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Episode 99
March 18, 2019

Transforming Showrooms into Collaboration Spaces

Live from Shoptalk 2019, there's a lot to say about brands, Levi's keynote, and puppies which seem to be everywhere! Future Commerce Director of Content Lianne Hikind joins the show, and clienteling is a major theme at Shoptalk sessions.

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Live from Shoptalk 2019, there's a lot to say about brands, Levi's keynote, and puppies which seem to be everywhere! Future Commerce Director of Content Lianne Hikind joins the show, and clienteling is a major theme at Shoptalk sessions.

Show Notes:

Main Takeaways:

  • Phillip and Brian podcast live for the third time from #Shoptalk2019!
  • FC's Director of Content Lianne Hikind joins the show
  • Why does anybody think giving free haircuts at a conference is a good idea?
  • Shoptalk launches Retail Club to help retailers and merchants network.
  • Boring brands continue to die off because they are not engaging with customers.

Trouble With Tribbles: Payment Providers in 2019:

  • Paypal Credit is a familiar face on the Shoptalk marketplace floor.
  • Brian regrets not getting a free haircut at Shoptalk, though why there are free haircuts at a conference is confusing, and slightly unsanitary.
  • Maybe the free haircuts are connected to the abundance of payment providers because all the money that people would have spent on a haircut, or makeup, they could spend on their payment solution.
  • Are Shoptalk attendees channeling Alex Honnold from Free Solo?

Future Commerce's Resident Puppy Analyst: Shoptalk Shop Talk:

Lunch Tables Are Lit at Shoptalk: Connecting With Brands Over Bread:

  • One of the best places to meet exciting brands at Shoptalk? The breakfast and lunch tables.
  • Phillip had the opportunity to chat with Adidas Speed Factory, Adidas had a very similar story to Levi's in regards to the evolution in the supply chain, and now they're making products closer to fulfillment, cutting down on the time it takes to make each product.
  • Brian and Lianne had a long conversation with Flowers Foods, who have acquired a new line of gluten-free bread, which will save Lianne from missing out on bread.
  • And there is no better way of getting Shoptalk attendees to connect, then over food and coffee.
  • And a company that is not to be named was overheard talking about how GDPR is already causing pain for U.S based brands.
  • Which answers the question as to whether GDPR will have an impact on large companies, because the multiple companies heard talking about pain points, are not small business.

Why Isn't Anyone Talking About Voice?

Retailers Agree: 2019 is The Year of Clientelling:

E-commerce providers are incredibly tribalistic: Why?

  • Phillip points out that while e-commerce providers are tribalistic, customers themselves don't care which provider they're using as long as those platforms provide the needed services.
  • Customers care about having a joyful experience, and that doesn't include search and browse anymore.
  • Levi's is bringing customers an experience they'll be able to appreciate, bringing the tailor shop into the center of the store, in order to have a conversation with every customer.
  • And digital retailers are having a brick-and-mortar renaissance, bringing customers into the actual conversation.

Store Closings: Boring Brands Continue to Die Off:

Brian: [00:01:19] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:23] And I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:01:24] And today, we are live again from the Shop Talk marketplace floor here in Las Vegas.

Phillip: [00:01:31] Yeah. Wow. Day two, Shop Talk. Can I just say for a second that there's like... Have you seen the new How to Train your Dragon 3?

Brian: [00:01:43] Not yet.

Phillip: [00:01:43] There's sort of like a riff on tribbles. You know, there's Star Trek tribbles, where they just multiply like crazy? So there's this dragon that multiplies like crazy. I feel like that's payment providers. In 2019... We have...

Brian: [00:01:56] Payment solutions.

Phillip: [00:01:57] ...trouble with tribbles, but our tribbles are all payment... And like 90% of the new faces are all fractional payment.

Brian: [00:02:08] There's a lot.

Phillip: [00:02:08] There's a lot of fractional payment providers are like, what is their name? Is there an industry term for that? I think there should be.

Brian: [00:02:14] It's like...there probably is.

Phillip: [00:02:17] Yeah multi pay.

Brian: [00:02:17] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:02:18] Or something like that. Some interesting ones... We do know some people in the space and...

Brian: [00:02:23] Hey, PayPal. PayPal credit.

Phillip: [00:02:25] I mean that's it right there. And others that don't require credit pull, others that use interesting sort of social beacons which are, you know, kind of interesting new tech. But if I had to say there's one thing that's taken me by surprise walking the show floor...

Brian: [00:02:44] It's the free haircuts. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:02:47] Did you really? Is there a free haircut? Tell me about a free haircut, Brian. Did you get the free haircut?  

Brian: [00:02:53] No, I didn't do it. I got my haircut before I came. Why would I? Why did I do that? I mean, it was a waste of money.

Phillip: [00:02:59] That blows my mind, actually. You can take all the money that you're probably saving on the haircut and you can put that right back into your payment provider solution.

Brian: [00:03:09] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:03:10] You build out another payment program.

Brian: [00:03:12] There was a beard trimming. There's a massage station.

Phillip: [00:03:18] But the massages... I have a problem.

Brian: [00:03:18] Make Up stations.

Phillip: [00:03:21] I have a big problem with like personal hygiene stuff. And like, you shouldn't be cutting hair in a... It's just unsanitary. That's just wrong. I had the same exact reaction when my wife and I watched Free Solo a couple of nights ago. Have seen this movie?

Brian: [00:03:38] I haven't, but I heard about it.

