Episode 69
May 21, 2018

Sommoliers of Retail

Experiential retail is here - what does the sales force look like? Facebook is mining Instagram photos for context with AI while unveiling a new dating service. Twitter fesses up to a security issue. Commerce comes to social. Also: is the AI talent market causing brain drain in education?

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Main Takeaways:

  • Instagram discovers that Phillip has a thing for sneakers.
  • Facebook wants to venture into matchmaking, and they certainly have enough data to do it.  
  • Can data-rich companies step up their security game?
  • Retailers are using real-time data to put employees in the right place at the right time.
  • Personalized wellness packs: The future of health?
  • Professors are leaving the classroom for a better paycheck.

Facebook Uses AI to Mine Data it Already Owns:

  • Facebook has decided to use artificial intelligence or AI to look at Instagram data, even though, they already have access to all that data anyway because they own Instagram.
  • So basically Facebook is reading your Facebook posts?
  • Instagram learns of Phillips very secret shoe obsession.
  • Everyone learns that Instagram(owned by Facebook) is somehow tracking shopping that goes beyond Instagram.
  • Phillip and Brian are shocked to learn that Facebook is sending out non-GDPR compliant emails.

Mark Zuckerberg Matchmaker Extraordinaire?

Can Humans Adapt to the World's Triumphs and Troubles?

    Twitter Needs to Get Rid of Its Ponytail:

  • 330MM Twitter users were sent into a possible panic after Twitter sent out an email that the user's passwords had been exposed.
  • Twitter insists that even with this breach, the company didn't think that anyone's account had been compromised, but users should change their passwords anyway.
  • Phillip says that Twitter handled this perfectly well.
  • This was one of Phillip and Brian's predictions for 2016.
  • Are companies getting better at security, or just at owning up that their security is terrible?
  • Twitter was proactive in immediately making customers aware of this issue, but as Phillip makes clear, this breach wasn't as much a risk for customers, and showed Twitter putting their customers need for transparency first.

Can Stores Use Time-Tech to Improve In-Store Experience?

In-Store Experience is Becoming a Mainstay For Retail:

  • Macy's acquires Story, proving that experiential retail is a thing, and that in-store experience is everything.
  • Phillip says that we are going to need "sommes of retail" to tell the story of how products come into being.
  • Brian says Nordstrom has already accomplished this.
  • And with experts in the field becoming necessary this may lead to even more automation of jobs that can be done by a machine.

Personalized Products Give Consumers a More Tailor-Made Fit:

  • Phillip is super excited about Care/of, a company that is created personalized wellness packs based on a customers individual needs.
  • This kind of product really drives the customer experience emphasis home: it doesn't just ask questions, it asks all the questions about diet, lifestyle, goals, allergies, and even your level of belief in supplements themselves.
  • care/of also asks about mental health to ensure that there won't be any negative interactions with the recommended supplements.
  • And if you are a skeptic like Phillip (and Phillip is indeed a skeptic), have no fear, because the service includes the number of double-blind studies on each supplement and its effectiveness.
  • The entire process is incredibly personal, from the questions, to the 30 daily-use packets with the customers name on each one, even down to the various inspirational quotes meant to improve the overall experience.

Facebook is Hiring Professors Away From The Classroom:

Brian: [00:01:08] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:12] And I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:01:15] Today we are still catching up. {laughter} So much going on.

Phillip: [00:01:20] You can't take a month off and not have a million things to talk about that you hadn't gotten to just yet.

Brian: [00:01:26] I feel like we could probably catch up for like three months.

Phillip: [00:01:31] I'm going to feel like we're trying to play catch up for the next three months. That's for sure.

Brian: [00:01:37] Good stuff.

Phillip: [00:01:38] Holy cow. Too much going on, actually. So one of the things that we didn't actually talk about in the last episode was I cheated on you.

Brian: [00:01:49] Oh I know.

Phillip: [00:01:50] And I mentioned it a couple times. I was not meaning to rub it in your face, but I did cheat on you. And I feel bad.

Brian: [00:01:56] They already all know. They've already heard.

Phillip: [00:01:59] I know. I just need to ask for your forgiveness publicly.

Brian: [00:02:02] No you don't.

Phillip: [00:02:04] That was that was wrong of me. And I'll never leave you again. I'll never do that to you again. I love you, man.

Brian: [00:02:15] Phillip, you're OK. Hang in there, man.

Phillip: [00:02:17] Ok. All right. All right. Well, no, I'm glad that we're back. Gosh. OK, we've got an action packed episode.

Brian: [00:02:27] Let's start with this. All right. Facebook is mining Instagram photos.

Phillip: [00:02:35] You gotta say the title. You've got to see the title that I put in the doc.

Brian: [00:02:40] OK fine. Facebook be creepin, yo.

Phillip: [00:02:44] Facebook be creepin. I was gonna say... I'm not going to say the A word. I'm not going to say the A word for the entire episode. We're not going to do it. We have a fighting chance to not mention it once.

Brian: [00:02:59] {laughter} Good luck. We'll see.

Phillip: [00:03:00] Do you see this? OK. OK. I'm just telling you.

