Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11
Episode 291
February 24, 2023

The Team of NO!

What about NRF and Manifest conferences prompted Kris Gösser to assert that a lot of the hardships in retail are behind us? What positive changes is he seeing in operations and logistics that will be a force for more of the right kinds of changes? And what can we learn from generational business models to futureproof in a technology-heavy, technology-centric industry? Listen now and join the discussion!

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What about NRF and Manifest conferences prompted Kris Gösser to assert that a lot of the hardships in retail are behind us? What positive changes is he seeing in operations and logistics that will be a force for more of the right kinds of changes? And what can we learn from generational business models to futureproof in a technology-heavy, technology-centric industry? Listen now and join the discussion!

People Are Back

  • {00:09:43} It’s interesting to note the differences between NRF and other smaller conferences in the industry and how basically the basement booths at NRF are the ones that are present at all of the others 
  • {00:14:51} How quickly will the industry absorb the inevitable change with so much capital going into new tech, and why is there a difference in the ways change happens on the operations side versus the marketing side?
  • {00:20:13} After what happened on the operations side during the pandemic, the focus is really on risk mitigation and solving for potential crisis better in the future
  • {00:23:28} One of the biggest changes in the operations sector is that what used to always be a team of “No” is becoming more of a team of “Yes” because of more possibilities and innovation
  • {00:26:24} Operations is less encumbered by tech constraints and now has the ability to use tech to change their processes
  • {00:30:41} On-premise tech is so much slower and more complicated than cloud-centric tech, but the changes take time to implement more widely
  • {00:37:36}  We're seeing more focus on projects that are malleable, that effectively fit within existing systems or existing platforms that can have outsized impact on specific outcomes that matter to the business
  • {00:39:01} Conferences are like fashion trends, and we need both the normal, classic ones and the cutting-edge, innovative ones to really be well rounded and comprehensive

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Brian: [00:01:01] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:06] I'm Phillip. Before we start here, Brian, we have a guest, and that whole thing I just want to say right up at the top of the show that Harley from Shopify stole our tagline I know from a few years ago.

Brian: [00:01:18] I know. It's like we let it lapse. It's like we let our...

Phillip: [00:01:22] It went out to the public domain freaking Mickey Mouse. And now what we need is like Congress to step in and...

Brian: [00:01:32] Yeah, we're going to have to bring the like tagline lawsuit. We expected that this would last longer. We didn't know it could lapse. And it really is part of our... {laughter}

Phillip: [00:01:43] Retail tech moves fast. Future commerce is moving so fast that we have Mr. Kris Gösser rejoining us on the show. Welcome back to the show, Kris.

Kris: [00:01:52] Hey, guys. Thanks for having me.

Phillip: [00:01:54] Thanks for joining us. And you guys are going to have to catch me up because I know, Kris, you've been sort of on the world tour of Conference and Expo season. I know you have some perspective on that and I definitely want to get a bit of an update from you on everything that's happening at Shipium and maybe a little bit of a State of the Union as far as logistics and supply chain are concerned. I'm sure you have an insight into that.

Kris: [00:02:21] Sure. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

Phillip: [00:02:22] Yeah. We just saw you. You were at our Archetypes event in New York City. It was really cool of you to come by. Thank you.

Kris: [00:02:28] Yeah. Honestly was probably my favorite part of the whole conference of NRF. It was awesome.

Brian: [00:02:32] Oh, thank you. That's high praise.

Kris: [00:02:34] Oh, shucks.

Phillip: [00:02:36] In the words of Brian Lange, "Ah, sheesh."

Kris: [00:02:41] No, it was great. It was awesome.

Phillip: [00:02:43] And you brought a bunch of folks from Shipium with. What was your perspective on NRF? I'm going to assume that you saw a lot of the show.

Brian: [00:02:53] This is your second time at NRF, Kris? Is that true?

Kris: [00:02:55] Yeah, this was my second time. You know, it's always interesting going to NRF because it's definitely the main conference of the retail industry. And I come from past industries, health care, others, and it seems like everyone has their main kind of flagship show where there are 30,000, 40,000 people that show up. NRF is always interesting because the others end up going to Vegas or a different city that can handle that size of crowd. This one's always in New York. And so it's fascinating to see so many people just mingle around.

Brian: [00:03:26] Which I'm very happy about.

Kris: [00:03:29] I would agree.

Brian: [00:03:30] There are so many conferences in Las Vegas and not to knock that because I understand why. But I love New York. I love going to New York. I love an excuse to go to New York. So NRF, never change. Don't change. {laughter}

Kris: [00:03:43] Likewise.