Phillip: [00:03:39] Yeah. So it's Alex Honnold and all these rock star climbers. It's now an Oscar award winning documentary and just a gripping documentary. But there is this scene as he's getting ready to free solo, free rider on El Capitan. And the night before, his girlfriend is giving him the worst haircut that I've ever seen. And I'm like, listen, I know you're cheap, right? Like, they get that right out the gate... This guy lives a simple life. He doesn't even own dishes. He cooks canned chili and eggs and spinach and sweet potato in a skillet and eats it with a spatula. That is who we're talking about.

Brian: [00:04:23] Delicious.

Phillip: [00:04:23] And he has his own haircut. I mean, maybe it's for the Alex Honnold's of the world that come to Shop Talk. They need to get a haircut, and they don't want to pay for a haircut.

Brian: [00:04:32] I feel like he could probably give you a talk here. And it would fit in pretty well.

Phillip: [00:04:35] I bet that guy's going to run the conference circuit for the rest of his life. He's gonna be the, he'll be a keynote speaker at pretty much every e-commerce show in the next 10 years. I hope he aims higher than that. Okay. Anyway...

Brian: [00:04:53] I feel like he's aimmed about as high as he as he can go...

Phillip: [00:04:57] Ohhhh, ba dum cha. So what's really interesting is the puppies. So we saw puppies at NRF and everybody's doing puppies.

Brian: [00:05:08] Puppies. Puppies everywhere.

Phillip: [00:05:09] You know what? You know what we should do actually? Let's bring in our resident analyst, our puppy analyst, actually our Director of Content and all around awesome person who's rocking the show floor and making us look and sound smart. Lianne Hikind.

Brian: [00:05:22] All those great tweets are from Lianne.

Phillip: [00:05:25] Yes. Lianne, introduced herself.

Lianne: [00:05:27] I think Resident Puppy Enthusiast sounds like the best job title ever. I kind of... Can we go back and change my business cards?

Phillip: [00:05:35] I like it. Yes. So tell us about your experience at Shop Talk. This is your first Shop Talk.

Lianne: [00:05:41] Oh, it is. It is my first Shop Talk. I'm wondering if my phone is working.

Phillip: [00:05:45] Yeah. Can you stop touching it? That helps. {laughter} Move it up a little bit. Let's do that.

Lianne: [00:05:50] Ok. Can you hear me?

Phillip: [00:05:51] Yeah. Annnnd there. Yep.

Brian: [00:05:54] Perfect.

Lianne: [00:05:55] It's like Future Commerce behind the scenes, you guys.

Phillip: [00:05:57] Yes, it is. It is a Future Commerce unplugged.

Brian: [00:06:00] We're going to keep that in. We're going to keep that in.

Phillip: [00:06:01] We're going to... This is good. So tell me what you think about Shop Talk. Is it sort of overwhelming? Is it something that's... Is it what you expected?

Lianne: [00:06:11] I think we should have brought a puppy along as the mascot. I'm just saying, anyway. You know, it's so fun. It is kind of overwhelming, there's a lot of people here, what is an eight thousand eighty five hundred people in all the e-mails I got sent. And a lot of opportunities to win prizes. I got all of those e-mails, too. Thank you Shop Talk. Also and thank you Shop Talk for amplifying all of our tweets, because that's really cool.

Phillip: [00:06:40] Yes. They're very engaged on social and they're helping extend our voice a lot. Any brands that you're interested in that have been here at the show?

Lianne: [00:06:49] Yeah, we. We actually did a live interview with Stylitics. So cool. They have this live interactive, I don't know if you'd call it a display, but basically the way it works is it's a screen and it's interactive so you can basically curate your outfits. This is not live, yet. This is something that they're going to be putting out live. And all of the retailers they work with... They work with everyone. They work with DoreMe. They work with Banana Republic and Loft and all of the companies that I'm personally obsessed with. I'm literally wearing all Loft right now. Shout out to the store that I spent all my money in. And you can basically curate the outfit in the store, which is so cool. And I asked them if they were only working with women retailers. Yeah, cause me and Brian had this conversation about how women retailers have all the fun. But no, they are working with both. They're working with all these different companies.

Phillip: [00:07:43] So brands that have both sort of female centric clothing line and others. Any any talks or any keynotes that you found particularly impressive.

Lianne: [00:07:53] Levi's.

Phillip: [00:07:54] I thought so, too. I really got a lot out of that one. Tell me what you thought about the Levi's.

Lianne: [00:07:59] OK. So I like denim jacket. Maybe not as much as Phillip likes denim jackets because that's not all possible.

Phillip: [00:08:07] To be fair, I have one denim jacket which I was hornswoggled with into buying, which is a whole other episode.

Lianne: [00:08:12] We just hear about it all the time.

Phillip: [00:08:15] Also, that's how old I am is I said the word hornswoggled. {laughter} That's why we have Lianne on to bring a younger voice to this show.

Lianne: [00:08:24] I was born in 1993, guys. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:08:27] Ah my soul.

Brian: [00:08:29] Geez.

Phillip: [00:08:29] So you've got a lot out of Levi's. Levi's is a little bit older than 1993. So they've been around a while.

Lianne: [00:08:33] Oh what is it? 100+ years? 165?

Phillip: [00:08:36] Yeah that's right. Ancient brand reinventing themselves.

Lianne: [00:08:40] So I actually, I'm very interested in stories when it comes to brands. I think stories are everything. And Levi's was talking about two things during their talk. One of them was the history of how Levi's came to be, which is really interesting in that miners used to tear their jeans when they would  be working. And Levi's sought to fix that problem, which is really cool, right. Miners are not really I mean, it's not a profession that's so acclaimed right now.

Phillip: [00:09:11] Right. It's like the original sort of customer feedback loop. Right? Is what they were talking.

