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Episode 126
September 23, 2019

"Traditional Brands Must Be Less Afraid to Fail"

With retail customers like Dollar Tree and White House Black Market, Oracle knows a thing or two about commerce. Their recent report, published in conjunction with CommerceNext, dives into how brands of all sizes - from DTC to Enterprise and Luxury, are investing in 2019 and beyond.

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With retail customers like Dollar Tree and White House Black Market, Oracle knows a thing or two about commerce. Their recent report, published in conjunction with CommerceNext, dives into how brands of all sizes - from DTC to Enterprise and Luxury, are investing in 2019 and beyond.

Main Takeaways:

  • Bob Meixner, Director of Product Strategy - Commerce & Loyalty at Oracle, joins Phillip on today's episode.
  • API-focused commerce gives brands the power and flexibility to create innovate commerce solutions.
  • Headless commerce is the future, but sometimes developing standalone headless solutions brings you back to square one with functionality.
  • Thanks to some insightful marketing research by Oracle, we have greater insight into where brands are spending their recently increased marketing budgets.

First Meetings and Background: Who is Bob Meixner?:

Oracle Today: Who is Using the Platform?

  • Phillip asks Bob to talk more about what companies are using Oracle today, especially given Phillip's perspective that it is all large scale, enterprise corporations.
  • Bob informs us that they have taken a lot of time taking on-premise systems that had longer implementation times and reimagining them as a cloud solution that is API first.
  • The expectation of the software vendor being the actual hosting provider of the platform is something that is a big shift from the way platforms used to be hosted.
  • Oracle has developed an architecture that allows you to have total creative control and extensibility on both the frontend and the backend while not losing upgradeability and the benefits of what you would expect in modern SaaS.

Examining the Report: How Retailers are Investing in Digital Commerce:

  • Phillip alludes back to Bob's talk at CommerceNext and talks about how interesting and comprehensive the report covered in the talk was.
  • Oracle wanted to get a take on where folks were investing and they thought it would be helpful to publish some numbers on where digital commerce professionals were investing on a year to year comparative basis.
  • Respondents include over 100 people at various large brands such as wholesale manufacturers, direct to consumer brands, multi-brand retailers, and digital-first multi-brand retailers.
  • Download the report to take a look at the report yourself and get a better insight into the data.

Key Insights: What Does the Report Tell Us?:

  • Great news: budgets are on the rise in regards to eCommerce marketing and interesting enough, direct to consumer brands are increasing their budgets at a higher rate than traditional retailers.
  • These budget increases are being used to make transactions much more frictionless which includes things like alternative payment types and chatbots for customer service scenarios.
  • If you think about a lot of buzzwords in the industry such as augmented reality and voice, those are not being heavily invested in.
  • The biggest barriers to achieving eCommerce goals are managing the array of solutions that brands deploy in their commerce and marketing stacks, issues with quickly executing on commerce initiatives, the inability to get a unified view of the customer, and aging technology systems.

Things Are Harder Than They Seem: The Difficulties With Commerce:

  • In another bit of research done by Oracle in partnership with Jeanne Bliss, there were over a thousand consumers surveyed that showed that consumers are willing to pay a premium for personalized and novel experiences.
  • More than half of consumers are comfortable sharing personal information if they receive a better experience.
  • People are willing to share information, but how are brands capturing this information and what are they doing with it?
  • These challenges have not been solved yet due to all of the different solutions that claim to solve it, but many of them only solve a piece of the puzzle.

Ways to Stick Out: Getting Ahead of the Competition:

  • The Oracle report also mentions that there is an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves amongst their peers by investing in voice technology.
  • Bob adds that ignoring voice technology might be something that is a detriment to your brand.
  • With the move to a headless world, voice technology will be a major player in the toolset that allows customers to interact with the brands they shop at.
  • Phillip did a talk a few years ago called The Shopping Cart is Dead that spoke about similar possibilities with voice technology.

