Discover more from Future Commerce
Episode 216
August 6, 2021

“Spoiled For Choice”: Acquisitions and Roll-Ups for Amazon FBA and DTC

With a boost of commerce and a boost of confidence, Keith Richman joins the show to talk about Amazon fulfillment, things consumers are looking for in brands, and what he believes the next generation of commerce looks like. Listen now!

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this episode sponsored by

“FBA” - Fruit by the Acre? More like Fulfillment by Amazon

  • Boosted Commerce is an eCommerce platform working to distribute the most up-and-coming brands on a global basis.
  • “We started Boosted really as a way of identifying these amazing businesses and brands that people have created.” -Keith
  • Amazon is the world's largest shopping mall, and its importance is only going to increase over time. By getting a spot in this shopping mall, Boosted will be able to create great long-term success. 
  • What should a brand look for in terms of the future? Durability, packaging of the product, and the brand elements created. 
  • “What's unique about this ecosystem is maybe the speed at which you can get profitable doing that.” -Keith
  • “We're 25 years into the digital commerce revolution. There's a lot of things that have yet to even happen, we're right at the very beginning. What an incredible time to sort of amass a critical mass of all of these capabilities.” -Phillip
  • Retail is changing every day and we’re learning that the stories behind the brands matter.
  • “The story matters more and people are wanting to believe and believe that they're buying a product with a greater vision or sense.” -Keith
  • eCommerce is going to get more and more satisfying as a consumer and grow exponentially, those things are just fundamental. No one is going back to the way it was before.  

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Phillip: [00:00:14] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I'm Phillip. Today we have Keith Richman, who's the Co-Founder and CEO of Boosted Commerce. And we're going to talk a little bit today about something we haven't really covered on this show in much detail. And that's a roll ups. To my kids fruit roll ups are a treat, and I think eCommerce is going to be a little bit of a treat to talk about today. Keith, say hi to the audience.

Keith: [00:02:39] Hey everybody. That's the best intro I've gotten. So I think these are FBA roll ups are a treat as well. So thank you for having me.

Phillip: [00:02:50] Fruit by the Acre? I don't know. What's FBA? That's Fulfillment by Amazon. Tell me a little bit about what Boosted is trying to do in the ecosystem.

Keith: [00:02:59] Yeah, so Boosted Commerce is building an eCommerce platform to distribute sort of the most up and coming brands on a global basis. My background actually comes from the entrepreneurial side of the world. I basically been an entrepreneur for over twenty five years now, and I started out in the payments and software business, did some stuff in media. Most recently I started the micro mobility provider in Europe, called Voi Technology. As I was sort of thinking about what would be interesting to do next, really started digging into some of the trends that were happening in the consumer products landscape. And the more I learned about sort of the transformation of what was happening in terms of challenger brands and what I like to call the democratization of product development, the more excited I got about the space. And so we started Boosted really as a way of identifying these amazing businesses and brands that people have created. And then our special sources building an infrastructure that enables us to scale them and grow them in a way that potentially the founders of the business either couldn't or frankly, many cases could, but just didn't have the risk appetite to go do it themselves.

Phillip: [00:04:16] So in essence, and it seems like there's a few players in the space who have all sort of picked different lanes. You guys chose Amazon. Why the Amazon brand? Why is that compelling as a market for creating holding co. and, you know, consolidating some of those into single operations?

Keith: [00:04:39] Yes, there's a couple of things there. First, we actually actively look at all types of businesses, ones that are based on Shopify, even some we've even looked at some stuff that's purely retail distributed. But Amazon remains extremely appealing for a few reasons. From a diligence standpoint, it's sort of a unifying factor and it's a level setter so that when you look at businesses, you're looking at a single source of truth from the Amazon ecosystem. And that makes comparing businesses really simple. And it allows you to get a quick glance as to the health of the business and the historical performance of the business, particularly as it relates to other businesses that you own or ones that you've seen. And so unlike other sort of platforms, you know, when everything comes from a single piece, a single data source, it makes everything from the due diligence to the closed process much more efficient.

Phillip: [00:05:43] Sure. Yeah.

