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Episode 183
November 13, 2020

Content is King, Channel is Queen

Prime Day hit different this year - according to Salesforce’s Michelle Grant sales were up 71% at retailers “not named Amazon” this year. Yep , you read that right. In this episode we dive deep into “Shipageddon”, COVID-influenced store reformats, Holiday 2020, and Becoming Retail - Michelle’s new project with Rob Garf. Listen now.

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Who is Michelle Grant?

  • Michelle got her start studying the retail industry in 2015 with Euromonitor, focusing on overall global strategy. 
  • She started this year at Salesforce in their Strategy Insights group with a focus on technology in retail and consumer goods.
  • Michelle just launched Becoming Retail with Rob Garth—a content series focusing on executive interviews to understand the digital transformations behind brands; how they’re enacting digital change, what they’re learning, what their barriers are, etc. 
  • “It’s really getting to know the people behind these changes that we’re seeing in the news, essentially.” - Michelle Grant 
  • Michelle points out the major change in the last 5 years—a shift from a product mindset in retail to customer centricity. 
  • “If content is king, then channel is queen. It’s essential.” - Brian Lange
  • In Becoming Retail and via Salesforce’s blog, Michelle is pushing out content about customer centricity. 

Shipageddon 2020

  • Michelle points out that Salesforce has already seen the logistics system operate at capacity or overcapacity because of the unexpected spike in demand. 
  • Fourth quarter during holiday is usually peak season for digital commerce anyway, but it’s expected to be much higher in 2020 than any other year.
  • “Your performance comes back to reflect on the brand, not necessarily on the environment in which the package is being shipped.” - Phillip Jackson on brand’s performances during holiday season 2020. 
  • “Retailers are definitely hedging their bets by getting more third party quick last-mile delivery providers on-boarded for the holiday season.” - Michelle Grant on DoorDash, Postmates, Uber, and Instacart.
  • “I think people are more forgiving in the scrappiness of their local retailers.” - Michelle Grant on small, local businesses and their inability to meet the same delivery demands as larger businesses. 
  • “You’re not necessarily [shopping locally] for the convenience. You’re doing it to keep that business alive in your community and people working there and spending money within the community… Consumers have a much higher threshold for inconvenience when they opt to shop at smaller stores than the big box retailers or Amazon.” - Michelle Grant 

Prime Day and Live-stream Expansion

  • With Prime Day 2020, Amazon had a 71% increase of customer base over last year. But other retailers also grew by 21% during the same period, so this wave of digital transaction benefited businesses outside of just Amazon. 
  • Amazon and other online retailers have pushed into nurturing the digital shopping experience into an entertainment experience. 
  • Twitch, owned by Amazon, has moved beyond gaming and has now become a popular space for live streaming—especially in the beauty industry. 
  • On Twitch: “We’ll see if they’re successful in enabling other types of live streaming communities to build up around different categories. And if they’re able to help those communities monetize through commerce.” - Michelle Grant
  • “If you slept on Tik Tok, don’t sleep on Twitch, because this is going to prove itself out.” - Phillip Jackson
  • Tik Tok just partnered with Shopify to make Tik Tok a shoppable platform. 

Future Tech and Channel Investments in Retail

  • “I think first point of order for all retailers is to get their fulfillment as efficient as possible.” - Michelle Grant on future supply chain investments
  • Walmart has been testing new front-end innovations for their stores to be more efficient with fulfillment. 
  • Michelle predicts that 2021 will see new store formats due to the pandemic, fewer stores overall because of the rise of digital commerce, and in general, more digital initiatives from retailers. 


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!

Brian: Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: And I'm Phillip. Today we have as far as huge gets go, this one is a personal check mark as to someone I've wanted to invite on the show for quite some time. We have Michelle Grant, who is the Senior Manager of Strategy and Insights Retail in Consumer Goods at Salesforce. We did it. Welcome to the show, Michelle.

Brian: Yes. Welcome, Michelle.

Michelle: Thank you, guys. It's also a career unlock for me to be a guest on Future Commerce. I'm a big fan of the podcast and listen regularly. So super excited to be here.

