Anne Mezzenga (00:03):
Hello. We are live from Las Vegas and you are listening to the Omni Talk Fast Five, brought to you in partnership with Microsoft, the A&M Consumer and Retail Group, Takeoff, and Sezzle. The Omni Talk Fast Five Podcast is the podcast that we hope makes you feel a little smarter, but more importantly, a little happier each week too. Today is March 30th, I am your host, Anne Mezzenga.
Chris Walton (00:28):
And I am Chris Walton.
Anne Mezzenga (00:29):
We are here once again to discuss all the top headlines making waves in the world of omnichannel retail. Chris.
Chris Walton (00:37):
Anne Mezzenga (00:37):
We are alive still.
Chris Walton (00:39):
We survived Shop Talk.
Anne Mezzenga (00:40):
Chris Walton (00:41):
We survived another week in Vegas.
Anne Mezzenga (00:42):
Oh my gosh.
Chris Walton (00:43):
Another four or five nights in Vegas, I’ve lost count, even though it’s a pretty tame Vegas weekend, we were in bed, what, by like 8:30 last night?
Anne Mezzenga (00:50):
Oh, my gosh.
Chris Walton (00:50):
While everyone else was booming to Bull Rida-
Anne Mezzenga (00:52):
Oh my gosh.
Chris Walton (00:53):
And Flava Flav.
Anne Mezzenga (00:54):
Getting in the pool.
Chris Walton (00:56):
[crosstalk 00:00:56] too. I have no… Yeah, people were getting in the pool last night in all white-
Anne Mezzenga (00:58):
With their all white clothes on.
Chris Walton (00:59):
All white. It was an all-white party, right?
Anne Mezzenga (01:01):
Yes. People were-
Chris Walton (01:02):
Anne Mezzenga (01:03):
People were let out the house, as they say-
Chris Walton (01:07):
Let out the house. Let out the house.
Anne Mezzenga (01:07):
As they say.
Chris Walton (01:08):
That is true. That is true. But man, it was fun. Oh, it was you crushed it today too. You were on stage.
Anne Mezzenga (01:13):
Oh, thanks. Yeah.
Chris Walton (01:14):
Yeah. Well today, yesterday for those listening live to this for when we air it, but you crushed it. You had the panel, you did the panel on the fast five technologies to look for in the future that you would bet on. And you had a cool group of panelists that shared their thoughts and interests with you. It was awesome.
Anne Mezzenga (01:30):
Yeah. The panelists were amazing. I think the best part about it was we took what was a very forward thinking Shop Talk and I think were able to make that actionable for some retailers and brands in the audience as they leave here. Shop Talk’s always great about being a very innovative conference, but then how do you take those things home and actually start to do something?
Chris Walton (01:53):
That’s a great point. I think the audience should know that too, because my favorite part of it was at the end, you said like, “Okay, we just talked about five different technologies that people need to have on their roadmap,” and you said, you said, “Which of them would you prioritize?” And most of the discussion was around fit tech and some around the metaverse and some around visual AI. And to a person they all said, “You know what? You just got to get fulfillment right right now.” Right? Just get the basics of that right, it’s table stakes. And that’s an important thing to remember with the gloss and glam of all the things that we can talk about technologically and all the startups here, the blocking and tackling is still where much of the bulk of retail is made. Retail is detail, as my boss, Don Block, used to say, Aaron. Shout out to Don.
Anne Mezzenga (02:33):
That’s a good quote.
Chris Walton (02:33):
Retail is detail? Yeah. I like that too.
Anne Mezzenga (02:35):
Yeah, I like that. It’s not as good as everyone is welcome at this craft table that we heard from Michael’s today, but-
Chris Walton (02:40):
Everyone is welcome at the Michael’s craft table. Yes, that’s true. We did hear that, but hey, I want to give a real shout out to you before you get started and we’ll get into headlines here in a second. Real big thank you to our sponsors again, of course, Meta for all the great podcasts they helped us put out this week. I think our best podcast up in history-
Anne Mezzenga (02:53):
Chris Walton (02:54):
… for a show. And of course, Firework, who’s our partner on the live streaming. They were the talk of the town too.
Anne Mezzenga (03:00):
Oh my gosh.
Chris Walton (03:00):
Of all the startups, they were the-
Anne Mezzenga (03:02):
The belle of the ball.
Chris Walton (03:02):
Yep. My buddy, Ken Pie came up to me, he’s like, “Did you hear about Firework?” I’m like, “Yeah, dude. They’re our sponsor. We’ve been on them for a while. They’re great.” But yeah, shout out to Ken too. We love him. All right. You ready to do this?
