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Episode 58
January 24, 2018

Zero Mentions of Omnichannel - LIVE at NRF 2018

We recap NRF 2018 in a way that only Future Commerce can - LIVE from the show floor at The Big Show! Plus: is retail real estate in trouble? Have we left Omni Channel behind?

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We recap NRF 2018 in a way that only Future Commerce can - LIVE from the show floor at The Big Show! Plus: is retail real estate in trouble? Have we left Omni Channel behind?

We're live from NRF 2018

Probably (definitely) exactly 3.619 times bigger than IRCE

  • This year feels livelier than last year. Definitely better than this year.
  • Brian was here all week. Flew in all the way from Seattle.
  • Shoutout to Branden Moskwa here from eCommerce Allstars with the IBM social influencer team.
  • Shoutout to Jason Del Rey from recode. "he's quite a voice."

Tantric Commerce (you heard it here first):

  • Social proof: you want to hear about other experiences before you make the purchase yourself. Example:
  • Example from comedians in cars getting coffee. Jimmy Fallon jokes about how a commercial promises the product is going to change your life.
  • You get excited about the product being a life changing experience.
  • So you're happy when you buy it, you're happy when it arrives, and you're happy when you open it. The whole experience, you're happy.
  • The product at the end of the day could be terrible, because you're satisfied all along the way.
  • Platforms like Wish have capitalized on this where the actual thing you're buying is happiness in purchasing.
  • That's what we call tantric commerce: the anticipation is so enjoyable that the product is almost unnecessary.
  • Yes, you have to have a good product at the end of the day,
  • But if 50% of the enjoyment of the product is engagement with the platform, then the product that you have is not just the thing you sell, you're in fact selling the whole experience.
  • The things in the NRF innovation lab aren't going to save your company if your business doesn't know how to give it's voice to those things. They're assistive, not the holistic.

Brand Voice Segue:

  • You have to be able to put a voice behind the brand.
  • For example, when you're product ships, make sure your client knows about it.
  • Allbirds is a great example of consistent and satisfying brand voice that adds credibility to the product.


  • Experience was the center of the conversation at NRF 2018.
  • The ones who are truly innovating are the ones making strides in experiential retail, not necessarily the ones presenting on stage.

Interesting Doug McMillon Interview Part 1:

  • Matthew Shay, NRF president, interviewed of Doug McMillon of Walmart.
  • McMillon talked a lot about how they care for their employees and their employment culture.
  • They've increased benefits and increased pay.
  • But of note, Shay did not ask McMillon about Sam's Club closings and the weird way it was executed. People showed up to work with doors chained.  That seems a poor way of treating your employees and customers.
  • It communicates more to not ask about it than to have a canned answer.
  • Walmart's huge and knows what it's doing. They obviously assume it will pay off for them, but it sure looks bad.
  • And it's an inconsistent move considering how they talk about treating their employees and customers.
  • This sullies a good two year run of positive Walmart developments.

Interesting Doug McMillon Interview Part 2:

  • McMillon talked about learning from other countries. He said they're learning more about retail from China than any other place in the world.
  • Shout out to Phillip's prediction in episode 55 of retail dominance leaving America.
  • Retailers: consider putting Alipay on your 2018 roadmap. It's a first step to position your brand for a global audience.

Global Commerce

  • Impact of international commerce law and activity having a large impact on US brands.
  • CVS in Europe bans photo manipulation on all products. Anyone doing business in Europe and France will have to comply with changes.
  • Those things will shape and guide retail and commerce. The US used to be guiding the world in this, whereas we're now complying with global trends.
  • Something from the comments of episode 57: calling us out on our take on bitcoin as a commodity. We made a distinctly US take on commoditized cryptocurrency. There are nations that are actually using it as currency, not as a commodity. Our point of view is very Ameri-centric.
  • US leading the way is not always going to be the case anymore. Not just tech, but retail too.

NRF Gala

  • The elite of retail gathering together to celebrate each other.
  • They had an award ceremony with all the trappings including a red carpet and honored guests.
  • Emily Weiss from glossier won an award.
  • Jeff Barnett, CEO of Salesforce Commerce Cloud won an award. (Brian may be biased)
  • Omar Miller Emceed. Brian said "what's up" to him. Pic or it didn't happen, Brian.
  • Five years ago this gala wouldn't have even been a thing.
  • Retail is getting the royal treatment. It drives industry.
  • Yes, the people who are driving this forward should get recognized, but maybe not a red carpet.

Notable absences:

  • Shopify (they're probably out in the Bronx somewhere)
  • Amazon (guest coming soon!). 4% of all retail in US: you're a stakeholder. Where you at?
  • Omnichannel: that word disappeared
  • Diminished footprint: Google.
  • Our whole approach to thinking about retail is pragmatic futurism. If you wanted to think about omnichannel, you'd probably want to talk with Amazon. Guess what, you can't; they're not here.
  • 3 years ago NRF was way more brick and mortar focused. Starting last year you could see the shift.

Salty Phillip statement of the day: what's going through your mind when you name your company chargebacks 911?

The Innovation Lab: The Bomb.

  • Phillip's vision of store of the future: 7-Eleven in 2090: a drone hovers in front of you and reads you an in user license agreement that you have to verbally commit to before buying your Slurpee reminding you that, hey, if you enter this place, you're going to be tracked by cameras.

4 Shoutouts

  • We're going to have short mini interviews with these folks on our FC Insiders. Sign up for exclusive content like this in the future.
  • June 20: a next generation kiosk platform for in-store product comparison.
  • It provides a window into products and reviews through a tablet platform right in the store.
  • They've created a tablet system on a rail that allows you to slide the tablet along the product display.
  • It uses a camera and sensor to identify products to show you more detail: you can see videos, see reviews, see product features. You can even send yourself a text message through it and buy it online.
  • It's a next level platform experience for a natural left to right timeline walkthrough for in-store experiences. Just like you would online, you can do a convenient personalized walkthrough in store.
  • Focal systems: are an actual camera and machine vision in store system.
  • They have cameras on shopping carts that do 2 things: they have an in cart presence for in stock items and out of stock items. They sense and read the images with machine vision (not beacons) of products that should be on the shelves and notifies staff to restock.
  • They also utilize real time cart analysis. The system shows you real time tracking of the shopping cart that's doing the shopping for you.
  • Lastly they have a tablet that's affixed to the shopping cart for wayfinding: for finding sales and products in store.
  • Today, a camera fixed to a cart may be the most elegant way to track products.
  • Optoro shout out. Sign up to FC Insiders for the mini interview.
  • Fit3D: is an in-store body data scanner. They store the data, the retailer stores the data, and you have complete control over the data. They use a device in store to scan, as opposed to a 2D model to convert to 3D.

The Vast NRF Burroughs Roundup

  • There's so much here and it's impossible to cover it all.
  • Come out one year to NRF.
  • 50% of innovation lab were either brands I'd seen earlier at an innovation lab. The news ones took me by surprise.
  • Another shout out: Authentic Media. They demoed an HTC Vive Cadillac showroom. It had a really cool feeling of presence.
  • The modeling is tricky and representing real life material like paint and leather are challenging, so any old retailer isn't going to have a VR showroom, you're going to need a big budget.
  • Same is true for AR. You need 3D models. But there are more companies popping up that are doing retail AR. In the enxt couple of years it will be easier to do it.

Upcoming events to see us at:

  • Shoptalk in March in Vegas.
  • Etail West: Brian's at the LA one in February.
  • Shoptalk in mid March. Brian has a  session March 19th at 5pm hosting a panel with Greg Jones, head of AR and VR at Google, Brian Kavanagh, head of retail evolution at the Hershey Company, and Mike Festa, head of Wayfair Next.

NRF is the big show. Get here next year. If you're a retailer, it's practically free. Don't forget to sign up for FC Insiders for exclusive content.