Lianne: [00:09:16] Right. Miners. Miners were the original reviewers.

Phillip: [00:09:21] Right. Product roadmap development from customer feedback, which is... It's been around forever.

Lianne: [00:09:30] Levi's is really cool also because they're bringing this customizable aspect to fashion. We've talked about personalization so much on the show. Right? Personalization is everything.

Phillip: [00:09:44] Speaking of, we actually sat down and had lunch with one of the folks from Speed Factory, from Adidas Speed Factory, which I was really impressed with their sort of rapid development, which had a very similar story to Levi's, about fulfillment being part of the manufacturing and supply chain in that they're making products closer to fulfillment nowadays, which is, you know, instead of taking three years to make a product, they're spending three weeks making products, which I think is really impressive.

Brian: [00:10:13] Evolution supply chain is allowing customization to actually be a real way to go to market, not just like a sideshow.

Phillip: [00:10:21] Just in time customization...

Brian: [00:10:22] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:10:23] happening very near to the customer. And Levi's talked all about that.

Lianne: [00:10:26] It was so cool. And you know what I loved about Levi's? I was talking about this with someone as I was walking breakfast this morning. Companies don't wear their own products. A lot of CEOs don't wear their own products onstage. I just want Gap's CEO to walk on stage in his own clothes, like in Gap clothes. Levi's...

Brian: [00:10:49] Mark Rosen.

Phillip: [00:10:50] Mark Rosen.

Brian: [00:10:51] He just won The Robin Reports Retail Radical of the Year.

Phillip: [00:10:55] Oh, wow. Yeah. I just think it's... Yeah. That's so that brand authenticity and sort of having a true believer as evangelists of your product... That's important. I hear, I've overheard a lot, by the way, the lunch tables and breakfast tables are the best places in all of Shop Talk.

Brian: [00:11:11] Oh yeah, totally good.

Phillip: [00:11:12] You hear so much gossip. It's amazing.

Brian: [00:11:14] Yeah. Lots of gossip. Lots of like interesting people to sit down and talk with. Everyone's there. It's always really good conversations at the Shop. Talk lunch room.

Phillip: [00:11:24] Yeah. And people you wouldn't expect to run into. I think you guys had a long conversation with Tastykake, I think, yesterday?

Brian: [00:11:31] No, no. It was Flowers. And they own Dave's Killer Bread. They've got a bunch of other... Wonder Bread and a bunch of other...

Phillip: [00:11:31] Wonder Bread. Oh yeah. Yeah.

Lianne: [00:11:45] They're implementing a new line of gluten free bread, which I am very excited about.

Phillip: [00:11:52] Yeah, which you would be excited about.

Brian: [00:11:52] Yeah.

Lianne: [00:11:53] Swarovski was at my table this morning.

Phillip: [00:11:56] Oh wow. So yeah, you get to interact with the actual brands, people from them from the...

Brian: [00:12:00] Yeah, Flowers Food really really interesting brand. Really cool stories that they've really, they've brought to the table. And Dave's Killer is actually, it's the staple in my household.

Phillip: [00:12:10] Wow. So you're a personal fan.

Brian: [00:12:12] I'm a personal fan.

Phillip: [00:12:13] You know, and I'm sitting next to Adidas, and I'm a personal fan. I overheard some interesting conversation. You know, I like hearing what people are challenged with. And I've heard more than one group of retailers talking about GDPR.

Brian: [00:12:26] Yes.

Phillip: [00:12:27] And in fact, I've heard a lot of pain around GDPR for US based brands. Some who won't... I won't mention them by name. I certainly wouldn't want to... I didn't entering interact with them. They didn't say it was okay to talk about on the show. But specifically in the area of consulting and Google cracking down on sort of international access and de-listing in some cases for people who aren't complying.

Brian: [00:12:53] Big brands.

Phillip: [00:12:53] Big, big brands. Brands you know. Yeah. Brands that have big brick and mortar stores right around the corner from your house. And that blows my mind. And they seem to be challenged with it in a way that they feel they feel like they've come to an impasse. There's not really a path forward.

Brian: [00:13:09] And this brings up something we've talked about before. But we're really seeing the impact of it now, which is basically if you're a major world worldwide organization or government or collection of, you know, collection of authorities and you do something that affects your organization, but it's related to the Internet or to commerce, because of Google, because we have these multi national brands and companies that are running the Internet effectively, your impact is more than just the group that you're making this rule about. And so you can actually set worldwide trends by creating regulations or or requirements or standards that now the U.S. is going to have to take part in.

Phillip: [00:14:03] I mean, that's really what it comes down to, is that we have a global economy. Yes. And the European... As the European Union goes, so does the rest of the world. I think as California goes, so does the rest of America. They do exercise outsized control over global commerce. Just based on, you know, on their populace and based on their influence in global marketplaces. Very interesting. You know, one thing that I sort of see missing, and I talked about it in our preview of Shop Talk a few episodes ago, is not a lot of people talking about voice. Yeah, I've seen that sort of absent. It's an interesting absence here, and I don't get the sense... And this is what I was curious about before the show. I don't get the sense that it's because everybody's solved it and they're doing it well, right?

Brian: [00:15:00] Right. It's just not, it's not a channel that people are selling through. And it's just not a channel that people are buying from.

Phillip: [00:15:08] Not yet.

Brian: [00:15:08] And the truth is, it's just the capability isn't really there yet.

Phillip: [00:15:12] I don't think that people are saying, "OK, now I'm going..." I know I harp on this lot. I don't think anybody says, "Okay, now I'm going to use voice search." Right. You use it on your phone all the time.

Brian: [00:15:22] All the time. Right.