Keith: [00:05:43] And that is something we really, truly value. Second, and this is stating the obvious is it's the world's largest shopping mall. And, you know, our underlying thesis is that Amazon is only going to increase in importance over time if we can buy what we call Fifth Avenue Real Estate within the Amazon platform and demonstrate and build on a continual basis. So the knowledge on how to win in this shopping mall, we're only going to be positioning ourselves for a great long term success.

Phillip: [00:06:20] Yeah, I mean, that's such an interesting point of view there. It is, it's almost normalized in its ways that most of those brands are all operating by the same rules. They have a similar skill sets. You know, they have similar challenges. They all have to solve the same kinds of problems, which in my mind brings a lot of operational excellence. Or would you say almost like the ability when bringing them together to be able to consolidate some of the overlapping needs that each one of them have in their insular businesses, and then now they have the ability to sort of compete at scale and bring those various and disparate tech, all of those capabilities that are in-house, that are sort of diffused now are actually coming together. Is that how you're operating, where now they're all being able to share data, share expertise and share resources?

Keith: [00:07:27] Yeah, yeah, I think I mean, at its core, I'll even take it back one level, Phillip, because I think what is true for... You and I were talking this right before we started, we're living in a platform world now, whether you're sort of playing in the Google ecosystem, the Facebook ecosystem, the Apple ecosystem, or the Amazon ecosystem, you are beholden to either one or more partners whose sandbox and playground you need to learn a lot about. And what's fascinating in each of those cases is because of their strength and their ability to hire and retain incredible people, the pace of change in each of these sandboxes, it has increased pretty rapidly over time. So I'll use YouTube as an example, backing up for a minute. YouTube used to do two algorithm changes a year, and I want to say seven or eight years ago, they moved out to five and then it was ten, and then they did a leap from like ten to three hundred algorithm changes in one year. And we're starting to see that on Amazon. And so in a world where there is constant change and where the algorithm is a living, breathing component of your business, what I think we bring to the table is the ability to invest resources, time and engineering talent into understanding what those changes are and staying on top of them. So, yes, there's a lot of synergy on the supply chain. There's a lot of knowledge sharing and marketing, but it's just a deep understanding as to how do you own and control, to the extent possible, the sandbox that we really try to invest our time and energy in. The other stuff is there and there's clear synergies across the board from everything relating to a new rule to, oh, my God, this kind of image is working now. We should all use these kinds of images. But it's more of a broader understanding as to the Amazon ecosystem that we can share among all the people that run the day to day operations of the business.

Phillip: [00:09:42] This sort of leads me to what are the factors you look for in a potential acquisition? You know, outside of their, we talked about talent to some degree. Are there specific trends or specific industries or verticals categories? Oh, my gosh, I just used all three of those words interchangeably. Holy cow. Specific categories that you're looking for to make an investment?

Keith: [00:10:09] Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think what's interesting is there are so many good businesses out there and there are so many great founders and operators and probably my greatest joy in starting the business and on a day-to-day basis is getting to hear their stories of how they've accomplished what they've done. When it comes to what we look for in particular, we have sort of a criteria list of I'll call it dozens at this point, but it's probably more of things that we look at. And they're both internal signals within Amazon and external signals. Those are all there. I could walk through more of the scientific terms, but really at the end of the day, we're trying to figure out if there's there there, to put it bit of colloquially. And do we believe that this product set or brand has or will continue to show signs of longevity? And there's a lot of things we look at there to indicate. I think beyond that, [00:11:12] I think what we have done more than others in the aggregator, "aggregator space," although we don't love that term, is the focus on health, wellness and food and ingestibles. And those are products that we believe both have incredible secular momentum in terms of shifts in how people think about them and what we're seeing in sort of people's willingness to try challenger brands and also have great sort of economics around them because of the repeat purchase ability. So I think we tend to look for sort of a long list of things ranging from the financial profile to obviously its history on Amazon to how it ranks outside of Amazon, within the Google ecosystem is our social footprint, et cetera, et cetera. And then within that, we tend to try to find businesses who have sort of a certain set of characteristics that are unique to, I think, us as a buyer. [00:12:17]

Phillip: [00:12:18] So it's interesting. So in the name of the show, Future Commerce, and I've definitely been accused of in the past, focusing on the right now commerce, how much of what you were doing investing in existing businesses is trying to predict where the market's going to be in the next two to three years? And I'll center that specifically on a recent acquisition that you all had made in Asterwood Naturals, which I think is a skincare company.