Brian: [00:03:03] No, no, no. We're both well aware of that...

Phillip: [00:03:06] But we're opening with a Facebook story. I just want to set everybody's mind there. OK?

Brian: [00:03:12] When you say A word, you mean AI, right?

Phillip: [00:03:15] No, that's not what I meant.

Brian: [00:03:16] Oh ok. Well we do have an AI story. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:03:20] Here's the deal. Facebook, which owns Instagram and everything else that you interact with every day in your life... Is this really a story?

Brian: [00:03:30] No, this is not a story.

Phillip: [00:03:30] That Facebook is using AI to look at Instagram photos? It's crazy.

Brian: [00:03:35] If you didn't already think that Facebook was looking at your Instagram photos, then you're just naive.

Phillip: [00:03:42] It's not even mining. It's just they are literally looking at their own data. This is like saying, "Facebook is reading your Facebook posts." "Really? You think?"

Brian: [00:04:03] Yeah. Yeah. So interesting... I wonder how Facebook is going to deal with GDPR. {laughter} I mean, obviously. I'm sure everyone's already talked about this, but...

Phillip: [00:04:14] This is a story, actually. There's a whole story about this. There is this wonderful Twitter rant that I retweeted. I mentioned this over the MageTalk podcast, but there was this great Twitter rant in which somebody said, "Everybody, check out this email that I just got from Facebook." And it was a screenshot of gmail. And it said, "Matthew, please accept Facebook's new terms of service before May 25th in order to enjoy uninterrupted Facebook," or whatever. And he's like, let's just take that subject line of the email and let's just break that apart in how non GDPR compliant just the subject line is. To begin with one, I never gave you permission to personalize email toward me. That's number one. Number two, the very spirit of GDPR is that you cannot run a service like Facebook and insinuate...

Brian: [00:05:12] Was there a period?

Phillip: [00:05:14] Yeah, there is a period right there. You cannot run a service like Facebook period. But if you do run a service like Facebook, you cannot insinuate that you will be cut off from using the service if you do not accept their onerous terms of service and be tracked in everything you do. You have to give people the right to use your service and opt out of onerous tracking and analytics.

Brian: [00:05:41] That's GDPR.

Phillip: [00:05:43] That is GDPR. The fact that Facebook is even insinuating that your service will be interrupted if you don't accept the new terms of service is itself a violation of GDPR. Which is crazy. Anyway, I find this endlessly fascinating. So... Yeah. So Facebook is using its own data through Instagram and like, what's new? I figured that they did this for a long time anyway with like how long you sort of linger in Facebook's discovery... Or I'm sorry, Instagram's discovery or search mode, but I know that they're using other data to populate that. So for instance for whatever reason a bunch of sneakers I've looked at on other websites that have nothing to do with Instagram in any way whatsoever keep showing up in the Instagram feed. How does Instagram know that I'm into sneakers right now? Like they shouldn't know for any reason whatsoever.

Brian: [00:06:42] Phillilp, you know how the internet works.

Phillip: [00:06:44] I know. What I'm saying is that like they don't need to mine photos for contextual information to be able to do half of what they do already. This is not a surprise. It's a non-story.

Brian: [00:06:58] It is a non-story. But you know what's not a non-story? Facebook, you know, going through all this turmoil, right? And in the midst of all that, they announced a dating service. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:07:13] Maybe that's what they need to mine the photos for. Like Hot or Not. You know, they're just gonna...

Brian: [00:07:20] {laughter} Oh my gosh. Isn't that what Facebook was based on? Hot or Not?

Phillip: [00:07:25] Basically, well, yeah, it was the Facebook or was it face mash?

Brian: [00:07:33] Yeah. Facemash. Something like that that. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:07:37] What is amazing, and we never talked about it on the show cause it only happened in the last month, but all of these sort of congressional hearings, how cringy were those to see Mark Zuckerberg be grilled by completely clueless congressmen about...

Brian: [00:07:52] Both sides were cringy.

Phillip: [00:07:53] Yeah it was pretty... But can you imagine now a Facebook dating app?

Brian: [00:08:02] Yeah. Focused on long term relationships, no less. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:08:07] You know what's sort of sad and sort of scary here? Is that Facebook actually stands to do the best job of finding people that you would match up with really well.

Brian: [00:08:17] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:08:17] Right? Facebook knows more about you than ostensibly anybody on the entire internet. You know, they like the Ok Cupid's or the Match.coms of the worlds or whatever exists in 2018... I wouldn't know. But those services only know what you tell them whereas Facebook knows literally everything about everybody everywhere all the time, because that's their whole job. And their population is giant. So I think just look alike audiences alone is the kind of feature that they already have that would allow them to very easily target like... Think about this...

Brian: [00:08:58] Maybe this was the end goal all along. It's been leading up to this moment. This was Zuckerberg's entire aim from the get go.

Phillip: [00:09:09] I mean, he played... It was a slow drip, you know, like 20 years.

Brian: [00:09:12] Slow drip. Slow drip. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:09:13] You know, 20 years, and he finally got to the thing that he wanted to do all along. Which, here's what's absolutely insane. And I'm going to go on the record saying it'll never actually work like this. But can you imagine? Do you remember back in sort of episode 50, 51ish, when we're talking about the human condition like what it means to be human?

