Season 12 Episode 2
May 30, 2023

[STEP BY STEP] Mastering Omnichannel Integration for Seamless Shopping

This season on Step by Step, we are asking what does “seamless” mean to my eCommerce business and how do I demystify that in a way that helps me select the right solutions and softwares that make a seamless experience come to life? In this episode, we are talking to Keith Menezes, the Director of Commercialization at Walmart Commerce Technologies. We're going to talk about how we master omnichannel integration and provide for a seamless experience not just for customers, but also for employees and some of the decisions that are made in making the technology that Walmart has built to create incredible omnichannel experiences available for the rest of the world. Listen now!

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this episode sponsored by

This season on Step by Step, we are asking what does “seamless” mean to my eCommerce business and how do I demystify that in a way that helps me select the right solutions and softwares that make a seamless experience come to life? In this episode, we are talking to Keith Menezes, the Director of Commercialization at Walmart Commerce Technologies. We're going to talk about how we master omnichannel integration and provide for a seamless experience not just for customers, but also for employees and some of the decisions that are made in making the technology that Walmart has built to create incredible omnichannel experiences available for the rest of the world.  Listen now!

In this episode:

  • {0:06:28} - “A vibrant retail ecosystem where we're all really serving other merchants and customers, I think helps all of us.” - Keith
  • {0:10:32} - “It's not just about the technology, it's about the system, and then it's also about the change management. If you deploy a piece of technology and it just doesn't make sense in context of how the employee is doing their job and the UI and the experience itself is just complicated or hard to understand, adoption will plummet, but most importantly, customers aren't going to get what they're looking for, which then will ultimately impact their perception of your brand, and then loyalty, which is going to lead to churn.” - Keith
  • {0:14:49} - “What has happened in the market is you've seen the growth of outsourced fulfillment, other providers out there that maybe exist as marketplaces where customers may go, they'll place an order, and then this third party will go into the store, pick the items for you and deliver it for you. And brands have loved that because they've gotten the growth. But now two years later, post-pandemic, what they're evaluating is what did we give up to get that?” - Keith
  • {0:21:41} - “Fulfillment, even though it's invisible, it is an expression of your brand and you really have to get items to customers in the way that the customer is expecting them.” - Keith
  • {0:26:416} - “Retail companies are in the business to sell products to customers. And the evolution has been really slow. And I don't know if people have picked up on it, but we are now buying software that's purpose built to be transactional software because it's built by the people who have to power their own businesses on it. And that is a fundamental shift away from, "You need software. We build software. Here's your software.’" - Phillip
  • {0:33:45} - “Through Store Assist, we're giving you the capability to create these white label kind of fulfillment experiences. It's all your brand. We're existing in the background and then all the data that's coming back really is yours. You understand how customers are interacting with you and then empowering you to make decisions on what you ultimately serve up to your customers.” - Keith

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Phillip: [00:00:37] Hello and welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by Future Commerce presented by Adobe Commerce Services. This is season 12 of Step by Step, and this season we are examining buzzwords in detail and one in particular: seamless. We're going to ask ourselves what does seamless mean to an eCommerce business in the enterprise and how does that buzzword, how does the word seamless, result in us selecting the right softwares and solutions for our companies? Today we are going to dive in head first, but this is Episode 2 of 5 in our series. So if you're just jumping into this series midway through, hey, start right at the very beginning, go back and listen to our first episode. It'll get you started and get you off on the right foot. This time around, we are talking with merchants and business leaders from some of the world's most recognizable brands about what it means to have a seamless experience and what the steps you need to take are in order to get there. From buying software and managing complexity and defining growth goals and strategies, and maybe even some frameworks and tips and tricks along the way. We're going to talk to people who select software and buy software at scale for varying sizes of business, and we're going to figure out how they do that step by step. So if this podcast is valuable for me and it really has been, I've been in eCommerce for 20 years and I've worked for small scaling direct to consumer brands all the way up to the largest brands in the world, the most recognizable enterprises in the world who deploy eCommerce across dozens of regions at scale. And they all have similar problems in that selecting software is a skill that is acquired and requires a lot of cultivation and a lot of orchestration in your business. So who's this podcast for? Well, maybe you have a number of investments and point solutions in your enterprise, but you're thinking about consolidating them. Maybe you're confused by acronyms like DXP, or maybe you just don't know. Maybe you bristle at the thought of buzzwords like one hand to shake or seamless. Well, this is the podcast series for you today. On the podcast, we're talking to Keith Menezes, who's the Director of Commercialization at Walmart, the world's largest retailer. We're going to talk about how we master omnichannel integration and provide for a seamless experience not just for customers, but also for employees and some of the decisions that are made in making the technology that Walmart has built to create incredible omnichannel experiences available for the rest of the world. It's an incredible listen, and I can't wait for you to hear it. So let's without any further ado, dive into our conversation with Keith Menezes, the Director of Commercialization at Walmart, and how they build omnichannel step by step. Today we continue our 12th season of Step by Step. And we have a special guest with us here today, Keith Menezes, who is the Director of Commercialization at the world's largest store, Walmart. Welcome to the show.