Phillip: [00:15:24] A lot of people use voice dictation. A lot of people use voice search. Many people are using voice assistance and home assistance or voice assistance on phones. It's ingratiated. I don't know that the line to commerce is as... It's way more dotted than we thought it was two years ago.

Brian: [00:15:41] It's certainly not an end to end experience that people are taking part in.

Phillip: [00:15:46] I still use it for Amazon, but that's about it.

Brian: [00:15:49] Yeah, for reorder?

Phillip: [00:15:51] Oh, sure.

Brian: [00:15:51] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:15:52] I mean, even for a product search. You know I sometimes I'll decide I need kitty litter. We always buy the same kitty litter, and we just you know, shout it out.

Brian: [00:16:04] You have a Show?

Phillip: [00:16:06] Yes I do.

Brian: [00:16:07] Yeah. That helps, I think, as well.

Phillip: [00:16:08] I think it helps a lot.

Brian: [00:16:09] Yeah. Because like voice in a vacuum doesn't really by itself... It's not a stand alone. It's not really conducive commerce.

Phillip: [00:16:15] I do it all over the house. I will say this, having a Show definitely does display results, but when you're interacting on a non display Alexa platform, you will still push results to your phone. Yeah. So the Alexa app will have the results. It's not, it's actually kind of maybe... It's a less seamless experience only because I'm using voice because I don't have my phone in my hand. If I had my phone, if I was using my phone, I wouldn't be talking into an empty room.

Brian: [00:16:47] Really good point. Really, really good point.

Phillip: [00:16:49] So anyway, I think obviously consumers feel the same way. And we're seeing brands, you know, sort of I don't want to say they've abandoned it, but I don't hear anyone talking about it. You know, and I don't hear anyone talking about how their investment voice didn't pay off or they failed and what they've redirected it to. So, you know, it's just kind of died in conversation, which I was interested to hear more about. Does the show feel...? Sorry. Go ahead. You were going to...

Brian: [00:17:19] Oh, no. I just wanted to come back to something that Lianne said just a minute ago about Shop Talk being good about promoting and being engaged. Yeah. And I think that it's really reflective of, I think, kind of where this show is headed. What I mean by that is, the founders just announced Retail Club.

Phillip: [00:17:38] Right.

Brian: [00:17:39] Which is a new initiative by the Shop Talk group. It's essentially a year round, localized club for retailers and merchants to get together and talk about similar stuff that we're talking about now. Really cool initiative. It's just announced, it's brand new, and I'm really interested to see how it plays out for sure.

Phillip: [00:18:00] Sure.

Brian: [00:18:00] But I think that it's reflective of I think where this show is headed. It's not just about this one big event. It's about ongoing conversations.

Phillip: [00:18:12] If they can create communities.

Brian: [00:18:13] Localized communites. Right.

Phillip: [00:18:15] Yeah. And we've seen others try to do it. I mean, in particular, I'm very active in the startup community in Palm Beach. I'm very active in our local founders groups and in our tech investment communities and meet ups.

Brian: [00:18:36] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:18:36] And that's, you know, I think everything starts at the local level.

Brian: [00:18:39] Yes.

Phillip: [00:18:40] And if they can find people to champion it... Oh, I heard the best thing ever, by the way. I have to attribute this, and I'm going to try to search while I talk about it, but recently, I believe it was somebody that I follow in the startup world on Twitter. And I'll try to attribute it after the fact, or Lianne will have to do the due diligence to find it and put it the show notes. Sorry, Lianne.

Lianne: [00:19:07] Yeah, that's fun.

Phillip: [00:19:09] So somebody said that brands and startups need champions, not heroes, because heroes die. Yeah. Heroes, you know, sacrifice themselves for a cause. Champions create other champions. Champions multiply themselves. And when someone's a champion of a brand or someone's a champion of an initiative. In this case, if Shop Talk can find a local champion in a market to help create community for them, then Shop Talk, and actually everybody in the ecosystem, will benefit from it. And it will inspire others to be champions as well. Yes, we don't need heroes. Heroes are self sacrificial, heroes are...

Brian: [00:19:53] So let me add a little bit to that. I think that having a few heroes doesn't hurt. But you also need champions. Having a few heroes that are out there, putting it all out there, even though they will probably burnout at some point, having those people out there that are so passionate and so invested and just putting themselves on the line, you need a few of those people. But to really, really, really have a sustained effect, sustained beneficial effect on retailers, you do need those champions. You're 100% right. So building those out, maybe you have to have the hero get that going.

Phillip: [00:20:39] Well, and I think that we've seen a lot of that in various ways. In fact, by the way, I'm just looking this up. This is an oft repeated... This has been talked about for quite a while. So I found an article on Forbes from Leslie Bradshaw basically saying this exact same thing.

Brian: [00:21:05] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:21:06] And I think it's it's around the context of female founders. I think when you have a person who sort of... We all can be inspired by somebody who will sacrifice themselves, but it's very rare that that has a sustaining power for decades. What I'm saying is, to create truly lasting initiatives we have to have sustainable leadership. Right? And sustainable leadership... Not everybody is doing only one thing these days. You need people that can buy into the mission of your organization, or buy into the mission of Shop Talk or that can buy into your mission and help you with your mission in a way that doesn't find them in burnout in a year. Right?

Brian: [00:21:56] Right.

Phillip: [00:21:57] Because that doesn't help anybody.

Brian: [00:21:58] No, it doesn't. And burnout happens. I think that...

Phillip: [00:22:03] Especially in this industry.

Brian: [00:22:05] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:22:05] Big time.

