:24:08] Yeah, exactly.

Phillip: [00:24:10] I want to know how to use this. Do you say, "That was a total radio?"

Ingrid: [00:24:13] Yeah. Or it's just like, "Oh man, I posted that, and I thought it was hella funny, but radio."

Phillip: [00:24:19] Ah, wow.

Brian: [00:24:22] Exclamation.

Phillip: [00:24:23] Learning so much right now.

Ingrid: [00:24:26] All right. Well, I have about a billion more, but I need to save them because this was really fun.

Phillip: [00:24:31] You should save them. This is a great recurring segment. If anyone ever listened to Future Commerce, we've tried recurring segments in the past, but the most recurring segment is that of which where Brian works a Costco mention into the...

Ingrid: [00:24:46] Oh I love that. The ultimate Costco stan there is.

Brian: [00:24:49] Oh, I'll work it in here somewhere. I mean, you guys kind of just worked it in for me. So, I mean...

Phillip: [00:24:53] We just did. We did it for you.

Brian: [00:24:54] Actually, I got my mention in. I didn't even have to. I'm an actual influencer because Phillip brought it up. Ha!

Ingrid: [00:25:01] I love that. Love that. I'm also a Costco stand with you, Brian, and Nordstrom. I'm a Nordstrom stan, too.

Brian: [00:25:08] Oh yeah, I am. Am I a Nordstrom stan?

Ingrid: [00:25:11] I think you are.

Brian: [00:25:12] I kind of am. I don't shop there as much as I shop at Costco, but that's because I have four children. So...  

Ingrid: [00:25:19] Yeah. Fair.

Phillip: [00:25:19] Can I use "radio" in a sentence?

Ingrid: [00:25:22] Please.

Phillip: [00:25:22] Ok. Amazon is launching departments there...

Brian: [00:25:26] {whispers} Don't comment afterwards.

Phillip: [00:25:26] What is that, Brian?

Brian: [00:25:28] I said, "Don't comment afterwards."

Phillip: [00:25:31] Okay, great. That'll be total radio. I guess I don't have to... I was going to try to work it in and use it in a sentence, but I don't have to because I just used it. Yeah. Amazon's launching department stores, but radio. Am I right?

Brian: [00:25:46] Yes.

Ingrid: [00:25:47] Radio.

Brian: [00:25:48] That comment... Not a radio comment. I'm all on board with that comment.

Ingrid: [00:25:52] I know. I really like. I want to talk about that. I can't radio that.

Brian: [00:25:55] Yeah, no, that's not radio.

Phillip: [00:25:57] I've undone myself now. Great.

Brian: [00:25:59] It wasn't as meta as you hoped it would be.

Phillip: [00:26:02] I was hoping it would be meta.

Ingrid: [00:27:01] I'd like to start the podcast with the way that I would start a big new role or a big new project, which is hey, let's create a baseline, like State of the Union, if you will, of like what's going on in retail. And I think that one of the big themes that I've observed, and I think we've talked about this on Future Commerce, frankly a lot, is the pendulum, right? So the idea of how the big three, Amazon, Target, Walmart, are sort of taking over the mindset, mindshare, wallet share basically like at their full swinging capacity within our economy. And then the other side of the pendulum is when smaller brands are starting to create really interesting products, disrupting industries, disrupting how we do marketing, how we talk to consumers. And then ultimately, eventually the big guys start to get a whiff of what they're doing, and they either buy them all up or create their own versions of it. And then the cycle sort of like begins from nothing. And I think we're very much as a result of COVID realities, the checks that went out to everyone to try to keep people afloat and to try to soften the blow of the shutdowns and things like that, and also the places that remained open during the said shutdowns during COVID. I think all of those things were huge, huge, huge impacts to the power of the big three. And I wanted to just talk to you guys about what you thought about that and then also share with everyone how I'm thinking about that as like a business leader and how we're wanting to position ourselves for eventually where the pendulum starts to swing back. Because it will.