Brian: [00:01:04] Live at the NRF Big Show.

Phillip: [00:01:07] Yeah. Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:01:11] I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:12] And like Brian said, we're live at NRF 2018 at the Javits in New York City. And this is retail's biggest show.

Brian: [00:01:20] By far. By far.

Phillip: [00:01:21] Yeah, this is like 11 shows in one.

Brian: [00:01:23] If you have not been to this show... Let's say you've been the IRCW. This is like 3.5 times bigger. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:01:32] It's literally 3.6 times larger.

Brian: [00:01:35] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:01:37] Yeah 3.619, to be precise.

Brian: [00:01:38] I measured.

Phillip: [00:01:39] We have seen so many things over the last few days here at NRF. And we're right here at the very end of it. So I think we can give a pretty detailed recap.

Brian: [00:01:46] Yeah, I'm excited to talk about the show. Some pretty good content, some pretty cool sessions, pretty cool vendors.

Phillip: [00:01:51] In particular, if you want the two second recap... For me, we saw a real Innovation Lab for the first time at a retail show here at 2018 NRF.

Brian: [00:02:00] Better than last year. And better than the Innovation Lab.

Phillip: [00:02:06] For sure. And saw some true retail innovation, which we'll talk about a little bit here as we get into the show and give you a little bit of a recap. But as always, we want you to sign up for a Future Commerce Insiders. FC Insiders is our weekly inside look at everything in retail and sign up for that at Make sure that you subscribe to our podcast on Google Play, Apple podcast. Anywhere that you get podcasts or you can always listen at anytime from an Amazon Echo device with the phrase "Alexa, play Future Commerce."

Brian: [00:02:37] "Play Future Commerce podcast."

Phillip: [00:02:38] "Play Future Commerce podcast."

Brian: [00:02:39] There it is.

Phillip: [00:02:39] Let's get down to business. So you were here right from the very beginning, Brian. Tell me a little bit about...

Brian: [00:02:43] I was. Yes. The first day was pretty exciting. It was actually busier than I thought a first day on a Sunday would be.

Phillip: [00:02:53] A Sunday of a three day weekend.

Brian: [00:02:55] Let's be honest, like I flew in on a Saturday from Seattle to New York, was here on Sunday, Monday, which is a holiday, and then now Tuesday.

Phillip: [00:03:06] And whatever reason the National Retail Federation feels that Martin Luther King Day in the United States, which is a bank holiday, is a fantastic time to hold a conference.

Brian: [00:03:22] Everyone's off. They can all come.

Phillip: [00:03:24] They can all come. Yeah, no big deal.

Brian: [00:03:26] No big deal.

Phillip: [00:03:26] So you traveled in and you were here and it's always over this weekend.

Brian: [00:03:30] It is. Yeah. It is always over this weekend. And, you know, it was a great turnout.

Phillip: [00:03:35] Sure.

Brian: [00:03:35] Like that first day I was expecting it to be slow. I felt like it was slower the first day last year. This year I went in to the Innovation Lab.

Phillip: [00:03:43] It was banging the first day.

Brian: [00:03:44] It was loaded. Yeah. Check our Twitter feed. I posted a few pictures, but it was. The Innovation Lab, when I was there, was so crowded you could hardly walk around. When there was a session, people were being turned away because, you know, there wasn't enough room for people to get into it. And so clearly, you know, people are interested in what's next, what's coming down the pike. And I think next year I would actually expect to see a bigger area for innovation focused sessions, because it was just chaos in a good way.

Phillip: [00:04:18] One of the things that I sort of, and this is anecdotal, by the way, because I did not have the privilege of being here on the first day. I got here in day two. And but as I went through and looked at the sessions, it seemed like people were less in the actual talks themselves, like the breakout sessions. And they were very, very much concentrated in certain areas or like what I would call different neighborhoods of NRF. And so you...

Brian: [00:04:44] Neighborhoods is the right word.

Phillip: [00:04:46] Right.

Brian: [00:04:46] Because this show is so big.

Phillip: [00:04:49] Right. Well, actually, so we're in New York as it should be boroughs. Right? So we have the innovation borough is very, very, very crowded even today. The last day of the show.

Brian: [00:05:00] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:05:00] As even as a soon as an hour ago.

Brian: [00:05:03] Yeah. It was jam packed full of people. We got some nice little soundbites which will probably include in our FC insiders email.

Phillip: [00:05:10] Yeah.

Brian: [00:05:10] So don't forget to sign up for that. If you're listening live or if you're listening after, sign up and you'll get to hear some really cool sound bites from some of the innovative companies that were there.

Phillip: [00:05:22] And actually, as a quick shout out, as an aside friend of the podcast, Branden Moskwa.

Brian: [00:05:28] Yes.

Phillip: [00:05:28] He actually came up and grabbed us from ECommerce Allstars. He was able to make it out to the trip. He is here with the IBM influencer team, a social influencer team.

Brian: [00:05:37] He partnered with them last year.

Phillip: [00:05:39] Right. And so but he's done a real good... He's taking it all in. And I think we'll hear from his perspective. So check out his recap of NRF over on ECommerce Allstars. It is really cool to meet a lot of people that we've talked about on the show and get to meet them in person. Not the least of which is Jason Del Rey from Recode and Code Commerce and actually get to connect...

Brian: [00:06:02] He's quite a voice.

Phillip: [00:06:03] Oh my word.

Brian: [00:06:04] Yeah Jason is you know, I'd put him up there with Deborah Weinswig and some of the other top voices. I got to talk to Deborah, too. And I think we'll be having her on the show, within the next couple months, maybe by the end of the month.

Phillip: [00:06:17] So, yeah. And so I had this wonderful conversation with Jason and it sort of touched on this this theme that I've heard repeated here at the show a couple times.

Brian: [00:06:27] Cruises.

Phillip: [00:06:29] {laughter} We did talk about cruises, interestingly enough. So he had gone recently on an Alaskan cruise. And I'm interested in taking an Alaskan cruise. So we did connect over that. What actually was interesting about how we got onto the topic that I'm going to talk about is that there is the social proof in purchase decisions, or especially around large purchase decisions, that you want to hear about other people's experiences before you take the dive yourself, right?

Brian: [00:06:54] Yes.

Phillip: [00:06:55] So I was asking him what his Alaskan cruise was like, and he's told me all about it. He showed me a bunch of pictures. Here's a glacier.

Brian: [00:07:02] Cool.

Phillip: [00:07:02] And he was telling me all the pros and all the cons. And then he started telling me he's like, it's funny because this exchange here is actually how I buy goods. So we talked about how he's big on Wirecutter.

Brian: [00:07:15] Oh yeah. Oh, dude. Baptiste.

Phillip: [00:07:19] Right. So we had this whole conversation about Jason L. Baptiste about how...

Brian: [00:07:22] {laughter} I love Jason.

Phillip: [00:07:23] So Jason L. Baptiste was on the show some time ago. We talked about passive commerce and Jason Del Rey hadn't ever heard about Jason L. Baptiste's posit, his theory, about passive commerce. So I got into that whole thing with Jason Del Rey. I'm taking him down this journey of passive commerce. But he actually got into this area, and I'm gonna give it a label. But he was talking about this really interesting thing about Wirecutter becoming its own sort of social proof that you are having like the self-fulfilled positive experience that's cyclical over and over and over again because you find a product that's well received...

Brian: [00:08:02] Right.

Phillip: [00:08:03] And then you purchase it, and you you had a good experience with it. So now you have more trust in their voice as a publication.

Brian: [00:08:10] Wait. We're talking about sort of like success leading to success?

Phillip: [00:08:14] Yes.

Brian: [00:08:14] Yes.

