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BONUS: "Green Commerce": An Interview with Chelsea Clements, Performance Marketing @ Green Growth Brands

The Uberification of pot,CBD and having a clear strategy in a world of microtrends. Interview with Chelsea Clements, head of performance marketing at Green Growth Grands.

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The Uberification of pot, CBD and having a clear strategy in a world of microtrends. Interview with Chelsea Clements, head of performance marketing at Green Growth Brands.

Brian: [00:00:00] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about next generation and cutting edge commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:04] And I'm Phillip. And today we have a new friend of the show, but someone who I think we go a little ways back with, and can't wait to talk to and hear about a whole new world of things that we've never talked about here on Future Commerce. Please welcome to the show. Chelsea Clements, who is the director of e-commerce? I should have cleared this before... The Director of E-commerce at Green Growth Brands? Is that correct?

Chelsea: [00:00:30] No. But close.

Phillip: [00:00:32] Close enough to get a cigar? What is your title at Green Growth?

Chelsea: [00:00:38] You know, my title so ambiguous, and it's not accurate to what I'm even doing at the moment. I wouldn't call myself a e-commerce strategist there. Our director of e-commerce is a wonderful woman who's so much smarter than me and has tons of experience I'm loving learning from. But I think my technical title is Performance Marketing Manager.

Phillip: [00:01:01] Like It. Awesome.

Brian: [00:01:02] Nice. I like that.

Phillip: [00:01:04] And we met when you were in sort of, I don't want to call it a previous life, but in a previous role at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Is that correct?

Chelsea: [00:01:14] Indeed. You came in and showed off Something Digital's capabilities, and here we are now.

Phillip: [00:01:22] Yeah. Can you believe it? And I got to eat some great ice cream.

Chelsea: [00:01:26] Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:01:27] Which I really, really love. So yeah, tell us a little bit about you. You have an interesting story. And when we kind of got into some of the personals, when we all started talking, it sounded like you have a interesting generational retail background, too, there in Columbus.

Chelsea: [00:01:43] Yeah. Yeah. I think I was destined up in retail. So previous to where I am now, I was at Jeni's Splended Ice Creams for six years, and my whole family is basically in retail, except for my poor mother who gets stuck sitting around the dinner table hearing about supply chain and inventory and run rates. And she's just hoping the conversation ends quickly. But my father did about 38 years at L Brands, my brother is at Express, and my sister in law is at Abercrombie. Whenever and complaining about, you know, holiday retail, or my brother is, which doesn't happen in the month of November, December. My dad just looks at us and goes, "Well, you knew what it was gonna be like. You guys are stupid to go into it, too."

Brian: [00:02:32] {laughter} That's amazing.

Chelsea: [00:02:35] Yeah, there's no sympathy. No sympathy.

Phillip: [00:02:38] Do you ever find yourself at Thanksgiving sort of talking about the complexities of managing supply chain?

Brian: [00:02:43] I don't think she finds herself at Thanksgiving? Because the next day is like the biggest day. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:02:52] Yeah, that's true, actually.

Chelsea: [00:02:54] This is true. But if you're planful, then you can enjoy all the work and Turkey coma and wake up on Black Friday and you can get it done. But yeah, wait so talking about retail supply chain is not normal Thanksgiving dinner conversation? No?

Phillip: [00:03:11] No. No.

Brian: [00:03:11] I wish it was. I kind of wish it was. I'd like to talk about retail supply chain as part of my Thanksgiving dinner conversation. {laughter} I want to do like a family podcast. I just want a microphone in on that Thanksgiving dinner.

Phillip: [00:03:30] Calm down, Brian. Brian is the one who gets, like, more excited about supply chain than anyone else, I think.

Brian: [00:03:37] Oh, my gosh.

Phillip: [00:03:37] He's then he's the nerd at the table. So, you did spend quite a bit of time at Jeni's. What was your role at Jeni's like? And for those who aren't familiar with the brand, what makes it different in the space, I think probably very crowded space, of ice cream?

Chelsea: [00:03:56] Yeah. So, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams was founded by Jeni Britton Bauer. She's an amazing woman who is the Chief Creative Officer there. Now she is. And yes, so Jeni started in 2002 as a single location inside the North Market, which is this awesome place in Columbus that has finished foods. It has produce, it has flowers and is a really nice kind of downtown spot. We grab that stuff on your way home or head over there for lunch. So. So Jeni was selling an ice cream there for six years before expanding into a second sort of brick and mortar. If you fast forward to today, Jeni's is probably near... I've been gone six months, so these numbers could be slightly out of date, but it's near a 45 million dollar year company that has, I think this week they're opening their fortieth location. It's cross-country now.

Brian: [00:04:56] Wow.

Phillip: [00:04:57] Wow.

Chelsea: [00:04:57] L.A., Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, D.C. I could go on and on. There are a lot of places, and they even have gotten national placement and all the Whole Foods locations. Publix.

Phillip: [00:05:10] Yeah.

Chelsea: [00:05:11] And then tons of Kroger, Giant Eagle, Harris Teeter, all of that. So, you know, it was a small and scrappy company. It's still a small and scrappy company. People think it's much larger than it is. And no, it's just some really smart, scrappy people put out the best products...the best ice cream product there is. All other ice cream has been ruined for me.

Brian: [00:05:33] Nooo.

Chelsea: [00:05:34] I know, I know.