Brian: [00:28:55] Who'd you say the big three were again? Did I hear Costco in there? {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:29:00] {laughter} No, but they're up there. They're up there.

Phillip: [00:29:03] There's so much to say, and I don't want to hug the whole conversation. I think that when all is said and done, the amount of capital that we saw float into assistive technology for last mile delivery, the amount of capital that we saw flow into eCommerce, direct to consumer, and CPG businesses during the pandemic, all of these venture backed and heavily capitalized companies will really... All that they have done is is proven out two things. One, that the ultimate winners are the big three, if you will. It is Amazon who is like using signal in the marketplace and watching these businesses launch left, right, and center and watching which ones succeed with customers and then copying their business model because that's what Amazon does best. And it's the Walmarts and Targets and other physical retailers of the world who are co-opting all of this customer experience, which can be brand and it can also be like delivery and it can be marketplace, and they are taking it and kind of making it better and more palatable for the masses. And that's how we'll remember this era when all is said and done, is all we did was widen the chasm between the big three and everybody else. And if there's anyone who could actually change that, it would be Shopify. But I think Shopify is too busy in building sort of a kingdom of their own that is centered on this message of like helping entrepreneurs reach some sort of scale. But when you achieve escape velocity as a Shopify merchant, you don't stay on Shopify, you go somewhere else. And so that's going to be like, I think that's how we'll remember this era, how many eTail Wests it takes until we get there, like before we start thinking of wow, this was like a golden age for a lot of capital, but actually not a lot of change, right? It's actually what we've done is we swung the pendulum back faster, the other direction. That's how I'm thinking of this. But I'd love to be told I'm wrong.

Brian: [00:31:30] Four eTWs AC. So yeah, I think there's a couple of points I want to add. In addition, in many ways, we've seen retail get swallowed up by Big Retail, and I don't think it just has to be the big three. I think it's big retailers in general. So we talk about Nordstrom and REI, and like some of these sort of like I wouldn't call them mid-market, they're big, but like, yeah, the big, whatever that percentage number is, at the top end, they're winning, right? But here's my kind of like additional take here. A lot of the innovation and roll ups that we've talked about are actually brands. And the reason why I think Phillip, you're saying Shopify is the one that could actually empower some sort of break out and new. And there are steps past Shopify and they're not Shopify, but there are steps past Shopify, is that it's actually a lot of the innovation we've seen is not been in retail, it's been in brand and product. And so the other big players that we haven't talked about are actually CPG. And so I think that there's actually that side of it as well, where actually "Is CPG winning?" is a little bit different question than "Is Big Retail winning?"

Phillip: [00:32:53] Did you say CPZG? Because that should be a rapper name?

Ingrid: [00:32:58] It's a new hashtag.

Brian: [00:32:58] Yeah, that's my rapper hashtag. I just let it slip. You didn't know?

Ingrid: [00:33:08] The SoundCloud link will be in the description.

Phillip: [00:33:10] Yeah. Follow me on... {laughter}

Brian: [00:33:12] I mean, that's not how I promote. I'm too underground for that. I'm underground. I don't want to do SoundCloud.

Phillip: [00:33:19] I'm on Bandcamp. Pre save on... Go on. Sorry, Brian.

Brian: [00:33:26] It's good. It's good. So I think a lot of the innovation that we've seen has been on the brand and product side. A lot of that's getting rolled up right now, and a lot of that brand innovation has been democratized. And so it's actually very easy to start a new product line, a new brand that all the tools are right there to do it. And so a lot of the innovation that's happening is on product side because you can roll it up into a brand quickly, which has been now all of these, like smaller, disparate brands are being acquired. And so we've seen a round of innovation and actually Future Commerce caught this kind of early. We saw a lot of the innovation that was happening brand side and retail side, large and small. But I feel like this is the moment where we're going to see a new type of startup emerge and all of the innovation that we've seen right now, that's what's being consolidated is the past five years of innovation. And so the next round of innovation is something that we're going to definitely cover on Future Commerce, the next type of innovative startup and brand and retailer is what we're going to cover on Future Commerce coming up.