Phillip: [00:03:45] I love having an excuse to get people away from the Javits.

Brian: [00:03:49] Yes, that too.

Phillip: [00:03:51] And I know that in years past we really haven't had a couple of opportunities now with the three-year pandemic that we all live in to really make use of the Hudson Yards as it was meant to be, as God intended for us to experience. But I would say getting people to come over to Soho, it seemed like a lot of folks were kind of aching to get out of that area and it just kind of worked in our favor this year.

Brian: [00:04:16] I mean, Soho is definitely cooler than the Javits area.

Kris: [00:04:19] Yes.

Phillip: [00:04:21] The other bastion to capitalism in a city that is dedicated to its worship. You were on the show floor, I take it. What were some things that kind of just stood out to you as being differential this year, Kris? Anything pop out to you?

Kris: [00:04:36] Yeah, I would say, at a high level, it continues to be a conference that I feel like is more about maintaining relationships, whether it's with existing customers or with partners or otherwise. It just doesn't seem like the kind of conference that's meant for net new innovations and building customer lists, if you're on a revenue team at a given business, etc. It's almost like this annual touchpoint to resurface conversations with those that you've worked with in the past and really continue the kind of positive conversations you might have had with customers and partners and things like that. And in many ways, this conference almost felt even more like that than last year because all the customers were actually back. There were just a lot more people this year than there were last year. And it seemed like everyone kind of knew each other for such a large crowd, which I thought was pretty interesting. And you juxtapose that to a lot of other conferences like Shoptalk or others, and those always seem to be much more about trying to investigate what's new, what's innovative, and people are more about problem-solving. And I think on the vendor or the business side, they're more about trying to generate new customers and new leads and all that kind of stuff. But NRF continues to be kind of the tentpole of just everyone getting together and kind of catching up.

Brian: [00:05:59] Ooh, NRF is about people.

Phillip: [00:06:03] Oh gosh.

Brian: [00:06:03] That's new.

Phillip: [00:06:05] Human-centered conference. That should be their next big tagline. Maybe that's... We need a new tagline. We should workshop that.

Brian: [00:06:15] Humans move fast, but Future Commerce moves faster? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:06:19] {laughter} They move fast... On their segways as they're zipping around their city of the future as imagined on the show floor at The Big Show.

Brian: [00:06:29] We need Segways at Shoptalk. That's where we need Segways.

Phillip: [00:06:33] I'm going to use the Segway as a segue in the podcast terms. You also, I think, we're at Manifest recently, Kris, which is I'm guessing a clever way to have a logistics conference.

Speaker3: [00:06:48] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:06:48] The word Manifest means something.

Kris: [00:06:50] Sure. Yeah. In the logistics space, it's typically the term that you use to actually give to a carrier, whether it's freight or ocean or parcel or whatever the mode just kind of "Here are all the packages that should be delivered and who owns what, etc." So just like you may have heard in a history class, right, some ship had a manifest, etc. So it's definitely a clever name in that regard. And you juxtapose it to NRF and it's much more focused on net new innovations and just kind of what the bleeding edge of things might be. Now it's relatively scoped to the supply chain operations type space, where I think NRF is just the remit is everything that is retail. So clearly it's a bit more focused audience and a focused expo and set of sessions and keynotes and stuff like that. It had a different vibe for sure.

Phillip: [00:07:49] Oh, that's great.

Brian: [00:07:51] Vibe. The vibe shift is moving in the conference world. This is also Jason's first kind of run at the sort of retail circuit, correct? Jason being the CEO and Founder of Shipium. What were his impressions?

Kris: [00:08:12] Yeah, one, I guess, kind of funny story to tell about NRF versus Manifest is when we were at NRF, and I think most of those that are listening to this have probably been at that show or know of it. But it's so huge. There are 30,000 plus people, so there are two floors in terms of the expo. There's the upstairs, which are all kind of the much larger booths and a bigger spend and all of the brand names that we know and love. Then you go down to the basement, and it's where there's more innovation and smaller companies and things like that. And it's four days of just trying to see everything, right? So what's fascinating is we were up on the top floor and we kind of walked in, and Jason hadn't really been to a conference of this size yet, and he points to a booth, which was Epson. And so I don't want to pick on Epson. They do a lot of really important stuff as it relates to the receipt printers and kind of kitchen tools at a restaurant, etc. But it was really funny when I explained to him that the way in which an organization gets a booth and gets a presence at NRF is basically this cumulative point system. So based on how much you spend on a booth and your sponsorship and all this kind of stuff, it's a calculation that determines when you can pick a booth.