How to Be Successful With Innovation: Tidbits to Live By:

  • The fear of the unknown does not keep consumer brands from trying new things.
  • Retailers and brands need platforms that allow them to succeed quickly or fail fast because that is what you need to figure out to succeed in today's economy.
  • There are some many different unknowns at all levels in commerce, so leveraging platforms that have open APIs that let you experiment with new technologies is imperative.
  • Open APIs that build differential experiences for their customers are going to be necessities for brands to push the envelope.

Bringing It Back: How Oracle Is Approaching Innovation:

  • Oracle Commerce Cloud is API first, cloud-native, and grants its users the ability to inject commerce into any level of engagement.
  • Sometimes people approach commerce with the need to reinvent the wheel, but if you do this, you end up back where you started from.
  • Oracle wanted to make sure that they provided a platform that lets your brand go headless where it makes sense, but gives the powerful automation that doesn't come along with custom-built API interactions.
  • "Quick is king right now. Most people suffer from spending an inordinate amount of time with their legacy platforms trying to do basic functions".

The Future Commerce Tradition: Thoughts for the Future:

  • Phillip asks Bob to give his thoughts on what commerce will look like in the next few years in addition to what challenges retailers will face.
  • Bob mentions that direct to consumer startups will need to figure out how to scale if they truly want to succeed: scalability is king.
  • Enterprise retailers need to move faster because the ability to think and execute like a digitally native brand is how they're going to survive.
  • In the luxury market, brands need to continue to invest in the overall customer experience because the value of the overall experience is greater than the actual product or service than the brand provides.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! Where would you focus a larger marketing budget to make sure that you are keeping up with headless trends while still providing stability and functionality for your commerce platform?

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

With retail customers like Dollar Tree and White House Black Market, Oracle knows a thing or two about commerce. Their recent report, published in conjunction with CommerceNext, dives into how brands of all sizes - from DTC to Enterprise and Luxury, are investing in 2019 and beyond.

With retail customers like Dollar Tree and White House Black Market, Oracle knows a thing or two about commerce. Their recent report, published in conjunction with CommerceNext, dives into how brands of all sizes - from DTC to Enterprise and Luxury, are investing in 2019 and beyond.

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Phillip: [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip, and we gave Brian the day off today. We have a very special guest who no doubt will fill Brian's shoes and then some. So please welcome to the show, Mr. Bob Meixner, Senior Director of Product Strategy for Commerce and Loyalty at Oracle. Welcome, Bob.

Bob: [00:00:22] Thank you, Phil. Glad to be here.

Phillip: [00:00:24] We crossed paths recently at Commerce Next, which if you've been listening to the show last couple months, really made more of an impact on me than I thought it would. That was kind of the pivotal show. We keep talking about it here. And you were one of the opening speakers there. And one of the topics that came up over and over is a lot of the content that came out of some research that Oracle had conducted along with Commerce Next. I'm curious, for those who may not know you, and actually that's why you're on the show today. I'd love to talk more about that research, but for those who don't know who Bob Meixner is, maybe you could give us a little bit of an in-depth of your history, and how you are in the world of retail and digital commerce, and how you wound up at Oracle.

Bob: [00:01:14] Yeah. Great question. So, you know, this one actually goes back to 2006 when Oracle acquired an enterprise content management vendor called Stellent. So if you're a content management junkie, you may remember that company, but Stellent provided web content management, digital asset management, document management capabilities. And it was really one of the first acquisitions Oracle made in the customer experience space. So I was working there as a trainer. I was working there as a free sales consultant, came over into Oracle and was in the content management experience management space for a while. Then in 2011, Oracle acquired ATG, a leading commerce platform. And I started working with that team because there was obviously a natural connection between content platforms and commerce platforms. And I was going through and doing pre-sales consulting. And then in 2013, I got the opportunity to lead the pre-sales consulting team at eBay and Magento, which was actually a really exciting challenge given the growth of Magento and how they were being integrated into eBay and then out of eBay through those years. But after being in pre-sales consulting for over 10 years, I wanted to get a different side of the industry. And I took a strategy role back at Oracle now focused on our commerce and loyalty management systems.