Phillip: Thank you. We are fans of the highest order in that we've sort of followed the career from, I believe, the Euromonitor days, so not so long ago. And just kind of thinking about the sort of like what I would consider the OG Twitter retail, retail Twitter crowd, which is how we actually know you or how I feel like I know you, although we're just really meeting for the first time. Tell the people who you are and sort of what your role is at Salesforce and what you think about on a day to day basis.

Michelle: Yeah, you mentioned Euromonitor. That's where I got my start in studying the retail industry in 2015. And then this year in March, I started at Salesforce in their Strategy Insights group with a focus again on retail and consumer goods. So still studying the industry in a much broader scope because it includes both the retail, which is obviously distribution, but then the industries within consumer goods, which compose apparel and footwear, grocery type products, beauty and health care products. So I have a lot of knowledge to be covering in my new role but through a different lens. At Euromonitor, I was really focused on kind of overall strategy, particularly in a global view. But now it's really about the technology. How is technology impacting retail and consumer goods and how will those impacts influence business decisions? So still strategic, still insights driven, but through a technology lens, which I'm really excited to study and learn more about, obviously you couldn't study the retail and consumer goods industries without understanding what was happening in the digital realm but now it's a core remit. So that's very exciting.

Brian: Super cool. Yeah, I think it's so interesting to kind of shift perspectives and attack things from a different angle. And I would imagine that you've got all kinds of new insights as a result. In fact, you just launched Becoming Retail with Rob Garth, which includes video, which is so much scarier than podcasting in so many ways. You've got so many other things going on. Tell us about Becoming Retail and some of the new things that you're learning as a result of switching to the technology side.

Michelle: Rob and I are extremely passionate about this content series. So we're doing executive interviews to understand how people shape digital transformation. So I read the trade press. I look at the quarterly reports, the annual reports. You can learn about a company's digital initiatives or transformations by reading about it and maybe talking to customers. But we really believe that all of it is driven by humans, and we really want to bring out that human aspect. So what are leaders thinking about when they're embarking on a digital journey? How do they enact that digital change? What have they learned? What are some of the barriers? So it's really getting to know the people behind these changes that we're seeing in the news, essentially. And so it's been very exciting to talk to people in the industry about their real life experiences in bringing digital to their organizations. The other thing that we did is a global survey of retail leaders to quantify some of these behaviors, to serve as a blueprint for other leaders and emerging leaders to follow going forward. So we've learned so much, even though the program's only a couple of months old now. One of the things that really struck me is the emphasis on the customer as far as setting the vision, understanding the business needs to fulfill those customer expectations. And I don't know had we've done this like five or six years ago, if the usage of the word customer and being customer centric would have been as high. And I think that's an interesting transition from maybe more of a product place price kind of mindset in retail to more customer focused. I think that's one of the key themes that we see emerging both in our discussions with the leaders as well as in the survey data is just the importance of being customer centric and working back from there. So I'm excited to learn more and get more perspectives from people about that.

Phillip: I think there's something to be said about the platform that you have and the ability to speak with influential leaders who I think have really interesting things to say. I think sometimes, at least in the trade press, there's seems to be an orientation around... I hear a lot of turns of phrase, the technology for technology sake, or tactics in search of strategies. But I feel like a lot of that really is leveled at middling or waning retailers who tend to be struggling. And it's said after the fact. I think, talking to leaders in the midst of their creation of their digital strategy, or reshaping of their digital strategy, like getting them in situ, if you will, like, in the moment of making these decisions. How they're thinking about it is truly unique. And so I think, yeah, it's very timely and we need it right now, especially as the industry is undergoing such incredible transformation and we're seeing so much growth. It's like crawling into the brain of an executive, not having to wait two years for the postmortem. And I think that that's the thing that's really valuable about this moment is the openness, willingness to be able to share some of those things. Where can people find Becoming Retail?

Michelle: We do have a YouTube channel called Becoming Retail. So you can see the long form interviews with the executives there. You can also connect with me and Rob, both on Twitter and on LinkedIn, where we post snippets of those insights to drive people to our YouTube channel for the full interview. We also post, as I mentioned, one of the main themes is customer centricity, so we'll do a blog post about that. And you can find those blog posts on Salesforce. So, yeah, lots of digital channel for those digital content.