Phillip: [00:09:37] It's a value extraction model to be fair. We're going to require you to be here for a decade.

Kris: [00:09:43] So it's a sequence that those earlier in the sequence basically those who get first dibs on the actual space of the floor are those that have been around the longest. So [00:09:55] it's sort of this beautiful poetry that a company like Epson has a $2 Million booth that's like a 60 by 60 space front and center as soon as you enter because they've been around since the eighties and nineties and so on. Whereas a company like Shopify is all the way down in the basement, kind of in the back, and ourselves as well, and really any other kind of tech that may be more in kind of the modern side that might actually have the kind of impact on outcomes in terms of customer experience or speed, operations, stability, resiliency, all that kind of stuff. So it's a really good metaphor for the NRF show overall that it's just this historical you have to be there kind of show. And so everything kind of runs that way. And then you compare that to a Shoptalk or a Manifest or some other kind of up-and-coming shows, and those types of businesses aren't there. It is basically the bottom floor of NRF is who's at all of these other conferences because it's much more about innovation and kind of net new ideas and things like that. [00:11:03]

Brian: [00:11:05] I like that. It's really interesting that Manifest might be unfamiliar to some of our audience. You talked about the definition of manifest and what it meant. What does that practically mean? Who are some of the brands that were there where you're like, "Oh, yeah, that's super cool?"

Kris: [00:11:25] Yeah. So, it certainly is focused on the operating half of a retail business. And so those of you who are not really on that side of the business, it's certainly going to be a lot of brand names that you may not have heard of, but it's all of the new innovative carriers that are doing the actual package delivery and the hauling of inventory across the country and all that stuff. So you had the Marigos and the Vehos and the better trucks and a whole bunch of other kinds of carriers that are truly bringing innovation to both the speed and the cost and the accuracy of last mile. You had a lot of innovative things on the warehousing side. So you had Quiet Platforms. You had Ryder, which is frankly pretty bleeding edge on the 3PL side because they bought a company called Whiplash who was kind of a Shipbob style 3PL, so Ryder's eCommerce 3PL is pretty tech-forward and they were there. You had a bunch of autonomous driving trucks a bunch of EV vehicles, a bunch of really interesting robotic arm stuff, just really cool tech.

Phillip: [00:12:40] Brian, did we have Whiplash on the show?

Brian: [00:12:43] Yeah, it was on the Shippo Step by Step. Yep. That's right.

Kris: [00:12:47] Nice.

Phillip: [00:12:47] Yeah. It's funny how quickly the tech verticals in the 3PL, 4PL space, they pop up and they aggregate very quickly. And I don't know, Kris, I'd love your sort of take on this or even a hot take. Is that because the speed of innovation or the speed of capital allocation that's moving into that vertical, or is it because gesturing broadly to the economy of like, well, consolidations can be natural in a market cycle that we're in right now?

Kris: [00:13:17] Yeah. I mean, I think it was you, Phillip, that I saw had the was it ZIRP, the Zero Interest Rate Phenomenon. You were talking about that.

Phillip: [00:13:29] {laughter} Yeah.

Kris: [00:13:30] Yeah. So, I mean, absolutely. ZIRP had a major impact on this particular category of retail because you saw a flood of venture capital come into different parts of it from the actual asset-heavy carriers that have to buy their own trucks and all that kind of stuff to the asset-light kind of aggregators like a Flowspace or Deliverr to kind of the ones that are in the mix of both worlds like a Stored who does really awesome work. And then obviously us. I mean we raise the largest series A in logistics tech history back in April which kind of felt like the last life raft, frankly, before everything fell apart on the VC side. But yeah and so when you see the amount of venture capital that has kind of flowed into the space in all of the different areas from warehousing to what goes inside the warehouse to the software to the carriers, you are going to see this kind of very natural shaking out period that is not different or unique from any other space where capital has kind of flooded into it. And so you're going to see some winners, you're going to see some losers, you're going to see some consolidation. But I think [00:14:51] what you can definitely go to the bank on is that there's going to be innovation and there's going to be change. And so the question is more how quickly can the industry absorb that change with all of this capital there that is essentially being converted into new tech and things like that? So the operation side is very different in terms of the pace of absorption, let's say, versus the more marketing side of the business because you see some really cool stuff. I mean, shoot, ChatGPT is already being influenced by things like site chat and all these kinds of other pieces that are marketing, but you go to operations and it's still like 90s era tech because in many ways the ability to absorb this tech where there are real atoms involved is just so much more difficult that the actual shaking out period that we'll see with carriers if they consolidate, with warehousing if things change, etc., will probably be much more elongated than what we see on the marketing side. [00:15:59]