Brian: [00:09:37] 51.

Phillip: [00:09:37] And what I sort of surmised was we may be escalating technology to a point where we can actually limit our experience with grief, limit our experience with loss.

Brian: [00:09:56] Oh that might not have been 51. But yeah, I remember when we talked about that.

Phillip: [00:09:58] I think that was right around there. 49 or something like that.

Brian: [00:10:00] I remember I disagreed with you. Like I said, that maybe it could help, but it wouldn't really limit it.

Phillip: [00:10:06] But think... I want to put this back into that context, because I can foresee if Facebook had the ability to say... I have a friend of mine who I went to high school with and she passed away last year. It was the first girl I ever asked to homecoming, which is neither here nor there. But she passed away after a long bout with cancer. And she had a couple recurrences of it. It was a really hard fought battle. But can you imagine if her husband, you know, she spent 10 years on Facebook and all of her data's there. Can you imagine if her husband was able to go to Facebook and say, you know, guys, maybe you can suggest someone to me that's exactly like my wife?

Brian: [00:10:51] No, man. No.

Phillip: [00:10:51] I'm saying...

Brian: [00:10:53] I'm not... No.

Phillip: [00:10:54] Do you see what I'm saying, though? Facebook would know who that is in this world. It suggests that those two people meet. That's what I'm talking about, is that I think we are at the verge of that kind of society, or the capability exists already in this world that we are creating.

Brian: [00:11:17] Dude.

Phillip: [00:11:18] And again, I'm not saying that that's what's happening here. I'm saying that the possibility exists. And it goes along with my feeling of what does it mean to actually be human? And is stuff like this, a social network with a population of 2 billion people and the data that we've gathered over the last 20 years, is that changing who we are as a species? That's what I'm saying.

Brian: [00:11:49] Yeah... I mean, I think it's changing the ways that we operate. I don't know if it's like changing the base of who we are. We're humans. I think it certainly will change how... I mean, it is. It has. We just talked about this in the last episode. It has changed a lot about how we interact. And like what we expect out of the world. And it's amazing how quickly we've adapted to that. It's almost mind-blowing how quickly we've adapted to that, because we're not a frog in boiling water... Or you know...

Phillip: [00:12:27] Right. Yeah, I get the idea.

Brian: [00:12:33] Yeah. But I think we are getting thrown into totally new situations all the time and we're just sort of accepting them.

Phillip: [00:12:45] But isn't that the whole point? Homo sapiens are infinitely adaptable. That's what we do. That's why we're at the top of the evolutionary chain. We adapt.

Brian: [00:12:59] Yeah. Actually, it's interesting. I was reading an article, and I should be able to refer back to it... What was it? There's IQ, there's EQ, and then there's adaptability quotient, as well, and how that's starting to play into like how people view leadership and what does a good leader look like? It's not just emotional intelligence. It's the ability to adjust and quickly.

Phillip: [00:13:34] I have to wonder. Also I just want to point out the fact that you thought we didn't have 30 minutes of content, but...

Brian: [00:13:42] I didn't say that. I said that if we just ran it straight, we had about twenty five minutes. But I knew that we wouldn't. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:13:51] We could spend twenty five minutes on just this. But my concern also extends to the point of, yeah, okay, we can adapt but it takes millennia, if what we know about science and the way that our evolutionary traits. If the current school of thought around the way that our brains evolve is correct, then it takes millennia for us to be able to adapt to the types of social and economic changes, like the social dynamic changes, that have happened as a species for us. And the fact that we have to process today more relationships and more that graph theory that comes into effect, the network effect, of how people fit together, how people inter relate and how they react with each other, where our villages, evolutionarily, our small circles of influence were because they were only limited to our proximity of the people that lived right around us, because that's all that we knew and that's all that we can actually get to. And the fact that travel and now social media and those things have broadened our horizons, now the information age, where we have insight into things at a scale that our biology hasn't been able to adapt to yet... There is a school of thought that says that we have to be able to process human suffering on a scale that we've never had to process before. We've had to be able to process natural disasters and political crises and all these things that happen that cause stress on the human emotional experience. And we're not suited for that yet. We're getting there. We're going to have to in a hurry. And maybe that's the the Darwinism here and that only the strong are going to be able to survive that. And those who are less adaptable will not be able to survive it. But think about mental health issues. We're more aware of mental health issues now. These are things that we're dealing with on a massive scale now where I would get the sense that there are direct correlations to our exposure to the world at large. And that's new for humanity.

Brian: [00:16:44] Yep. Captains of Spaceship Earth. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:16:51] Thank you, Jason Silva.

Brian: [00:16:54] Yeah. So back to the dating thing really quickly.

Phillip: [00:16:59] Yeah, swipe right back to the dating thing.

Brian: [00:17:01] Swipe right. Yeah. I see a huge opportunity for commerce. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:17:08] Okay, so tell why.

Brian: [00:17:09] Yeah, I think about this. If you have this much data on why people are compatable, couldn't you create situations and provide experiences and products that helped facilitate a much better and more enjoyable dating and relationship experience?