Keith: [00:03:47] Thank you guys so much for having me. Great to be with both of you. Really, really excited about today.

Phillip: [00:03:52] Thank you.

Brian: [00:03:52] Us too.

Phillip: [00:03:53] Are you the most important person in the Walmart arsenal these days? And what do you do over there?

Keith: [00:03:58] Oh, yeah. Yeah. So am I the most important person at Walmart? No, by no means. Yeah. So, look, I think a lot of your listeners will know of Walmart as the world's largest retailer. I think we have something like 11,000 stores globally. And what people may not understand about us is that, as we serve customers, I think you mentioned this a little bit ago, there is so much technology that we've had to create and develop for our associates to essentially serve our customers. And we've had to really design, build and scale that technology across thousands of stores globally. So what I am focused on is really understanding which bits of technology we can take to help other retailers and brands be successful. It's a very, very, very new kind of initiative for us. We're showing up externally as Walmart Commerce Technologies and I for the team lead strategic partnerships and product marketing, which does include brand. So it's both how we represent ourselves externally and who we partner with in order to make sure great retail brands and merchants can best leverage the technologies that we've built here at Walmart and are operating at scale globally.

Brian: [00:05:16] Tell us a little bit more about those technologies.

Phillip: [00:05:18] Brian, because people are on their run or they're sitting in traffic, the fact is that there are companies on planet Earth who have built things that work so well for themselves that they're able to productize it and commercialize it. Yeah, I've done this long enough to know that I'm not allowed to mention other retailers on this show when I'm here with you. But this is an established pattern in the world where you take the surplus that you have of intellectual property around software, and now you're turning it around and giving that same power to other brands and retailers. And I think that's, just to underscore, that's huge. That is that is a giant opportunity. And it's kind of cool to see Walmart in our space where you'll have this giant booth at the NRF Big Show. That's an incredible thing to see. Sorry, Brian, I cut you off. I was so excited.

Keith: [00:06:07] Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate that. And taking a moment to pause and recognize that is definitely right. You know, the world is really shifting. Great, successful companies, I think, don't go alone anymore. They form partnerships. They invite others to participate in ecosystems that they serve in. And I think that's our kind of [00:06:28] mantra. A vibrant retail ecosystem where we're all really serving other merchants and customers, I think helps all of us. [00:06:35]

Brian: [00:06:36] Agree, agree. And it's really cool to see Walmart sort of open book so many, so many of their tools. And actually, I am curious about those tools and which ones you've sort of brought to the market, which ones at least fall under the Walmart Commerce Technologies umbrella that you're bringing to the market.

Keith: [00:06:58] So let me put it in context of maybe how your listeners may understand or think about Walmart. Massive, big store. Tons of merchandise across, you know, grocery and then also other categories like apparel, pet food, home, lawn care, and anything they want kind of under one place. As you think about the operations of that store, we really need to understand what products are in that store, how we're getting them, how our associates are able to understand our customers, and how they're able to help them check out. And then as the world has evolved, really how we serve those customers, not just online, but also in our store and we talked about this. There are so many buzzwords around this making things seamless, omnichannel shopping. But really, like we've talked about, customers just want their products. They might be after dinner or during the workday shopping for something online on their way home. They just want to get that thing or they want it to show up on their doorstep. And what we've had to do is figure out how do we with technology design systems that help our associates serve our customers, how and when they want to shop. So one of the key kind of technologies we've developed is really how we orchestrate local store fulfillment. So best enable our associates basically to pick, pack, ship, deliver, and hand off items to our customers when they're shopping with us. And they show up either curbside or waiting in their home for a delivery. And we've packaged up all of that technology into a product we call Store Assist. And it's really to help other merchants turn their local stores into fulfillment centers and really just minimize the amount of time that customers are waiting for their items. And so that's it in a nutshell. It sounds super easy. "Oh, yeah, just order a thing and then I get it." But behind the scenes, you really have to think about the system and the workflow that has to exist in order to make that happen and almost be invisible to the customer.