Phillip: [00:02:52] You obviously have some pedigree in the space across a number of different companies. I tend to think of Oracle as this, and I'm sort of setting you up here to talk a little bit more about where Oracle is these days, but I tend to think of Oracle as big enterprise. What are the kinds of companies that are running their businesses, and specifically in digital commerce, on Oracle these days?

Bob: [00:03:21] Yeah. We've spent a lot of time taking what was ATG and Endeca, you know, on premise systems that had longer implementation times that had longer innovation cycles. And we've gone through and we've spent a lot of time reimagining that platform as a cloud native solution that's API first. So the brands that are leveraging it Moleskin, for example, they've rolled out over 35 or 40 global sites on the platform. White House Black Market, Chico's, Dollar Tree, Blue Buffalo Dog Food... If you have any pets then you're familiar with Blue Buffalo Food. Allen Brothers Steaks, Terex... They make those big cranes on construction sites. They have a B2B site on Commerce Cloud. Motorola Solutions... And, you know, the solution has been in the market for four years now. And we started off with a smaller, more mid-market brands as the solution was maturing. But we've now reached a point where, you know, a lot of the traditional ATG, Endeca, Tier 1 retailers, Telcos, you know, big distributors and manufacturers are ready to move to a true SaaS platform.

Phillip: [00:04:49] It's interesting...that sort of shift in the marketplace and sort of this expectation of the software vendor...this is a little side jog here... But the software vendor also being the actual platform hosting provider, right? So you and I have some history. E-commerce has to be deployed on premise software. I tend to see retailers think of e-commerce as a deployed SaaS solution. It sounds like Oracle's also kind of, with Commerce Cloud and some other solutions there, it's kind of coming into that and maturing into that to meet that expectation head on, too.

Bob: [00:05:28]  [00:05:28]Yeah, it's an interesting space because a lot of large enterprises, that have traditional leverage On-Premise software are worried that they're going to be put in some sort of a SaaS box. Right? And I think that's largely due to a lot of the reputation that legacy SaaS providers have in that, you know, in the early days of SaaS, yeah, there were restrictions. Right? You had to be put in a box. But through working with some of the biggest brands on the planet, we've developed an architecture that allows you to have total front-end creative control and extensibility on both the front end and the back end, while not losing upgrade ability and the benefits of what you'd expect in modern SaaS. So it is a different way of thinking about things, which is a challenge for some companies. It's a process. [00:06:23]

Phillip: [00:06:25] And speaking of different ways of thinking, I think what really challenged my perception is really the content of this report and where Oracle fits in the space. So I attended Commerce Next. It was my first time at that show. We have a good relationship at Future Commerce here with the founders of that...Scott Silverman, and we work a lot with Allan Dick in other venues, too. So just having had some relationship with those folks attending the show, covering the show, we ran into you, and it was the topic of this report. The title is "How Leading Retailers and Direct to Consumer Brands Are Investing in Digital." And a few things coming by surprise, not the least of which was, a couple of folks we had on the show in the last few months were featured...Charlie Cole, who's the Chief Digital Officer there at TUMI...some folks who contributed to the report. And I felt like this was really interesting and more comprehensive than I would have probably expected about leading retailers who I might associate with Oracle customers, but also a focus on broadening the net to also including direct consumer brands and how they're investing. And so it really caught my attention. So, yeah, I'd like to dive into that a little bit. Maybe you can explain a bit about what the report covers for those who haven't read it or seen yet.

Bob: [00:07:54] Yeah, absolutely. So we wanted to get a take on where folks were investing. Right. Nobody claims to have all of the answers. And we thought it would be helpful to publish some benchmarks on where digital commerce professionals are investing this year compared to last year. And we also wanted to get an idea of what's working and what's not. So we surveyed over 100 people at some pretty major brands. Respondents included wholesale manufacturers that are selling direct, like a Nike or Sony. We got input from direct to consumer brands with brick and mortar and traditional retail outlets. Obviously, they have e-commerce sites, as well. So think of somebody like a Victoria's Secret or a J. Crew. Throw in your traditional multi-brand retailers like a Best Buy and a Target. And then, of course, you've got your traditional, or your non-traditional I should say, your digital first multi-brand retailers and direct to consumer brands, like a Wayfair, a Glossier... And those folks stood as the set of respondents that we interviewed.