Phillip: [00:05:35] They have a really interesting story about partnership, like local partnership with farms and producers and the story about being a Certified B Corporation. Not to make you rep it anymore, but, you know, that's the real differentiator in the story as I understand it.

Chelsea: [00:05:55] Yeah, absolutely. You know, back in the day when I was running social media there, people would always say, why is your ice cream so expensive? Because it is a premium ice cream, but it's expensive because it's expensive to make, and they don't cut corners. So it's grass grazed milk. There's a flavor called roasted strawberry buttermilk. And those strawberries are purchased by the fields from Mike Hirsh in Chillicothe, Ohio. He actually plants the strawberries specifically for us... For us... {laughter} See. I can't separate myself.

Phillip: [00:06:26] You've not been gone very long.

Chelsea: [00:06:27] No, and it's such a part of my life, and I will always rep it. So it is what it is. Yeah. I mean, it's produce straight from farmers. It's other suppliers and vendors or other small producers. And we're able to help...They are able to help bring them to a larger scale. Really innovative flavors, too, like Sweet Corn Black Raspberry and Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallow. So they're not like Cookie Dough, and not that there's anything wrong with that. Those are kind of pedestrian flavors. And Jeni's makes those, too. But, you know, there's some real culinary aspirations that are in the flavors that make them different.

Phillip: [00:07:12] And you kind of need to differentiate yourself nowadays. I thought of what... We've sort of had this fascination, or I've had this fascination the last few months with direct to consumer, and while Jeni's might not be like the direct to consumer play that you see you like of the DTC playbook that's being, you know, worked by, you know, the brands you might think of that are very successful in that space. The Glossier...

Chelsea: [00:07:46] Aways luggage...

Phillip: [00:07:46] Away luggage and Casper to name a few. They do all of the things from a creative perspective and from a branding perspective and from a commitment to balancing purpose and profit. They are a modern brand. Which I think is really interesting because it's really hard to do that in the world of consumer packaged goods. And so I find that just very fascinating that a company like that can exist now when you have giant, giant CPG companies that have been around for a hundred years who own most of the space in freezers in all the supermarkets worldwide. And it's really hard to break into that. So it's such an awesome story when you see a founder story like that.

Brian: [00:08:37] Do you think that maybe some of these grocers are catching on to the fact that people don't necessarily want just the standard CPG offering? They're finally catching on that people do want to try interesting flavors like sweet corn...strawberry? {laughter} That's crazy. What do you think about what's happening in grocery right now? I think we're seeing a lot of change.

Chelsea: [00:09:09] Yeah. You know, buyers in grocery, and I wasn't in the wholesale division, but I had the pleasure of hearing from our super intelligent wholesale lead at Jeni's, Rachelle Lynch, and buying strategy for grocery is so strange to me. I mean, you can have one buyer at their headquarter who's making shots, call decisions, for the entirety of their entire chain of stores, and they really do focus on the different categories. So they'll have kind of like the brand level ice cream for the store, they will have a premium, they'll have a super premium. They have to have a certain meaty number of non-dairy. So it's a really interesting play. And something that's so strange to me is that you can get the spins data, so you can see exactly what your competitors are selling in units per transaction, per week, by brand, by flavor, by like region. And so it's so strange because you get to know your competitors data in a way that, you know, in my business now, and in most other businesses, you don't know how many suitcases that Macy's is selling of Samsonite luggage. You know, you have no clue of that data. But when you do have it...

Phillip: [00:10:25] Well, apparently, according to their earnings, Macy's isn't selling much of anything, but that's a whole thing.

Chelsea: [00:10:32] Oh, yeah. That's a bad example.

Phillip: [00:10:34] Sorry. I have to take the shots when you see them.

Chelsea: [00:10:37] I think that if retailers or if the grocery store retailers are smart, we realize that the Jeni's customer might have a different sort of cart than other ice cream brands. And so if in a town where there's a Jeni's Scoop Shop, in specific, people love to be able to buy pints when they're just on their weekly grocery store runs. And so there's a lot of advantages there. And, you know, maybe they're buying the other grass grazed meats or nice wines or... Just because it is a more premium product maybe they're taking bets on larger share of the cart.

Brian: [00:11:16] Makes sense.

Phillip: [00:11:16] That sounds like a lot of the direct to consumer, you know, clicks to bricks play, to... I met the head of partnerships at Casper recently. Jared Anderson, shout out to him...super nice, very approachable guy. But he was talking about, you know, he heads up new venture, and wherever Casper launches a physical retail store now, they see more engagement on e-commerce. So it's more of a brand play in that the brick and mortar drives online, or drives cross-channel sale. And I think that that's really, really interesting in that halo effect. And it sounds like, you know, you've seen some of that in your previous role, as well.

Chelsea: [00:12:05] For sure. There was so much synergy between having a scoop shop in a city in relation to the grocery store sales. Absolutely. And then e-commerce has the added benefit. So, absolutely.

Brian: [00:12:20] Speaking of grocers expanding their product offering, you're in a pretty new industry now to the point where grocers are now carrying CBD products.

Chelsea: [00:12:32] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:12:33] Well, tell us a little bit about Green Growth.

Brian: [00:12:35] Yes. Exactly.