Brian: [00:09:10] Let's talk about something that sounds easy but is actually extremely complicated. This is something that I remember prior to the pandemic back in the 2019 and before era...

Keith: [00:09:25] Era probably. Yeah, we don't even think about that often.

Brian: [00:09:28] Yeah, right. I remember brands trying to do this and just flat out failing. It was hard because store associates didn't have the tools. It was very ad hoc. It did take a lot of time and a lot of retailers just flat out abandoned their projects because they couldn't. That level of change management, let alone the tool set, they didn't have the tool set to drive the change. And even if they did have some pseudo tool set, getting everyone on the same page about how to use it and training and all of that was really hard. I've seen your demo of your product. It's easy.

Keith: [00:10:07] You know, ultimately, I think what we have to remember is we're all using apps every day. We're all used to these consumer grade experiences, and I think businesses for their employees have to launch and have to basically support those same sort of experiences. Things have to be really, really simple. And I think you hit the nail on the head, Brian. [00:10:32] It's not just about the technology, it's about the system, and then it's also about the change management. If you deploy a piece of technology and it just doesn't make sense in context of how the employee is doing their job and the UI and the experience itself is just complicated or hard to understand, adoption will plummet, but most importantly, customers aren't going to get what they're looking for, which then will ultimately impact their perception of your brand, and then loyalty, which is going to lead to churn. [00:11:04] And I think, with Store Assist, basically, the idea is it's so simple that if you just kind of picked up the app and you didn't know anything about picking, you didn't know anything about fulfillment, you could just kind of follow that workflow. You see the images of the products you need to pick, and how many you need to pick. You scan items so that you're picking the right items. If the item's not available you see exactly what you're supposed to substitute. You're notified when the customer shows up and the handoff is there. So the onboarding time has to be really minimal. And we've designed it and tested it across all our thousands of stores. So we've really taken some critical, critical feedback from our own associates and incorporated that into what we're launching for other merchants to use. And I think that's really a key part of the process is really understanding what our associates have liked and things that they don't like we've really got to fix because ultimately it's about them and not just throwing technology at them and hoping they'll use it.

Phillip: [00:12:02] There's a sort of a paradigm that would... I love to think about things in terms of, you know, analogies and how people behave. And when you think about the challenges of building, this is probably not... This isn't like Playskool, this isn't Duplo bricks that we're building together. You're empowering mature businesses that are trying to enter the next stage of growth. And they probably have a lot of fatigue around choosing software. And what we see is like this, oh, it just works mentality that happens in the SaaS cloud eCommerce space is these are immature solutions that are ill fit for these massive, global businesses or businesses that aspire to be global. And so what doesn't exist is there is no... Walmart is sort of the everything store. What if there was a Walmart for the software that you need to power your business? And while that might exist at one end of the market that serves SMB, it definitely does not exist in the enterprise space where you have... Think about your customer journey, Keith. You have a customer just to make a purchase happen, probably to get the product into the store and to get it into their home thousands of pieces of software that all have to work in concert together to actually realize that. So if you've done that for yourself, I'm sure that others are probably thinking, how can we do it too? And it's just really tough. Talk a little bit about how you're doing that right now and maybe as you're doing it, let's think a little bit about some of the objections that might come across as maybe this sounds a little tough to do because that kind of decision making and software buying seems really tough. Seems like a long, laborious process, right?

Keith: [00:13:53] Yeah. I think you both have kind of hit on this where retailers have been through this journey, especially the larger ones, where they have used other software. They've kind of gone through this very extensive due diligence process, or maybe they've built it their own. And they're really thinking about is this... Right now, and I think you guys have mentioned this, there are these waves, there are these shifts that happen where people periodically kind of step back. They look at their entire stack. They think about, hey, is this really, really working for us? And I think we're kind of seeing that around, sorry, omnichannel, where maybe there were, you know, these Band-Aid solutions that they deployed, or maybe they tried something and it didn't work or they built something in-house. And so there's a lot of evaluating sunk costs or existing kind of pieces of technology. And [00:14:49] what also has happened in the market is you've seen the growth of outsourced fulfillment, other providers out there that maybe exist as marketplaces where customers may go, they'll place an order, and then this third party will go into the store, pick the items for you and deliver it for you. And brands have loved that because they've gotten the growth. But now kind of two years later, post-pandemic, what they're evaluating is what did we give up to get that? [00:15:18]

Phillip: [00:15:19] Right.