Phillip: [00:09:07] It really does run the gamut. And, you know, just looking at the e-commerce marketing executives that are featured, you really get some of that qualitative data where people that are leading in many areas of the marketplace, how they're investing, seeing what's important to them. So there's a few things that I have taken away the report. What do you think are some of the main takeaways, Bob, that were out in the market research in the report? If you have to distill it down to a couple of bullet points...

Bob: [00:09:41] I mean, there is a lot in there. Right? So obviously I would encourage folks to go out to, and dig through it themselves. But some of the highlights... [00:09:51] Number one... Great news, budgets are on the rise in terms of e-commerce marketing. And interestingly enough, direct to consumer brands are increasing their budgets at a higher rate than traditional retailers. Number two... We found that they're using these budgets to invest in ways to make transactions much more frictionless. [00:10:13] So this would include things like investments and alternative payment types. Who doesn't like the ease of use of Apple Pay? And then also chat bots for customer service related scenarios. [00:10:27] But there's also lots of investment going into personalization technology. That's still an area that people are not really doing well. Single view of the customer is another big area of investment. And the link between successful personalization technologies and strategies and single view of the customer is very close. [00:10:48] So those are major areas. And then there were a few other things that came out that I thought were interesting. [00:10:56] If you think about a lot of the buzzwords that we run across in the industry, like augmented reality and voice and visual search and things that tend to make headlines, those are actually not being heavily invested in. So perhaps those are areas of opportunity. [00:11:14] And then finally, we wanted to make sure we understood... [00:11:19] OK, so why isn't some of this stuff working? Why is this harder than it seems? What are the big barriers? And the biggest barriers to achieving e-commerce goals were really around one, managing integrations across the array of solutions that folks have deployed within their commerce and marketing stacks, quickly executing on various initiatives, the inability to get a unified view of the customer, and then the other one was aging technology systems. [00:11:51]

Phillip: [00:11:54] Interestingly enough, I found a few of these takeaways really, really interesting, so you mentioned one there, which was managing integrations across the marketing stack and inability to get a unified view of the customer are a couple of those. Do you think that that hints at some of the other areas that they highlighted as potential places for investment? Like in particular, one of the data points showed that a number of marketers are looking to make a bigger investment into the customer data platforms. How do you think that that shifted over the last few years? Do you think that companies are generally consider e-commerce to be solved and the buying online isn't necessarily the problem so much as anticipating what the customer needs? Or what do you think is causing that shift in investment towards more customer centric, CDP type platforms?

Bob: [00:12:55] Yeah, I mean, is e-commerce solved? Definitely not. If it's solved, we're out of a job. You know, that's obviously not happening, right? [00:13:07] I mean, things are harder than they seem. Right? And if you talk to consumers, and there's actually another bit of research that we released in partnership with Jeanne Bliss, who is a customer experience pioneer, and she's the founder of Customer Bliss. And this study, instead of surveying retailers, we surveyed over 1000 consumers. And that research, which is kind of another story in and of itself, showed that consumers are willing to pay a premium for personalized and novel experiences. And, you know, more than half of consumers, I think it came out like 57%, are comfortable sharing personal information if they receive a better experience. So people are willing to share the information. It's how are brands capturing it, and what are they doing with it? Right? To really leverage that data into their experiences, so that they can create differentiating, meaningful experiences that improve conversion and improve customer lifetime value. Those challenges have not been solved yet. [00:14:20] And I think it's largely due to, in some cases, all of the different point solutions that claim to solve it, and many of them solve a piece of it, but the challenge then becomes how does the organization tie it all together to really make it work? And everybody has a different scenario there. And that's where some of the complexity comes in.