Chelsea: [00:12:36] Yeah. So Green Growth Brands is a company here out of Columbus. And for those who don't know, Columbus is a just booming city of retail. And people just don't realize that when I'm out and about talking about it. But Columbus has the headquarters of L. Brands, DSW, Express, Abercrombie, Rogue Fitness for any Cross Fit fans. I see Rogue everywhere. And even smaller headquarters like HOMAGE. It's just really a great city for that. So Green Growth is based out of Columbus, because that's where a lot of the retail talent is and a bunch of leadership. But Green Growth has a portfolio of brands that are both in THC and CBD. So dispensaries that are medical and medicinal, sorry, medical and recreational and then CBD products that are topical. So the current brand that is live in CBD is called Seventh Sense, which is one of the brands I work on. So CBD topicals for pain relief or that can relieve pain and inflammation. Some face care, body care, foot therapy, hand lotions, all that sort of product.

Phillip: [00:13:49] And that seems to be a growing category. Seems to be. CBD is in everything now.

Brian: [00:13:56] Exploding. It's exploding.

Chelsea: [00:13:59] Yeah. I mean it's in everywhere from bodegas to Barneys. When we were in New York last week, or the week before, for CommerceNext, and I was telling people from locals what I was doing in my new career path here, they were all talking about bodegas, how it's available everywhere in New York. Every story seems to have it. They're putting it in coffees or putting it in beer. Blah, blah, blah. But yeah, I mean, CBD is, it's everywhere. Urban Outfitters has 60, I think it's 60 skus on their web. Let's see, Anthropologie selling it. Green Growth has an announced deal with American Eagle and Abercrombie. And we've been selling in DSW. So, yeah, all the retailers are trying to get into it, whether or not it's their brand or if they're carrying it wholesale.

Brian: [00:14:55] Even Brandless, even Brandless is introducing it.

Chelsea: [00:14:59] I read that news when we were at CommerceNext, Phillip, and I was like, so your company is having financial issues because they had their margins all wonkado. And then let's try to save our company by pivoting into CBD. Well, let me tell you. That's an interesting...

Phillip: [00:15:22] So I have a theory about that, which if you'll suffer me to think out loud a little bit. Brandless is one of those interesting, I call it sort of like an atheist brand. It's like the people that are atheists that I know are more evangelistic about their atheism than the people of faith that I know about their own faith. It's like this weird, interesting conundrum. Like Brandless actually has a brand. It's Brandless. Like, that's their brand. The brand is called Brandless, and they do have a brand. And so this is this whole idea of not having a brand, whatever. I think that they did create a category which I think is really, really interesting of unbranded, just good quality products. Potentially they didn't, maybe there's not a solid business or they had issues in margin, but in any disruptive industry, you see there's a sacrificial lamb. And, you know, because it's Future Commerce, I do predict things a little bit. You know, Napster was the sacrificial lamb for digital streaming. And I believe Tesla will be the sacrificial lamb for electric vehicles and being commonplace everywhere, and maybe Brandless is the sacrificial lamb for consumers understanding like the need for unbranded, quality goods and housewares that span category. But yeah, they seem to have some issue. I'm very skeptical of any company whose future hinges on a fad. And I don't want to call CBD a fad. Not to disparage what Green Growth is doing, but I think that brands whose core business is not CBD, that they're dabbling in it, might be a warning sign. But I'm curious since because you're...getting back to you, Chelsea.  Your focus is CBD. And I think that that's really interesting. Your company owns many brands, a portfolio of brands, across THC and CBD. What kind of challenges are there in that industry around regulation? And I don't think that many people understand that the regulation actually exists on the CBD side as well.

Chelsea: [00:17:47] Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think one of the hardest things I've experience in my six months of being at Green Growth is the technology partners and whether they'll even work with a company like us. So CBD, hemp, is federally legal, but they left it up to states for some of the regulation. And therefore, you know, think about an ESP or a POS or even a payment processor. They they don't know where they stand on this. They're not quite sure of the legality. Or maybe there's someone on their board or somewhere in leadership who isn't supportive. So even just finding technology partners that are willing to work in the THC or CBD space has proven challenging. We have great partners now because we learned that early. They learned it before I came on. So we were able to work those into our consideration processes. But what you also got out of that is there were a bunch of cannabis specific technologies that have emerged that are built to work with THC or CBD companies. But I'd say a good number of them are very amateur in their offerings. But if that's all you can work with in some respects, like you're just kind of stuck with that. So if you're an ambitious company that has high standards of technology and processes and then you're stuck potentially with a subpar vendor offering, but that's what you have to work with, what are you gonna do? It's very interesting.

Phillip: [00:19:43] Right.

Chelsea: [00:19:43] If I joked that... Is it called Capterra? What's that software finding...?

Phillip: [00:19:47] Yeah. Capterra.

Chelsea: [00:19:48] I with they had like a THC/CBD filtering option. Vendors could say if they are willing to work with you. Because that would save a lot of time in trying to build out our tech stack. Yeah. I haven't had...

Phillip: [00:20:03] I find that interesting. Like maybe this is an interesting question. Do you feel like the standard bag of tactics that you might reach for to build customer loyalty, repeat customer business and build the funnel and convert your customer, do A/B testing.... Do you feel like that is just very difficult due to regulation right now?