Keith: [00:12:45] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:12:45] What do you see or are you looking into a crystal ball and saying, you know, this as a category of luxury skincare is the thing that is quite durable and could grow to a certain degree and by this acquisition or a series of acquisitions, you know, we're positioning for the market's going to be as opposed to where it is right now?

Keith: [00:13:04] Yes/and, I guess. If you ever been to the Improv...

Phillip: [00:13:09] Yeah, sure have.

Keith: [00:13:10] I think what we look for are signs of durability, number one. Yeah, I think even before that, do we want to own this brand? Is this something that we actually want to own? And that when we assign it to a brand manager internally, are they going to be fired up coming in and thinking about this? And so in the case of Asterwood, it actually fit those criteria and more. Because at its core, if you look at, again, trends, what you have is sort of a shift and a willingness to try differentiated beauty products and in particular sort of more niche ingredient based products that are a single solve. So if you look at it used to be that there was one skin cream that people would put on. There's now various types for various parts of your face, your body, etc. And I think what they had demonstrated with hyaluronic acid product was the ability to create at an affordable budget, a luxury type product with a luxury type brand. And we look at that. We look at the packaging of the product. We look at sort of the brand elements that they had created and sort of the NPS score that you could tell from people who had purchased it along with the secular trend. And it just gets us really excited about where we can position not only the core product today, but also sort of a suite of products in the future.

Phillip: [00:14:43] How much of your potential acquisition target do you think changes in the next few years where maybe historically where there wasn't so many of these aggregators in the space? Again, we don't like that word, but now there's a lot of news around that. Right? How many businesses will start to architect for exit as opposed to those that are just healthy businesses by virtue of running solid brand that's an Amazon brand? And does that change the landscape going forward? Is that more appetizing or less appetizing for you?

Keith: [00:15:21] It's a good question. I guess when we look at the market size from a buying standpoint, there are by any count that we see north of forty thousand sort of sellers on Amazon alone. And I think when we market sized Shopify, it was around six thousand on Shopify. So there's somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 thousand sellers who have some general characteristics, if not specific ones that we really like. And so within that bucket, you're going to find all types. And, you know, people ask why do the founders want to sell? And the answer is, well, not all of them do. We talk to thousands of people a year and we're only doing maybe fifty deals a year or thirty deals a year depending on the year. And so there is a sort of predisposition, I think, to ask the question you're asking. But the reality is you're going to get all types. From a buyer standpoint, I don't think we have in the past, nor will we in the future discriminate against people whose whole goal was to start a business and package it for sale. As someone in the sort of startup space outside of commerce and that's what a lot of companies do. You know, they build a social tool and they hope to make it into a company, but they kind of know if they're successful that there might be a buyer and a Facebook or Twitter. So I think that [00:16:50] what's unique about this ecosystem is maybe the speed at which you can get profitable doing that. And that's what's really exciting is even when we look at people and founders who have packaged or created a business that they knowingly were going to try to sell within a relatively quick timeframe, at least they've done what a lot of companies in the traditional Silicon Valley ecosystem hasn't. They've managed to show a profit. And so when we look at it, we're like, wow, it's still a great potential opportunity because they've shown they can do what is really hard to do. And that's to make money. [00:17:27]

Phillip: [00:17:28] I mean, increasingly harder now in that the platform that we've just called the digital Fifth Avenue, although it's probably depending on which corner of Amazon you're shopping on is more like the digital Sawgrass Mills Mall. But that's a whole other story.

Keith: [00:17:47] That's a whole other story. {laughter} That's very pejorative of you, Phillip.