Phillip: [00:14:47] One of the big numbers here is you see this increase the budget. Sixty five percent of respondents in the research tout an increase in budget from 2018 to 2019. Immediately following that, we see that a lot of marketing investment priorities are centered around things like acquisition marketing, retention loyalty marketing and promotions, and then brand marketing. So, you know, the top four comprise a lot of areas investment. Those top four data points comprise a lot of area of investment. Do you think that there is a similar amount of conversation around that type of investment or whether there's opportunity to invest in systems or platforms that would be able to allow companies to utilize that budget, not just for new acquisition marketing, but to drive other parts of engagement in other parts of business? And I say that with the understanding that maybe Oracle has the suite that can help do that.

Bob: [00:15:56] Yes, I think part of that is obviously related to... How do you take the existing customers you have, know as much about them as possible, make that data actionable, and continue speaking to their needs? And that's really core of what a customer data platform offers. [00:16:16] It's not just about moving all of the data into some massive repository that somebody needs to start sifting through. Right? That's a job that nobody wants. And it's almost impossible. So what we've done with the Oracle CDP is we've kind of, you know, adopted our own little name, and we call it a Customer Intelligence Platform. So it's not just a repository of data. It has a layer of AI and machine learning on top of it to decide, "OK, well, what is the next best action for this customer? Because they've had a service issue. And let's make sure that our next marketing communication with them is relevant." Right? [00:17:02]

Phillip: [00:17:06] That's really interesting. So you know me. I spent many years on... Well I spent 10 or 15 years on the brand side helping build e-commerce technology for brands directly. And then the last eight years I've spent on a solutions integrator side doing consulting, like you at the pre-sales level, and formerly with an engineering background. That gives me one particular view into the needs of the customer, but inevitably I have QBRs that I conduct with all my clients, and every quarter I have to sit with a client, and the thing they always ask me is, "What are people doing right now and what should I be thinking about over the next year? Where should I put my investment?" And a lot of that really just comes down to subjectivity, and I sort of struggle because, as consultants we get excited about certain things with technology. I was big voice three years ago, if I'm being really honest. I thought that was a great place for new investment. It doesn't seem to have taken off the way that everybody was told in 2016 it would. But I find it interesting that there's a platform, you know, that there are platforms you can invest in now that can provide specific insights that know more about your business than any one consultant that can be persuaded by hype and fanfare around a set of technologies can. It's more directed towards factual insights and needs of a business based on various data points. So my own understanding, like that's really for me as somebody who has to answer these questions all the time, I would much rather rely on a set of tools that have data that give solid advice, which I think would make people trust it more. We get a bad rap sometimes in the consulting space. Shifting gears a little bit, Bob. I'm curious... There was a data point here that I teased out, which is... The question was in 2018, what are your biggest barriers to achieving your e-commerce marketing goals? And the first couple, at 39%, the number one response was the biggest barrier to achieving marketing goals in their e-commerce stack was managing integrations of technology. Number two was executing quickly enough on marketing initiatives. At the very bottom of the list, at 5%, determining ROI on technology investments. I sort of read that to mean that know merchants seemed to be much less concerned about direct ROI, or measuring direct ROI in individual marketing campaigns today. I'm curious what your sort of takeaway is to that sort of data point.

Bob: [00:19:52]  [00:19:52]I mean, there is potential to look at it that way. You know, because I think in today's climate, there is value put on the ability to experiment and either succeed quickly or fail fast. So in those cases ROI for individual campaigns may not be as important as it used to be because technology has, in some cases, gotten to a point where you don't have to put in a huge amount of investment to do something new and creative. And if it succeeds, then wonderful. Scale it out across the organization. But if it doesn't, well, you didn't have a huge investment in it anyway, and you can move on to the next thing. But it could also mean that people just don't see an issue with measuring ROI. Maybe they have that down pat. [00:20:49]