Chelsea: [00:20:35] Maybe not due... I wouldn't say due to regulation for those specific things that you just mentioned, but where we run into issues with regulation in our funnel is sort of the awareness piece, because when you think about a digital playbook for an e-comm brand, or really any brand, you think about paid social, you think up search SEM, SEO. We can't do SEM for CBD, and you can't do it for THC. Facebook has, in the last six weeks or so, changed their policy on CBD. But it's still a very grey line on if they'll let the ads through. We really haven't seen much from our competitors there. There are display networks that are cannabis, both THC and CBD specific, but you know, they're on sort of niche sites that they aren't asquality as like a Google ad network. So I think that's why I laugh at my title right now. It's Performance Marketing Manager. But we're not doing any of I think what people would think is performance marketing right now. So again, very interesting in terms of the awareness and the funnel. So that's where you have to kind of pivot and to kind of bring out your more traditional techniques of PR and direct mail and signage. And in some of the things that we take for granted in their marketing strategy until the regulation catches up with some of the digital channels.

Brian: [00:22:14] It's really interesting, too, just like we're right as a nation around this and you know, and thinking about how this affected supply chain. When it was first introduced and like how everything had to change in the industry, now it's finally kind of filtering its way all the way up to sort of like the marketing side of the business. There's still only a limited number of states that that you can actually market this in, and it's actually legal to even purchase in. And so I was just thinking back to you were like, "Oh, yeah, all of the THC friendly payment processors are kind of amateur, if you will." I feel like this is such a unique time for the industry supply side, as well. The supply chain here has been completely disrupted. You had a supply chain that was largely illegal moving to a legal supply chain. And now you've got a marketing network that was like totally unable to market this at all that is now sort of starting to market this. I wonder if there's some lessons that can be learned from the supply chain that you could apply to this, as well. How deep if you delved into how this law change affected the supply side?

Chelsea: [00:23:43] That's a great question. When I think about legal versus illegal and how it the supply and demand change, I think about California. There was an article in the L.A. Times that cited that 80%of cannabis sales in California are still bought on the black market, even though it is a recreation state, due to people not wanting to... Well a couple of reasons. One, they probably don't want to pay the tax, that super high tax that is on it. But also, if you think about... Now, I'm not saying this is me or you guys, but maybe, you know, friends, if if you've purchased black market cannabis and in a past life, you know, it might look something like you text your buddy, your buddy comes by within a couple hours, text you when they're outside, you go out, grab it, maybe from some money on Venmo and boom, that's it. That's pretty easy. And so you think about now with all the regulations... I mean, there are things like Eaze, where you can basically get cannabis on demand in certain states, which is pretty nifty. But if people have had this really low barrier to entry into buying for years, why would they all of a sudden want to make a more complicated and pay more money for something where they perceive it as the same?

Phillip: [00:25:18] It is more complicated, it sounds like. I find it so fascinating. I didn't say this on the show a couple weeks ago. I had to go along with a whole joke about Sex and the City. I've never seen Sex in the City, which is like hilarious. And so when we started the preshow...

Brian: [00:25:37] Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You put me through that back then like you knew what you were talking about.

Phillip: [00:25:44] Yes.

Brian: [00:25:44] And. And then. Oh, yeah. OK. That was mean. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:25:48] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Chelsea: [00:25:50] I've never seen a single episode either, to be fair pay.

Phillip: [00:25:53] All right. I mean, you might be too young for it. We have a strict policy at  Future Commerce about, you know, just going along with jokes for the sake of the show. We do it for the sake of the show. Anyway. No, I've never done weed, legal or illegal. And I'm just thinking about, you know, the types of typical things that we would suggest that companies that don't have this sort of challenge in trying to get their products to their customers. The types of things that we do to get customers to make the conversion are not hindered by a cash only business or a have to have an ID card or registration on site. And the black market still is actually much easier than the regulated legal market. And that sounds like something that's really hard to compete with.

Chelsea: [00:26:43] It can be for the experience users. But think about, I mean, I'd say that...

Phillip: [00:26:49] There's a whole new set of users, right?

Chelsea: [00:26:51] Yeah. Or, you know, there's kind of the lapsed user who might have partaken in high school in the 70s, and now they're in their 60s and they're like, "Oh, I can go down the street and buy some flower at my local cannabis shop." And that's why I like the in-store experience for cannabis is just huge because it's intimidating, there's so many options, there's words like "terpenes" that, prior to starting at Green Growth, I didn't even know existed. I still am not super clear on all of them. There are all these flavor profiles that can have different effects and can have different entourage effects. It is like a whole different world, whole different vernacular. And so that in store experience, and online experience, really the web presence for dispensaries, is just so key for that whole group of new users that are intimidated by the thought of even stepping foot in a dispensary.

Brian: [00:27:49] That's what I was thinking. Maybe there could be some sort of tie back here to digital marketing. Because as now Facebook is allowing you to market CBD. And, you know, let's just say in the next five, four to five, six, seven years, we see federal laws move on THC as well. This is...

Phillip: [00:28:17] Yeah. Don't hold your breath. We'll see what happens in November of next year. Yeah.

Chelsea: [00:28:21] Yeah.

Brian: [00:28:22] Until then, you can look at marketing and say, wait a minute, this is how it's been done in the past. Like maybe there's a way to leverage either old techniques or bring those old techniques sort of into a modern era where it is legal. For instance, you mentioned, and this is really interesting that you can get weed on demand in certain states. Tell us a little bit more about that and that process.