Brian: [00:22:06] So, I mean, I think that part of the future of commerce is making sure that retail becomes a more sustainable place to work and grow. And I think that comes from forming communities. Having support systems, having places for people to go and share experiences and get connected. And so I'm really excited about Retail Club. I think is a great idea. I'm really excited to see how it plays out. And I really applaud to the founders of Shop Talk and their teams for going this route.

Phillip: [00:22:38] Right.

Brian: [00:22:39] Because they could have got a lot of different routes.

Phillip: [00:22:40] Sure.

Brian: [00:22:41] So I like it.

Phillip: [00:22:43] OK. Can we do a lightning round of what we're excited to see?

Brian: [00:22:47] Can I say one more thing about something that I have seen that I was excited about?

Phillip: [00:22:51] Oh yeah, do that. For sure.

Brian: [00:22:53] I caught the majority of Ian Friedman's session with three different brands. It was really... He talked about... He questioned them about clienteling, because I think that right now, clienteling is...

Phillip: [00:23:13] You're going right where I want to go. This is great. Yeah.

Brian: [00:23:15] Ok cool. Clienteling is such a big part of the most innovative technologies that are here at the show. And that's actually, so that's why I wanted to lead in to what we're excited about for the rest of the show. I think Ian was right on point to ask his panelists about this. Clienteling is where we're headed this year with our technology, with changes to how we do operations, with changes in how we interact with our clients. All of these things are like top of mind. Ian from Goldman Sachs Ventures was like nailing it with his panel and the line of questioning, and how to deal with data. It is actually about a lot about what we talked about yesterday. And so a couple of brands that really came to mind were Hero, who we've talked about before, and also Gladly is a super interesting brand that I met with yesterday.

Phillip: [00:24:05] Yeah.

Brian: [00:24:06] And I think we might try to get them on the show, as well. Yeah, but they're doing basically it's a customer service platform. But really what it means is it's a unified platform for client interactions, so that you can have a better relationship. It's a seamless relationship. And I was talking to the founder, and he was basically talking about how he interacts with his wife. And it's like, you interact in a lot of different ways, a lot of different places, and over different times during the day. But it's all one engaged conversation. It's not some series of tickets that you've put together to interact with your wife.

Phillip: [00:24:49] Right.

Brian: [00:24:49] Same thing with customers. This is one long conversation. So I'm super excited about technologies like that that are helping retailers and brands actually have a better relationship with the customer. This gets back to what Ingrid Milman was saying a few episodes ago about how your relationship should supersede your even your own brand story. This is where we're at.

Phillip: [00:27:04] And I think that there is, like you said, there's Gladly, there's a few that I think are differential at this show that are presenting at the show. I'm really excited to meet with Zoovu later on.

Brian: [00:27:15] Oh, yeah. Yes.

Phillip: [00:27:16] Zoovu is kind of blowing my mind? And I'm sure that we're on...just like Affirm was sort of the first of its ilk, and now there's a million copycats. Or I'm sure it wasn't the first. It was the first like sort of...consumer awareness was very heightened around Affirm. Now you have a bunch. There's Afterpay, and QuadPay, and a lot of payment technologies. Zoovu is sort of the first customer engagement platform that I've noticed that is 100% focused on guided commerce.

Brian: [00:27:51] Yes.

Phillip: [00:27:51] And 100% focused on, you know, really trying to build out tools for merchants to ask their customers specifically what they're looking for, and try to guide them to the right products, and do it in a really thoughtful way, and to have it in a way that's sustainable. Because anybody can build a quiz with engineering. It's really hard to build a quiz builder that can be applied to so many different industries. And they're working with some of the biggest brands in the world, big consumer brands, and everything from appliances, to athletic equipment, to apparel... And when you ask your customers questions and they answer them, you learn something about them. And you can use that to drive every other part of your business. I don't know why there aren't 30 of these companies or why we don't see this in more marketing platforms. I think that the...

Brian: [00:28:48] Tribbles, man. Where's the tribble?

Phillip: [00:28:49] Yeah, it's the tribbles. I really think that this should be a massive component of site engagement platforms that already exist. So if Custora is not doing this... Custora is its own thing. I sort of bucket them in sort of CRM. This is really a function of CRM because you're learning about your customer. Now, there is a product engagement at the end of it, and maybe a product decision, but really the point is to learn more about your customer.

Brian: [00:29:20] Totally.

Phillip: [00:29:21] So all of the marketing platforms need something like this built in.

Brian: [00:29:23] I 100% agree. If you take Zoovu and Gladly together, that's like the future of customer engagement.

Phillip: [00:29:30] Yeah, it is.

Brian: [00:29:31] 100%.

Phillip: [00:29:32] Yeah. One cohesive conversation with your customer that you inform all of your other decision making, including site experience, thereafter with it. And you take something like Superpersonal, and you put them into the site, and it's like game over. It's a completely different...

Brian: [00:29:52] I want to go start a brand, just any brand right now, and run that combo because it will be successful.

Phillip: [00:29:57] Yeah, you still have to have great product...

Brian: [00:30:01] Of course.

Phillip: [00:30:01] ...and you still have to do all the other things correctly. But I think the way that we do customer interaction today is very different to what it was two years ago. In fact, the way that we sell online is less platforms centric. It's very platform agnostic. Right? It used to be that e-commerce platform... We were saying this in the preshow... And I think we would be better served in our industry if we didn't have such tribalism around certain technologies. There's a lot of tribalism. Like nobody cares if you're using a certain tax provider. Nobody cares if you're partnered with five, you know, email service providers or, you know, seven payments companies. But for whatever reason, e-commerce platforms are incredibly divisive.

Brian: [00:30:53] Well, I think it's because...