Keith: [00:15:19] We've kind of lost our ability to connect with our customers, to understand what our customers are doing, what are their behaviors. And then sometimes when there are third parties that are picking your products, they may not really know your assortment that well. They may pick the incorrect item or when they're picking a banana, they might not pick the best looking banana, right? They may not know what to substitute. And what happens when ultimately that order is delivered is the customer blames the brand. They're not blaming the aggregator. They're not blaming the platform that they place the order on. So I think what we're observing now is kind of a rethink of we know convenience and fulfillment are really important, but how can we really start to bring that in-house and empower our employees to actually do this, scale up those experiences consistently and do that in a way that's really cost-effective? So those are some of the trade offs that I'm observing and some of the shifts that I've seen.

Phillip: [00:17:07] Being in that in that scenario, it's the retailers speaking to themselves saying like, yeah, we're making the shift. So. Oh, so this is actually a really interesting maturity curve question. Is the decision point at which you're making this software decision, I hate to like maybe like bring it down to brass tacks, but what is the archetype of a retailer that's looking for this sort of solution from you guys? And who are you sort of targeting as the perfect fit, you know, normal center?

Keith: [00:17:45] Yeah, I think, fundamentally, there are kind of two different sort of profiles. One is, I would say a smaller or mid-sized brand that's looking to grow and that could be a few different flavors. That could be a primarily eCommerce brand that has then expanded, that the DTC now has kind of expanded into physical stores. Because physical stores are the best expression of your brand. You kind of control acquisition, you're able to engage with your customers, and you're able to serve them with the right assortment, so that is sort of one. And then kind of a splinter into that. So the mid-sized guys that are growing is maybe some smaller regional brands, as they're looking to kind of grow and scale their business, they might have used kind of some starter processes or technology to fulfill these orders. And what they're seeing is that they used to fulfill a lot of their online orders out of traditional eCommerce FCs, but what they need to do is leverage local inventory or proximity to customers to fulfill those orders more conveniently and faster. And they need tools and technology to help them do that. So that's sort of one group. The second, I think, is kind of the larger enterprises that typically have a couple of hundred or hundreds of stores. And for them, maybe they have invested in kind of capabilities, they've built their own. Or maybe what they've done is they've adapted a warehouse management technology to basically help them take what they do in a warehouse, but adapt it for a store context. And it just doesn't work. The interface maybe is a little too complex and is not contextual enough for a store environment. Maybe the employees have to kind of navigate a few different systems to get there. They're a few different hops. So I would say for the larger enterprises, for them, it's thinking about how can they leverage something that's a little bit easier to consume and how can they kind of make the experience friendly for the associates, the employees that are working for them so that, you know, they can onboard and fulfill faster and much more cost effectively than they have been.

Phillip: [00:20:03] This series is really kind of acting as a glossary, but maybe like recontextualizing terms. So you said the word seamless at one point here. What you described is that there is a customer experience which is important. It's incumbent on you and all of us to provide a seamless customer experience. So I like to say the word seamless is meaningless because that's what we do, but on the other side of it is a lot of the Band-Aid and Twine that pulled together all that software makes a really bad employee experience.

Keith: [00:20:40] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:20:41] They have to live in dozens of discrete portals and softwares. These things are fragile. They require IT support to keep them up and talking to each other. There's a tremendous amount of data then that has to feed into all of that, that seamlessness often has a negative impact on the customer seamlessness too, and that's where the frustration usually comes out.