Chelsea: [00:28:46] Yeah. So it's so funny. My boyfriend's brother just moved back from Europe. He's been living there since college, and he moved to Long Beach, California. And he sent me a photo of an Eaze billboard that said like "Marijuana delivery with Eaze" and a picture of their app. And he was like, "What does the world come to?" And I was like, Oh, yeah, you didn't know about this? Apparently, he was kind of clueless to it. So welcome to California, Max. Yeah. So Eaze... There's a couple of these sort of delivery platforms for cannabis. And yeah, they have... It's crazy there's loyalty programs, they have full execution that you would expect in any sort of advanced e-comm system. But yeah, you can get on demand delivery, and they pick up, they either pick up from a license dispensary, from a storefront or there's apparently like some storefront-less licenses. So you can, kind of like in Post Meats or Uber Eats, you don't have to have a storefront restaurant. You can have like, you know, a food license to be making food, but you don't put actual brick and mortar people can visit. There's something similar like that with cannabis licenses. It's the type. So, yeah, there's on demand delivery in California. Just like getting Post Meats, you can get yourself a pre-roll or concentrate and have a fun time.

Brian: [00:30:20] Interesting. That's that's really interesting. It's kind of like texting your sketchy friend, you know. {laughter}.

Chelsea: [00:30:28] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:30:30] I don't know about sketchy. Yeah. I don't want to make any suppositions about the constitution of your friendship with this person.

Chelsea: [00:30:38] {laughter} That was in theory, Phillip.

Phillip: [00:30:41] Yeah. That's a total theory. Absolutely. We talked about this on an episode or two ago with Emily Singer that in a world where you have to have a tremendous amount of capital to compete as an upstart brand, you have a rising customer acquisition costs, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook, you know, just to start your company. Especially if you're a consumer brand, just to start a consumer brand might take more capital than any one person might even have at their dispense. And so they might look to outside investment to make that happen. And that's probably why you see a lot of VC activity in consumer brands. It's a really interesting dynamic, and it's like this arms race that's out of control. With all of that happening, that means that the bootstrapped consumer brands or the mom and pops or those that have a smaller amount of capital, they have to turn back to doing something. It's not like entrepreneurship stops because people can't afford to advertise on Facebook, so they move back to local and local becomes the center of where things are going to happen for those people. Because if you can't afford to be on Facebook to get notoriety, you can at least open a storefront in your hometown and recruit people to come in and try it out and build a personal relationship with people. And it sounds like that those same sort of constraints might exist due to advertising policies by social media platforms, or at state level, or even at the e-commerce platform or technology partner level. And they cause you to have to adapt your strategy. But it's not one that's going to prevent customers from getting the products. It just you do it in a different way. So I'd love to shift gears. We had, you and I Chelsea, had attended CommerceNext a few weeks ago. You sat in a lot of sessions and I was hallway tracking a good portion of it. I'm curious to know if you if you had anything that was really notable that came out of that show. What was that show like for you?

Chelsea: [00:32:59] Yeah. That show was really interesting. It was refreshing. I love to learn. And I mean, you can read all the articles you want online or listen to podcasts, but there's just something magical about talking to someone in person and saying, hey, who do you work with? And learn a couple of things. I know you and I were sitting together at lunch one day speaking to someone at Aldo, and I'd ask them how Aldo recognizes revenue for sort of omni channel purchases, buy online pickup in-store. And, you know, the gentleman we were talking with gave me some super interesting facts about, even the stores making e-commerce pay for like seven minutes of payroll for that store employee fulfilling that order online pickup and store order, yet e-commerce gets the sale and the revenue perspective. And like I would'nt have learned that anywhere else. No ones going to tell me that over... You don't talk about that on a podcast. And I guess it's just so fascinating the things you can learn in person. So I always enjoy going to things. I don't go to that many shows a year or conferences. I say three or four. Shoptalk was amazing this year. I couldn't take enough notes in some sessions. This CommerceNext was my first time. I really enjoyed, of course I wanted to... I think I texted you this, Phillip. I would love to be the SVP of marketing at Glossier when I grow up. Hearing her speak was amazing. I loved getting insights on their customer service team from their policies. And I'm a metric hound. I love hearing a good stat. She had shared that that New York Soho location. Not only do they have a line outside all day from open to close.

Phillip: [00:34:53] Which I stood in at New York on a Saturday with my wife and kids. But I digress.

Chelsea: [00:35:00] I mean, she shared that they have fifty thousand visitors a month there and have a 50% conversion rate.

Brian: [00:35:06] So that's crazy, crazy talk.

Chelsea: [00:35:10] I know it's total crazy talk. So I loved hearing that. I really enjoyed hearing the woman from Story speak and a little bit about [00:35:19] the tension with [00:35:20] Macy's.

Phillip: [00:35:20] Yeah.

Chelsea: [00:35:22] And also the Shoe Dazzle. Yeah, they were talking about all their spend they do and testing within paid advertising. I think they did ninety five thousand creative units last year on paid social alone again. That's a huge budget. I can't even imagine. But...

Phillip: [00:35:44] Wow.

Chelsea: [00:35:44] Yeah, I thought it was great. One strange thing I found out of it, I'm surprised, or maybe not surprised by, that I met several people who had been at what I think of as pretty notable DTC companies that have recently left and gone into private equity firms. And so I was just kind of thinking today about that career path of someone who's at a DTC, you know, managing those huge budgets, learning a lot at a super quick pace... Yeah. Where do they go from there? Do they go to another one? Or do they they all go to the PE firm, so they can advise others and kind of continue their ever learning game?

Brian: [00:36:29] Conglomerates.