Phillip: {laughter} And this is the year to be launching a bunch of digital content. Yeah, we're all clued into it. Go ahead, Brian.

Brian: If content is king, then channel is queen. It's essential. You've got to have both in these times. It is an interesting year to be talking about this. And I think you're right about willingness to share. I think, as Philip always says, the rising tide lifts all boats is probably the wrong analogy right now. We're not on the same boat, but we are on the same storm. {laughter} And so I think that this is a great time to be learning these insights. And I am very excited to go and watch these and learn more and see what comes out of this study. Super, super exciting. Now we are on track for a record holiday 2020, as far as digital goes, right? And so I think that we've seen a lot of digital transformation. But with that, we're also seeing with this massive increase in digital transactions, we're also seeing our last mile delivery services, infrastructure sort of breaking down as we approach this holiday season. And I would imagine that a lot of retailers are going to have several week wait times for gifts and other...

Phillip: Challenges. Challenges and opportunities. They have opportunities.

Brian: {laughter} Yes. I think Scott Wingo called this upcoming event Shipageddon or maybe it should be Shippocalypse. That kind of makes more sense actually. {laughter}

Phillip: Shippocalypse? There's nothing that happens after the pocalypse.

Brian: What are you seeing around this?

Michelle: Yeah, Shipageddon hits. It's going to be tough. We've already seen the logistics system operate at capacity or even overcapacity because of this unexpected spike in demand. We did see shipping delays happen at the start of the pandemic when shelter in place orders were enacted and people turned to online ordering as a safety measure and to get the goods that were available in store from non-essential retailers. So we've all seen this coming because of earlier behaviors and moderated a bit when stores opened and people went back into the store to make purchases. But those stores are still capacity constrained in most places. So that means that there's still a lot of digital shopping that's going on. And we're just predicting that more of it will happen in the fourth quarter during holiday. It's usually peak season for digital commerce anyway, but now it's expected to be much higher than any year. Salesforce predicts that about 30% of retail sales will be online for Q4. And unfortunately, in the months that we've had to prepare for the holiday, it just wasn't enough to really build out that logistics system to meet that demand. So it's going to be a Shipageddon.

Phillip: And I think you had mentioned, too, that this isn't the first time that we've seen capacity constraint due to some sort of environmental factor. This one happens to be health and safety related. But sometimes there's weather delays. There's all kinds of things that have tested the constraints of our logistics and supply chain in the past. Right?

Michelle: Yes, certainly. 2018 was a bad year for getting packages in time for holidays, in time for December 25th because of several winter storms that disrupted the supply chain or the logistics, I should say. And that caused a lot of delays. And if you think about what we're dealing with right now, so if a storm happens, the system is already at max or over max. And so there that element that no one is really talking about is that there is an unknown with the weather. If there's bad storms, things could be even worse than what we're predicting.

Phillip: No, it doesn't need to be worse.

Michelle: Just a bearer of bad news.

Brian: Just thinking about messaging that retailers are going to have to display to their customers and how important that messaging is going to be going into this. Really going to need to account for bad weather. You do not want to disappoint your customers this holiday season, as I have a feeling that they're going to be judging your performance going into holiday for their purchasing behaviors in 2021.

Phillip: It affects the brand. Your performance comes back to reflect on the brand, not necessarily on the environment in which the package is being shipped. It's snowing right now in New York City. Do you know that? It's October 30th? If there is a year wherein something bad is going to happen, it's probably this one. So I feel like I wouldn't put it past to just add insult to injury on some of the shipping constraints. I guess the question I would ask you, Michelle, is do customers... We saw a lot of patience in the way that sort of customer behavior adapted to the environment. I think about the lines that you see in the mall or you see the lines outside the Trader Joe's in 90 degree heat in Florida. It makes no sense to me. But customers have sort of acquiesced to the moment that this is the environment we're in. They've become a little more patient and understanding. Does that stick around and do they sort of acquiesce to the shipping constraints or are they going to look for alternatives such as like the Instacarts or other last-mile vendors or maybe even the Shoprunners of the world, someone who can fulfill this request in a differentiated way to get the product a little sooner or potentially get it sooner?