Phillip: [00:08:14] Right. 'kay. But here's what really interesting. So I kind of turned it around and I said, "You know what I feel is actually more probably what's happening?" and not to go too deep on the psycho analysis of it. But have you watched Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee?

Brian: [00:08:30] A few episodes. Yeah. It's a good show.

Phillip: [00:08:32] So on Netflix, they've republished Jerry Seinfeld's Web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. And what's really great about... I think it's an episode with Jimmy Fallon. Yeah. And he's with Jimmy Fallon at some coffee shop. And they're talking about how a commercial comes on television and it has a product that's going to change your life. And then you see the commercial. You're so excited because when you see the commercial, you're like, this product is going to just change my life. And you think about that. And so you're happy because you're thinking about this life changing experience you're gonna have and then you order the product. And you're happy because you ordered this thing that's going to come to you and change your life and then you get the shipment notification and you're happy again. And then the product arrives and you're opening the box and you're happy again. And the entire journey, not even the product itself, but the anticipation of leading up to the ownership of the product is one happiness journey after another.

Brian: [00:09:28] Wait, so what you're saying is, you should increase your shipping times? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:09:31] Right. Exactly right. This is the anti-Amazon approach. No, but here's the rub. And this is what Jason and I were talking about, which is the product at the end of the day could actually be terrible. Like it could be. It could...

Brian: [00:09:45] But there's still happiness.

Phillip: [00:09:46] But you're still happy, right?

Brian: [00:09:49] This is why some of the customer or user generated platforms that have come out are like they're all about checkout comments because you're happiest when you've just made the purchases.

Phillip: [00:09:58] It's anticipatory.

Brian: [00:09:59] You're like, "Oh, I can't wait for this." And then now that gets out there on the web...

Phillip: [00:10:02] Here's what's going to be the game changer. So psychologically, you're also happy because there's going to be another commercial tomorrow. Tomorrow there's going to be another product. And Jason actually made a good point. He said that's what platforms like Wish have capitalized on.

Brian: [00:10:17] Yes.

Phillip: [00:10:17] Is that they're these cheap products that are, at the end of the day, they may do nothing for you.

Brian: [00:10:21] It's shopping as an experience.

Phillip: [00:10:23] Shopping as an experience. The product is inconsequential. The actual experience of being excited about something is the thing you're buying.

Brian: [00:10:31] So what you're saying is you can still buy things online and be addicted to shopping.

Phillip: [00:10:34] This is... I'm taking this in a completely different direction. I'm going to call this tantric commerce. Okay, because this is...

Brian: [00:10:45] Labeling. You're labeling it.

Phillip: [00:10:45] It's tantric commerce. It's building up this antisipation of this crazy event that like even if it doesn't pay off, like the anticipation is just so immensely enjoyable.

Brian: [00:10:54] I like it. No, it's good. It's good. You can build an entire brand just around this idea.

Phillip: [00:10:58] Tantric commerce.

Brian: [00:10:59] So you should really do is create happier... Like do more around those toich points leading to...

Phillip: [00:11:05] Let's make it actionable.

Brian: [00:11:07] Yes. This is good. This is good.

Phillip: [00:11:07] So here's where here's what it comes down to. This whole bit about technology being the experience is complete B.S. in my opinion. Okay. Technology can assist experience. But and I guess now at the end of the day, we've given a completely conflicting view on this a couple of times.

Brian: [00:11:23] Yes.

Phillip: [00:11:24] So we say you have to have a good product at the end of the day, right? Bad Domino's Pizza is just bad pizza. And it leads to poor customer experience, which means people don't like your brand anymore. So I think that there's a lot of things that are at play, especially at price point. If the actual... If half of the enjoyment of the product is me engaging with your platform and your content, if that's part of the whole journey, then your product isn't just the thing you sell that you ship to people.

Brian: [00:11:55] It's experience.

Phillip: [00:11:56] It is the whole thing.

Brian: [00:11:57] Yes. That's why tech is important.

Phillip: [00:11:59] But you can't make that just around augmented reality. You can't just make that...

Brian: [00:12:03] No, of course.

Phillip: [00:12:03] So all of these little things in the Innovation Lab are not going to be game changers for your business if your business doesn't know how to give its voice to those things that assist. They're assistive.

Brian: [00:12:13] Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent.

Phillip: [00:12:14] Anyway. So this whole sense of experience being the new platform, like retail experience, it can't just be the salesforce booth, you know, that everyone sits on a tree stump. It's got to be something that is transformative that like but actually puts a voice behind your brand. I just I'm super excited about having this realization.

Brian: [00:12:34] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:12:34] It was a really great conversation I had with Jason.

Brian: [00:12:36] I mean, it's actually a conversation that's been had many times. But you're applying it to even greater detail.

Phillip: [00:12:42] It's tangible. I'm saying...

Brian: [00:12:44] Yes.

Phillip: [00:12:44] I have an example now.

Brian: [00:12:44] Yes.

Phillip: [00:12:46] I have an example that I can point you to to say Wish, as an app, Wish as a website, to have cheap, you know, crappy products that I'm really excited about. Like, I don't get excited. Are you super excited to go to the dollar store? When you got a Dollar General, are you're like, "I'm gonna get frozen pizzas. Yeah." You don't... No. But for whatever reason, when you engage in it in technology... Do you see where I'm coming from?

Brian: [00:13:13] I totally get what you're saying.

Phillip: [00:13:14] All right.

Brian: [00:13:14] Yeah. No, so you're actually saying that what you need to do is take technology and apply your brand voice to it and also take those touchpoints and make each one something worth doing or experiencing.

Phillip: [00:13:29] Yeah.

Brian: [00:13:30] Yeah. So when your product ships, make sure your client knows about it because that's really nice...

Phillip: [00:13:35] I mean that's such a thing that you like... It's sad that in 2018 we keep having to even talk about that. But if you want a really good concrete like experience, Allbirds is really good example.

Brian: [00:13:46] Super tangible. Like I see this with retailers all the time.

Phillip: [00:13:50] Yeah.

Brian: [00:13:50] They totally forget about transactional emails. They don't do anything but stock, basically. And that's a pretty great point where, you know, you can do exactly what you're saying.

Phillip: [00:14:01] That's what I'm saying is if you want a real life example, go to Allbirds. And they have mastered the brand voice in everything that happens post-purchase. It's great to shop a website. It's great to add a product to your cart. But when you actually check out and you get the transactional email and it's on brand.

Brian: [00:14:22] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:14:22] And the voice of the brand is coming through the transactional.

Brian: [00:14:25] You like the brand's legit.

Phillip: [00:14:26] Yeah.

Brian: [00:14:27] Especially with some... If your brand is not as well known or you're an upstart brand. When I get... Let's say I ordered something on Macy's, let's just say that I did. If I get an email from Macy's that says, "Oh, your order shipped." I'm like, okay, it's Macy's. Right? But if I get one that's just like really plain from Allbirds. I'm like like what's exciting about this?

Phillip: [00:14:48] Right.

Brian: [00:14:48] Like. But if I get a nice design email from them, it feels like they are bigger brand.

Phillip: [00:14:54] Yeah it's added credibility to the brand. Okay. So at any rate, experience for me became forefront. It was like it's the center of the conversation at NRF 2018. But it's not because that came from a stage. It's not because somebody was talking about it in a breakout session. It's because the people who are actually truly innovating are the ones who are doing that.

Brian: [00:15:13] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:15:13] And anyway, very, very cool.

Brian: [00:15:16] That's good conversation.

Phillip: [00:15:17] So. Okay.

Brian: [00:15:18] A lot of other good stuff happening at the show. I mean, we'll talk more about the Innovation Lab here in a second. But some good sessions, one session that I caught that I want to kind of hone in on for a second is the Matthew Shay interview of Doug McMillan, which was actually a pretty good interview. It wasn't necessarily groundbreaking. There were a couple of moments I wanted to call out. First of all...