Anne Mezzenga (03:13):
Yeah, let’s get it.
Chris Walton (03:14):
Let’s do this. All right, in today’s fast five we’ve got news on Instacart unveiling a whole new suite of services, Red Wing Shoes and fit tech, Adidas plans to take over college sports, Walmart’s suing BJ’s over Scan and Go, but first we take off with some of the greatest news we have heard in a long time. Anne.
Anne Mezzenga (03:35):
Yes, sorry about that, Chris. I was keeping you from your-
Chris Walton (03:38):
It’s okay. I had to do that read out on the spot.
Anne Mezzenga (03:40):
Headline number one. So, buy now pay later is coming to the pump, y’all. Gas prices are high and now you can split those into four easy payments. Klarna is partnering with Chevron and Texaco to let customers pay for their gas in interest-free installments. So according to retail leader Klarna has alerted users of its app that they can grab gas or snacks at these retailers and cover it and split the cost over six weeks. Chris, we are also bringing it right to you this morning. We’re going to-
Chris Walton (04:12):
Yeah, you are.
Anne Mezzenga (04:13):
We’re going to dive right in.
Chris Walton (04:14):
I’m sure you are. I’m sure I’m getting a question.
Anne Mezzenga (04:16):
A&M Consumer and Retail Group-
Chris Walton (04:18):
Yeah, I figured it was coming when you said it that way.
Anne Mezzenga (04:18):
… they want to put you on the spot first thing today.
Chris Walton (04:21):
All right. Let’s do it. Bring it. Bring it. I’m four days in Vegas, but I’m ready.
Anne Mezzenga (04:24):
You are ready.
Chris Walton (04:25):
Anne Mezzenga (04:25):
All right. Here it is. So clearly, buy now, pay later has been a rising trend, but it is somewhat surprising to see it hit a routinely necessary category like gasoline. What do you think is this a great FinTech innovation that solves a genuine consumer need during these unprecedented inflationary times? Or have we now fallen too far down the slippery slope of credit issuance? That’s a great question.
Chris Walton (04:50):
Ooh, that is a great question. I love that. I love what we do with them every week. It’s such a great partnership, A&M Consumer and Retail Group, they always bring great questions. But anyway, I would answer that question very simply. I actually think this solves a consumer need at all times. All times. It’s not related to the pandemic. It’s not related to inflation. It’s just a need that everyone has all the time, which is stretching their budgets as far as possible. That is a basic human desire.
Anne Mezzenga (05:16):
Chris Walton (05:16):
So for me, this is cancel freaking Christmas, Anne. I freaking love this. My only question is, and I’m taking freaking full credit for this, this is my very first national article I ever wrote in 2017, Retail Dive picked it up, shout out to the editor at the time, Laura Heller who took a chance on me. And I wrote the article about a firm in Walmart and how one day I could see buy now pay later-
Anne Mezzenga (05:38):
Oh yeah, I remember this.
Chris Walton (05:40):
… coming into the grocery space even. And so that’s my thing. I think gasoline totally makes sense. I mean at the end of the day, you’re using credit cards at the pump, it’s just a different form of credit that is paid for by the retailer, right? And if the retailer’s willing to take that cost, get that conversion, which I think you got to think about in this day and age, I think it’s not long before we’re going to see it come into grocery. I was talking about this with some people at the show, it’s pretty prevalent as the dominant form of credit in other places like Australia at this point. This thing’s exploding. It’s only amount of time. I’d love to see somebody like a Walmart be big and bold right now, give back to America, put America first, put their brand promise of, “Save money, live better,” first. We’ll see, time will tell. But yes, to answer that question unequivocally, I think this is a need that is always out there.
Anne Mezzenga (06:25):
I completely agree. I think I can understand the hesitancy with buy now pay later exploding and some of the concerns around, is this just going to get people into more debt? Just because it’s got a different name, it’s still credit. However, I think that the difference here is that, again like you said, Chris, the retailers are taking on the cost of those installments. They’re securing those. And the alternative for a lot of people are things like payday loans. I mean it’s like being gouged to get an advance on your paycheck. And so I think that this makes a ton of sense in these categories, more so in these categories than anything else. This, to me, should have been the first place that we started to see the NPL rollout, versus paying for a TV in 10 installments or whatever.
Chris Walton (07:15):
Yeah, even the people that use their credit card at the pump to pay off their bill every month, it’s still better for them to split the payments, right?