Michelle: Yeah, I mean, the last-mile delivery players that you've mentioned really have done well this year. Well Instacart in particular when it came to grocery. And what we're seeing is that Instacart, Postmates, Uber, DoorDash are inking deals with non grocery providers. PetSmart has a deal with DoorDash. Walgreens has a deal with, I think, DoorDash and Postmates. So retailers are definitely hedging their bets by getting more third party quick last mile delivery providers on boarded for the holiday season. I don't have a strong opinion on this. I'm really curious about it. I feel this is kind of an area where there hasn't, aside from the deal announcements, there hasn't been a lot of research or analysis yet because often what these providers do is they charge a fee and it's relatively maybe like five dollars to seven dollars an order. And I just don't know if in this economic environment, how many people are willing to pay that fee to get this product delivered. Now that might change because of the holiday. The other kind of like because there is a strong deadline and potentially bad weather that people are willing to pay that. But I'm not sure, in addition to the payment, how aware customers are that they can order products from companies that they normally use for their groceries or that they normally use for food service. So it's definitely a trend to watch this quarter to see how that consumer behavior reacts to these industry developments. But I think hands down, the biggest winner is going to be stores that offer buy online/pick up in-store or pickup at curbside or going through the Walgreens drive thru to get purchases. People are familiar with that. They've used it before. They've used it a lot during COVID. And you can have the certainty that you're going to get the product same day. And you are your own delivery person.

Phillip: I had a conversation with Ted Schadler from Forrester yesterday about their predictions, their 2021 predictions report. And a lot of like service orchestration, sort of differentiation in the space centered on companies that had made massive investments in both data and in services that help them rise to meet the challenges of COVID. You mentioned the drive through capabilities of like a Walgreens. That's something that has come up over and over again, is that that's something that they utilize an existing asset, which is data around dimension and weight for them to be able to repurpose an existing part of their physical infrastructure, which happened to be like vacuum tube delivery for their drive through for pharmacy and sort of finding which products can fit in there and which pharmacists are on hand to be able to go grab and basically do fulfillment from shelf through a drive through. I find this to be a fascinating topic and one I'm just not qualified to talk about. But this idea of utilizing an existing piece of infrastructure to rise to meet the demand, I think that's what we saw with BOPIS. It's what we're seeing with in-car delivery and contactless delivery at the door. It makes me wonder, and I'd love to ask you for reaction, although we weren't prepared to talk about this. But it makes me wonder how other businesses can rise to meet the challenge of this new level of customer expectation not having made the investment three, four years ago, like some of the enterprises have. It seems like almost insult to injury on what we've called the Prime effect of this inability for a mid-market or direct to consumer startup being able to continue to meet these heightened expectations.

Michelle: Yeah, I think that is a very good question. There is a lot of sales transfer from medium and small size retailers to larger retailers for a variety of reasons, including the ease and convenience of deliveries. But also they're a one stop shop. So you can get everything in one go and stock up for two weeks. And because of health and safety issues, that's a consumer behavior that we've seen. So if you're an independent retailer or a smaller one, you don't necessarily have the assortment to meet that type of shopping behavior. And that hurts. As far as logistics, I think if you're a small local... Because there's also been a push from a lot of different areas to support local businesses because they had to close if they were nonessential and everyone understands that if you're closed, you're not making any money, and you'll go out of business. And there's a lot of externalities to local retail going out of business. And so communities are coming around to kind of promoting whether it's a local restaurant or a local retailer to keep them in business. And with that, people have a greater understanding that I'm not going to get the same experience as far as delivery goes, as I would like a Walmart that has the resources to invest in all of these technologies and the labor to execute them in-store. So I think people are more forgiving in the scrappiness of their local retailers. I know I've seen it myself when I shop locally in Chicago where if you wanted in-store pickup, you simply like called them, and they tell you and send you and email that your order is ready. Just call this number and you can walk in and pick it up. So it's not a text. So you still wait kind of like for an email. You don't know when the order is going to be fulfilled. It may actually take a couple of days because, again, they don't have the labor to pulling or that hour that's just dedicated to fulfilling those orders. But I think that scrappiness is fine when you're going there. You're not necessarily doing it for the convenience. You're doing it to keep that business alive in your community and people working there and then spending money within the community. So I think consumers have a much higher threshold for inconvenience when they opt to shop at smaller stores than the big box retailers or even Amazon.

