It's Valentine's day, and while I should be staring romantically into the eyes of my plus-one, instead she's deep in a remodel of my daughter Camille's bedroom. So instead, I thought I'd put together an overview of the top eCommerce podcasts that cover some of the latest news and top trends in our industry.
Modern Retail: "How lawn care startup Sunday is trying to build a subscription business"
Published: February 13, 2020
This episode starts out with a brief overview of a story about retail Target workers who conducted their own survey of working conditions. Anna Hansel's recent article covering this survey was a great read and goes into the findings, including the lack of hours and a living wage, and how 30% of respondents had at least 1 other job, 6.2% reported working 2 more jobs than that at Target. This is the kind of show format I like - it’s more than an interview - and they cover more than just DTC. This isn’t a plain old DTC podcast, despite the name implying as much.
In the second half of the show, Coulter Lewis sits down for an interview with Digiday reporter Shareen Pathak to discuss the launch of their DTC lawn care subscription product, Sunday. The interview itself is really decent. Shareen is always brilliant at asking hard questions in a non-threatening way. Coulter is an interesting eCommerce entrepreneur, who admittedly didn't think he was going to be getting into the lawn care business, and isn’t stuck on selling online.
I have a few thoughts about this business model. Firstly, when we interviewed Brian O'Malley of Forerunner Ventures for our Step by Step series in 2019, he suggested he led the charge on this deal. We heard firsthand that the ultimate direction of the business is more than lawn care and more than a subscription. What still doesn’t seem evident is the path to entering mass retail, such as Home Depot, and online retailers such as Amazon. Secondly, the idea that a lawn care company regionalizing data from USGIS seems quite interesting. I hope they stick around long enough to broaden their category to see how they use all this data they've put into the platform.
Great listen, though a little short for my bike commute at just 32 minutes. One of my weekly retail podcast listens.
Business Casual: Urge to Merge - Why M&A Deals Happen
Published: February 10, 2020
Business Casual is the podcast from newsletter startup Morning Brew. Kinsey Grant is the host and she's always a hoot. This podcast usually covers the latest news and top subjects in the world of business, broadly, from tariffs and China to media and entertainment. Kinsey is usually on the podcasts with special guests.
This week Kinsey was joined by Axios Business Editor Dan Primack. If memory serves correctly this is the first episode of this podcast where the guest was remote. Guests usually join Kinsey in the studio, live. The audio quality on Dan is awful for this one, but the content is spot-on. Dan talks a lot about how mergers work in the business world and the consumer space, and how some become subject to FTC scrutiny (like the recent block of Harry's acquisition by Edgewell).
I liked the content of this interview and found a few data points to be really interesting. In particular, how trusts, trustbusting is viewed from a regulatory level and how the definition of "anticompetitive" is subject to evolution and policy change over many decades.
Must-listen, but don't try to do so with lots of ambient noise. Dan's audio is tough to make out.
Playing for Keeps: Customer-Driven Growth
Published: February 9, 2020
If I had to pick a favorite eCommerce podcast of the week, it'd be PFK. Kristen LaFrance is one of the smartest, funniest, quippiest people in the DTC and eCommerce space right now. This episode really shows her personality and how fluid she can be in an interview.
Kristen interviews Karen Young, founder of the brand "Oui the People". I was unfamiliar with the brand prior to the interview, but they make products in the shave category. As with all of the Playing for Keeps interviews, Oui the People is doing subscription online retailing. This particular episode was CHOCK FULL of insight and humor.
Karen discussed a number of topics, such as how they chose the color red for the brand, how they approach content marketing and content strategy, and how the definition of "beauty" is changing — which is guiding how they think about their brand and how they try to authentically connect with their customer. They conceived and launched their brand inside a year. It seems like it's resonating with customers because their all-female team is focused on not "being diminutive", but authoritatively trying to take up space for the sake of being present and engaged.
We learn a lot about Kristen in this episode, such as her background as a gymnast, a number of her personal grooming habits, and how she can't pronounce the words "authenticity" or "esthetician." I love it when we can identify with a host and when their personality comes through.