Chelsea: [00:36:32] That's an interesting career move because I think we all think about our career and what we want to do. And I had the pleasure of working with a PE firm when I was at Jeni's, and it was an amazing experience. They're all so intelligent. I learned so much. So PE firms are just always fascinating to me.

Brian: [00:36:50] I agree. There's some really interesting ones out there. In fact, we're going to be talking more about VC and P coming up on the show. So I'm really excited about some guests we'll have on in that vein. And what we've got to there. But yeah I totally...

Phillip: [00:37:06] That was a teaser. It was a teaser from Brian right there. I feel so teased right now, Brian.

Brian: [00:37:11] {laughter} You should. You should. It's pretty exciting. But Phillip, what was one of your favorite moments? I know what... Well, I didn't get to go to the whole show, unfortunately. But I did get to come in a little bit late. And your session with with American Express and ShopRunner was super good. I really enjoyed it.

Chelsea: [00:37:33] I did write a quote down from it.

Phillip: [00:37:36] Oh, yeah. What was the quote that was written down?

Chelsea: [00:37:39] Is that "ShopRunner is Amazon Prime for everyone else."

Brian: [00:37:43] That quote plays into one of the predictions we made at the beginning of the year, which is there's enough tech out there for people to compete with Amazon Prime now, for merchants to be able to put together a tech stack that is actually on par with Prime, which is amazing.

Phillip: [00:37:58] I've thought of ShopRunner in the past as sort of like one of those, and no way, this is my own lack of education, right? So this has nothing to do with a position I've taken on ShopRunner, but it's like one of those, "Why does this even exist?" questions. Why does why does a ShopRunner exist? Why can't the brands just get it together to ship products on time to their customers? ShopRunner doesn't need to exist if Neiman Marcus can just ship crap on time. But that cynicism aside, people do look for curated marketplaces, and effectively that's what this is. And they also want to... It's not just about getting the products on time. It's about having a curated experience. And then one that follows them everywhere else. So they also have a wallet. So these are things that I learned. The quote that I loved from that session was somebody had asked, oh, this is all well and good for these big brands who can form these strategic partnerships, American Express and ShopRunner... What does it mean for me, as you know, as a small, medium sized business? How can I go out and form strategic partnerships to enhance customer lifetime value? And I loved the response from Sam Yagan, who's CEO of ShopRunner, which is, "Well, maybe you need to start thinking of customer lifetime value as in terms of lifetime," because I think a lot of people look at customer lifetime value as something they track as a Google Analytics metric that changes from marketing campaign to marketing campaign. And by our ability to drive people to repurchase, or to replenish, or to purchase across category based on the results of a inorganic campaign that they did, or some SEM or SEO activity. And they're thinking of it on the quarter, not on the lifetime.

Brian: [00:40:05] They're thinking about it in terms of the market. Not in terms of their customer.

Phillip: [00:40:09] Right. And that's if you can challenge that notion inside your business of taking a lifetime view on the customer... And Charlie Cole from Tumi was echoing this on the show recently that, you know, then they're no longer just a ticket or a data point. It's a person. And we have to care about that person. And I thought that was a really salient point. But yeah, it's interesting... One thing that I had taken away, and we did a whole live stream on the MageTalk podcast about this was, Chelsea, I remember we sat at breakfast the first day and a few people around that table of some brands you've heard of, we're sort of talking about their pains with their e-commerce platform. And I was curious... I'm curious to know without naming any names, like, do you hear that very often? Because I didn't think... I don't get to sit in those kinds of conversations very often. But it seemed like unilaterally across the board a lot of people, and a lot of brands seemed to be experiencing pain in their e-commerce platform, regardless of which platform it was. Is that something that you sort of picked up on?

Chelsea: [00:41:18] Oh, yeah, yeah. Not only the platform, but, you know, there are other tech stack vendors. There's a nice little network of folks who we rely on each other for, "Hey, who do you use for this? You like them?" And there are 1 or 2 negative things, and they're written off everyone at that table's potential vendor book as they're considering additional things. It's a...

Phillip: [00:41:46] Wow.

Chelsea: [00:41:46] But then again, I mean, nothing's gonna be perfect. It's just finding the least evil and time consuming and expensive way to solve a problem when it comes to platforms and vendors. I was on a SaaS platform when we were at Jeni's, and we're not on SaaS at Green Growth, and I'd never worked on a non SaaS e-commerce platform before, and it's been a huge learning for me. There's so many things I think of like, gosh, this would have been so easy on XYZ platform. It's not. But again, it has some different capabilities that aren't available. So it's definitely give and take. Just finding the least evil.

Brian: [00:42:27] Might depend on what version you're on.

Phillip: [00:42:32] Yeah. Nobody on... I mean, just to give you a little conjecture, it's like what version of PayPal are you using, Brian?

Brian: [00:42:40] I know. It's ridiculous.

Phillip: [00:42:40] You don't know.

Brian: [00:42:41] It was a bit of a joke. Yeah, it was a bit of a joke.

Phillip: [00:42:44] Oh, I see what you did there.

Brian: [00:42:47] Sometimes I'm a little too subtle, Phillip. I'm sorry.

Phillip: [00:42:48] I understand now. That was very subtle. I get it. I get the joke. OK, well anyway. Last sort of thought there, too, Chelsea, I was in the opening session with Rent the Runway and things hit me differently than other people sometimes. I was really impressed by, I think it was Maureen Sullivan who is CMO. I think? I might be wrong. Of Rent the Runway. But she was talking about the commitment of going direct in their partnership and not into rounding the brands. They want to win the trust of brands. I'm curious as having worked with directly with brands yourself. What's your take on those sorts of strategic partnerships, and like marketplace partnerships, in the role of a brand and seeing those as... Is there an internal culture at a consumer brand that dilutes the brand cachet that a partnership can weaken the brand? Or is there, in your experience, more of a reliance on partnership to drive customer engagement?