Brian: Speaking of the Prime effect, we saw Amazon move Prime Day to later this year. Maybe touch on the effect that you saw of that shift. Is that changing holiday expectations? What are you seeing there?

Michelle: Yeah, there's two ways of looking at the impact of Prime Day on retailers not named Amazon. The first is just comparing the 2019 July holiday sales versus what happened in October of 2020. And what we saw was that in the US, shoppers spent 71% more on this Prime Day compared to the one in July of last year. But again, as we talked about, there's a huge wave of just digital transaction. So we also looked at how spending changed week over week in the US and still grew by 21%, so lots of other retailers not named Amazon benefited from the holiday as they did in July, but in October, too. And we did see when we looked at marketing messages that went out that about 20% more email communications went out on the first day of Prime Day and at least 18% of the messages that went out on the 13th and the 14th of October had the word Prime or Holiday in them. And it seems like in addition to like just trying to capitalize on the shopping that's going on during Prime Day, that it really did kick off the whole holiday season. I've just gotten a lot of emails myself or app notification saying, oh, your holiday gift guide is ready. Or Best Buy yesterday just launched surprise Black Friday deals. Target is continuing to promote holiday type shopping. Everyone's revealed that... Walmart and Target have revealed that their plans for Black Friday is actually going to be spread out all over November. And I know it's hard to believe, but November is next week. So it definitely did kick off holiday for the retail industry.

Phillip: Wow. And it seems like this is, and this is my own perspective, it feels like Prime Day has an effect more broadly in retail as retailers sort of ride the back of the wave of the interest and sort of creating this opportunity for them to be part of a larger sales holiday of some kind or some sort of sales event that's happening in the zeitgeist. But to have it during the holiday feels like Prime Day, probably as a way to prop up a Q3, it sort of loses its efficacy in that there's only 90 days of a Q4 wherein to capture sales that are incredibly bifurcated or trifurcated. Is trifucated a word? It should be. But sales that are being split up into many buckets. There's a gift giving season. But I guess it'll stand to bear itself out here. We'll see what the actual effect is. I would expect that it goes back to being a summer event next year, you know, COVID permitting. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about something we've been tracking as like a phenomenon is an idea of shopping as entertainment. We saw that during Prime Day. They whipped out the big guns and there were two solid days of like live stream shopping, QVC style, probably more aimed or more generationally appropriate for millennials. I'm curious what we're seeing there. I know there's other platforms that are doing shopping experiences online that are way more engaging than, say, what we have. And that's very popular here in North America, which I typically sort of call like, you know, you spearfishing type shopping. It's not really meant to be, you know, a pastime or spend hours and hours. But I'm curious if what you're seeing on that side, if there's anything interesting or notable.

Michelle: Yeah, I think it's hard for retailers to back into entertainment and to especially online, where, like you said, most of the behavior is spearfishing. You know what you want, you search for it, and you get it, which is basically what Amazon is, a giant product search engine. It's really hard to do inspiration and discovery. You've seen a lot of like fashion, given the nature of the product, is much better suited for that type of on site inspiration type shopping like, "Oh, you like these pants. Here's how they can be styled," or "Here are the different videos. And here's your fall guide." Right? They've done a better job of of entertaining and educating people on their sites. And same with beauty because they are passion categories. So what we've actually seen, or at least what I've been tracking, is more the social media companies that were built for entertainment backing into commerce. And Facebook is the big one, where they're enabling a lot of shopping features into either their, Instagram with their own photos, and now Instagram is integrating payment options or shoppable live streams. So, yeah. So that's kind of interesting. And I think one of the things that is kind of up and coming or maybe it's already well established. I'm not in the gaming community. I have become a Tik Tok addict, but I have not become a Twitch. So I'm not as familiar as about that platform than others because I don't use it, in all honesty, but it fascinates me. Amazon owns it. It's known to have better technology for engagement. And we're seeing in particular the beauty space kind of adapt it as a live streaming event. So that's been really fascinating. So I kind of keep it, I call it like a sleeper hit, I guess. That Twitch is probably maybe the more premier space for live streaming. And Liz Flora just did a great article this week in Glossy about beauty influencers using Twitch to sell their product. Michelle Phan, who started her own company called M Cosmetics, was at one point probably the largest YouTube influencer in the beauty space. And she took some time away and has come back as an entrepreneur with her own brand. And she did a live stream of her gaming on Twitch. And it really drove a lot of sales for her product because she was promoting Daydream Cushion that she said, according to the article, that she sold almost 300% more units on the launch compared to previous launches, and that 17% of her revenue from that day came from Twitch. So that's going to be fascinating as far as like entertainment and shopping goes, I think Twitch might be one of the front runners with that. And again, it's known for gaming, but the executives at Twitch have definitely pushed in to live streaming beyond gaming. Like there's cooking classes. Obviously, beauty influencers are on there. So we'll see if they're successful in enabling other types of live streaming communities to build up around different categories. And if they're able to help those communities monetize through commerce.