Brian: [00:17:31] Manifest, then it seems like that's going to be a show that's relevant for a while because there's going to be a lot of continued investment as it takes a little bit longer for this part of the business to transform into a more tech-centric business. So when you're thinking about Manifest's destiny, what do you expect the next couple of years to look like for that show?

Kris: [00:18:03] Yeah, well, it was a fantastic show for year two. So a little bit of insight for those who are interested in conferences and haven't heard the background is the organizers are a bunch of leaders from prior shows and they decided to all leave. So, one example is home delivery world and I think there are others. So they basically all left to start their own organization with what they thought was the right way to do a conference. And Manifest was their first kind of conference. And so they had the first one, which ended up being 2020 right when COVID started. So they pushed it to 2021. And so this is actually only the second year for them. And it felt the adults were in the room in terms of the actual organization of the show.

Phillip: [00:18:52] All right. Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh out loud. {laughter}

Kris: [00:18:55] It's really like a wonderful show for its second year. And so to your direct question, Brian, just a second ago, you can place a bet that it's probably going to be one of the better shows as it relates to the operations side of retail on just what's going to be innovative and the early adopters or those that are actually interested in absorbing this new tech are going to probably end up prioritizing this show over others just because of how well it's organized.

Brian: [00:19:29] What do you think about that in relation to some of the other shows where we've seen a lot of investment? Commerce is, I mean, you preach this all the time, Kris, commerce is more than just marketing.

Kris: [00:19:43] As a marketer, it pains me to say that.

Phillip: [00:19:47] Isn't that your job? Well, it's marketing about logistics. So it's not the same thing.

Brian: [00:19:54] {laughter} Exactly. Oh, right, right. It doesn't count. But in relation to like a lot of the investment we've seen recently and you even kind of just referred to this, what do you see sort of around this side of the business coming up here?

Kris: [00:20:13] Yeah. So I would say the interesting thing that I saw in both conferences, NRF and Manifest, which are kind of two different sides of the coin, is there seems to be this interest in actually solving problems. And so I think that's the first thing that I'll say in terms of right after the holiday period is it seems like people want to actually solve problems now and budgets are starting to loosen up a bit. People are inquisitive and it's just like a recession where you're only in a recession if everyone agrees that you're in a recession and then if you're out of it, it kind of felt that way with a pandemic where certainly there are real tangible problems happening with a pandemic. But people are generally starting to view that we're out of it as it relates to buying things, implementing new tech, etc. So I would say that the first thing is people want to actually solve problems. So then what problems are they trying to solve? The interesting theme across both shows was basically managing risk kind of this "Let's never have it happen again." What happened to us during COVID in terms of getting screwed on our suppliers upstream or having FedEx just kind of fail all over itself because of a labor issue or other kinds of single points of failure or otherwise. So that seems to be at least on the operations side, the biggest area of focus is trying to mitigate risk and just what that means.

Phillip: [00:21:56] Hmm. Can I ask a sort of roundabout question? We'll come back to the risk mitigation side. But in a lot of areas of the retail and eCommerce economies, there's a lot of groupthink. I have to believe that that's not just a factor of a bunch of marketers in one industry. There must be groupthink in the operations logistics world. What are some of the things that are truisms that maybe haven't panned out to be so true over the last few years or things that you would say are being readdressed now that we're sort of entering this new era in 2023?

Kris: [00:22:38] Yeah. That's a great question, Phillip. I would say that. Traditionally, I feel like this half of the business has been the team of no. And that's maybe why a lot of marketers and a lot of maybe the Future Commerce audience or a lot of conference audience folks don't really partner well with operations because it's generally the team of No. It's "No, we can't improve this speed. No, we can't diversify our SKUs this way," or "No, I can't get that kind of a fabric," or something like that. What I'm starting to see is that because of the innovations of tech lately versus like the late 90s or early 2000s, the groupthink is starting to get broken up now where there are more people that are starting to kind of view it as a team of Yes. So it's how can you combine people and process and technology to say yes a bit more to what other parts of the business want to be doing. So move to more sustainable fabrics or move to a different kind of delivery experience that makes the business more competitive. It was so difficult to do that even 5 to 10 years ago because it was just too expensive. And so the operators would say, "No, you can't have two day shipping," but now you can. And I think it's not just our realm with Shipium, it's really up and down the whole stack of the business from sourcing to fulfillment to customer service to all that stuff is the groupthink was always a team of No. And so the technology was meant to kind of consolidate that gatekeeping.