Phillip: [00:30:54] They're incredibly competitive against each other in a way that there are others aren't really.

Brian: [00:30:58] Same with ERP.

Phillip: [00:30:59] Sure.

Brian: [00:30:59] I think ERP is exactly... So ERP and e-commerce, and then to a lesser degree, OMS.

Phillip: [00:31:05] Yeah.

Brian: [00:31:07] But that's because they hold the glass, right?

Phillip: [00:31:10] Oh sure.

Brian: [00:31:10] Those three platforms are basically what everyone drives their business out of, and so all of the other technologies we're looking at here sort of revolve around those three main points.

Phillip: [00:31:24] Well for sure what I'm saying is that the customer doesn't care what e-commerce platform they're using. You know what the customer cares about? It is making sure they find the right product and that they have a joyful experience from end to end. And you can do that on any e-commerce platform. But the way you do it in 2019 looks very different to what you did in 2016 or 17. It is not slice and dice e-commerce anymore. I want to tell you what I'm looking for, and I want you to tell me what might fit my needs and then I want to make a decision from there.

Brian: [00:31:53] Yeah. It's not search and browse. Right. That's not e-commerce in 2019.

Phillip: [00:31:58] And maybe we're wrong. I don't think we are.

Brian: [00:32:01] I don't think we are.

Phillip: [00:32:01] I think that the industry is lagging behind what the customer really wants. And when you look at a story like Levi's, when they say that they're trying, they're trying to get away from being a showroom. And they want to put collaboration at the center of their stores... That is where we're going. Because that is the conversation. They took the tailor shop, which used to be in the back corner and then put it in the center of their store, because what they're trying to do is have a conversation with every customer. It's not a showroom anymore. So I believe that as brick and mortar goes, digital will follow. And for whatever reason, digital is following a brick and mortar retail experience renaissance. And we're trying to change the way that we interact with customers face to face. The tables are flipped because I would have said that five years ago that we were mimicking paradigms in the real world on digital. That is 100%. What we are going to be doing in digital in this year and next year because we just haven't figured it out yet.

Brian: [00:33:03] Right.

Phillip: [00:33:03] It's not about search and browse. It's not about category anymore. It's actually way more about customer engagement.

Brian: [00:33:10] Yeah, totally agree. I think search and browse has its place, like with Amazon and Wal-Mart and Target.

Phillip: [00:33:16] Yeah. Yeah. But not every retailer and certainly not a lot of direct to consumer brands are Walmart, Amazon, and Target.

Brian: [00:33:23] Exactly. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:33:24] They don't have that challenge.

Brian: [00:33:24] They don't need it. They don't need that.

Phillip: [00:33:26] But they're using platforms that are capable of serving those customers. You don't like, if you're a shoe brand and you have... If you're Allbirds and you have four silhouettes, five silhouettes, you don't need... The way that you do category browse is fundamentally different to the way that Target does category browse.

Brian: [00:33:46] Exacly. Totally agree.

Phillip: [00:33:49] Cool.

Brian: [00:33:50] That was fun. That was a fun conversation.

Phillip: [00:33:52] But this is... I think we've been talking about this since NRF.

Brian: [00:33:54] Yes.

Phillip: [00:33:55] And this is what we've been on. And it just keeps coming back. And we're seeing it over and over and over and over again. You know, I'm correcting myself. I'm going to go correct myself. One brand that is actually talking a lot about voice is KFC.

Brian: [00:34:10] Oh, yeah. Good point.

Phillip: [00:34:10] And I heard them talk a lot about it at Future Stores.

Brian: [00:34:13] Yum Brands. Right.

Phillip: [00:34:15] But in particular, enabling not a consumer experience, but a back of house management experience, a sort of workforce enablement. One thing they talked about at Future Stores, and I'm interested to hear from them more about at Shop Talk is one of their mandates is to try to make working at KFC stores such an enjoyable experience that you don't want to go work somewhere else. And part of that is enabling that joyful experience back of house with technology. Because being able to do your job in a way that's fun and engaging and exciting and actually makes it way better than working at any other competitor across the street is the differentiator. It's not just about wage.

Brian: [00:34:59] Dude, that gets back to our predictions episode, where we said that brands are going to have to invest in their retail workers, training, technology and wages. And, you know, if you're not investing in wages, you need to be investing in training and technology because you're going to have to find a way to retain your employees. Turnover for retail employees is at a ridiculous high right now.

Phillip: [00:35:23] Right.

Brian: [00:35:25] Even the lowest entry point for retail has very, very, very high turnover right now. And so...

Phillip: [00:35:33] But if we are automating out the jobs that have high turnover, like the front of house, you know, menial tasks that probably no human should be doing anyway. You know, taking verbal orders and punching them into a kiosk is a demeaning task for a human being, right?

Brian: [00:35:50] I mean, work is not demeaning. But yes.

Phillip: [00:35:54] No, but I'm saying I'm saying that particular task... I see what you're saying. And I actually agree with that sentiment. I'm saying that there are other... I'm of the opinion that even though we're displacing retail workforce minimum wage jobs with that sort of technology, we're actually enabling middle wage jobs with technology innovation and investment.

Brian: [00:36:15] Totally.

Phillip: [00:36:16] And you look at the growth of Cloud and those things are all running on Cloud. They're running a private cloud. Software companies are benefiting from it. It's just moving out of...

Brian: [00:36:24] Let's replace the entry level positions, that honestly no one really wants to do, and replace them with more skilled positions with better tools...