Phillip: [00:17:27] Yeah. I mean, I swiped right on you. You swipe right on me. Now, both of our Facebook apps are in the same room, you know, at two o'clock in the morning. And, you know, I get a push notification that says, "Don't forget to buy Trojans. Would you like Uber to deliver you some Trojans now?" Like I do see plenty of opportunity for commerce. You're right. Absolutely. Outside of that, what did you have in mind?

Brian: [00:17:56] Yeah, I like flowers, recommendations for restaurants, you know, dining experiences. I mean, I think as we get into more experiential selling and experiential marketing, which we've been doing a ton of I mean, for instance, I'm going to Italy, or I will probably be back from Italy by the time this airs... and Airbnb hit me up with some emails pre-trip and said, "Hey, here's how you can best enjoy your time in the city that you're staying in." And they suggested a bunch of things like restaurants and experiences that I could purchase that would help make my time better. So why couldn't you do that for dates? I mean, I guess this isn't Facebook specific, but seems like there's a big opportunity for commerce here.

Phillip: [00:18:54] I would never discount the potential for people to find products to sell to people who are dating or in a relationship or tissues for when they get out of the relationship.

Brian: [00:19:11] Lifecycle.

Phillip: [00:19:11] Facebook knows we're about to break up, and so they're gonna go ahead and anticipate with an integration with a popular marketplace service, who I said I would not mention, they'll go ahead and ship me the tissues and the episodes of Dirty Dancing or whatever... I'm trying to think... What's a break up a movie?

Brian: [00:19:35] I have no idea, man.

Phillip: [00:19:38] I've been on this tear of 90s, like really crappy 90s rom com type dramas.

Brian: [00:19:47] You're saying crappy 90s rom com when in fact they're the best rom com.

Phillip: [00:19:50] They are the best. Yeah that's right.

Brian: [00:19:52] We already talked about this. The 90s or the golden age of movies.

Phillip: [00:19:56] Yeah was it you that I had this whole conversation with about She's All That and the...?

Brian: [00:20:00] Nope. Not me.

Phillip: [00:20:01] OK. Oh I know who I was. So I actually had this great conversation with Tony Ciarelli.

Brian: [00:20:09] No wonder you're getting mixed up. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:20:12] I know. I know. It's really, really hard to keep straight at this point. But I was saying I sat there for like ten minutes. I'm like, don't tell me the name of the movie. I can't remember the name of the movie, but I need to figure this out for myself. And I was thinking I was like, it's Rachael Leigh Cook and it's Freddie Prinze Jr. And I can't remember the name of the movie.

Brian: [00:20:30] Hold on. This relates back to the conversation we had on the last episode, which is that conversation doesn't have to happen anymore.

Phillip: [00:20:38] That's right. Oh, 100%. Yeah, you're 100% correct. I could have just looked it up. But for whatever reason, I was trying to, you know, connect that neural pathway back to my 90s, you know, teenagehood...

Brian: [00:20:51] Because you're relating back to it. You're just on a 90's tear right now.

Phillip: [00:20:54] Yeah, that's what it is. But the conversation was sort of around the you know, when you sort of take a liking to a product or a service and you want to make this work one way or another, like it is my makeover moment. My proudest achievement will be when I turn this ship around with this thing that's going to help make it over. It's like I'm Freddie Prinze. This website is Rachaek Leigh Cook. And, you know, I'm making this thing hot again. That's all I have to do is take off the overalls and the glasses and the ponytail. I know that there's something good underneath this website. We will find it, you know, anyway.

Brian: [00:21:38] Oh, my gosh. That's the best.

Phillip: [00:21:40] Ok. Sorry. Anyway, speaking of things that are good underneath websites, Twitter doesn't have much of that at the moment.

Brian: [00:21:46] I know that it just needs to get rid of its ponytail...

Phillip: [00:21:50] You know what I really love about this story is how incensed and outraged people just want to be at Twitter. But in actuality, Twitter handled this security issue really, really well. Article over on The Verge kind of gets into it a little bit. But 330 million people affected by a Twitter security issue in which there was a service log that they discovered was tracking passwords in plain text, which we all know is a bad, bad, bad thing. And they did the right thing in that they notified every single one of their users. And told them you should change your password. And this is why. And we we messed up and we're gonna do better. And I think that that's really, really cool.

Brian: [00:22:38] Did your message say, and I'm sure it did, that they didn't think anyone was actually affected by that?

Phillip: [00:22:44] Yes.

Brian: [00:22:44] Yeah, they did research. They didn't think anyone was affected by it. And they just out a message to everyone at the same time and said they fixed it. Change your password now. Just in case.

Phillip: [00:22:53] Yes. Yeah.

Brian: [00:22:54] Yeah. I thought that was a pretty nice handling of it.

Phillip: [00:22:57] And if you have two factor authentication enabled anyway way, I don't know how that could be potentially dangerous.

Brian: [00:23:06] Oh Phillip.

Phillip: [00:23:08] OK. Maybe I'm just losing my touch in the security.

Brian: [00:23:12] No, not at all. Two factor auth is pretty awesome. It's pretty hard to break that down.