Phillip: [00:20:49] This is so interesting, too, because right there next to it is managing mobile e-commerce. And it's funny watching in this industry, you know, having this insight over many, many, many years. I'm getting older these days. The last 10 years of attending IRCE, for instance, or eTail East, or something like that, to have the perspective of the shift of people who say, "Oh, social is not worth anything. Social doesn't convert. Oh mobile's not worth anything. Mobile doesn't convert." Nobody says anything like that anymore. You might have heard that three years ago. But, you know, you look at where a lot of marketing spend is nowadays. You have brands spending 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars a day on direct engagement campaigns on Facebook. And you have other brands that their entire strategy revolves around mobile engagement. That's not always just, you know, "Buy this." It's more like just brand engagement. So I find these data points really fascinating because I think it echoes what we're seeing ourselves in our own engagement with brands as we do consulting. There're a couple of things you mentioned a second ago, which I thought was really interesting. There are areas for differentiating yourself amongst your competition. Looking at the numbers here, the study seems to suggest that there might be an opportunity for brands who aren't invested in voice, or some other area of technology investment, that they might be able to differentiate themselves amongst their peers by doing so. Could you maybe give us a little bit of insight on how you're reading those data points as well?

Bob: [00:22:28] Yeah, that's an interesting one. You brought up a good point where a few years ago people were saying social doesn't convert or mobile doesn't convert. And now look what happens, right? I mean, a lot of the products that people discover, they discover on Instagram, and they buy them right on their mobile device. Right? So that is obviously at critical mass. So then when you talk about voice, and everyone back in 2016 saying that voice was going to be the next big channel of engagement... No, that hasn't really taken off, yet, but I gotta think there's something there. Smart ears are everywhere. So it is an opportunity that is worth, I think, continuing to look at. You know, if you look at folks that even ignored e-commerce or the web in the early 2000s, they're not even on the map anymore. It could be something where if you ignore it, it's at your own peril. [00:23:28] I think when it comes to e-commerce today, when people think of e-commerce, they think of pages, they think of sites, they think of apps, they think of mobile. But we are very quickly moving into what you might consider a page-less world, where there's all of these new interaction points. And I've got to think that voice will play a big role. Right now, it's probably mostly customer service or replenishment type use cases, but we will get there. And I think it's important that organizations are leveraging platforms that allow them to go there when they need to go there, or at least experiment with it. [00:24:13]

Phillip: [00:24:14] Yeah. Wow. OK. So, you know, because we're called Future Commerce, I kind of like to to pull on those threads. [00:24:21] I'm interested, too, at what the world looks like post every interaction online being a world wide web page interaction. You sort of hinted at it there. I'm fascinated by that topic because I believe that's where we are heading. I did a talk two years ago called "The Shopping Cart is Dead." And what I really meant by that was the way that we engage in commerce online has parallels and analogues in real life. We have a shopping cart, you go down categories, and put stuff in a basket, and then we take it to the checkout. But that's not really how things work anymore. And so seeing that untethered allows for innovation. And I find that to be fascinating, because I think we're closer to that than we actually know. [00:25:12] And I'm curious what your take is on what the next 18 to 24 months looks like, if this is, in all of the data that you've seen, both quantitative and qualitative from this report... Do you think that we have a generally positive outlook in this economic climate? And do you think that marketers can take some risks to invest in things that aren't traditional e-commerce experiences?

Bob: [00:25:41] Yeah, I do. I think overall it is positive. And [00:25:45] I do think brands need to take risks. Overall investment in e-commerce and customer experience, technology is on the rise. The report covers that. And you mentioned Charlie Cole earlier...Charlie Cole, the Chief Digital Officer at TUMI. He participated in the report, and he was quoted as saying, "Traditional brands must be less afraid to fail." And in reference to digital natives and direct to consumer brands, he said that the fear of the unknown doesn't keep them from trying new things. And I just think this is so spot on. And it kind of goes back to the point that I made earlier, where retailers and brands need platforms that allow them to experiment and either succeed quickly or fail fast. That's how they will succeed in today's economy with everything that's going on. Let's face it, today's economy is a bit unpredictable. There is a degree of unpredictability in everything that we do. And customer expectations are always changing, and being close to a lot of e-commerce implementations, there's always unknowns. There're so many different unknowns at multiple levels. And I think that just goes back to underscore again the importance of leveraging platforms that do have open APIs that allow you to build something cool with voice or augmented reality or IOT, whatever you think might meet a particular business need for a certain market. Flexibility and openness is key. [00:27:23]