Chelsea: [00:44:10] That's an interesting question. I mean, at Jeni's there were a lot of brand partnerships. The most recent and notable one is a partnership with Tyler, the Creator, on an exclusive flavor called Snowflake.

Brian: [00:44:23] That's Amazing.

Chelsea: [00:44:24] I know. Yeah. He was a huge fan and and reached out directly, which was insane. Yeah. I mean, I don't have any of the marketplace experience a Green Growth, but I mean, in terms of Jeni's, people and companies reach out all the time to see if they could do collaborations or carry our ice cream. And you really have to balance between being the sort of, in the Jeni's experience, the big sister versus the little sister. There are many times where we were maybe the more notable or well-known brand in a collaboration or partnership, but it did bring us a different angle with some new customers. Kind of deepened our relationship. But you can't always be the big sister and you sometimes have to, like in the Tyler example, we Jeni's rode his coattails. He is much more known then than Jeni's, I think. At least in some people's minds. But beyond the Rent the Runway conversation was fascinating because I completely understand those brands saying, "Well, why would we want to potentially lose all those sales if people are just going to rent them for you guys?" Absolutely. So that has a huge bet. I wonder who their initial brands were that really partnered with them for that use case, and how much they are willing to share with the maybe fearful brands that they'd approach once they had some proof of concept on that. That's fascinating.

Phillip: [00:46:06] Completely unrelated, but it sort of triggered the same part of my brain... I listen to a movie podcast, and recently they were talking with an author who wrote a book called like I think I was like, "Why 1999 was Hollywood's Greatest Year." Actually, that's literally the name of the book. Sorry. {laughter} And it's not because this person started....he didn't set out to write the book to say like he truthfully believed that in his mind that 1999 was the best movie year ever. It was a vehicle to talk about all of the ways that prior years influenced the things that happened that year. And in the research of the book, the author was saying that, you know, they really just needed to get one person because if you have one notable partnership, you have one notable director who directed a movie in that decade or in that year, that gives you the credibility to go to the others. And others will follow suit because they want to be part of the in crowd of people that are participating and writing about a differential year of movies. I mean, just a few movies that were released in 1999, "The Matrix" or how about "Magnolia" or "Blair Witch Project" and the directors of these movies, like these are iconic movies, and the directors, you know, it took one person, to partner for all others to sort of follow suit. I felt like that's really what the Rent the Runway story was, is the you know, at in time they could show that they could build value, it would just take one person to take a chance. And I think that we could all think of our strategic partnerships that way, no matter what it is that you do, that you have to take the long game. I think that's what Sam Yagan was talking about, is taking the long game on the customer. You have to be in it for the long haul. And I think that's what we have to do on the partnership side.

Brian: [00:48:07] Agreed. Agreed.

Chelsea: [00:48:08] Absolutely. That made me think of malls and anchor stores. You know, you're going to get a much different mall if your anchor stores are a Saks and a Nordstrom than if they're a Sears and a J.C. Penney, all the other fill in stores... Yeah. Gotta get that one to set the tone and to get the rest the chickadees to to believe in it, and sign on the dotted line.

Brian: [00:48:32] So just about out of a time, and so I want to make sure we get in our final and favorite question that we ask all of our guests before we sign off here. What do you see as the most important upcoming trend or tech or something interesting that retailers should pay attention to in the next year or so, in the near term? And then tell us something that you see like three to five years out.

Chelsea: [00:48:58] Oh, my gosh. I so don't even have an answer for this right now.

Phillip: [00:49:01] Yeah. I don't think we prepped Chelsea on this.

Chelsea: [00:49:05] No, that was not on the guest guide, gentlemen.

Brian: [00:49:07] How did that not make the guest guide? It's on every show.

Phillip: [00:49:12] Well, unfortunately, I screwed up and it wasn't on the guest guide. Are there trends that you see outside of CBD?

Brian: [00:49:20] Yeah, just tell us about something cool coming up.

Chelsea: [00:49:21] You know that they talked a lot about it at CommerceNext. I know a lot of people roll their eyes, but direct mail. I mean, goodness. That worked so well for us at Jeni's. It was shocking. But like for me, I don't get a ton of mail. And when I do get it, it's like stupid grocery store flyers, and things from ATT U-Verse that I'm not interested in it, but you send me an ice cream catalogue for a holiday gift giving...

Brian: [00:49:51] Ooooh.

Chelsea: [00:49:51] Yeah, I'm going to open that. I think it could be some, not that this is novel or unique, but direct mail would be very interesting. Yeah, I've been in such like a zone of work that I've not even thought about this.

Brian: [00:50:08] I like the direct mail one.

Phillip: [00:50:09] Good one, Brian. It was your fault.

Brian: [00:50:12] Well I think direct mail is a good answer. I think it's pretty cool.

Phillip: [00:50:14] It is. That's a phenomenal answer. I'm super hype on direct mail now, too.

Chelsea: [00:50:20] What's the most memorable piece you've gotten in the past couple weeks or months?