Phillip: [00:15:44] Matthew Shay is the CEO of NRF.

Brian: [00:15:46] Yes, correct. Yeah. Or president.

Phillip: [00:15:49] Right.

Brian: [00:15:49] Right.

Phillip: [00:15:49] And Doug McMillan is the CEO of Walmart. Just for people who don't know.

Brian: [00:15:54] He is Marc Lore's boss.

Phillip: [00:15:57] Exactly.

Brian: [00:15:59] And he spent a lot of time talking about how they care about their employees and their employee culture and, you know, all of that. And they've done some really interesting things. They've increased benefits, they've increased pay, but they didn't dive into Sam's Club closings at all, which is really surprising since this is such a hot topic right now. And the way that happened was just really weird. I saw Deborah Weinswig post on LinkedIn about this. She was like, "What do you think is going on?" And I'm sitting there and thinking like, OK. You know, everyone's like, well, Amazon effect and, you know, they've overexpanded their in-store footprints and, you know, things like that. All of which may be true.

Phillip: [00:16:51] Sure.

Brian: [00:16:51] But what in the world happened there? People showed up to work with doors chained.

Phillip: [00:16:57] Right.

Brian: [00:16:57] There's a note they're closed.

Phillip: [00:16:59] Right.

Brian: [00:17:03] To me that seems like a really poor way to handle working with your employees and your customers because Sam's Club is a paid membership.

Phillip: [00:17:13] Yep.

Brian: [00:17:15] And so now people that had a Sam's Club near them paid this money into this membership and now they don't have that service that they want. I'm wondering if Walmart, and maybe I just missed this, Walmart maybe going back and refunding money to those customers.

Phillip: [00:17:31] I'm sure they will. What I was most taken aback by is that it almost communicates more to not ask the question than it would have if it would have been sort of like a canned answer to have addressed it head on.

Brian: [00:17:45] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:17:45] And that's a real miss. But we're talking about companies that are, you know, of immense, massive global proportions. Walmart is not a small company. And they know what they're doing. It might be a misstep now, but you look at some of the incredible calculation and the re formation of their brand over the last two years, and there's a reason and a purpose. Now, was it damaging to some people? And did it have some fallout? And was it shocking? Yes.

Brian: [00:18:16] And it was inconsistent with what he was saying about, you know, working with employees, because, like, you walk up to work and your job is just gone with no warning, like you weren't expecting to lose your job that day. And I get, you know, layoffs happen, but it just feels like it would have been good to give some notice, some notice that this was going to happen.

Phillip: [00:18:39] Yeah. The one thing that I think we're gonna kind of come back down to is the way that you engage your customer in the hard times matters immensely. So we'll see what happens with this. I know that there's a lot of interesting messaging around, especially around the bonuses given...

Brian: [00:19:01] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:19:01] Around the change of the tax law. And anyway, we're probably the least well equipped to dive into the impacts there, but it affects all of us in retail. And especially those of us who have had a really positive outlook on Walmart and have changed our brand perception of Walmart the last two years.

Brian: [00:19:20] Yes.

Phillip: [00:19:20] This does sort of sully an otherwise near-perfect run.

Brian: [00:19:24] Yeah they've made a really good move. Really great set of moves recently and so...

Phillip: [00:19:29] So. I'll ask you what I asked on the past episode, which is do you see Walmart now kind of scaling back its approach in the M&A territory and continuing these land grabs?

Brian: [00:19:45] No.

Phillip: [00:19:45] No, but they're going to close some brick and mortar stores. So do you think it's just a repurposing of...?

Brian: [00:19:49] Yes. No, I mean, it was actually. I think it was like 25% of the stores they closed they converted to fulfillment warehouses for online sales. And I get it. The long term play here is smart, you know. They're expecting that they're going to do a lot more online than they are now. And I think they're right.

Phillip: [00:20:10] That's the second ever store closing in the history of Walmart.

Brian: [00:20:14] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:20:14] The second ever mass store closing in history of Walmart. But anyway, I'm sure we'll hear more in the days and weeks come.

Brian: [00:20:22] And the other thing that he talked about in that interview that I thought was interesting was he talked about learning from other countries, China in particular. And there was one quote where he basically said that they're learning more about retail and like what's next in retail out of China than they are from any other country in the world.

Phillip: [00:20:43] All right. I can see that. That makes sense.

Brian: [00:20:46] Does that ring any bells?

Phillip: [00:20:47] It does ring a few bells?

Brian: [00:20:48] Yeah, Phillip made a prediction in our predictions episode for 2018 that the US would start to take the back seat in some places to China and potentially other countries and that they would actually lead the way. It would be China centric, you know, innovation.

Phillip: [00:21:08] Or even in the Asian continent in general. Aside from China alone. I will say if you walk the show floor at NRF, you will see Alipay logos everywhere. Right. Like the prevalence of payment solutions that are geared for global payment solutions and providing payments to an Asian market is incredible. And I would almost say that if you're a retailer, especially in digital commerce, like if you're doing direct a consumer digital commerce, and you're not offering Alipay as a payment method on your website today, that should be on your 2018 roadmap. Because it's the first step into positioning your brand for a global audience.

Brian: [00:21:58] That's a good point. Yeah, that's a really good point.

Phillip: [00:22:00] It communicates a lot.

Brian: [00:22:01] It does. I agree with that. I agree with that. I mean, I think it's a good thing that on your roadmap. There're a lot of payment methods out there.

Phillip: [00:22:08] Sure.

Brian: [00:22:09] But, you know, I don't disagree with you.

Phillip: [00:22:13] But you see the messaging around here so much. And it's something that a lot of the international brands that I've worked with have asked for. In fact, you're seeing the impact of international commerce law, or international commerce activity, having very big impacts on US businesses. For instance, we just saw this week CVS is banning photo manipulation for beauty brands.

Brian: [00:22:39] Yes.

Phillip: [00:22:40] And so no photo retouching is going to be allowed for any beauty brand product that's sold at CVS in conjunction with its marketing. And if there is any manipulation of a photo, there's going to be a very clear consumer alert that there has been a manipulation of the photo. Which is really interesting about this, is that it follows the footsteps of a French law that came into effect in 2017 that they called the Photoshop Law. And anyone doing business in France is going to have to comply with that on some level. And you think about the kind of impacts of... You might be a retailer that has already a large catalog of already retouched photography or you have a large catalog of stock photography where you didn't source the images. So think about the impacts for an eCommerce retailer who's doing business in France. They're going to have to comply anyway. And now we're seeing it's not even US regulation. But we're seeing that sort of thing being adopted as goodwill. And CVS is that type of company. They're the kind of company who says we're no longer going to sell, you know, cigarettes and alcohol. We're a wellness brand. And we want to have full body, total mind and body wellness.

Brian: [00:23:48] And sell insurance.

Phillip: [00:23:49] Right. And that's perfectly on brand for CVS.

Brian: [00:23:53] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:23:53] And I think now if you want to compete in the drugstore space, you're going to be called to task to adopt similar mentalities around the way that you position health and beauty. So I find it really interesting because the things that are happening outside of the United States are extremely important, and they're starting to shape and guide us where we used to lead the way. And as a last little bit here, we received a very lengthy comment on Disqus from our last episode about Bitcoin and Blockchain. And basically calling us out on the Disqus comment box on episode 57, calling us out, saying that our take on Bitcoin as a commodity was an entirely US centric approach. It was a very obviously United States or North American take on commoditized crypto currency and that there are nations like South Korea who are actually using it as currencies, who don't see it purely as hedge and purely as investment opportunity and risky asset means of making money. And I find that it could be that our point of view has a very specific... Our point of view is being shaped by the circumstances and then nationality from...