Phillip: [00:23:17] Unless you're me and people have tried to steal your SIM by...

Brian: [00:23:21] I think that if people target you specifically, then they know that they want to get after you and they know who you are for real, then they can get after your phone and your Twitter account at the same time.

Phillip: [00:23:34] Yeah, well at any rate, you know, this was one of our predictions at the end of the year in 2017.

Brian: [00:23:41] Yeah {laughter}

Phillip: [00:23:41] And it's certainly not going to stop lots of security issues. I mean it's sort of a non prediction prediction. But I do see...

Brian: [00:23:50] No, it was a prediction because I saw other predictions saying that security was going to get better. I was like, are you joking?

Phillip: [00:23:58] I suppose there are only two ways that that could go. It's either going to get better or worse. I don't see...

Brian: [00:24:02] That's true. We picked the worst version, because that's...

Phillip: [00:24:06] Yeah, because that's what we would do. But I do think that companies are handling it a little better these days. You know, Facebook has owned up to its issue with Cambridge Analytica.

Brian: [00:24:17] Okay, hold on. Hold on. They're better at owning up.

Phillip: [00:24:21] Yeah, for sure.

Brian: [00:24:21] I don't know if that makes things better.

Phillip: [00:24:24] No, no, no. I'm saying they're better at owning up. They're working their way back.

Brian: [00:24:27] Oh ok.

Phillip: [00:24:27] Eventually we're gonna get better security, I think.

Brian: [00:24:32] There are stats out there on this, I think it takes, I can't remember exactly, so someone go do a little data checking on this, but I think it takes like six months to a year for most companies to announce that they were hacked, after the fact.

Phillip: [00:24:50] Sure.

Brian: [00:24:50] Maybe it was like 90 days. But any way you cut it, your data is long gone by the time someone announces that there was a hack, usually.

Phillip: [00:25:01] Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

Brian: [00:25:04] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:25:05] And I've been caught up in it multiple times in the past year, you know. There's the My Fitness Pal hack that was announced that was like a year old by the time it was announced. There've been a bunch of been big announcements that were like retroactive by 18, 24 months, this year alone. What I'm pointing out here, though, is that this was incredibly proactive in that I don't think that there was actually, the surface area of the threat was very large in that it was, you know, every one of their users were impacted.

Brian: [00:25:39] Potentially. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:25:40] But it was an internal security issue and not something where the data found its way to insecure places.

Brian: [00:25:49] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:25:50] I wish that we would have that transparency with more companies. I honestly, truly believe that this is the kind of thing that Twitter doesn't even really have to disclose. I really believe that. That's my own personal stance here.

Brian: [00:26:12] Interesting.

Phillip: [00:26:12] If you are internally... They did the right thing by the customer, but from their shareholders perspective, they're not doing them any favors.

Brian: [00:26:23] That's true.

Phillip: [00:26:24] So good on them.

Brian: [00:26:26] Yeah. Good on them. Good on them. Yeah I totally agree with you. I think what you see a lot of usually, I think you see a lot of business people who don't understand this. In most companies, they're either afraid or unaware of how dangerous it can be. And that's why you see longer cycles.

Phillip: [00:26:47] Yeah. Let me give an analogy, and I give the worst analogies. But this is akin to what happened, is that... Let's pretend for a second that there's a call center. OK. And the call center takes credit cards over the phone. So in this theoretical call center, people call in, and they're placing orders for products over the phone with a human on the other end who is taking the order. This particular security issue is akin to those calls having been recorded. And those calls having been logged away on some backup tapes somewhere that's only accessible to people in the IT department who specifically know what they would be looking for. It's that every single piece of data that flowed through Twitter, at some point, was logged in plain text somewhere. That was the problem. And the fact is, is that your data in this call center analogy was never really at risk. Your credit card that you read to someone over the phone is never really at risk. It's just a poor practice. Certainly against you know, in that case, when its card holder data, it's certainly against levels of compliance like PCI. But again, from a Twitter perspective, you know, I just come back again to they did the right thing. But I don't think that they had to raise the flag in the way that they did. I think this is incredibly proactive and they should be setting a precedent that others should follow their footsteps.

Brian: [00:28:36] Yeah that's good.

Phillip: [00:28:37] Yeah.

Brian: [00:28:38] For sure. So here are some other interesting things. A couple of new things that we stumbled on that were pretty interesting... Fun things to talk about... One of them was Ripple Metrics And this is basically technology to give retailers better data to more efficiently manage their store staff. And they do this by tracking basically traffic. And, you know, I thought this was great. I'm sure there are other pieces of tech out there like this. It's just great to see continued focus on the in-store experience, since that's such a big part of shoppers experiences today, still. This is essentially, you know, applying what we do on the web to in-store. And, you know, if you could almost think about staff like servers, nearly. Like how much capacity do we need to apply to this store to properly serve our store, so it doesn't go down? And so, yeah, this is like being able to actually judge what kind of scale you need to have.

Phillip: [00:31:33] So in-store, you know, customer journey analytics is not a thing that is new.