Keith: [00:21:02] This is honestly such a good point. I think because customer experiences are highly visible: apps, website, layouts within stores. They get a ton of attention, right? These are the things that people see. They're kind of representations of your brand. So it's easy to really focus on them. However, the customer ultimately wants access to their products. They want to get their products on their terms. In order to do that, you kind of have to look at what's behind the scenes, and start to really think about that system that gets the products to the store, gets the products to the customer. [00:21:41] Fulfillment, even though it's invisible, it is an expression of your brand and you really have to get items to customers in the way that the customer is expecting them. [00:21:52] And the way the customer is expecting them doesn't always have to be fast delivery. It could also mean that the customer on their way home wants to stop in and pick something up, or it could mean they want something shipped to their workplace. And so what we have to do, our job is really to simplify the complex for our employees because that's in service to the customer. And what that really means is taking all these really hard sometimes legacy systems, breaking them apart, thinking through the workflow, thinking about kind of these consumer-grade experiences we can give our employees so that they can basically get items to the customers exactly how they want them. And that honestly, that's the hard, invisible part. But if you don't focus on that, basically what that really turns into is an unhappy customer who then has a negative brand experience, who then kind of churns out and goes and shops somewhere else. And it's invisible, but it really requires a tremendous amount of focus and attention.

Brian: [00:22:57] I mean, isn't that the place that almost always requires the most focus and attention? The invisible. {laughter}

Keith: [00:23:03] The non-shiny object stuff. Yeah.

Brian: [00:23:05] Yeah. You're getting at the why. We have these terms: seamless, omnichannel, et cetera. Personalization, blah blah, blah. Customers don't say those words. They don't say those words. But the reason why we have them is because we're trying to get at something that should be invisible to the customer. And I think that's amazing. Another aspect of all of this is not only is it difficult for an employee to use all of these systems, but it's also really difficult to manage all these systems. There's a lot of work that goes into managing all of your partners or your software stack. Talk to us a little bit about the simplification and the impact it has on retailers.

Keith: [00:23:59] Yeah, no, I think that's right. Folks have to spend time sort of building these components themselves and not just building once. It's ongoing maintenance, it's ongoing innovation, and it's ongoing investment and understanding of what are your employees really kind of caring about. What are your customers really want? I think, what we've tried to do and have done with Store Assist is taken... We have hundreds of millions of customers that shop with us. We've got millions of associates that are using our technology. So we've tried to kind of factor in and iterate on all those feedback cycles so that other retailers and merchants, they have a great, great kind of starting point. And then the way we're kind of doing this is we're deploying it as a SaaS technology so that it's continually updated. There are easy integrations with their existing stack. So hopefully the lift and the implementation is much, much, much lighter weight. But yeah, I think, you're absolutely right. Retailers are scrutinizing where they're spending on software costs and what they need to own versus what they need to partner with and where they need to focus. I think retailers are kind of thinking about how can they spend more effort on engaging with their customers and making sure their employees have the right tools to do that. Whether they invest in those tools themselves, I think, it's going to be on capabilities that are core to their business. Things like maybe sourcing, maybe merchandising, maybe making sure that the inventory is in the right place. But in terms of fulfillment, there still might be a partner play provided that they can still own the interaction with the customer because I think that is very, very, very important.

Phillip: [00:25:44] Brian, this is a total aside. Keith, you can you can do earmuffs if you want. I have never thought about until just now the unbelievable... There was like a media narrative for many years about millennials don't want to own things.

Keith: [00:25:56] Yeah. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:25:57] You know, this, "I don't need a car. I can just Lyft and Uber." "I don't need a house. I can just Airbnb."

Keith: [00:26:05] "Why would I need a CD..."

Phillip: [00:26:07] You know, like, "Why would I ever want to own software?"

Brian: [00:26:10] {laughter} That's too much work.

Phillip: [00:26:12] It's too much work. You know what you have to do to own software. Also, as you were speaking, Keith, I had this other thought of the model of the legacy software companies, the big, big blue chip software companies that sold software to the likes of Walmart for 50 plus years. The rails on which they built it, those companies existed not to be in the retail business, but to be in the perpetuation of buying and selling software licenses business, and [00:26:41] I have to think about this transition we have seen over the last ten years in the cloud revolution of software companies are in the business to make software. Retail companies are in the business to sell products to customers. And the evolution has been really slow. And I don't know if people have picked up on it, but we are now buying software that's purpose built to be transactional software because it's built by the people who have to power their own businesses on it. And that is a fundamental shift away from, "You need software. We build software. Here's your software." [00:27:11]

Keith: [00:27:11] That's right. That's right. So you're kind of saying there's like verticalized kind of cases versus horizontal. We have a really great software build capability, but now there's this... So that maybe was the early stages of the last ten years, the mid stages, and now it's like we really need to consume these purpose built software seamlessly. Easy to scale basically across our stores and our associates, but really fits the retail use case versus just kind of buying from somebody or consuming from somebody that builds really, really great software. They understand the domain and the problem space really, really well.