Brian: [00:25:21] Of course it is.

Phillip: [00:25:21] Right. So anyway.

Brian: [00:25:23] That said, I mean, there's also some news that just came out yesterday where researchers did a bunch of investigation into Bitcoin and they found out it was likely one person who drove Bitcoin from $150 to a thousand dollars.

Phillip: [00:25:50] Possibly.

Brian: [00:25:51] We are approaching things from a US centric point of view. I don't disagree with that.

Phillip: [00:25:57] Might be a thing.

Brian: [00:25:57] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:25:58] Might be true.

Brian: [00:25:58] It might be true.

Phillip: [00:25:59] Might be true there. And in any unregulated market, you know, there might be these potentials for some issues. At any rate, the point is US leading the way is not always going to be the case anymore.

Brian: [00:26:14] Correct.

Phillip: [00:26:14] And it's something that I think you and I should be keeping in mind, especially when we're coming...

Brian: [00:26:18] Yeah, it's not just tech.

Phillip: [00:26:20] Right.

Brian: [00:26:20] It could be retail, too, across the board.

Phillip: [00:26:24] So and there's a prediction that I kind of was hoping wasn't going to come true. And yet again, it's something that sounds more and more prevalent. So, OK, moving on to NRF. So you attended the gala.

Brian: [00:26:35] Yeah I did.

Phillip: [00:26:36] Tell me a little bit about the NRF Gala.

Brian: [00:26:37] Yeah. I mean, that was sort of the elite of retail, if you will, the elite of retail gathering together to celebrate each other.

Phillip: [00:26:50] When you say it like that.

Brian: [00:26:52] No, it was good. There was an award ceremony. There was a time. There was like a red carpet leading into it. People that were on the list to be honored got to walk the red carpet. And you know, some of the awards I agreed with, some of them I didn't really agree with. I like that Emily Weiss from Glossier was awarded Dreamer. Was it Dreamer? And now I forget, but she won an award. I thought that was deserved. And so, you know, there were some others. The CEO of Salesforce Commerce Cloud won an award. And I I'm not sure I totally agree with you that.

Phillip: [00:27:36] You're just biased.

Brian: [00:27:36] But I may be biased. I may be biased. That's true. And Omar Miller was the host. Omar Miller from NCIS and Ballers. And he was a great host, actually. It was really fun to see him there. I got to point at him and be like, "Hey, I liked you on Ballers." And he was like, "Thanks, man."

Phillip: [00:28:01] Pretty cool.

Brian: [00:28:02] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:28:04] Did you get it like a picture with him at all?

Brian: [00:28:06] No, I could have. But I was actually on my way out when I said hi to him. So it was cool.

Phillip: [00:28:12] You got to put that up on the Future Commerce Twitter, man.

Brian: [00:28:14] I know. I know.

Phillip: [00:28:15] Actually, you're getting a little bit better about that.

Brian: [00:28:17] I am getting a little better about that. For those of you who know me, I'm not huge on Twitter. I am on LinkedIn though.

Phillip: [00:28:25] That is the truth. So the gala was interesting and really I think what we're kind of like working towards...

Brian: [00:30:26] Well, let me talk about one more thing. Yeah. I want to hear you're gonna say. But what I thought was kind of weird, but what was cool about it is I feel like, they need they even said this, five years ago this gala wouldn't have even really been a thing. And now it's a really big thing. And retail is being given the royal treatment. And I think it should. I mean, retail leads America in many ways and in a lot of categories and drives industry. And you know the people that are moving that needle forward should be honored and be given more star treatment. That said, I don't know if it needs to be a literal red carpet...

Phillip: [00:31:07] Well. However, it's packaged, right?

Brian: [00:31:10] Yes.

Phillip: [00:31:11] Some notable absence, speaking of retail leading the way. I feel like Shopify is notably absent at this conference.

Brian: [00:31:21] Yeah I didn't see any branding for them. They might be here somewhere. The show is so big. Like so big.

Phillip: [00:31:28] Yeah. They're probably like out in the Bronx somewhere.

Brian: [00:31:30] They could be in any one of these boroughs here.

Phillip: [00:31:36] So also Amazon.

Brian: [00:31:39] Yeah. Let's talk about that a little bit. I think we're going to have someone from Amazon on the show to talk about Amazon's role...

Phillip: [00:31:47] And strategy at from a retail perspective.

Brian: [00:31:50] Looking forward to that. That should happen in the next week or two.

Phillip: [00:31:53] Yeah, I just feel like when you capture 4% of retail sales...

Brian: [00:31:58] Worldwide.

Phillip: [00:31:58] Worldwide. No, that was just US.

Brian: [00:32:01] That was just US. Ok.

Phillip: [00:32:02] Just US retail sales are 4% in 2017. All of retail.

Brian: [00:32:06] Forty four percent of online sales in 2017.

Phillip: [00:32:10] Happen on

Brian: [00:32:11] Yes.

Phillip: [00:32:12] Yeah. When you capture 4% of all retail in one market, in one jurisdiction or like one country.

Brian: [00:32:20] Yes.

Phillip: [00:32:20] Then you have a seat at the table. You're a stakeholder. You are probably one of the biggest stakeholders.

Brian: [00:32:26] See that's the question that I have for Amazon. Was it intentional not to be here or was there any like conflict between them and NRF because Amazon's being what they are? I'm really looking forward to hearing more about that.

Phillip: [00:32:41] And from an enablement perspective, you would think that especially retailers that are... This plays a lot to if you've ever walked the NRF show floor, you see point of sale, you see vending, you see 3PL, robotics, automation, you know, automation for warehouse... Anything that you could need as a retailer of any size, not just, you know, digital commerce retailer, but if you are a brick and mortar retailer and you're wanting to broaden your omnichannel strategy, you're probably...

Brian: [00:33:10] You just said omnichannel.

Phillip: [00:33:11] I know.

Brian: [00:33:13] Which is a word that's notably absent from this show.

Phillip: [00:33:15] Yeah really. That's true.

Brian: [00:33:16] It has disappeared. I mean, I saw it like once.

Phillip: [00:33:20] Yeah.

Brian: [00:33:20] In the whole show.

Phillip: [00:33:21] It's so true actually. I do see the word "future" freaking everywhere.

Brian: [00:33:25] Future is everywhere.

Phillip: [00:33:26] Right. Future and innovation is the thing.

Brian: [00:33:29] Yeah. We might have to rebrand. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:33:30] I'm gonna have to change the name of the show. Yeah, you're right. Omnichannel is notably absent. It just I think one banner that I've seen that basically talked about omnichannel. Here's what it comes down to. Our whole approach in thinking about retail, or like the future of retail, has always been like pragmatic futurism.

Brian: [00:33:53] Right.

Phillip: [00:33:53] So while we do talk about like exoskeletons with Lowe's Innovation Lab.

Brian: [00:33:58] That was fun.

Phillip: [00:33:59] Yeah. Right? And, you know, having futurists write futurist stories about the future, so we can build future things. Those are all cool and everything. But that's not what most people are doing. So when you walk the show floor, you might think the future of my business in the next year would be to have an omnichannel strategy, which means I'm going to sell in marketplaces, which means I might want to talk to someone from Amazon.

Brian: [00:34:26] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:34:26] But you can't.

Brian: [00:34:27] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:34:28] Right. Because they're not necessarily here, not in tangible way.

Brian: [00:34:34] Not in a tangible way. AWS popped up a little bit.

Phillip: [00:34:35] For sure. Yeah.

Brian: [00:34:37] And it's interesting another sponsor that was sort of not here. They were here, but it was a much more understated way than that I've seen them in other places is Google. Google sponsored the gala. And that was about all I saw. I saw their logo a couple of other places, but it was pretty minimal. And considering how much they've invested in Shoptalk, that's kind of weird.