Brian: [00:31:42] No

Phillip: [00:31:43] What is interesting here is using that data and applying that data in a predictive way to be able to schedule and place staff in stores based on the data that we're seeing and real time sort of traffic analysis. So putting people into certain places in very large stores or department stores where they're going to interact with the customers when they're going to be there based on either real time analytics or predictive analytics or a mix of the both, which is, I think, tremendous. And it's not just people that are on hand that are in the stores themselves, it's working backwards enough to actually get them on the schedule so that they're ready and ready to assist a customer and they're actually on duty on staff in real time, ready to go. Now there are companies have been doing this a long time. I know Walmart has very specifically for 10, 15 years now, employed some really aggressive staff management and labor management practices into their timekeeping system. And some people have surmised and I think it's even been prosecuted to the effective. You know, they do it to actually, you know, repress a workforce from earning enough money or hours to be able to compensate for benefits and all sorts of other things. But labor optimization is also itself not new. I think it's the combination of these two technologies that I do think gives a better customer experience. So I definitely wanted to talk about that.

Brian: [00:33:32] Yeah, that's good. I mean, there's a whole bunch of companies that that do track this, like you said, and some really cool stuff. Did we talk about smart stores before? I think we may have.

Phillip: [00:33:42] Potentially. But yeah, I remind me.

Brian: [00:33:45] Yeah it's a company called Scanalytics that does smart floors. It's pretty interesting. And you can track where people are stepping and so on. It's not necessarily like you can't get down to like within inches of where they're at, but like within feet.

Phillip: [00:34:05] Close enough.

Brian: [00:34:05] And so I don't think they're necessarily using that for staffing. But I wonder if someone from the EU comes to a store in the US now if they're going to have to do some sort of a receipt of like data, because we're getting that smart with our stores.

Phillip: [00:34:32] Or even more so maybe a warning on the outside of stores that are in the EU that when you walk in that you're going to be tracked endlessly, like you're going to have to consent to that implicitly.

Brian: [00:34:45] Yeah, totally.

Phillip: [00:34:48] Which I think actually is against GDPR. You need explicit consent.

Brian: [00:34:52] Exactly. That's what I'm saying. They have to give them like a written document saying that you've actually taken data. I was joking sort of with John Saud's actually the second episode we've mentioned John, in a row, but about what happens when you give someone your business card. You have to give him a receipt?

Phillip: [00:35:22] Yeah you just print on the back of the business card the link to your privacy policy and terms of service...

Brian: [00:35:34] Yeah, pretty interesting.

Phillip: [00:35:37] Yeah. My mind's actually kind of reeling about that. So just to close the loop on this. Store heat maps, those sorts of things, you know, real time customer tracking... I mean, it's been employed in some really crazy ways over the years, like even to the point of, you know, utilizing in-store free Wi-Fi and even cell phone signals and Wi-Fi searching that sort of fingerprint of customers and then cross-reference that with actual purchase data like credit card number four digit pin, that sort of thing. Like those things have all existed, especially for very large retail chains that have the money to spend on that kind of technology. I think, again, small parts of this have existed in the world prior.

Brian: [00:36:20] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:36:21] I think it's that the idea here is that we're all trying to efficiently manage a workforce when we have a labor force in the United States that is at near full employment. We're at record low unemployment levels. Most people are employed or over employed. Most people have more than one job.

Brian: [00:36:45] Yeah, I saw an article about how like right now Fast-Food companies are at the highest level of turnover they've been in like 20 years or something.

Phillip: [00:36:55] Oh wow.

Brian: [00:36:56] Yeah. They can't keep people longer. It's little less than a year. And obviously it's fast food, it's a low paying job, they're the ones that are going to get hit hardest by the turnover, which is why a lot of fast food companies are looking to technology, I think, to address those kinds of roles. It's a good thing, though. I mean, I hope that those those workers are finding better jobs that pay more and they're moving up and on. And I think we've talked about this ad nauseum, but I'm for using technology to take over jobs that are a little bit more...things that should be taken over by technology.

Phillip: [00:37:41] Things that can be automated will be automated and things that can't, and require training and knowledge, those are the kinds of things you want to invest in. It actually brings me back to the Macy's acquisition of Story, which I think is really transformational in that the experiential retail model really requires, especially when you're changing over things like your brand is sort of ephemeral or the products that you carry that express the brand is thematic and sort of ephemeral and lives only for a season, you need a workforce that is passionate about the brand, who can tell the story, who are not your typical retail worker who just takes the dye pack punch through thing off the pair of jeans. It's not a pair of Levi's that have been around for, you know, a hundred years that tell its own story. In many ways, that kind of retail is going to require a very skilled workforce in much the same way that we have sommoliers. We're going to need somms of retail to be able to tell the story about the deep knowledge of how products come into being.

Brian: [00:39:05] Yeah, totally. I think Nordstrom's been saying that all along. Like if you've ever talked with the Nordstrom...

Phillip: [00:39:11] I haven't.

Brian: [00:39:12] Oh, my gosh. They're so knowledgeable. It's unbelievable. They know their stuff inside and out. I mean, being a sommolier is like insane. I don't know if you've ever seen that movie, Somm...

Phillip: [00:39:24] Of course. Yeah.