Phillip: [00:17:51] {laughter} But I think that you have this really interesting challenge wherein you go to Westfield, and there isn't a Westfield kiosk sitting right across from the Claires trying to sell a Westfield brand of Claires costume jewelry. So you've got and by the way, I don't even know if Clairs is still in business, to be honest with you. I don't know where I pulled that one out of trying to think of a boring mall brand.

Keith: [00:18:19] You should pick Charming Charlie. He's my Co-Founder. You know... {laughter}

Phillip: [00:18:22] I wasn't going to say. I was going to say it. {laughter} Color coding and all the rest, right? So but when you have this really interesting paradigm where Amazon and its basics are fundamentally competing with other parts of the its own ecosystem, I mean, you said we're in a platform economy, that is the law of platforms. You eventually compete with the ones who made you successful. If you look at what's happening right now... This is a very long winded soliloquy to get to a question, you know, there's a new FTC chair. I don't know if you read the piece. Lina Khan has written this Yale Law Journal piece about Amazon's antitrust paradox and this idea that if you're going to do any sort of surgical antitrust work in the Biden administration and the FTC, maybe some of that begins in, well let's spin out AWS. Well, but what do we do with the marketplace end of it? I mean, removing competition with marketplace sellers could be pretty lucrative for those who have built brands on Amazon to have Amazon moved out of the way and competing on Basics. I'm curious what you think about this current environment. And, you know, if you're well positioned to really take advantage of that, where you could see explosive growth to sellers on Amazon if that were to take place.

Keith: [00:19:44] First of all, in every shopping scenario other than the one you mentioned, you do as a seller often face that challenge. I mean, you walk into Costco and they are selling Kirkland. You walk into a Kroger's and there's a Kroger brand. Rite Aid sells a Rite Aid brand. Similar with CVS. And so I don't think this is a unique challenge in the retail space where sellers, distributors, try to launch their own products to both, you know, give themselves the opportunity for margin and maybe appeal to a different type of shopper. So when we look at it, and we look at the ecosystem, we say, you know what? That's their prerogative. And our job as a retailer is to come up with brand promise, brand value, and enough differentiation that the customer wants to buy our product. And that's going to happen. I think one of the reasons we like our our prospects is, you know, if there ever were instances in the history of the world where, you know, you owned your own distribution or you had the ability to just rest on your laurels, that doesn't exist anymore. And our environment and our culture within the company is built on knowing that there's no ability to rest on laurels and also please today's consumer. So I don't think there's... I think there's been much ado about nothing in terms of the Amazon private label stuff. As it relates to the product, I mean, it's going to be really interesting to watch. Yeah, I don't know if I'm sitting in the Amazon seat, I don't know where I draw the line and what I define as sort of something you go to the mat for. And that's largely true for all these companies. There are so many interrelated pieces of their businesses that fuel the other pieces of the business. And it's going to be fascinating to see where push comes to shove in terms of their willingness to move. But if I was a betting man, I wouldn't foresee Amazon Basics being something that becomes a massive focal point, because when you, at least one when we look at the data and when we've seen the data in the categories where we compete and there is an Amazon basics product, it's hard for me, if you were calling me out in front of Congress, I would tell you that it's not super impactful on my business.

Phillip: [00:26:18] I think what's interesting is, at least in the analog world, there are pieces of, you know, physical infrastructure that aggregate demand and where that differs in the world of retail, you know, you have these large pieces of commercial property and even public infrastructure that funnels traffic into a certain place for other retailers to benefit from. So you have this sort of layered, almost decentralized way of the way that we're building a funnel of demand into where the actual exchange of goods happens. It's a little different online where Amazon is its own advertising engine. Its own digital platform. And so it is the arbiter on many levels of both the aggregation of traffic and then the distribution of goods and ultimately, you know, even making some of those products. So I think it's a little different to the mall analogy, but very similar to the Costco analogy. And I actually I quite like that repositioning that you made there. I do think that digital breaks the paradigm so much that it's really hard to make these sorts of concrete arguments. I think it is quite iffy. But where do you think you are? You know, where is this? Where is it heading? Are we going to see, you know, over the next five years continued explosive growth in eCommerce? I'm guessing that's what you're betting on in your business. You know, how did these brands compete right now to kind of get the scale for you to be viable acquisitions? You know, there's a lot of challenges right now, specifically in supply chain and in customer acquisition costs.