Anne Mezzenga (07:22):
Chris Walton (07:22):
So it’s helping everyone. This is why I love this technology. It literally helps everyone in every situation. Yes, we need more regulation. Yes, people are calling for it. Hopefully it comes. But anyway, we move on.
Chris Walton (07:34):
All right. This was my favorite headline of the week, Anne.
Anne Mezzenga (07:37):
Chris Walton (07:38):
I think it starts to give me some justification for some predictions I made at the end of last year, but we’ll get to that in a second. So Instacart announced the launch of Instacart Platform, a suite of technologies and services for retailers, Anne.
Anne Mezzenga (07:53):
Chris Walton (07:53):
According to the fun handout left on the chair of the auditorium in advance of the Instacart CEO’s keynote at Shop Talk, the services include five key areas, which are eCommerce, fulfillment, in-store technology, ads, and insights. And your thoughts before I rail the hell on this one.
Anne Mezzenga (08:15):
Oh my gosh. This reminds me of that Mitch Hedberg joke that Holden from my panel just told me from huge where he’s like, “I’m going to give you this flyer. Are you going to throw it away or should I?” They’re all over out the chairs. So look, we did an interview with DoorDash, Shanna Prevé, the VP of Global Partnerships this week leading up to Shop Talk. And I think that what I’m noticing, I guess I’m going to, I know you have a rant among all rants to go on for this-
Chris Walton (08:43):
I do probably, yeah. [crosstalk 00:08:43].
Anne Mezzenga (08:43):
… but I’ll just say, what I’m noticing is that from Shipped, we talked to Rene Herse this week, from Shanna at DoorDash, all of these third-party delivery companies are experimenting all over the place right now because they have to figure out how to make this business profitable. They know that the consumer wants it. They know that the retailers want it. But I think that they’re going to have to try, like Instacart is doing, to put out as many levers as possible as they can serve for their retail partners in order to continue to sustain the business.
Anne Mezzenga (09:15):
So I think that explains why we’re seeing this from Instacart. Now, whether or not grocers especially and retailers are going to give this business up to Instacart, they’re going to trust Instacart to be white labeling this kind of stuff, I have a really hard time swallowing that.
Chris Walton (09:33):
Anne Mezzenga (09:33):
Chris Walton (09:34):
Yeah. Well, I think DoorDash is very different in how they’re approaching it. They’ve still got the restaurant side of the business. They’re going into their own retail, which Instacart is basically shunning that option at this point if you listen to them talk. They’ve got the add-on feature to their orders. They’re doing some really unique and innovative things, they’ve got the scale, but yeah, you’re right. I’m going to go on a rant, Anne.
Anne Mezzenga (09:52):
Yeah. Let’s do it. Let’s hear it.
Chris Walton (09:54):
And shout out to Steve Dennis, because Steve Dennis said he loves my rants on the show. So Steve, this rant is for you, this bud’s for you. I would describe this whole strategic positioning with one word, and that is pathetic. That is the word that I think best describes Instacart over the whole past year, to be quite honest with you.
Anne Mezzenga (10:12):
Chris Walton (10:12):
Yeah, I think she’s been on the helm seven months. I think I wrote in forums last year that soon we’re going to be calling this, the company formerly known as Instacart. And because it goes at what you just said, which is when you’re using gig workers to pick, pack, and deliver goods, that is ultimately a non-differentiated skillset amongst all the players. There’s nothing you’re really bringing to the table. And when I go in deep on the flyer that was left on the table, two of the services, really just quite honestly, they piss me off. First is the end to end fulfillment, based on what, at this point? Based on what have you shown the marketplace that you’re able to do that? You talked about micro fulfillment partnerships, where are those? Why haven’t we seen those? But the one that really makes me pissed, it’s downright laughable, Anne, is the in-store technology.
Anne Mezzenga (10:56):
Chris Walton (10:57):
I mean, come on. What? It’s just so laughable. What? Because of Caper? You’re claiming you’re an expert on in-store grocery technology? What? You can send your workers in to pick goods. What else can you do? What else have you shown that you can do? It shows you how little you understand the operational side of retail in my mind. It shows you how you’re thinking about this from the perspective of somebody who came from Facebook to now lead a company that by and large is based on operations, but she’s trying to push into ads and all that kind of thing, which you can see, but-
Anne Mezzenga (11:27):
Yeah, ads makes sense. The only other, I think, counterpoint to the operations piece of it is we are seeing a lot of retailers who are using white label Instacart for fulfillment. They’re using it to operationalize curbside pickup, like Costco for example. But that said, I think the whole area of in-store technology is quite broad and outside of that one use case, I don’t know what others make sense.