Brian: Yeah, I think there's something to this. We were at Shoptalk last week, not physically. Phillip and I just talked about this in our last episode, but seeing companies like Immerss, which is a startup in the live streaming space and others kind of enter into that space, I think there's a lot of room here, although I think just straight shopping, sort of product focused live streams, I feel like that's one category. I feel like live streaming your gaming and dropping a product at the same time is a completely different effort. Takes a different skill set. Like gaming is a skill set. And so I feel like we're going to start to see retail leaders and brand leaders take whatever passion that they have and then use that to live stream about that and sort of sell at the same time. You can't just jump into League of Legends without knowing something about how to play, because you will get crushed.

Phillip: It is a high barrier to entry.

Brian: Yeah.

Phillip: Right.

Brian: And so unless that's sort of the shtick. But I feel like there's going to be additional skills that are going to be looked for on resumes now that are not traditional.

Phillip: Yeah. Well, there's something to be said to Michelle that I think is notable, what you had said. The early adopters tend to be concentrated to a certain few verticals. I often say, and I get some flack for saying it. But having worked in the wellness space and in nutrition and supplements for some time in my career, in the past, nutrition and supplements are The New Pornographers. They are the early adopters of everything that tries to connect with a customer to try to stay on the bleeding edge, to try to capture attention. And they are incessantly just early adopters. And they have a voracious appetite for being out ahead. I see beauty being very much in that same vein. And if you see the beauty vertical adopting this platform, there is something to be said about early adopters of platforms gaining a foothold there and proving it out for the rest of an industry and setting a new expectation from a consumer. And I think that is... If you slept on Tik Tok, don't sleep on Twitch, because this is going to prove itself out. Tik Tok just partnered, I believe, with Shopify to make Tik Tok a shoppable platform. Then I think that we should be looking and I don't know if I'm allowed to say the S word that's not Salesforce, but I did. But if that is happening in the world, it stands to reason that a platform like Twitch, which is an Amazon property, would be shoppable as well at some point in the near future. I cut you off, Brian.

Brian: Oh, no. I was just laughing and saying I totally agree. Don't sleep on this. This is it. I agree with you. Tik Tok is something that a lot of people slept on. And Twitch could be that next step. And I feel like there's going to be other channels other than Twitch. Like Twitch is owned by Amazon, which could present some issues, so we could see other platforms emerge. And so I think that's something I'm going to be keeping my eye on, other streaming platforms for gaming that are not Twitch.

Phillip: So we forgot that Michelle's here.

Michelle: No I'm learning as well.

Phillip: Well, I'm curious. I'm curious when this does go mainstream, how soon is that? What are some predictions like just looking ahead a little bit, you know, what about 2021? What are things that we should be thinking about and maybe technology investments or channel investments that we'll see big retail be heading to? Some thoughts that we've already covered here is, you know, last mile or 3P to 1P conversion. But what else can we expect?