Brian: [00:39:26] That's insanity. But no. I mean they really, really know their stuff, their experts, sommoliers.

Phillip: [00:39:33] Right.

Brian: [00:39:34] And that's I think that's where reatil is headed. I totally agree. It's going to become a job. And maybe we don't need quite as many people. Like there are certain things that can be done in an automated fashion. But the people that do work the jobs know a ton about their product. They are very passionate about it. And we are starting to get into clientelling, back to clientelling, back to personal long term relationships. I definitely see that ahead.

Phillip: [00:40:03] We're not even through our list yet. We've got 30 to 40 minutes of content.

Brian: [00:40:10] Oh, my gosh. Ok. Really quickly. Two more things really quickly. Something that definitely cannot be automated... I think you're pretty stoked on this. I'm definitely stoked on this, too. This is a pretty interesting story. We got this one from our friend Andrea Wasserman from the Captain Customer newsletter, from her CPG newsletter that she sent out not too long ago. There's a company called Take Care of...

Phillip: [00:40:46] Or just Care/of. Yeah.

Brian: [00:40:47] Oh yeah. Care/of. Sorry. Take care of is the website dot com. Care/of is the name of the company. And they put together like basically a wellness pack that's specific to you. Phillip, you were pretty stoked on this. What we want to you see that's interesting about it?

Phillip: [00:41:05] So this goes along with one of my predictions. And you remember I was talking about personalized products, like products that are actually manufactured specifically for you based on your criteria or your even your personal health goals. This literally is the embodiment of that. And now I'm sure that this has existed in the world before. I don't want to get a whole bunch of like don't at bro, because I don't really care what you think. I'm sure that there have been, you know, personalized services like this in the past. What I find really fascinating about Care/of is that it actually is personalizing your experience of your engagement with their brand based on your disposition to how you view vitamins and supplements. So really good example of that is they sort of give you a barometer right up front, like how are you with vitamins? Do you already take vitamins? Yes or no? How are you on whether they have a health benefit for you or not? Are you a big fan or are you a skeptic? So I would say yes, I take it, but I am a skeptic. And then they ask you other things like, are you into ayurveda? Are you skeptical about that? And all of those questions then lead you into a personalized health survey, which is about fifty five questions. And you answer a bunch of things that are everything from family medical history to your own personal health goals. It asks a bunch of mental health questions to make sure you're not taking SSRIs all these other things that, you know, might interfere with their suggestions. But at the end of the day, it comes down to making personalized recommendations on vitamins and supplements. And I would be totally skeptical. I am very skeptical about anything that's not just a multivitamin. However, because they know I'm a skeptic, because I self-identified as a skeptic upfront, the thing that they prioritize in my health report is double-blind case studies that were performed by the USDA and Food and Drug Administration that actually go a long way to sort of proving the efficacy of some of the products that they're putting in front of me. And I was blown away that they were selling to me as a skeptic, specifically, and that they personalized that all of the experience from there on was really helping me make, you know, a very informed choice and linking out to the studies, letting you read into it. And so it's like you're doing all this incredible research. But beyond that, beyond just telling me, here's what you should take, they actually pre-package it into a 30 day supply that sort of looks like, you know, it's like a Tassimo, you know, box sort of a thing where it's like a grab box where you're pulling out one packet at a time for your daily vitamins, only the vitamins in the dosage that you've suggested for your daily amount, or that you've opted into for your daily amount, are in a single package. So you'll have 30 packages for 30 days. And every one of them are personalized with your name on it. Like for Phillip. And each of those packages in a tear open pouch has like little inspirational quote on it. Anyway, every part of this feels very personal, like extremely personal.

Brian: [00:44:28] This is back to another prediction that we had also, which is you just handed over a lot of data today.

Phillip: [00:44:42] Oh, for sure. Right.

Brian: [00:44:43] Yeah, willingly. Because you've got something for it. Yeah. It was very clear what data you were handing over. I mean, honestly, this is data that Facebook probably doesn't have on you.

Phillip: [00:44:57] Well they do now because there was a Facebook pixel on that website. I guarantee you.

Brian: [00:45:02] Right? Right? But no, this was data they didn't have on you. Hopefully they still don't. And you willingly handed it over because you wanted something that was useful for you.

Phillip: [00:45:17] Right. And I do think that, you know, it is information that I do find valuable. And it's a product that I already was purchasing. By the way, I would never have gone down this rabbit hole if my subscribe and save order from the company who shall not be named wasn't canceled because the product that I was taking before, which was a combined fish oil and multi-vitamin, is no longer available. They're not selling on Amazon anymore, and they're not selling through resellers anymore. They're only selling wholesale to like, you know, grocery stores. And it's a very expensive product. And when I run out of it, it's kind of hard to find. Then I have to go to the grocery store. Maybe they have it. Maybe they don't. I don't want to hunt down products. I know I want it. I know I need it. I'm going to take it anyway. I might as well go and shop around and find it. That's how I found this, is that I had a need, I went in search of a solution, and I found what I feel like is the better customer experience. This is what experiential retail and digital commerce looks like, is that it's incredibly personal. And I hope that they don't stay where they are. I would love to see this company actually grow that into other areas. Yeah, I'd love to see them actually grow into, I don't know, I don't want them to go like crazy in the supplements and stuff like that, but I'd love to have like a Q&A service where I can ask them questions. I'd love to, you know, be able to say, "Hey, I'm looking for a protein supplement..."