Keith: [00:28:16] Yeah, I mean, I don't see those if you look at all the trends as to what gets us excited about the business, it also enables other people to start businesses and to compete, which is why it kind of goes back to when I said what we try to invest in and create differentiation around is number one on the acquisition side, are we buying things that we think have inherent characteristics of value? And if we can do that well, then we're starting from a great starting point. And then are rebuilding an infrastructure? And can we invest in tools and build tools that enable us to be differentiated? Or maybe, if not differentiate, at least compete more effectively in these ecosystems? And whether that's our own DTC website, Amazon, Walmart, et cetera, et cetera. What's exciting about the space, even with the challenges you mentioned, is the fact that we're still very early and it's so hard to remember that. Like most goods are still bought in retail, and we are still in the beginning phases of these generational shifts towards brands and in the utilization of whether it's Amazon's advertising system or what happens on Instagram or Facebook or Tik Tok, the brand's ability to understand how to take advantage of these mediums to grow and build a presence. So as much as the landscape is difficult because of some fundamental factors that you talked about, the overall sort of shift and change of how people think about brands and where they go to find those brands and then within that, our ability to create better understanding as to those factors just gets us fired up. Because we look at, you know, [00:30:39] if you sort of break down the market, on one hand, you've got these big CPG companies and they're super sophisticated, but they're not necessarily nimble, nor is the bulk of their business driven from these emerging platforms. So their focus and sort of internal structure is not sort of built around winning there. And then you've got the small, smaller businesses who are exceptional operators, we've talked to enough of them to know that, but who, because of the changing nature of the game, get tired and want to partner with people like us sometimes. And so inherently, we're just in the sweet spot of the world right now. [00:31:25]

Phillip: [00:31:26] To that end the shorthand could be, hey, because of all these challenges, because of supply chain constraints, because of customer acquisition costs, because of IDFA, or iOS 14.5, whatever it is, now is a great time for you to have folks that come alongside you who can augment your skills and expertise. Like why not have a team that we can, you know, we're putting together The Avengers in this initiative. It's the Boosted Avengers.

Keith: [00:31:56] Right. Right. Exactly. I love that analogy. I'm not going to steal that, too. I like that. {wink} What I like about it is, I mean, at the end of the day and this is what we do tell sellers, which is like fundamentally we particularly because most of the deals have some form of an earn out component, we tell sellers the truth which is now we work for you. And so, you know, you don't have to be the one working on figuring out your supply chain. We're going to have the guy who ran a supply chain for a big chunk of SABMiller s business focusing on your business. And you're going to have the five people we have in China focusing on your business. And there's something special about that.

Phillip: [00:32:41] Oh, it is. And it's one of those things too, you know, especially right now, you say we're very early on. You're right. We're, what, 20 years into, 25 years into the digital commerce revolution. You're seeing all these changes right now, especially around delivery innovation. I think there's a lot of things that have yet to even happen. You know, we're right at the very beginning. What an incredible time to sort of amass a critical mass of all of these capabilities. I'm a big fan. I hope I'm not coming off as being bearish.

Keith: [00:33:19] No. No. I think what's interesting is because of we all live in our little myopic worlds and our focus groups are smaller and smaller. You just forget how much of the world doesn't believe what you believe or doesn't know what you know for example. And it's true in commerce. It's true in all the businesses we touch. One hundred percent of the people I talked to know about something. But if I go out in the world and just talk to people in the street, you know, most of the time their behavior is different. They're so far behind the adoption curve. And it's just something that always has to stay in the back of our minds, is most people are still so far behind the adoption curve as it relates to most things that we get involved with.