Michelle: Right, I think first point of order for all retailers is to get their fulfillment as efficient as possible. So you will see a lot of investment in supply chain, especially around inventory management and then cost savings. And then related to that is stores, as we mentioned, BOPIS is growing in a lot of cases. For many companies, it was kind of a, oh, we need to do this this year now. And so it's about refining that process. It's still fairly inefficient to have people... It is inefficient to have people picking from the store floor to get it into people's carts. So I think we're going to see a lot more innovation in the back of store to kind of build those micro fulfillment centers that we're seeing in grocery to really make the buy online/pickup in store or pickup at curbside as cost effective as possible. So it can be kind of the boring stuff is like where people are going to start to innovate in. But we are seeing more innovation in the front end of the store as well. Walmart just this week announced that it's turning four of its stores into basically laboratories. And again, a lot of that has to do with getting those stores to be as efficient as possible to fulfill the online orders. But they're definitely testing the checkout area. How are they making that more efficient? Actually, the Walmart Neighborhood that's in my neighborhood actually changed to the new format where it's not different lanes, it's one lane with a mix of aid assisted checkout with a cashier and then self checkout. And it was kind of a mind boggling experience when I went through it, because there's one long line now. So that's a bit of a consumer kind of shock, right? Because people don't like seeing lines even if they move fast and then you get directed to whatever cashier is open, so it could be manned or unmanned. And luckily, I got a man stationed. Luckily, I was sent to a manned cashier. But yeah, we'll see a lot of store innovation now, I think. We do consider food service to be part of the retail economy. And they have just been really pushing hard new formats. And you can kind of see this like with Apple's Express stores now, retailers are definitely preparing for a COVID world. So Apple in the retail world now has a smaller store footprint that's focused mainly on purchases, smaller square footage that they're rolling out kind of aggressively. But I've just found the whole food service industry to be really innovative in changing the actual store model with more drive thru lanes, more in-store pickup lanes, and the way they use technology to direct people to take orders has been impressive. So, yeah, I think that's another area that we're going to see in 2021 is just new store formats to address the issues that go with the pandemic, which is people aren't in their offices, so they're at homes. Your location needs to change. They don't want to spend time in your store. So you need a smaller size with the right assortment that's tailored to that zip code. And you probably unfortunately need fewer stores overall because of the rise in digital commerce. So I think you'll see the store and then there's still a lot to do in eCommerce, like we're talking about. There's so much that you can do in user design to make it a more entertaining and more discovery focused, pleasant shopping experience. So I think we'll see a lot more kind of cool digital initiatives coming from retailers in 2021 as well.

Brian: How exciting 2021 is going to be. What a shift. It's the biggest shift that I could have ever imagined coming into 2020, going into 2021. Who knew this is how things would be? Thank you so much, Michelle, for all of your insight and data that you brought to the show. And what a pleasure it's been to talk with you. Again, just for our audience, where can they find you personally?

Michelle: You can find me everywhere. You can find me on Twitter, which I'm also addicted to. My handle is @MGTalksRetail. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. And I'm on Tik Tok, but I only lurk.

Phillip: No renegade dances from Michelle.

Michelle: No, no, that is... Yeah, I'm there for the puppies and the millennials dancing to hits from the 2000s.

Phillip: That's the best. Thank you so much. Thank you for joining us, Michelle. Michelle Grant, the Senior Manager for Strategy and Insights in Retail and Consumer Goods at Salesforce. We did it. Put a checkmark next to it. It's my favorite interview of the year. Wrap it. Shut it down. We did it.

Michelle: {laughter} Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it. It was so much fun. Thank you for reaching out and having me on. I really appreciate it and can't wait to listen.

Phillip: Awesome. Thank you for listening. And hey, if you want to support the show, the best way to do that right now, do it. Stop what you're doing, go iTunes, type it in, and give us a five star on iTunes. It cost you nothing but three seconds of your time. And then share this with a coworker. I know that this can be valuable as you start to plan your business strategies for next year. Go ahead and send that over and subscribe to Future Commerce Insiders. It's our weekly essay about all things that you need, not to get a bag of tricks or employ tactics, but to think about like what the future of retail is going to be and how you can shape the future of your business by understanding what tomorrow looks like. You can do that right now at All right. Thank you for listening to Future Commerce.

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