Brian: [00:46:59] Yeah, like a drink or something.

Phillip: [00:47:01] Yeah, other health related things. I would absolutely buy into that, for sure. One hundred percent. And they're probably listening to me through my smart speaker right now. So they probably know that I just said that.

Brian: [00:47:11] No, Facebook is listening to you through your smart speaker right now. Oh, I see what you're saying now. I thought you might Care/of. Anyway. Yeah. So no that's good. It's good.

Phillip: [00:47:25] There were others on this blog, by the way. That was one that was listed specifically and the Captain Customer blog. Another one that wasn't on my radar, but I find really interesting is a company called Billie, which is basically like Dollar Shave Club, but for women. And essentially it's replenishment. The actual title of the blog was "Fun with CPG Replenishment," but it's like, you know, Captain Customer, here's a few brands that we found that are sort of interesting for products that can be easily subscribed to, but you may not have heard of them, but I find it really interesting. They all have really beautiful sort of customer experiences, too.

Brian: [00:48:17] Totally. Good stuff. Thanks, Andrea, for putting that list together.

Phillip: [00:48:21] Yeah for sure.

Brian: [00:48:23] One more thing before we log off. There was an article in The New York Times recently and about AI as a profession and experts in the AI industry. And it was kind of focused on Facebook opening new labs in Seattle and Pittsburgh. And they just hired some really notable professors from Carnegie Mellon and University of Washington. And there is just an insane amount of pressure on the AI talent market right now.

Phillip: [00:49:05] Yup.

Brian: [00:49:05] It is getting crazy. I think the the offers are exponentially higher than any teaching salary that any of these professors had before. It's just hard to turndown an offer like that when they're offering that kind of money. And so as this continues to grow, AI is just going to get bigger and bigger. We're going to need better ways of educating for it. And if we take all of our professors out of schools, then we're not going to have any one left.

Phillip: [00:49:49] I don't know if that's a legitimate concern, but it sounds like a thing that might be a problem.

Brian: [00:49:54] Yeah. No, I don't know if it's a legitimate problem. But in short, this is a crazy market. And I think you're going to see that retailers are going to have to rely on outside sources for AI, and there won't be as much in the house because it just won't be able to find anyone.

Phillip: [00:50:11] Yeah. You won't find the talent. I mean, unless you are very, very, very, very large, and you can attract that's where a town away. They're definitely going to be finding their homes in the sort of purpose built technology companies that can utilize their skills.

Brian: [00:50:26] Yup.

Phillip: [00:50:27] Yeah, that's really interesting, too, I guess I've not thought of... A lot of that skill set is found in academia and is found in actual sciences these days. And so. Gosh, yeah, that would be a terrible brain drain for the next generation if we take those people out of education and out of research.

Brian: [00:50:47] Right. Yeah. I mean, in general, usually companies do a pretty good job of like training people as well. It's such a complex field, and it's so limited, and there's so much need. We're gonna need to invest more in training around it. Money. Money is going to have to flood into the education market around this.

Phillip: [00:51:15] Yeah. And you know, especially around... Yeah. Yeah, that is a timely conversation right now here in the United States. But I also see sort of that effect of, the long tail effect, of what education has on people's lives and their livelihood, and how they grow up, and they have influence on other people. There's something I think a lot about. I said this the other day. Give a man a fish and shame on me. Shame on you. Teach a man to fish. Shame on me. Which is sort of a portmanteau of two different idioms, but I find that sort of funny because it's kind of true, like we all sort of pay the price when that knowledge, once it's out, once that knowledge has been dispersed to another person, they take it, and they can do with it what they want.

Brian: [00:52:16] Well that's a good place to wrap it up, I would say. Another episode with twenty five minutes worth of content that we manage to stretch out to much longer than that.

Phillip: [00:52:25] I don't know, my friend. I think we went super deep on some stuff and people love us. That's what I think.

Brian: [00:52:32] All right. Well, I hope you all enjoyed the deep dive we took on some of these things. Thank you for listening to Future Commerce. As always, we love to have you leave us some feedback here on FutureCommerce. fm in our comments box, or on Facebook, or on Twitter, or on LinkedIn, or wherever you can find us, or our direct e-mail, wherever it is. Also, if you haven't already, make sure you subscribe on iTunes. Leave us a five star or subscribe anywhere that you listen to a podcasts... Spotify, Stitcher... Wherever it is. Also, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter on FutureCommerce.fm. It's really easy to sign up for and get some great content that way. Always love to have you on the list. So with that, we'll we'll say good night for us. Goodbye for now.

Phillip: [00:53:34] {laughter} Buenas noches. Oh, retail tech moves fast...

Brian: [00:53:40] But we're moving faster. Future Commerce moves faster.

Phillip: [00:53:43] We'll get it right one of these days. Thanks for listening.

Brian: [00:53:45] We really will. Bye.

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