Chris Walton (11:51):
But even that’s not defensible because we’ve talked about, delivery orchestration is going to come on, the retailers are going to be able to use whoever they want for all these services, all these services Instacart is trying to claim, all five of them are done by other people or done better by other people. It’s a very competitive space across that landscape. So at the end of the day, and the marketing side where probably their best position to make the sell, which is what she was doing on stage, she was trying to say like, “Come on board with us. We’ll co-share the advertising revenue from our platform because we know how to do that so well.” Well yeah, so do retailers. And you can stand up your own ad network as a retailer, why would you share that money with Instacart? It makes no sense. And honestly, I don’t even know how she can look Wall Street in the eye on the in-store tech with a straight face. Okay, I’m done. I just think it’s an absolute joke and not everyone agrees with me by the way.
Anne Mezzenga (12:41):
Chris Walton (12:41):
There were a lot of people at the show-
Anne Mezzenga (12:42):
There was a lot of people-
Chris Walton (12:43):
… very excited about her presentation.
Anne Mezzenga (12:45):
Chris Walton (12:45):
And I completely disagree.
Anne Mezzenga (12:47):
Well, I think she gave a good presentation. She was selling hard, but that doesn’t mean that what she’s selling is something anybody is going to end up buying.
Chris Walton (12:55):
Yeah. And buying into the whole, the stock devaluation is a way to incent new employees, I was like-
Anne Mezzenga (13:00):
Oh, that was… Right. Yeah. That one was not okay with me, but okay. Are you going to be all right?
Chris Walton (13:06):
I’m all right, Anne. I’m all right. Yeah.
Anne Mezzenga (13:07):
Okay. Okay. Okay.
Chris Walton (13:08):
I’m a little road weary, so I hope everyone knows that in my comments.
Anne Mezzenga (13:11):
Chris Walton (13:11):
But I’m feeling good.
Anne Mezzenga (13:13):
Okay. All right. All right. Okay. We’re going to go on to headline number three. So I love this one.
Chris Walton (13:16):
Yeah. Me too.
Anne Mezzenga (13:17):
Red Wing Shoes announced this week that it is rolling out what it calls the Ultimate Fit Experience to all of its 500+ stores across the nation. Chris, do you want to know what that means?
Chris Walton (13:28):
Of course I do, Anne.
Anne Mezzenga (13:29):
All right. So according to Chain Store Age, Red Wing associates will help customers build a customized fit system, which includes work boots, insole, and socks starting with a personal assessment of their work environment conditions and safety requirements. This will include the creation of a 3D model of customers’ feet by way of another one of our interviews pre Shop Talk-
Chris Walton (13:51):
Yes. So timely.
Anne Mezzenga (13:53):
Yes, it is with Volumental’s 3D foot scanner in store. Mike Van Goethem, Red Wing’s VP and Chief Services Officer said about the new offering, “Our previous experience focused on standard 2D measurement and foot pressure points and now we are enhancing that, adding in gait assessment and whole foot volume 3D measurement. We’re excited to merge the art of our purpose-built shoes with the science of this new dynamic tech-driven approach to ensure the best fit for worker comfort and safety.” Chris.
Chris Walton (14:25):
Anne Mezzenga (14:27):
Are you loving this as much as I am?
Chris Walton (14:29):
I think I’m converted. I think I’m converted. Yeah, no, I think that Volumental interview, if you guys haven’t listened to it yet, Omni Talk fans, go back and check it out because it really changed my perspective of how to think about this whole thing. And the quote I would pull out was when Brent Hollowell from Volumental said, “We envision a future where you go on a website and it’s no longer about size medium, size 12 shoe. It’s about size you.”
Anne Mezzenga (14:57):
Chris Walton (14:58):
And that being the next frontier of eCommerce user experience, which might be lofty as a goal, but if that can get pulled off, and that’s what this is driving at really and Red Wing’s on the front end of this for sure, I think that’s powerful.
Anne Mezzenga (15:16):
Chris Walton (15:16):
And I think the data is all there to make that happen for consumers and I think consumers want that. And I know you feel that way and you’re probably going to talk about that, but yeah, I cede the floor to you, but you have me converted. As you know, I was very skeptical of this, but now I’m very much in the, there’s a better there camp.