Phillip: [00:34:00] There is this phenomenon, though, the power and the scale that we have of eCommerce to taste make in the culture. A great example of this would be look at how Target has rebranded most of its in-house brands. You look at the private label that they are executing and they've all been sort of millennial blanded to the point where, I mean, you could mistake them for eCommerce, you know, boujie direct to consumer millennial brands. It's a mark of quality now. And what's interesting about that is this is also what less than 10 percent of all of eCommerce activity is some sort of direct to consumer engagement. But yet it has had such a fundamental impact on the way that brands are developed in-house. I wonder how far removed... Do we see a similar kind of a shift happening? Does the way people engage with brands on Amazon also impact the way physical retail is done? Or the way they perceive physical retail?

Keith: [00:35:08] Clearly, the show rooming factor is real where people go and they compare pricing and options. So from a retail standpoint, no matter how many options you have in-store, it's almost like you're competing against the world of all options, in many cases. So I don't... I think the bigger shift, which is what you're referencing in Target, and this got me excited about this business many years ago, even before I was doing it, is just this notion that there's a willingness to accept and try new brands that didn't exist before. And many years ago, I had sort of been part of a research, a commissioned research study about brand choice and a lot of what the results came back as said that after the economic meltdown in 2008 and 2009, a whole generation of people just got sort of disillusioned with existing brands. They saw the government fail them, particularly financial institutions failed them, and you saw this shift and I don't know if you remember, but all of a sudden it was like you didn't see as many Budweiser ads as you did, but you saw a craft brewery, ads like Blue Moon, still owned by Budweiser. Right? But the story behind the brand mattered. And I think [00:36:36] what's really changed in retail and what you're seeing in Target is this notion of the story mattering more and people wanting to believe and believe that they're buying a product with a greater vision or sense. And I think that is very real. And when we look at acquisition targets, it certainly makes it exciting for us. [00:36:59] Like the Asterwood one you mentioned. Started by a brother and sister. They built it. They tested the products themselves. I mean, there's a real specialness around the story. And I think that that is likely to impact things more than Amazon just by itself.

Phillip: [00:37:15] Do you think that that brand story comes through in the Amazon purchase experience or is that something that's more akin...?

Keith: [00:37:25] I don't think it does today, but I think when you look at sort of how retail will change and I think it will on Amazon over time. I think there, I don't say it with this with any inside information, if I look at places where they're going to invest, it's giving brands the bigger opportunity to communicate who they are and what their value is. And, you know, when you think about like what they stand for at Amazon, it's making the customer happy. And making sure the customer gets products they like. And what are things that make the customer happy? It's understanding and believing in the quality of the products they buy and buying it at a good price.

Phillip: [00:38:08] It's such an interesting phenomenon because so much of eCommerce and direct to consumer is focused around startup culture and, you know, sort of this the cult of the founder. So we wound up celebrating a lot of like starting line and not a lot of finish line. You guys are very much focused on the finish line. It's a brand making an exit to create a new opportunity as a new phase of the company. At the same time, Boosted is sort of right at the beginning of its journey. I'm curious. Very few people actually answered this honestly. So I'm going to challenge you, Keith. What are the things you've not done well so far? What are some of the things that some of your acquisitions have not done well so far? And how are you going to address that? What do you do to fix it?

Keith: [00:38:59] I think if you go back to the sort of history of the company, I mean, we started COVID hit. We have an original thesis, and like everyone in the world, that thesis was on its way to being something. And all of a sudden we had to adjust how we think about both building a company and what the world itself was going to be like. So I think we took a very thoughtful approach in a lot of cases. I think one of the things we look back on is maybe we didn't need to be so thoughtful. You know, when you're in a market where things are going up anyway and when you have faith in the overall conviction, sometimes you don't need to maybe ask as many questions. And maybe we should have pulled the trigger on some more deals earlier honestly. There's stuff that we saw that we're like, yeah, it's clearly good, right? We really believe in it. But right now, we're just still waiting to see a little bit about what the world is going to look like or we're still building our infrastructure and we want to make sure we don't die from indigestion, call it. Right? So I think probably when I look back, it was maybe being a little too precious in some cases, I think, outside of that, it's almost going to seem like I'm answering the resume question by saying I'm too detail oriented, but where we kind of had some big lessons in the early stage is just understanding the takeover process of the business. And if, for example, if we're really expert at marketing and we could fuel marketing, that doesn't necessarily mean we should do that immediately because they're still a supply chain question. And there's other sorts of things we have to think through. So I think we learned lessons where we hit the gas on stuff only to have to stop because the supply chain can keep up. And so the first few deals of last year, really, every time we did something that we thought was amazing, we've learned a good lesson. And so as we rolled into this year and built up the infrastructure, I mean, we've certainly operated on all cylinders because I think we were methodical, and we'd kind of hit the gas, reflect, and kind of go from there. But I'm not sure if we had just hit the gas all around we would have been probably just as fine.