Phillip: [00:27:24] You mentioned earlier Endeca sort of one of those early acquisitions, or one of its early differentiators in the Oracle eco system. I remember building sites with Endeca many, many years ago. It's amazing that the trends in online shopping that were best practices that were put in place by platforms like Endeca that created what we understand to be like taxonomies for slice and dice e-commerce, and creating attribute filtering, and the way that we do layered navigation was all pioneered by those early platforms' decisions to prioritize data points and allow customers to search and filter. I have to believe that today we have similar pioneers among us who are using open APIs to build more differential customer experiences that aren't following those norms of what yesteryear's e-commerce looked like. So getting sort of down to brass tacks, I'm curious what a platform like Oracle might be doing today to fill in some of these expressed areas of needs that came out of the report?

Bob: [00:28:35] Yeah. If you look at the needs at a high level, folks need help solving data quality issues. Oracle covers that. They have tech stack issues. We cover that. There's time to market issues that many retailers see as their top barriers to success. And this all gets solved within what we call the Oracle Customer Experience Cloud. So there are a variety of different components to that. But specifically for commerce, we talked a little bit about Oracle Commerce Cloud earlier and how it has a heritage and lineage back to ATG and Endeca, and all of those core filtering components are obviously key to any platform these days. But we've really gone through and reimagined it, right? It's cloud native. It's API first. [00:29:30] So everyone is talking about headless commerce and the ability to inject commerce into any sort of the channel of engagement, which is obviously important. But sometimes people take the approach with headless commerce as they need to reinvent the wheel. It's like, well, let's take every little bit of what we need for an e-commerce experience and explode it out into their own discrete services, which probably leads to their own discrete solutions. And you're kind of back where you started from. And that's where, you know, again, the research points to brands have difficulty managing integrations across the tech stack. So what we wanted to make sure we did was provide a platform that allows you to go headless for the headless channels of engagement that [00:30:27] makes sense. But we've also integrated a DXP that includes best in class search, that includes AB testing, that includes audience personalization capabilities, so that you're not having to do so much work stitching together what many people would consider table stakes, and you can start creating know highly personalized experiences much more quickly.

Phillip: [00:30:58] Quick is king right now.

Bob: [00:31:01] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:31:03]  [00:31:03]I think most people suffer from spending an inordinate amount of time with their legacy platforms, just trying to do basic functions. They spend a tremendous amount of money on professional services, trying to get those up and running. They suffer for lack of ability to self-service. And it's interesting to hear that Oracle is sort of positioning itself as being able to solve most of those things, at least at the e-commerce platform side. [00:31:34] I'm curious myself to hear about which brands are looking at those kinds of suites, and investing in those suites that kind of link all those pieces together, to give them the competitive edge. Any that you could reference? Any logos you could reference here that are using those as key differentiators?

Bob: [00:31:57] Yeah, absolutely. So leverages Oracle Customer, or Oracle Commerce...Oracle Commerce Cloud...part of the Oracle Customer Experience Suite. White House Black Market is in the process of doing their deployment, and they're part of the Chico's FAS organization... So Soma Intimates, Chico's, and a few other off the rack sites...

Phillip: [00:32:25] Yeah, that's a Florida company. I know them very well.