Phillip: [00:24:22] Wow.

Kris: [00:24:23] Now it's beginning to be more of a team of Yes. And that's what I think is the biggest change happening.

Brian: [00:24:28] That's the culture shift. That's not just a technology thing. That's a people thing.

Phillip: [00:24:34] The vibe shift, Brian.

Brian: [00:24:35] The vibe shift is that operations can say yes now? That's interesting.

Kris: [00:24:40] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:24:42] Do I start a chant of "No, we can't. No, we can't." I'm just kidding.

Brian: [00:24:47] Has this technology been available to execute on for a while now? And it took the people time to catch up? Or is it sort of the reverse where actually this technology is finally breaking into this area in a way that actually makes sense for it? And the people are like, "Oh, yeah. Finally, people are actually building something that makes sense for us. It's purpose-built for our industry and we can execute and be more nimble now."

Kris: [00:25:17] Yeah.

Brian: [00:25:18] Yeah, it's actually, it wasn't really a culture thing. Everyone was hungry for it.

Phillip: [00:25:23] Everything was hard.

Kris: [00:25:26] Yeah, Yeah. If you think about it, it's 2023. So the answer I'm going to give is probably going to make Phillip fall out of his chair. But the thing that has happened is businesses are a collection of people and processes and tech and so not to get too academic but that's essentially what makes a business. The thing that has happened is technology has been such a constraint when it was more of like on-premise-based software because again, there were atoms actually involved with so much of operations. So you're stuck with the SAP, the Oracle, the whoever style of product models. And so the actual paradigm of tech was so constraining to moving quickly, to time to value, to iterations, to evolution, all that kind of stuff. And what's kind of happened now is you've seen enough venture capital, going back to the question at the beginning of the show, Brian,  [00:26:24]you've seen enough capital now float into the space to bring forward and actually give options where the technology is now cloud-based, It's mobile-first. It's all of these things that in like 2012 was a really big deal to other industries, like moving away from on-prem to the cloud and everything else. But that never really like hit operations because again, it's physical, right? But now that the technology is there, whether it's Shipium, our little slice of the world, or anything else from the robots in the warehouses to the way you source your vendors offshore, etc., all these things are now seeing cloud-based tech, mobile-first tech, a good user experience, really fast time to value. That's there. So now that that kernel of use is there and is different, you're seeing the process change which is allowing the people to be just different people. They feel less encumbered to kind of be the blocker because they now have the actual tech that allows them to change the process, [00:27:36] if that makes sense.

Phillip: [00:27:39] This is such an interesting... So we talk about market cycles a lot. And I believe that we had theorized last year on both the newsletter and I think maybe right after our prediction show in 2022 about leading indicators of people having either apathy or feeling a little bit of a financial constraint and lack of control around cloud architecture and how cloud architecture creates a lot of operational overhead to manage costs. There's a lot of lock in. So there are all these things to consider with the cloud that now ten years hence, we're all coming around to, well, maybe it's not a silver bullet for every situation. Question mark. And we're starting to see some folks sort of break the silence on, maybe we're not going to cloud was really great when infinite scale was a challenge for us. But eCommerce purchasing is so diffuse now and there are millions of brands and there's Shopify. Shopping peak seasons are not concentrated anymore into a few days, and now it's months long. We can modify a demand gen sort of with delivery time optimization. There's like all this tech now that's kind of come around it to take the peakiness out. So people are coming back around to this idea of maybe owning infrastructure isn't the worst thing in the whole world. And there's a reason that they may want to do or a certain organizations may want to do it. And I said, Oh, that would set us up for a resurgence in deployed software and potentially even open source software. And we kind of explored that in-depth last year. But it sounds like the cycle of ten years ago is actually hitting this industry in an opposite...

Kris: [00:30:05] Let me give you one example, I guess, to just paint that. It's definitely a balance, right? You can't necessarily apply a rule that goes to everybody. So I'll just pick on something that's in our slice of the world with Shipium, just because I can speak to it. But let's talk about what it's like to actually use a carrier to deliver a package. So Phillip wants to buy... What's the most recent thing that you bought, Phillip?