Phillip: [00:35:05] Yeah. So I think what we're definitely seeing is this widening gap between the digital enablement, the digital commerce enablement technology sort of finding their ways into very specific shows and leaving behind sort of the more blended aspect of an NRF show into more focus toward, you know, brick and mortar or larger omnichannel retailers.

Brian: [00:35:34] You say that. But also we've got to think about what NRF looked like three years ago, which was way more brick and mortar, way more sort of classic retail. Last year it started to get... I would say that it was a much more like software focused, a lot more like solution focused. And then this year...

Phillip: [00:35:52] But if you go to the basement, and you go down to that borough...

Brian: [00:35:59] That's true. Don't get me wrong. We talk about consolidation in retail. We need to talk about consolidation in retail tech and services.

Phillip: [00:36:10] Oh my word, please.

Brian: [00:36:11] Please.

Phillip: [00:36:14] I would not be me if I didn't say something a little bit salty or salacious.

Brian: [00:36:20] That's true.

Phillip: [00:36:22] I could probably do a whole segment on this show for 30 minutes about why you decided to name your company Chargebacks 911. What is going through your mind?

Brian: [00:36:33] Oh, man.

Phillip: [00:36:35] I don't know. I'm a pretty judgmental person. I don't want to be. But that's just how I am.

Brian: [00:36:41] It's true.

Phillip: [00:36:41] I've now formed an opinion of you and the ability of your product to deliver anything because your inability to name it something other than putting 911 in the title. Anyway. There's like a whole audience of people that... I just will never understand some of the retail tech that is at a show like this that, you know, they are smaller players, they have smaller booths, but they're capturing someone in the marketplace.

Brian: [00:37:11] Yeah. They're here for a reason.

Phillip: [00:37:12] Right.

Brian: [00:37:13] Yeah, no. I can tell you, somebody said this after last NRF, as well. If I was a retailer, I would not know how to handle this show on my own.

Phillip: [00:37:22] Right.

Brian: [00:37:22] And when you come to this show, you need to do your homework before you get here.

Phillip: [00:37:28] You need to map out a plan.

Brian: [00:37:29] Yes.

Phillip: [00:37:30] It's crazy. It's crazy. So. All right. So, yeah. Now we're into basically the Innovation Lab. That's where I'm trying to go.

Brian: [00:37:38] No. Are we getting there already?

Phillip: [00:37:39] I kind of want to get there because it's the thing I'm actually excited about from the show.

Brian: [00:37:43] I would agree. This Innovation Lab was the bomb.

Phillip: [00:37:46] It was the only thing that really I felt like it was the turning the corner of what "Innovation Labs" have been in the past. I will say that there is still way too many of these... It's tech companies that are entirely focused on, you know, the Microsoft Kinect device to provide all of their platform, their hardware for...

Brian: [00:38:16] Well the Kinect device was discontinued.

Phillip: [00:38:16] Well, that's a problem. That's going to be a problem for some of these people. And so they need to be figuring out how in the world they're going to do that. But and we saw a couple of those. Like for sentiment analysis of like Real-Time tracking, sentiment analysis, gender tracking, that sort of thing.

Brian: [00:38:35] Well, I think that was Kinect based.

Phillip: [00:38:38] It was Kinect based.

Brian: [00:38:39] It was Kinect. Oh.

Phillip: [00:38:39] So who is that?

Brian: [00:38:41] That's Kinmetric.

Phillip: [00:38:41] Kinmetric. They're on the Kinect platform.

Brian: [00:38:44] Yeah, I think that they'll probably move to their own hardware in the future. That would by my guess. I love what they're able to do.

Phillip: [00:38:50] Yeah. The idea's really interesting, but some of those overlays like the hitbox sort of like wireframe overlays, something that Kinect does natively. Yeah. Sentiment analysis. I'm not sure if that's something that's built into the Kinect. No, it was part of the early Microsoft demos. But you know, things like heart rate, you know, heart rate and micro fluctuations of like body temperature, those are all things that Kinect can do. Yeah. So it's not necessarily specific to Kinmetric. Now, what they do that might be interesting is the way that they put it all together for a retailer.

Brian: [00:39:21] Yeah. Because they can actually identify products.

Phillip: [00:39:25] Right. Or you know and basically footfall type path like attention analytics.

Brian: [00:39:32] Right. Is it basically conversion funnel for in-store.

Phillip: [00:39:36] Yeah. For in-store. But that's not a new thing.

Brian: [00:39:39] No, it's not.

Phillip: [00:39:39] That's been around for some time. It's always been sort of creepy what we're able to do in that regard. But this is done in sort of...

Brian: [00:39:46] Yeah, interestingly enough... And I talked him a little bit about this. They said that they weren't really able to connect, they had the ability to do it, but they couldn't connect this back to account data, specific account data, due to legal reasons. And so one of the things that I'm really looking forward to is a way for people to opt in, to be tracked like that. And be able to connect it back to your own account. I've talked about this in our prediction show. I think people should have better access to that. Retailers should be providing their data back to the customers, so their customers can leverage that data and do cool things with it. And actually, I think you'll end up collecting more data on them, because once they can see what you can do for them with that data, they're going to opt in. So, I hope that that's sort of the way that this comes about more. More transparency in data that's being gathered.

Phillip: [00:40:45] That's so true. I have this vision of the store of the future.

Brian: [00:40:53] Store of the future.

Phillip: [00:40:54] Right. Yeah. I have this vision of like 7-Eleven in 2090. And you walk in and, you know, a drone hovers right in front of you and reads you like an end user license agreement that you have to... It's like sitting in the exit row in an aircraft. They're like, I need you to verbally say, yes, that you're okay with me tracking all of this crap about you when you walk into a 7-Eleven. And thank you. Have a good day. Here's a Slurpee. That's what I think is... You can audibly laugh. Brian, that's totally, totally OK.

Brian: [00:41:28] That's the best thing I ever heard out of you.

Phillip: [00:41:30] I just think that you have... The kinds of things that we're verging on, it's like beyond just the hey, if you enter this place, you're gonna be tracked with cameras. Actually, speaking of which, so let's talk about a couple of really neat people that we saw. The technologies we saw in the Innovation Lab at the show.

Brian: [00:41:54] Yeah let's do it.

Phillip: [00:41:54] Let's see here...

Brian: [00:41:55] One of the ones you were really excited about was June 20.

Phillip: [00:41:57] Yeah. June 20 was really cool. Actually, if you're on the FC insiders, we are going to have little short mini interviews with all of the ones we mentioned here. And so there will be four, I think, that'll come out. And so I'll make sure you sign up at and get on the FC insiders mailing list to hear it.

Brian: [00:42:15] That's right.

Phillip: [00:42:17] So we actually talked to June 20. June 20 is sort of like this next generation kiosk platform for in-store product comparison that keeps a customer from bouncing to look at product reviews on their phone by providing like a window into that stuff through a tablet platform right there in a product display. So if you can imagine a product display with sort of horizontally arranged with a bunch of competing devices. In their case, they used like a a smart door lock system. So you might have something like De'Longhi or Kohler. You might have one from like Nest or August. You might have one from you know, Ring has a doorbell with a camera.

Brian: [00:43:08] August is cool, man.

Phillip: [00:43:09] August is really cool, actually. But if you look at all of these various mechanisms, they all kind of do different things. And to get some interesting information about each one of them. You sort of have to rely on the manufacturer to create, you know, those end cap displays or create something that sort of stands out. So what June 20 has done is they've created a tablet system that's on a rail that allows you to slide the tablet along. And as you slide it along the product display, it actually uses the camera and sensors near each of the devices to actually show you more detail about the product. You can watch videos, you can see product reviews. You can see manufacturer tech specs. You can even right there, click in to it, text yourself a text message and complete the purchase through the retailer's store that you might be in online. So it keeps you from having to, like, actually bounce out to like Amazon do like in an aisle product comparison. So I love the promise of this type of device.