Phillip: [00:50:25] I bought from Todd Snyder a couple of years ago, and which there was a whole story on the show about how I got basically tricked into buying. They convinced me that I needed a denim jacket, and I watched myself go from hating the idea of buying a denim jacket to I need this denim jacket right now. And ever since I bought from Todd Snyder, I get a beautiful catalog from them every season, and actually kind of look forward to it. They do a really great job in producing print pieces, but I feel like every direct... Like [00:50:58] Brooklyn [00:50:59] gives sends us stuff. Casper sends us stuff. Away, I think has sent us stuff.

Chelsea: [00:51:08] You know what catalog to sign up for that every time I got I just sit down and look at the whole thing is Best Made.

Brian: [00:51:19] Oh yeah. Best Made. I like that.

Chelsea: [00:51:20] They have hands down, the best direct mail catalog of any brand I've ever seen.

Brian: [00:51:28] That's amazing.

Chelsea: [00:51:28] So, go on their site, put in your info. I think there's even like a catalog request. Boom, you won't be disappointed.

Phillip: [00:51:35] Yeah. Former friend of the show, Michael Laniac, who was the director of e-commerce there for many years, he...

Brian: [00:51:42] Friend of the show. I don't know about former.

Phillip: [00:51:46] Right, he's not dead. {laughter} He's not there anymore. So I think I just awkwardly said that because I can't grammer. No, he's awesome. Awesome guy. He was telling us, you know, that's [00:51:57] The A/X, [00:51:59] right? The story was around [00:52:00] The A/X, [00:52:00] which is a super interesting brand. And now I think we've talked about them from the Bolt acquisition, which is a super interesting application of tech. I love that. Maybe we could ask our audience, what is your favorite piece of direct mail?

Brian: [00:52:17] Yeah, I think that'll be really interesting. And I'd love to see pictures of them, too. I think that'd be cool.

Phillip: [00:52:21] Yeah, that could be a really interesting thing. Let's start a hashtag. Chelsea, give us a hashtag for the Future Commerce Direct Mail Social Engagement campaign.

Chelsea: [00:52:31] Ah, man. You guys are really good at putting me on the spot.

Phillip: [00:52:33] I'm so sorry. It's why these are released later on.

Brian: [00:52:38] Hashtag FC direct mail. There you go. Done. Said and done.

Phillip: [00:52:44] Really? All right.

Chelsea: [00:52:45] All right.

Phillip: [00:52:46] That's it.

Phillip: [00:52:48] You're not Chelsea, but we'll take it.

Brian: [00:52:52] You put her on the spot. You put her on the spot, Phillip. Well I put her on the spot, too. But that's also your fault so.

Phillip: [00:52:55] Yeah, so we're one for one. I was gonna say I would love to have you come back and join us again to talk about the news or anything else that might be happening in your world, Chelsea. But if people were to go and look you up somewhere, how could they find you on LinkedIn, or Twitter, Instagram or whatever?

Chelsea: [00:53:14] Oh, man. My Instagram is mostly just dogs and soccer and stuff. Not very exciting. But you can always find me on LinkedIn. I think I'm under... Let's see. I'm so bad at this. It's pulling up blazing Internet speed right now. OK. I'm just backslash Chelsea Clements on LinkedIn, and I think I'm CGClements on Twitter. My God, I'm such a...

Phillip: [00:53:41] ChelsClems.

Chelsea: [00:53:44] ChelsClems. Yes. ChelsClems on Twitter.

Phillip: [00:53:48] This has been a pretty good episode despite all the hurdles that we threw at you. I really appreciate you. You're so gracious. And thank you for spending time with us on the show. And thank you guys for listening, to everyone out there. We love that you spend time with us once a week. We have so much good stuff coming up. We have so much content coming from eTail East.

Brian: [00:54:11] So much good stuff coming up.

Phillip: [00:54:12] We can't even talk about it just yet.

Brian: [00:54:15] Should we not talk about it? Oh no, we can't.

Chelsea: [00:54:15] Oh wait. Didn't you release a newsletter today.

Brian: [00:54:19] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:54:20] We did. That's right. Thank you. We rebooted our newsletter. One of the things that we've come to terms with, it's like I think it's our third birthday today. Something like that.

Brian: [00:54:31] Not today. When we released this it will be? Nope, nope. The week after.

Phillip: [00:54:38] Brian, why are you doing this on the show? Just let it go. It doesn't matter.

Brian: [00:54:40] It's the 31st. OK, that's what it is.

Phillip: [00:54:42] OK. So for our third birthday, we've been thinking about the direction of the show. And for our third birthday, we rebooted our FC Insiders newsletter. We'd love for you to go and sign up. You can do that at FutureCommerce.FM. And you're going to get our insights on the things that matter in your world as a retailer. And we're going to try to help you predict the future for your brand, so that you can make the key decisions and investments into the right types of areas that will make the difference for you. Sometimes that's technology. Sometimes it's not. But we do believe that making those decisions requires thoughtful insight. And you can get that from us here at Future Commerce, and from guests like Chelsea Clements or ChelsClems.

Brian: [00:55:26] ChelsClems.

Phillip: [00:55:29] Which is her rapper name. This has gone off the rails a couple of times, but it's been so lovely. Thank you, Chelsea, for joining us.

Chelsea: [00:55:35] Thanks for having me, guys.

Phillip: [00:55:39] The future of commerce is what you make it.

Brian: [00:55:39] And we help you shape that future. Thanks for listening.

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