Brian: [00:27:50] It's amazing because you are basically the largest in-store petri dish out there. You have the ability to experiment and test with anything and see what happens at scale. And so, yeah, Phillip, to your point, not only is Walmart the like a retailer that uses purpose built software for their for themselves they're the largest one.

Phillip: [00:28:19] Yeah.

Keith: [00:28:20] We've been through, I mean your listeners have seen this or know this but we've been through our own shift where buying has gone from in-store to online and is swinging into this middle ground again. And so we've had to really navigate that shift ourselves and figure out what's working, what's not working, how do we need to adapt. And so that's what we're really excited to bring to market with Store Assist.

Brian: [00:28:50] I'm just going to muse. I'm curious, as you figure that out, as Walmart, I'm very excited to see the types of innovations that you'll be able to bring to Walmart Commerce Technologies regarding the connection point between maybe the app and the in-store experience for customers and how they interact with store associates. So that makes sense inside of large retail to actually have a technology connection between the associate app and the consumer app. And that's cool. I'm excited. I can't wait to see what happens.

Keith: [00:29:30] Yeah, I think that's right. And I think it really... If I could just kind of think about this a little bit more with you guys. I think it really depends on also the type of retailer. For larger, more expensive items or retailers that really serve the higher-end luxury, customers really want to make sure they're getting exactly what they want and they actually value that communication with the associate. So, you know, for now, that might look like the associate intentionally kind of reaching out to the customer, confirming that they have the items when the pickup time is, et cetera. It might even lead into these clienteling use cases again, which is a word we use within retail, but doesn't mean anything to the customer. But it's basically like if I can understand who is shopping with me, are there other things that they might consider that they might find useful? And can I suggest those? So I think that's where like fulfillment for a retailer becomes an opportunity, especially depending on the vertical, depending on the segment that they're serving to serve as an upsell, cross-sell moment. But it's got to be highly relevant and you've got to communicate with the customer in the way that they want to be talked to. So that's where I think there is this good blend of online shopping fulfillment and then also personalization.

Phillip: [00:31:01] Personalization is a thing that seems like it's been talked about quite a bit in the land of sort of the eCommerce SaaS space, and everybody has their own definition of it. And this is not helpful, right? If everyone has their own definition of something, it's really hard for us to have like a shared idea. When you say something like personalization, I'm sure to Walmart it means something. But what specifically to Commerce Technology Store Assist, what are levels there that may be sort of differentiating factors for why someone might choose Store Assist that might help them on something like personalization? Maybe not directly that, but something like it where there's an initiative that drives some perceived higher customer lifetime value?

Keith: [00:31:43] Look, I think the big one for us is helping retailers own the relationship with their customer. So you can't think about how you are going to create a new experience for your customers if you don't understand how your customers are interacting with you. So our perspective is this. First and foremost, you want customers interacting as much as possible with your brand because that's what you're in control of, how you show up. So this means it's really your pickup experience, your last-mile delivery experience. It doesn't need to sit on another platform. But it kind of exists on your pane of glass, your kind of experience. The second thing basically is you need to kind of have some visibility into what is exactly happening with the order. Was the order actually picked? Was it fulfilled? Were there any missing elements of the order? Were there some items out of stock? Because then you can take those data elements and feed that into whatever decisioning engine that you want. "Hey, you know what? I'm always out of stock for this item when it's being fulfilled in the store. I need to make sure I'm carrying more of these items." Or, "You know what? Customers during this time typically are stopping in for pickup during these times." "These customers who do you want delivery customers in this zip code where we don't have a store actually want their items faster, so we should invest in X, Y, Z capabilities." So for us, I think the way we think about this is bring those experiences back in-house so that you're able to best serve your customers, you understand how they're interacting with you and then you're leveraging and you're taking that data, which is your own, to basically inform how you want to iterate on other products that you serve, other digital experiences, other fulfillment methods. That's what we're providing [00:33:45] through Store Assist. We're giving you the capability to create these white label kind of fulfillment experiences. It's all your brand. We're existing in the background and then all the data that's coming back really is yours. You understand how customers are interacting with you and then empowering you to make decisions on what you ultimately serve up to your customers. [00:34:07]

Phillip: [00:34:07] So what does success look like then for you guys when you're just at the beginning of the journey, I'm sure? Selling software and commercializing these things that have made your business successful to others is you must have some a bit of a roadmap there.