Phillip: [00:30:32] I bought a synthesizer.

Kris: [00:30:36] A synthesizer. All right. So let's say you bought a synth off of a website.

Phillip: [00:30:41] Yeah.

Kris: [00:30:41] The way in which that synth gets to you after it's in the warehouse is the warehouse typically has to then pick a carrier to ship it to you. Now in an earlier kind of cloud, like a pre-cloud world, that technology that does the shipping typically is on-premise or on-prem. And so it's installed literally in a closet at the warehouse. So what happens is if a business wants to use an alternative carrier to FedEx, the actual change that has to happen to the technology would require a four month service order with whoever that on-premise tech vendor is, typically like $40,000. Sometimes they may need to even have a guy like literally fly to the warehouse to make these changes. And that's just to add one alternative carrier with one service method to one warehouse. And so if you have a six warehouse network and you sign a deal with one of these innovative carriers like, say, Veho, you can't deploy that carrier across your network and get immediate time to value. And the reason why you want to do that is because when you have a diverse set of carriers, you can do much better arbitrage on who's actually going to get this synthesizer to Phillip faster. Who's actually going to get it there cheaper or buy an accurate date, or maybe with a smaller carbon footprint? All of these things that you want to make a decision on. If you're single-threaded on FedEx with one carrier method within FedEx, then that's who you are. And so you can't get these improvements that Amazon got right with just cheaper, faster shipping all the time. And it's simply because of the technology model of on-premise tech in the warehouse takes forever to make any changes. Now you fast forward to more of a cloud-centric model, whether it's us or EasyPost or Shippo, who is more kind of a down market vendor versus we're more with the enterprise, but our product model is cloud-centric, which means that if this synthesizer company wants to add another carrier, it's a literal afternoon to just sign their contract with Marigo or Veho or whoever, and then light them up in Shipium, and now that carrier is available to be an alternative option to ship that package to you. So yeah, it's this balance of I do think I agree with you that the financial world is starting to now question whether or not AWS' value is truly valuable, and so on and so forth. But at the same time, there are parts of the retail industry that if you're not cloud-based, you just can't simply get these outcomes that impact customer experience, that impact the margins, and so on and so forth.

Phillip: [00:33:29] Can I push back just on one thing? I think that maybe there is a matrix where you can decide where to choose the right software deployment model for the right situation. And I think it comes down to the velocity of change that's happening in the industry and the customer expectations that are aligned with that. And for the most part, Shopify notwithstanding, who apparently has decided that we need 100 feature updates every six months. Shopify is doing a drop model now, I guess, but I don't think that there is a ton of innovation happening in CMS platforms that power eCommerce experiences. So the change velocity and the need to change it has actually, again, I'm using the word diffuse a lot in the show, but it's diffused out to services like yourself who create interesting partnerships, who get the operations at scale to be able to negotiate contracts in mass with these vendors to get... It's all about efficiency. And so it makes perfect sense why you would go with like a cloud label vendor, but your actual warehouse management software might still be in the closet. And I think that makes a perfect, that is the blended model that I think we're all going to wind up landing on. I just find it interesting just to come back to why I took this little bunny trail. I find it interesting that there's a mindset of innovation and a vibe shift of the Yes We Can. That's really being enabled by technology that ostensibly has been around for ten or 12 years already.

Kris: [00:35:17] Mm hmm.

Brian: [00:35:17] In light of what you both said, looking at 2023, what does this mean? When it comes to making purchasing decisions and where merchants and brands are actually going to spend money? It sounds to me like actually, this is again, back to your original point. Actually, I'm just repeating what you said, Kris. This is actually a really good year to be involved in these types of technologies because this is the year where, if we're in a yes we can model and we're looking to save money and improve and take a minute to focus on the business, 2023 is a good year for that. And budgets are being improved. There is money to spend. It's on what, though? And what you just said, Phillip, about CMS is like, I think that's so true. How much of CMS changes, or how many times has CMS been improved in the past few years? It's basically a lot of the same tech that's been packaged up and rebranded and relabeled. And there are actual, like you said, Kris, arbitrage opportunities in operations that are just waiting, sitting there and businesses know it and they're going to spend money on those things.