Phillip: [00:41:27] I like that. That's an honest answer. I do think that there is a universal challenge right now around sort of picking your bets and there's so many, I think there's just a plentitude. Is that the word? I don't know. There's a multitude of of options.

Keith: [00:41:53] Multitude is definitely a word.

Phillip: [00:41:54] Yeah. That's the word we're looking for. There's so many options in the marketplace as a consumer. I think we're spoiled for choice. And I can only imagine what that's like in your guy's position. I'm sure there's plenty of businesses that have strong fundamentals that you pass on for, the sake of, I don't know, waiting for things to mature or waiting for things to shake out. I'm not trying to speak for you, but I can only guess that, you know, you said you have so many... What's the deal flow like? What is the volume like?

Keith: [00:42:31] I mean, so deal flow in this space comes from a few different areas. I mean, first, obviously, there's inbounds. People that know us that have sort of either made a decision to sell or are exploring. Then there's broker deals. Then there's our own independent outreach, proprietary outreach, and then there's referrals. Between that there's an extraordinarily amount of deal flow. You know what's interesting about the space? And someone told me this story from a similar industry a few weeks ago. So you would think that we run up against sort of people more than we do outside of the broker deals. And so the reality is almost everything we look at has some strong characteristics in one way or another. And that's what's really awesome about the industry. And so then it's just a function of going back to where what we talked about earlier. Does someone in the company have a passion? Like do we think this is going to be a business we want to be in in 12 months? Twenty four months? Thirty six months? Can we identify that there there in a way that makes us happy to own it and that we won't feel like we're just owning some schlocky business or a company that sells a schlocky type product? And then finally, is there a price expectation that's reasonable? And once you kind of put it through all those filters, the amount of available businesses is still pretty large, but not as big as it was of the 40 thousand pool that we talked about before.

Phillip: [00:44:24] Yeah, I'll give you the last word. Keith, it has been such a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much. Can I get your outlook? Get a crystal ball. What do you think the next three years looks like? Do you think we're coming out of this COVID thing? Where do you think we're heading, and is physical retail going to come back in such a way that, you know, digital retail is going to have to figure out how to keep up?

Keith: [00:44:50] I mean, look I don't know where we're headed. I wish I had a crystal ball. I don't have a clue, but I do believe that whether it's 12 months or 60 months, you can't turn back the changes that are happening and it's just a better consumer experience in most cases to buy things online, to be able to compare, to have all those options you talked about. And thanks to all of the investment that's going in to the last mile delivery infrastructure, it's going to get more and more satisfying, that dopamine that you have of just like, "Oh, I ordered it, and now it's here," is just going to continue to fuel the growth and the expectations from both the product side and the distributor side. And so our true north is just making sure that we're able to keep up with that because I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know COVID comes back. I don't know if there's another pandemic next year, but I do know that those things are just fundamental, fundamental things that are changing that will... No one's going back to the way it was before.

Phillip: [00:46:08] So you don't have a crystal ball, but you definitely have a boost of commerce and confidence to give all of us here.

Keith: [00:46:18] Ah, I like that.

Phillip: [00:46:18] Really appreciate it. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you, Keith, for all your candor. Hey, I want to know what you think about the next generation of commerce. And FBA. All things we talked about here today. Tell me what we got right and wrong. Drop us a line at Hey, remember, we can all change the future through commerce, and we can create the future that we want. So let's do that together. Thank you for listening to Future Commerce.

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