Brian: [00:44:17] Yes, absolutely.

Phillip: [00:44:18] But here's where it becomes like next level.

Brian: [00:44:21] All right.

Phillip: [00:44:21] And I want these guys actually to come on the show because their vision for how this could be used for CPG is super, super forward thinking. So if you can think of... One of the problems with in-store competing with online is you can do things online in a much more efficient way that wouldn't require actual manpower and training to accomplish like you would in store. So I'll give you a good example. How about like GNC? If GNC wanted to create a subscription pack of vitamins that's tailored to you and to your lifestyle and what your goals are for fitness or for health reasons. So let's say that maybe you have high blood pressure, you're a little overweight, or maybe you're very athletic, or maybe there are all these things that are very specific to you that walk-through is going to be inherently easier to do online, then it would be to do in-store. Because if you had someone in store there standing there with a clipboard, they're going to walk you through all these questions. You're talking to another person. You feel like you're getting sold pretty hard or you have like a digital kiosk that no one's going to engage with. That's going to stand there in the store. And then what do you do? At the end of the day, that kind of experience is really hard to pull off in store.

Brian: [00:45:37] True.

Phillip: [00:45:37] And there's one to one product creations are actually really, really tough to operationalize at a business of that scale. Well, what this platform does, if you can imagine a tablet on rails. This is a natural left to right sort of timeline walkthrough. So you just like you would on a website, you can actually in the store go from step one, step two, step three, step four. And you can walk through a journey of creating a product. And they're doing this already for some big brands like Tesla, where you can actually feel the leather, see the leather sample of the kind of leather and you do a product like a car configurator.

Brian: [00:46:14] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:46:15] But you're doing it with this tablet as you're walking along the display.

Brian: [00:46:18] Sweet.

Phillip: [00:46:18] Yeah.

Brian: [00:46:18] I love it.

Phillip: [00:46:19] So I think it's really cool. It's a really neat idea. June 20 and again, you'll hear it from them probably a few times.

Brian: [00:46:28] And honestly that that sort of plays into the idea of like more personalized products because like you can still go buy those in-store with this sort of experience.

Phillip: [00:46:35] Yep.

Brian: [00:46:36] Yeah. That's amazing and necessary. I talked with Robin Lewis like when I first got here.

Phillip: [00:46:48] Who's that?

Brian: [00:46:48] From the Robb report. And I talked to him when I was getting my badge at registration, and we were talking about what the death of retail really was.  Retail apocalypse, you know, and we were both on the exact same page. It's, you know, retail's overcrowded and so there's just so much out there that you can buy that it's people that employ these solutions, like what you're talking about, in a really smart way to accomplish something new for their customers.

Phillip: [00:47:22] Yeah.

Brian: [00:47:22] That are going to be the ones that that stand out and brands that are just brands to be brands that just they don't do anything with it, like Sears and others, those are the ones that are going to get edged out because people are going to want to have personal products or personalized products that they can buy in-store.

Phillip: [00:47:46] Well, think about it like this, too. Think about what a brick and mortar, like a storied brick and mortar brand like a Target could do with a product acquisition of something like a Blue Apron. And it wouldn't just have to be a digital play. You could now bring a Blue Apron meal configurator display kiosk in store and have people actually create their meal kits that they could order and have shipped to their house on a weekly basis with a beautiful in-store experience.

Brian: [00:48:19] You could like taste it along the way.

Phillip: [00:48:20] I mean, how cool is that?

Brian: [00:48:21] It's really cool. I like that.

Phillip: [00:48:22] A lot of really interesting ideas on how that could be applied. So June 20, really cool. I hope I don't take this much time for every single one of them.

Brian: [00:48:30] We won't get through them all.

Phillip: [00:48:31] Focal Systems, who you'll hear from on the FC Insiders interview. They are a actual camera machine vision system for in store. They have cameras that attach to shopping carts and the cameras and the equipment on the shopping carts do two things natively. So their actual product that's live in market right now is a product recognition or a product analysis for in-store or in cart presence. So it's merely just for like customer decision making, like I've picked this product up six times sort of an idea. But it also senses out-of-stock. So there's another sensor on the cart that as you're walking by, again with machine vision, not with RFID. Not with...what do they call it? Beacons.

Brian: [00:49:32] Not with beacons.

Phillip: [00:49:34] But what they've done is they actually sense and read the images of the products that should be on the shelves in particular places. They take note of stock outs and they can dispatch people to either refill or reorder. And that totally affects the supply chain. The next thing that is in beta and should be in market by mid-2018, which they actually showed live at the show, was a a real time cart analysis. It actually showed you a real time tracking of the shopping cart that you were building in like a digital shopping cart of stuff that was in your shopping cart.

Brian: [00:50:14] That's super cool.

Phillip: [00:50:14] So you actually see the camera right in the screen. So they throw, you know, the coffee filters into the shopping cart.

Brian: [00:50:22] Right.

Phillip: [00:50:23] And it shows up in the shopping cart on the display.

Brian: [00:50:25] It's awesome. I love that.

Phillip: [00:50:26] And you can see how it's drawing, you know, the line around this is the coffee filter, and it's recognizing it from, you know, from machine vision. That's really impressive.

Brian: [00:50:35] I feel like that's actually more a future of like of in-store tracking experiences. More with with cameras and with, you know, machine vision. And like it's actually going to be in other places, not just on the card, but also around the store. I may have just lost my own audio.

Phillip: [00:50:54] There you go. So lastly, they had a tablet that's affixed to the shopping cart for wayfinding. So you could find products in the store. So you can kind of locate yourself around the store and finding sale items. So think about CPG brand that wants to sort of come in and sort of undercut the competition. They can like in real time push offers to someone that has other competing products in the cart for them to try something different.

Brian: [00:51:23] This gets back to what Healey was talking about.

Phillip: [00:51:27] Healey Cypher from Evoke Labs, who actually we saw here, but carry on.

Brian: [00:51:29] Yeah. Healey on an episode I think was episode what, 14 15? Somewhere in there.

Phillip: [00:51:34] The early days.

Brian: [00:51:35] Early, early episode. He's like, let's get our faces away from looking down at our phones, and walking around with our phones like in our noses and not looking up at the world. Let's look up at the world. And then like experience it and integrate digital into, you know, he put it so eloquently on that episode. Like in the wood...and in the grains of our lives, or something like that. But, yeah, I love that. And I think that, you know, I'd love to see future iterations of this and see how this sort of progresses to the point where it looks, you know, beyond just like a camera stopped on our shopping cart.

Phillip: [00:52:16] Right.

Brian: [00:52:17] It starts to look like something beautiful and cool.

Phillip: [00:52:19] And here's what's interesting. So the Amazon Go concept was a, you know, 1180 square foot store. And so when it's smaller than most convenience stores. Again, I'm just repping what Focal Systems told me.

Brian: [00:52:32] Right.

Phillip: [00:52:33] When you think about it like that, and you have a limited product assortment. You can create a camera array in the ceiling that could watch everything that happens in a store. But when you think about the size of a super Target. Or a super Walmart like these giant retail stores.

Brian: [00:52:48] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:52:49] Right. Like when you think of like a flagship... What is it? Hardware. The hardware store.

Brian: [00:53:01] Restoration Hardware.

Phillip: [00:53:02] Restoration Hardware. Thank you. My gosh, my brain for a second there. So you think of the flagship Restoration Hardware that just opened up in West Palm Beach. It's like four stories, right? It is unbelievably large of the kinds of products that they're going to carry throughout the whole story. Now, that's a showroom. But at the end of the day, like can a camera become sufficiently advanced to be able to do that at some point? But today, a camera fixed to the cart might be the most elegant way to do it.