Kris: [00:36:38] Yeah, we've heard from both the buyer side, but also the VC part of the world that companies are not going to spend budget to re platform. When you're in kind of a peacetime environment, you'll re platform. When you're in kind of a wartime, you are not going to do that, and we're still in a bit of a war. So they're not going to re platform. That means a lot of the like say website companies that are trying to compete versus a Magento or whoever are going to have a tough time convincing a business to re platform. Similarly, if an organization has a WMS already in place at their warehouse, unless there's some sort of a critical function happening like it's being end of lifed or something like that, there's going to be no appetite to actually re platform that elsewhere. So [00:37:36] what we're seeing more is focus on projects that are malleable, that effectively fit within existing systems or existing platforms that can have outsized impact on specific outcomes that matter to the business, whether it's top line growth, margins, loyalty, whatever the case may be. So if you can do that, if you are a malleable product that the operator in our world or on the marketing side, they can absorb it into their existing platform, it sounds like there's a lot of interest in budget for that. If you are, you yourself, a platform, it's probably going to be a tough 2023. [00:38:14]

Brian: [00:38:15] Wow. That's incredible insight. I'm sure there are a lot of people listening right now that are like, okay.

Phillip: [00:38:22] Well, what if I told you, Kris, that we could plug ChatPGT into everything? Would that change your mind?

Brian: [00:38:28] {laughter} Let's just plug ChatGPT into FedEx and see what happens.

Phillip: [00:38:33] I need Chat to listen to all the podcasts that I can't listen to and then tell me what I can believe about all of them afterward. If we could make that happen, that'd be great.

Brian: [00:38:43] I love it. Kris Looking ahead to the rest of this year, you're going to be at more conferences, I'm guessing, and I'd love to get your take on where you're going to be and why and where you see the role of certain conferences as we progress through the year.

Kris: [00:39:01] Yeah, people are back. I mean, NRF and Manifest were packed. People were having fun. So I think we're kind of past COVID having an impact on people wanting to get together at a centralized event. But I have to make a choice on which conferences we want to go to. And so I want to pitch you guys this kind of story. So I've been thinking a lot about how outerwear has this specific kind of waving property to it where you see a brand like, say, Columbia, get started, get popular, then it kind of crests, and people move on to The North Face and The North Face opens up an office right across the street from Facebook's office and you see Mark Z starting to wear some North Face and then that kind of crests. And so then it goes on to the next one. And Patagonia is super popular and all the investors now are wearing a Patagonia vest. And then it just kind of goes on to the next from a Marmot to Fjällräven to whoever. And now Cotopaxi. I saw so many branded Cotopaxi vests at Manifest. And so it definitely feels like that's kind of the outerwear that is kind of cresting now. And so who's whose next is it going to be? Topo? You know, so on and so forth. What was funny to me was thinking about conferences in the same point of view where they all kind of get started and then you see the early adopters kind of jump on it and it becomes fashionable and really just like, I guess, any other kind of part of fashion, it expands and then it becomes a bit more of a normie thing and then it moves on and then the next one kind of comes up underneath it. In many ways, I think conferences are kind of the same way they're fashionable and you can kind of see what happens when they get popular, like, say, a Shoptalk where they have now pricing power. And I think Shoptalk is the most expensive conference right now. Just kind of looking at it. And it's because they are basically like the Patagonia of conferences and NRF is... I don't know what you would say NRF is.

Brian: [00:41:16] But it's like the legacy, classic...

Kris: [00:41:21] The Ralph Lauren.

Brian: [00:41:22] Dare I say, it's not Eddie Bauer. That's not...

Phillip: [00:41:29] Sears catalog. It's the Sears catalog. {laughter}

Brian: [00:41:32] Noo.

Kris: [00:41:36] I think [00:41:36] it's an interesting blend to pick the Ralph Laurens and the Cotopaxis of conferences to both kind of stay with who is the largest most normie thing that's important to still kind of be there but also being on the cutting edge and kind of following the fashion and being with those who share a similar passion for innovation and kind of early adopting stuff with you. So I'm kind of looking at conferences that way, and I'm going to be picking what I want to fit both ends of that. [00:42:13] And so yeah, with Manifest, I mean, the reason why we were chatting in the first place is if you are an operator, Manifest as a two year old company is basically the up-and-coming outerwear brand. And so if you're going to make a bet on which brand to wear for the next 3 to 5 years before it crests, this is probably the best kind of up-and-coming brand for you to go buy, so to speak.

Phillip: [00:42:37] Hmm.

Brian: [00:42:37] Hmm. That is interesting. I'd love to get... Someday you should write an article for us that sort of categorizes each conference by what brand it actually relates to.

Kris: [00:42:46] Like a Ringer-style breakdown of tiers.