Ingrid: [00:34:53] I think that's super, super smart, and I'm actually stoked to hear what you guys are putting together and hopefully be a part of it. The way that I'm thinking about this in my day to day and the conversations that I'm having are how do we set ourselves up to be a part of a) currently what's going on with these big retailers? And how do I set up my teams and ultimately help as being a part of the leadership team within my organization? How do we set up the organization to take advantage of what the current climate is, but also be future focused on when the pendulum swings back the other way that we're ready and that we aren't blindsided by what the needs of the future consumer mindset is going to be. And so that's sort of heavy on my mind, and I'm just thinking about how do we optimize and understand all of the investments that the Targets and Unilever's and Walmarts and Amazons of the world are making and how they're thinking about their future roadmaps because we absolutely need to do that and be a part of that. But then also because we are a brand that is truly a brand and has advocates and has deep roots in communities and that human connection, how do we keep that relevancy and focus? And I think that's just this really, really important way that we need to structure organizationally in order to take advantage of what that looks like, both in the current as well as what the future is going to look like. So that's just a topic that's constantly on top of mind, and I'd love to be able to dig into that in more episodes and more content that we create for Infinite Shelf. I think that's very much like the ethos. So again, thank you for walking through what that looks like in your minds currently and then also just bringing it to this very, very practical, actionable way for me to think about in my team. So I appreciate that.

Brian: [00:38:00] We're excited.

Ingrid: [00:38:02] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:38:03] I can't wait to hear what a community of people bring to your side of the conversation too. Ingrid, you can tell I'm used to being a little pessimistic in that the general audience of people that I hang out with like to chase fads. And so I've become a little bit of a curmudgeon in that I feel like that there are truisms in the way that business operates and like the ways that we build sustainable businesses that have endured for a long time and the chances that we live in an era where that's being fundamentally disrupted, that we've inverted it entirely is incredibly small. It's all the same tactics. They're just done in different ways today. And that's where I think we differ is that I think you have an extremely positive outlook, and I have a little bit of a pessimistic outlook. So I can't wait to hear how the conversations that you have shape up on the show.

Ingrid: [00:39:07] Yeah, thanks. And I honestly, it's very much a conversation, right? I want to hear the pessimistic view, so that I can at least incorporate that into decisions that are being made and be ready for what my answer is going to be when things like that come up. But you know, frankly, organizationally, the way that I'm thinking about structuring my team and the way that I coordinate with my cross-functional teams is we have to be more integrated than ever before. We cannot afford to be siloed in any way. So even when it comes to like our corporate planning and that kind of thing, it used to be like "Marketing team, you go off and you do your plan. Sales team, you go off and you do your plan." And then we come together and we figure it out. But in reality, anyone who's looking at planning right now and you know, it's October who isn't in planning right now at various stages? I really think that if you're not thinking about things in a decentralized way that you're probably behind and it's going to be really, really hard to catch up. And so I'm definitely doing that with my teams. And, you know, whether it's the team that I oversee or the leadership team that I'm a part of. It's super, super important. More so now than ever. That said, the accountability of each component of the cross-functional teams has also never been more important. So every part of the organization not only needs to collaborate but also be accountable. And I think that's the other side of the black and white that exists. We need to be able to work together, but we also need to maintain accountability. And I think if you're able to figure out a system where both of those things are happening, that's a recipe for winning.

Brian: [00:40:57] That's exciting. I really am excited to hear about how you're breaking down the silos. I actually think that that is one of the biggest challenges for retail right now. And so that's why I'm excited about your show.

Ingrid: [00:41:09] Yeah. Well, this has been super, super fun. I'm so glad that we got to do this. I love y'all. I'm grateful to be part of the Future Commerce fam, and I'll catch you guys soon.

Phillip: [00:41:23] Yeah. Thank you so much, Ingrid.

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