Phillip: [00:36:34] There is somebody out there screaming at their car radio right now. And I kind of want your input and your opinion here, because I'm sure there's a fundamentally different point of view around this. I do think the living wage is important. I might even be a fan of universal income. What I'm trying to say is that the consumer is capable of doing that job for themselves. And so they're gonna be much... If we can empower the consumer to do that job that people ostensibly don't want anyway, and move it out of the hands of that... So anyway, I think KFC is doing that. I think they're trying to do that. I think they're trying to do it in places that are unexpected. And that's really impressive. And I'm sure that there are other... This is Shop Talk, right? This isn't just retail talk, right? This is Shop Talk. And we're talking about anybody that has a customer is at the show. There's a lot of food brands at this show.

Brian: [00:37:31] Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:37:32] Not just CPG, not just grocery. We're talking about a lot of like fast food, a lot of people that are retail. They really are. Restaurants. But they're brands that people are passionate about that are trying to do innovative things with technology.

Brian: [00:37:48] So before we wrap up because we're running out of time. One thing I did want to touch on, and just because we haven't talked about it yet, is all the announcements about store closings.

Phillip: [00:37:59] Oh, my gosh.

Brian: [00:38:00] Crazy talk. Crazy talk. We've got Victoria's Secret... Big, big brands that've just... I mean, CoreSite's already projecting 5500 store closings this year, already projecting that, let alone any announcements to come later this year. That's a lot of store closings. Two years ago it was over 8000. Last year was over 5000, I think. And so to already be at 5500 projected on the year... I think that we're going to see another year of even more store closings than we did last year.

Phillip: [00:38:38] One of the things that came back to our predictions episode was I was talking about the repurpose of retail space as transportation hubs. Lyft made an announcement recently about doing just that for reduced rates and reduced fare. One of the people I follow on Twitter, who's a transportation enthusiast, actually a West Palm Beach native, was specifically talking about how we're four to five years out from Uber and Lyft basically being able to cry and say that they're so pivotal and fundamental and foundational for transportation in cities that they require a subsidy. And so the circle goes. We're very close to... So even if retail, let's say that all these retail closures actually become... And Tesla, by the way, Tesla closing their retail stores. They're going 100% e-ommerce, direct to consumer, which that is a whole other ball of wax. I know you don't like talking about Elon Musk.

Brian: [00:39:42] No, I don't. I'm done talking about Elon Musk. {laughter}.

Phillip: [00:39:44] So here's the issue. I don't know that we are over retailed. I think that there is a repurpose coming for a lot of these, a lot of the space that's available, but even so, it doesn't mean we're on a trajectory for something that's actually transformational. You know, even the disruption we see in transportation, there are people out there who are anticipating for that to just go full circle and still require a subsidy, still require, you know, the government to assist them and to prop them up. They can't probably... I don't know how many can exist for 20 years like Amazon did without turning profits. Lyft is filing for IPO.

Brian: [00:40:28] Right.

Phillip: [00:40:28] There's a lot of interesting things that are happening. Somebody is going to start demanding a return for, you know, on the shareholder side, in the next 10 years, on someone in those in those industries. So. Wow. So from a store closure perspective, I mean, CoreSite's projecting... That sounds like it's steady from last year to this year.

Brian: [00:40:48] Yes. Right. But that's without any additional announcements. So we can see some other big announcements. We're only in March, the beginning of March. There is a lot of year left. Yeah, a lot of year left.

Phillip: [00:41:01] And we saw a pretty anemic Q4 on the retail side.

Brian: [00:41:06] Well, for some.

Phillip: [00:41:07] Yeah. Some pretty disappointing numbers for some. For some brands. Yeah. Even some that have been lauding their growth in e-commerce over the years. So it's interesting. Can you think the one off the top of your head that had a great Q4?

Brian: [00:41:25] Walmart. I mean that gets back to I think Wal-Mart's making a lot of good moves.

Phillip: [00:41:33] Best Buy. Shocking.

Brian: [00:41:35] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:41:36] There is a turnaround.

Brian: [00:41:37] Yep.

Phillip: [00:41:38] What I love is, on the Earnings Beat, the immediate retail... You would have seen five articles in the last month about how Best Buy is going to be one of the next to bite the dust. And on the Earnings Beat earlier this week, like two hours after market close, we get a glowing story about how they've invested in emotional intelligence and created showrooms for the stores and embraced price matching. And that's thus the turnaround at Best Buy. And I'm like...

Brian: [00:42:09] {laughter} You just rolled your eyes right there.

Phillip: [00:42:13] Oh, yeah. Oh, I rolled my eyes so hard.

Brian: [00:42:13] For people that are listening.

Phillip: [00:42:18] Anybody wants to make a story out of the current state, we'll see where it actually goes.

Brian: [00:42:24] I mean, if you look at the brands that are closing their stores, though, again, I think this gets back to something you said the predictions episode, which is this isn't retail apocalypse. This is just the death of boring retail. And also a shift in culture. People don't want to really buy from Gap anymore. Like Lianne was just saying, does the CEO from Gap actually wear a Gap clothes onto the stage?

Phillip: [00:42:51] You know what? Someone should fact check that.

Brian: [00:42:53] I don't know if that's true or not.

Phillip: [00:42:55] But Gap is a big brand, and he could be wearing Banana Republic. I don't know.

Brian: [00:42:58] Sure. He definitely could. Yeah. I'm not trying to say that he does or doesn't. I'm just saying if he did, I wouldn't even be that excited about it. My point here is, I think that Gap and Victoria's Secret haven't really evolved their brands to match what our culture and what consumers are looking for in a brand for the past 10 years.

Phillip: [00:43:28] Because I don't think consumers know what they're looking for.

Brian: [00:43:31] Well you have a brand like Lively come on our show... I think consumers do know what they're looking for.