Phillip: [00:42:52] Which friend is Shoptalk? It's a total Phoebe.

Brian: [00:42:57] Oh, Big Show. The Big Show could be, Oh, it could be L.L. Bean. L.L. Bean. That's a classic one.

Kris: [00:43:02] Yeah. That's a good one.

Brian: [00:43:03] That's a monster.

Phillip: [00:43:04] I think these are more aspirational than it really is. But I do think that there is a tried and true nature of having a show. It's not a brand of any kind, but I would say NRF is kind of the Iowa caucus of conference season.

Kris: [00:43:21] Yeah. That's great.

Phillip: [00:43:21] It's like they try to be the first thing in the year to set the tone and that's their whole thing.

Kris: [00:43:27] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:43:28] And they do it and they've created a draw because they have this built-in constituency of people who really need the services that an actual trade organization provides, which is pricing power and a voice to the government and sort of inroads into all the different various parts of the ecosystem. It's actually a really important part of what we all do. It's funny that it's become more digital over the years, and that certainly is evident in, say, the Basement. And this is the, again, I guess all roads lead back to NRF. Sorry. This is a really interesting insight is that the legacy model of the point system doesn't seem very durable for a high innovation, high growth industry, where to have technology... Does technology survive greater than even ten years anymore? I heard recently on a podcast that... I've never worked at Amazon. This is hearsay. I'm sure Jason could weigh in. But the last few years of Jeff Bezos being in Amazon, these town halls, he would answer and field questions like, "What's the Amazon of 20 years look like from now?" And his response is that he would marvel that they even made it the last 25 and that there aren't a lot of technology businesses that survive 50 years and that [00:45:01] the types of businesses that are generational that last for 100 years tend to be vice industries like beer. And so what can you learn from those models to try to futureproof yourself in a technology-heavy, technology-centric industry?  [00:45:18]Will we ever see Shopify graduate from the basement? I would hope so, but I don't know. So I think, yeah, there's a lot of that to have to consider when you're thinking about the way that we impact eCommerce or how commerce is impacted by the trade show circuit.

Brian: [00:45:33] Especially when Shoptalk trying to be South Carolina and all that. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:45:40] You really sat on that one for a little while. {laughter}

Brian: [00:45:41] I did.

Phillip: [00:45:43] Just pitter-pattering away.

Brian: [00:45:45] I would agree. Getting out of the basement is hard at NRF. That's a really good point.

Phillip: [00:45:51] Kris, I trust that you've taken the Archetypes quiz.

Kris: [00:45:54] I did.

Phillip: [00:45:56] Do you remember what your Archetype was?

Kris: [00:45:58] I'm the Everyman.

Phillip: [00:45:59] Yeah. How do you feel about that?

Kris: [00:46:01] I'm okay with it because I guess breath is definitely a thing that I value for my own personality and just skill in business and everything else. And so it kind of, I guess, fit with what I would have expected.

Phillip: [00:46:15] Yeah, there's something to be said of how many Everymen, Everypeople that we have in this industry. And I think it speaks to sort of a generation of people that sort of have taken on generalist roles. But it seems like ops and logistics is an industry that requires a lot of intense specialization. Any last thoughts about this time that we're in at the moment and where Shipium fits into it?

Kris: [00:46:42] Yeah, I think the summary of this entire chat is that 2023 is actually going to be a pretty interesting year. And I think our point of view is that a lot of the hardships in the retail industry are kind of behind us and there's just so much energy and interest in sales call after sales call and partnership conversation after conversation of actually making a difference, actually making changes, all that kind of stuff. It's just really fascinating how much I think the pandemic prompted this "never again" kind of attitude. And we're certainly happy to be a part of it in the small little way that we can be. But operations is just such a huge domain and it's so satisfying to see how many cool companies are out there doing stuff in this space. And I'm excited for kind of just the holistic changes that are probably coming in the next 24 months to retail as a whole.

Phillip: [00:47:42] Amazing. Kris Gösser from Shipium, thank you so much for being on the show.

Brian: [00:47:46] Thanks, Kris. So good as usual.

Kris: [00:47:49] Thank you, guys. The best, as always.

Phillip: [00:47:51] Retail and ecommerce tech moves fast. {laughter}

Brian: [00:47:55] {laughter} Future Commerce moves faster.

Phillip: [00:47:56] But Harley Finkelstein and Shopify move faster.

Brian: [00:47:59] Oh sheesh.

Phillip: [00:47:59] That's the bookend. Thank you so much for listening.

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