Bob: [00:32:27] Yeah. Yeah. And you know, they are longtime users of ATG and Endeca On-Premise, and they're going through a complete digital transformation to the cloud, and we'll be leveraging Oracle Commerce Cloud, so stay tuned for more news there. But then other brands that I mentioned, like Moleskin, Blue Buffalo...they have an interesting direct to consumer model through some of their pet food that is actually prescription based. So they sell to vets, and then vets allow their patients to go online to the portal and order the food that's specific to the ailment of their pet. And that experience is all powered using some of the B2B capabilities that are part of Commerce Cloud. So there are some interesting brands in the traditional retail space in the direct to consumer space, as well as the B2B manufacturing space like Terex, as I mentioned earlier, that are that are leveraging the platform.

Phillip: [00:33:35] This has been a really fascinating I appreciate all of your time. One way that we usually close out an interview is to ask... I always like to pick the brains of our guests. You're the most recent person to be subjected to this, I should say. Apologies ahead of time. So we ask you to put on your your thinking cap. What do you think are the biggest challenges that merchants in various categories are going to face over the next three to five years? Maybe we can chop this up, and maybe you can give us a couple different categories of merchants that might be facing some challenges, everything from direct to consumer startups to, you know, mid-market and enterprise retail and maybe those in the luxury category. What do you think the types of challenges that those retailers face?

Bob: [00:34:30] This is an interesting one, right? Nobody has a crystal ball, but from what I'm seeing, for example, [00:34:36] with direct to consumer startups, they really need to figure out how to scale if they're really going to succeed. You know, a few years ago, a couple of years ago, it was kind of like the attack of the micro brands. And the ones that are still around are the ones that are really now starting to look at how do we scale this business, because it's clearly sustainable. And the ones that I speak to are kind of on different ends of the spectrum. Some took an approach where they're a tech company, or they viewed themselves as a tech company, even though they're a direct to consumer brand and they had a bunch of homegrown technology that is starting to get a little unwieldy to manage, especially as they look to connect their front office customer experience systems with their back office ERP systems, and everything needs to scale accordingly. So they're trying to figure out how to make all of that work and unwind some of the custom stuff that they have. And then the folks that are on the other end of the spectrum, those are the ones that went with perhaps more entry level solutions that aren't intended for the true needs of global growth or different business models that might have spawned out of some of the various initiatives. So I think overall scalability is what's key for direct to consumer startups. [00:36:02] I think mid-market retailers are probably in a similar boat. But if we looked at like enterprise retail, for example. Enterprise retailers...they need to lose faster. Going back to, you know, speed and the ability to be quick, the ability to think and execute like a digital native brand is how they will survive. And I think that they're going to have some hard decisions and choices to make in terms of how do they rip out some of these legacy systems that have been in place for, you know, a decade or more, to rethink how technology is going to enable their business going forward. [00:36:49] And then if you look at the luxury market. Luxury needs to continue investing in the overall customer experience. So there is this notion, and if you look at some of our thought leadership that we put out in the market, was this notion of the experience economy. And in the experience economy, it's the value of the overall experience that is greater or more important than the actual product or service that a brand provides. And I think that's probably more important for luxury than any other type of company, because more and more consumers today are focused on buying experiences than collecting things. [00:37:35]

Phillip: [00:37:37] I think that that is astute. I thank you so much for going into that kind of detail. I think that's so useful as we sort of shape our understanding of who needs the right types of solutions at which phase of growth in their business. And that's that's what we're all about here at Future Commerce. Just remind us, where can people get a hold of the report if they're looking for it?

Bob: [00:38:02] Yes, of course, you can get a hold of the report at

Phillip: [00:38:08] Awesome. And Bob, it's been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Bob: [00:38:13] Hey, thanks for having me on. Glad to be here.

Phillip: [00:38:16] And remember, you can get this podcast wherever podcasts are found. We want you to lend your voice to this conversation. You can do that at Remember, sign up for our FC Insiders. It's where you're going to get our inside take on everything that's happening in the world of retail and digital startups and direct to consumer. We've got some great content coming very soon as we build out some really great exclusive content with the likes of Forerunner and Lion Capital, GGV, and others in the funding space. So stay tuned and sign up to FC Insiders to get the inside track on that. And remember, the future of commerce is what you make of it. And Future Commerce wants to help you shape that future. Thanks for listening.

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