Brian: [00:53:29] Right.

Phillip: [00:53:29] These guys are already doing they're doing it for real. They're already doing it.

Brian: [00:53:32] This is the real thing you can actually do.

Phillip: [00:53:34] You don't have to wait for Amazon Go to open up in your neighborhood, which is never going to happen. I'll call it right now.

Brian: [00:53:40] I agree with you. I don't think Amazon Go is going to open in your neighborhood. Unless it's my neighborhood.

Phillip: [00:53:46] Could be. And we talked to a couple other folks, you know, up Optoro who you were really interested in.

Brian: [00:53:51] Oh reverse logistics improvements. Oh, another one that I wanted to call was Fit 3D.

Phillip: [00:53:57] Oh, yeah.

Brian: [00:53:58] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:53:58] You were saying they do some body data stuff.

Brian: [00:53:59] They haven't in-stores scanner now. It's interesting. I actually asked them about how the data was stored. I was curious. And so they said that actually they store the body data, the retailers store the body data, and you also have access to the body data. I don't know. I think I've talked to the director of marketing, so I want to get into a little bit deeper discussion with them. But she said that you have complete control over it. And when it gets deleted then it has no residual. It's not stored forever if you don't want it to be, which was important because this is really like sensitive data. And she said that, you know, they were pretty excited when Body Labs got bought up.

Phillip: [00:54:37] Yes, sure.

Brian: [00:54:38] They kind of are one of the main players now in this space.

Phillip: [00:54:42] It opened it up for them.

Brian: [00:54:43] It really did. Yeah. And she also said that they had more data than Body Labs had going into this.

Phillip: [00:54:54] Of course they're going to say that.

Brian: [00:54:54] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, definitely. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know if that's true or not. But I'd like to get it a little bit deeper discussion with time to find out, you know, how far this can go. They also were using like a device in-store to scan, as opposed to Body Labs, which was a 2D picture that could convert.

Phillip: [00:55:11] To a 3D model. Right.

Brian: [00:55:12] To a 3D model. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:55:13] That's really interesting.

Brian: [00:55:14] So it was interesting. I was glad we got to talk with them.

Phillip: [00:55:19] There's so much here. You know, there's so much here. And it's impossible to really cover all of it. I highly suggest if you could find a way to get to NRF one year, it is definitely an experience. I don't know how long we can keep on with Innovation Labs. I will say that, you know, roughly by my count, 50% of Innovation Lab here and at, roughly 50% were either brands that I had heard of or saw at a previous show's Innovation Lab. It was all the new players that were the ones that really kind of took me by surprise.

Brian: [00:55:58] Yeah. In the Innovation Lab I would agree.

Phillip: [00:55:59] In the innovation lab.

Brian: [00:56:00] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:56:01] Oh, you know what? Actually, we didn't call them out. Who the one that had the Cadillac showroom?

Brian: [00:56:07] Oh, that was just fun. Yeah. That was All Things Media.

Phillip: [00:56:11] All Things Media, who demoed an HTC Vive VR concept Cadillac showroom where you could do you know, basically configure a Cadillac SUV and the attention to detail was incredible.

Brian: [00:56:28] The detail was amazing. Yeah. They did a really good job.

Phillip: [00:56:30] It really definitely gave the feeling of presence. You kind of like you feel like you're...

Brian: [00:56:37] The Vive is sweet.

Phillip: [00:56:37] It is very cool. I think a way it comes down to though, as they were sort of describing it to us, is that the modeling is tricky and representing real life materials like paint that has, you know, a little bit of a shimmer or luminescence or chrome or, you know, leather, which, you know, definitely absorbs some light and has a little bit of a softness. These are things that are challenging and they have to solve them. And so just any old retailer is probably not going to have a VR showroom at any point in the future.

Brian: [00:57:09] No. No.

Phillip: [00:57:10] It's going to take some investment.

Brian: [00:57:11] Budget.

Phillip: [00:57:12] Yeah.

Brian: [00:57:12] Budget is the number... That was the word.

Phillip: [00:57:15] And I think that the same is true for AR. You can't just look through the lens of your phone at something that you don't have a 3D model for.

Brian: [00:57:25] Right. What I did see was that there are more companies popping up that do retail AR beyond just augment. Augment's been at all these shows. I saw a couple of others pop up. I wasn't necessarily super impressed with them. But I think that, you know, within the next couple of years it's actually gonna be easier to do AR. It's gonna be easier to connect to your website. It's going to be easier for consumers to access. I think that's what I'm definitely feeling as a result of being in the lab.

Phillip: [00:57:56] That would be great. And just before we close, one small thing, we will be Shoptalk in just six or eight weeks here.

Brian: [00:58:04] Yes we will.

Phillip: [00:58:05] And so that's coming up. If you're at Shoptalk...

Brian: [00:58:08] You can also find me. I will be at the eCommerce Summits here on the West Coast. I'll be at the Seattle one in March and I'll be at the.

Phillip: [00:58:18] eTail West.

Brian: [00:58:19] I'll be at the L.A. one in February. Yes, I'll be at eTail West at the end of February and then we'll be at Shoptalk mid-March. I'll be doing a session there. I don't know if I've... Have I talked about this on the show yet?

Phillip: [00:58:35] Not really.

Brian: [00:58:36] Yeah. So I'll be hosting a panel, I'll be moderating a panel with Greg Jones, the head of AR and VR at Google, with Brian Cavanaugh, the Head of Retail Evolution at the Hershey Company, and also Mike Festa, head of Wayfair Next.

Phillip: [00:58:56] Yes. And you actually in a move that is very unlike you, you updated your avatar on Twitter to your Shoptalk illustration, which is it looks really good. So you're now famous. You're now Shoptalk famous.

Brian: [00:59:12] I'm now Shoptalk famous. That's right.

Phillip: [00:59:12] You're ShopTalk famous.

Brian: [00:59:13] Put the Shoptalk stamp on it.

Phillip: [00:59:14] Dude, you've gotta tweet that and then you got to pin it to the top of your profile. This is... Come on, man. This is social media 101.

Brian: [00:59:17] I know. I actually did. I actually did. I did. I did. But I put the wrong date and it already been retweeted. So I'm going to retweet again. It's actually March 19th that I will be... I guess I put a five instead of a nine.

Phillip: [00:59:34] I got it.

Brian: [00:59:34] Not the 15th, but the 19th at 5:15 p.m.. And looking forward to seeing you all there. Anyway, this has been a good show.

Phillip: [00:59:44] Yeah.

Brian: [00:59:44] It's been a great show. It's been... It is the Big Show. It really is. If you haven't been, you should come.

Phillip: [00:59:51] Yeah.

Brian: [00:59:51] It is free for retailers, basically.

Phillip: [00:59:54] Basically.

Brian: [00:59:56] So if you're a retailer, there's no reason you shouldn't be here.

Phillip: [00:59:59] Yeah. Next year's dates are a little earlier. I think it's like the 15th through the 18th or something like that. But always in January. January, in New York's a little frigid, but it really good. We're looking forward to some new shows, new content, coming up. Make sure you subscribe so you never miss an episode over on You can subscribe on Google Play on Stitcher. You can get on Apple podcast. Leave us a five star on iTunes or Apple podcast when you're there.

Brian: [01:00:28] And really do it because there's some really cool content coming out.

Phillip: [01:00:32] Yeah, we have a really interesting stuff planned coming up.

Brian: [01:00:35] Guests ahead that are going...

Phillip: [01:00:36] And a great way to never miss is to stay on our FC Insiders mailing list and you can get that and subscribe to that at, as well.

Brian: [01:00:44] With that, retail tech is moving fast.

Phillip: [01:00:46] Future Commerce is moving faster. Thanks for listening.

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