Phillip: [00:43:36] I think they have to be shown it. They couldn't tell you what they're looking for until they see it. That's one of the problems. Right?

Brian: [00:43:46] Right.

Phillip: [00:43:47] They couldn't tell you that they're dissatisfied with their engagement with Best Buy until they're more satisfied with their engagement somewhere else.

Brian: [00:43:53] Right.

Phillip: [00:43:53] And I personally, I think it's all about choice. The last time I bought from Best Buy actually was last week, and it was because I preordered a video game for my kids because it wasn't available for preorder on Amazon. It was only available exclusively for preorder on Best Buy. And I just actually just don't care. I want the product.

Brian: [00:44:18] Right.

Phillip: [00:44:18] Doesn't matter where I'm shopping. Because that's the kind of product that I just don't care where I get it. If it's going to be shipped to my house, and it's going to get there on the day it comes out, and I can preorder it ahead of time...

Brian: [00:44:27] You'll buy it from [00:44:27] ... [00:44:29]

Phillip: [00:44:29] Yes, and I will. Actually I don't care.

Brian: [00:44:29] Yeah, I did, too.

Phillip: [00:44:31] So it's just one of those things that I think the consumer isn't as opinionated as we're giving them credit for, but they will be when they see something that is better. They will go there. But it has to exist, and it has to be real unlike Magically. It has to actually be a real thing that's tangible that they can grab on to. It can't be an idea.

Brian: [00:44:55] Hey, man. Magically, you may have been right about.

Phillip: [00:45:00] Yeah, I think we'll see how that plays out. All right. So there's so much show left. We'll still have another day and a half. I'm personally looking forward to today's keynotes. You know, yesterday I sat in through Mattel a little bit. I'm hoping we pick up a little bit. That was, that wasn't really, a lot of that conversation and keynotes yesterday I think we're fine, but weren't quite hitting on the mark for me. So I'm really excited to hear a little bit later today.

Brian: [00:45:29] Well, and maybe we will hear a little bit more about voice today.

Phillip: [00:45:32] Yeah. Today's the Alexa talk.

Brian: [00:45:34] Yeah. Today's the day. Yes.

Phillip: [00:45:35] So. So really looking forward to the Amazon talk. I'm really looking forward to... Listen... Right now, I feel like we've captured on our show the sentiment of where we are and where we're going. I think it's more fuzzy now than ever where the next couple of years are heading. And I think we're you know, we're sort of in an inflection point. What I would hate to see on a show floor at a show like this... I was talking to the folks at Speed Factory and Adidas is the technology vendors here and the show, the expo floor and the people that are present in attending the show aren't the ones that are actually the trendsetters. It's the brands themselves.

Brian: [00:46:34] Right.

Phillip: [00:46:34] And if you're not in the talks, and you're not in the keynotes, and you're not in the tracks listening to what they're saying and forecasting where they're going, you're missing the actual roadmap of the future of commerce. You can't get that from tweets and you're not going to get it from, you know, the vendors that are expoing.

Brian: [00:46:58] No. If you're going to just walk around all of the vendors, you've got to do a lot of piecing together in order to make it happen. But I totally agree with you. I was just talking to somebody, and I said that exact thing. A friend of mine was like, "I mean, you guys are in commerce everyday. You're researching it for the show." And I was like, "Yeah, but like, I need to be in these talks because the content at Shop Talk is where the forefront of what brands are actually doing and how they're like making leaps and bounds and strides towards better engaging with the customers. Yeah, that's being talked about here and really in ways that it's not being talked about elsewhere."

Phillip: [00:47:38] I know I said it in a couple episodes ago now, and you're going to hear me keep harping on Levi's because I just I'm very inspired by it, which by the way, I haven't talked at all about the Barneys half of that actual presentation, which I was actually also very inspired by, but that's a whole other topic that we can talk about that later. If you only took the retail pundit view on Levi's about using frickin laser beams to decorate jeans, you're going to miss the point that they're wanting to transform how they engage with their customer. And you're not going to get that story from retail press. You're only going to get that story from hearing them broadcasts and talk about where they want to be and who they want to be and where they want to go. Now, whether they actually do it or not or whether they can be successful or not, I think it's not important. It's really important that we understand how they're thinking about themselves. Levi's isn't the only one. I freaking love this show. I actually had a really great time at Shop Talk.hop Talk.

Brian: [00:48:39] Me too.

Phillip: [00:48:41] Okay, great. This has been awesome. I want to hear more from you. Brian, you want to hear more from our audience?

Brian: [00:48:48] 100%..

Phillip: [00:48:48] Tell them how much you want to hear from them.

Brian: [00:48:51] Well, I would say a lot. If you had to put a number to it, that number would be...a lot.

Phillip: [00:48:57] Where can they do that?

Brian: [00:49:00] Come to or anywhere you really can find podcasts and listen in. Leave feedback. Hit us up on Twitter. Hit us up on Instagram.

Phillip: [00:49:11] Instagram is where it's at right now, it's crazy.

Brian: [00:49:13] Yeah. And LinkedIn. Don't forget LinkedIn because we love LinkedIn.

Phillip: [00:49:16] We have a lot of engagement on all those platforms. And we do want to hear your voice in this conversation. Make sure to reach out, OK, with that retail tech moves fast...

Brian: [00:49:26] But, we're moving faster.

Phillip: [00:49:27] We are moving. I'm moving a little slower right now. I'm gonna have some coffee. Then I'll move really fast.

Brian: [00:49:32] After the coffee.

Phillip: [00:49:33] After the coffee. All right. Bye.

Brian: [00:49:34] Bye.

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