Keith: [00:34:22] So it's early for us. Just like you're saying. I think success for us looks like other merchants using our technologies. That's kind of the signal of there's value in what we're offering. And really ultimately for us as we're in market with other merchants and retailers, we want to see them be successful when it comes to fulfillment. So more online orders that they're able to fulfill out of stores, higher NPS scores for customers, happier employees, and good feedback on the experience that they're using. So those are the things that we're going to keep an eye on, and then over time, we'll be working on other things we'll want to add making it easier for maybe Store Assist to work with other last-mile delivery providers. We already do. We support and we can inbound last-mile delivery providers. But making those integrations a little bit easier as well.

Phillip: [00:35:21] Going global. Is there a sense of what that sort of global footprint looks like and how challenging is that?

Keith: [00:35:30] Yeah, good question. So I think as we've shown up at places like NRF or Shoptalk, we've actually seen a lot of interest in other markets: Canada, Europe, and places where we don't have operations. They're like, "Wow, the world's largest retailer is kind of bringing some of its fulfillment technologies to market. We would love to kind of get access to this." So, to that end, we are active in Europe. You may have seen this, but basically, we're offering Store Assist in the U.K. We have Asda as a customer. We're looking at Continental Europe. We'll be at Shoptalk Europe in a couple of weeks here. So I think, yeah, we're looking at expanding globally. We're going to do that in a targeted way. And of course, looking at the US as well.

Phillip: [00:36:23] I didn't ask you this, but you name dropped.

Keith: [00:36:26] Yeah. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:36:26] Who are some early customers and what kind of successes are they seeing so far?

Keith: [00:36:32] Yeah, I think, it's still early, but the one I think we want to point to is Asda. They went through this pretty deep due diligence process on our Store Assist product and really liked what they saw. And I think what they liked is we can kind of scale up to these very, very complex use cases, which again, don't mean anything to customers and shouldn't mean anything to customers, but mean a lot to employees. Things like picking multiple orders at the same time, pick path optimization, being able to handle substitutions if needed, and streamlining handoffs. So those are the things that they really liked. So I think that that's one we can point to. And of course, we're still early so our other way we're kind of going to market is through you know great partners relationships with Adobe and other partners like Salesforce and then also systems integrating partners like Infosys that can help us make sure that retailers are implementing these technologies well.

Phillip: [00:37:35] And Asda, just for those not familiar, is a grocer.

Keith: [00:37:38] Yes, that's right. It's a very, very large grocer in the U.K. with hundreds of stores, and yeah, they're a great brand.

Phillip: [00:37:50] You're just at the beginning of the journey, but we're called Future Commerce. We're not called Right Now Commerce. When you're thinking about how the evolution of businesses and software businesses and now retailers go, you're the next rung on the ladder of sort of the maturation of our industry where businesses have this surplus of intellectual property and depth of experience. You want to talk about seamless? You really just need that native experience of someone who really understands the space and has to dogfood it for themselves. And that's what brings the next level. And I think we all benefit from that as an industry when incumbents like Walmart are assisting the rest of the industry to be successful. Amazing. Keith.

Keith: [00:38:37] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:38:38] What a pleasure.

Brian: [00:38:38] Thank you.

Keith: [00:38:38] Yeah, no, it's been great chatting with you guys. Really, really appreciate the opportunity. This was a very, very fun conversation. And yeah, looking forward to hopefully the next time.

Phillip: [00:38:48] Yeah.

Brian: [00:38:49] Amazing.

Phillip: [00:38:50] Keith Menezes, the Director of Commercialization at Walmart and now a Future Commerce alumni. We'll have to have you back and hear a little bit about your journey in a little while. And have fun at Shoptalk. I won't be in Barcelona. Thank you for listening to this episode of Step By Step. This season was brought to you by Adobe Commerce Services. We're so glad for their continued support and partnership. If you want to find more episodes of this podcast and other podcasts, other seasons of Step by Step as well as our other podcast properties, including Visions and Archetypes and the Infinite Shelf podcast, and of course none other than the Future Commerce podcast, you can find all of that at FutureCommerce.com. We provide insights in your inbox too, twice a week. That's on Wednesday and Friday. The best of what you need to know in predicting the future of retail and eCommerce. You can find that at FutureCommerce.com/Subscribe. We're so proud to have partnered with Adobe. Thank you so much to Adobe for their support and thank you so much for listening to this season of Step by Step.

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