Anne Mezzenga (15:33):
Oh, I could not agree more. I think what we are going to see, the shifts we’re going to see, especially customer satisfaction number one, obviously finding the right shoe that fits the first time when you are investing in a boot, like a Red Wing boot, that is going to be great from a customer’s perspective. But Chris, the potential return on investment from the retailers that they’re going to see from reduced returns, from higher customer engagement and loyalty because they know you have, it’s like using apple pay at the grocery store. People are going to start going to places where they’re like, “I know that if I go to any of these six retailers, I’m going to get something that fits me exactly the way that it should, regardless of new additions that come out or new materials that come out. I don’t have to worry about that. I’m making things completely convenient.”
Anne Mezzenga (16:24):
And especially, I know for Red Wing, I was really happy to see their name attached to this because a couple of years ago, they came out with these experiential stores, which I was kind of like, “That’s a cool idea from somebody like me in marketing, but for the actual customer that’s coming in to buy Red Wing boots,” they didn’t need a place to post up and work in a Red Wing Shoe spot. This is a much, much more strategic and smarter way of bringing customers in and truly using your footprint to serve your customers’ needs. So I have to give a ton of kudos to Red Wing and to Volumental for this partnership.
Chris Walton (17:00):
Yeah. Shout out to Mike Van Goethem, used to work with him, know him a little bit-
Anne Mezzenga (17:03):
Oh, I mispronounced his name.
Chris Walton (17:05):
No, it’s okay. No worries. I’m sure he’s okay with it because you gave him a shout out-
Anne Mezzenga (17:07):
Chris Walton (17:08):
But no, it’s great, but anyway, it’s a great move. I think a point that you bring home too, Anne, is like, as much as the size across the eCommerce landscape is aspirational, it can very much be a part of a specific brand experience, especially for those customers that are very tied to a brand like a Red Wing Shoes, Nike and Adidas as an example, which is a great segue into the next story. All right, Anne, you fought for this one.
Anne Mezzenga (17:29):
Yeah. I like this.
Chris Walton (17:30):
You fought for this one. I conceded, it wasn’t that much of a push.
Anne Mezzenga (17:34):
I feel like I didn’t, I only had to give you one Guinness before I got you to come to my side.
Chris Walton (17:37):
Yeah, you did. Yes. We picked our headlines over Guinness last night. Adidas is going big, I mean huge after college sports-
Anne Mezzenga (17:44):
Chris Walton (17:45):
… Anne, huge. Rather than going after individual sponsorship deals like Nike, Adidas and… So, like Nike and Adidas. Whoa, let me start that over, Anne. That was terrible. Rather than going after individual sponsorship deals like Nike, Adidas, according to CNN, will create a name, image, and likeness network for up to 50,000 college athletes to become paid endorsers for the brand. Tell everyone why you love this story, Anne.
Anne Mezzenga (18:10):
Okay. I think this is a great idea. You have the Nikes of the world paying millions and millions and millions of dollars to some college athletes, but primarily the premier athletes of the world. And I love that Adidas is like, “I don’t know. Let’s take the opposite approach. Let’s go to the micro-influencers. There’s 50,000 college athletes. We’re going to let them be in control of their own destiny. If they feel like they want to post once a week, great, who cares? We’re going to attribute every single sale that comes in from their Instagram account to us,” versus these gigantic influencers who yes, it’s cool that some football star’s wearing this particular Nike shoe, but I think that they’re going to see a much greater response from the campuses all over the country where it’s like, “Yeah, this guy’s the micro-influencer on campus,” especially like-
Chris Walton (19:08):
Anne Mezzenga (19:09):
Yeah. The big man on campus, big woman on campus, like-
Chris Walton (19:12):
Yeah, big WOC.
Anne Mezzenga (19:12):
That’s right. I think that’s where we’re going to start to see real traction in these localized communities. And I think it opens up a ton of opportunity for Adidas too to start activations in those spaces, to start thinking about, like we saw at Shop Talk, crazy live content streams spinning off of this. There’s so much potential here. So that’s why I wanted it included.
Chris Walton (19:35):
And I think you were smart to want to include it. I’m glad you fought for it. I mean the thing I love about the stories thus far, they are all great representations of how to think about omnichannel retail.
Anne Mezzenga (19:46):
Chris Walton (19:47):
All of them. Even the Instacart one, because it tells you how to not think about it as well, in my opinion, but this one is particularly that too, is particularly on the other side of that. It’s great omnichannel retail because it’s the marketplace idea of eCommerce brought to life by way of college athletes. And it shows me that Adidas understands the long tail game of how eCommerce works. And so, yes, you’re right. There’s just going to be additive volume over time from all these different micro influencers, so to speak, raising the game for Adidas at a very low cost to Adidas other than standing up the platform capabilities-
Anne Mezzenga (20:21):
Yeah, they only pay the influencers if their sale’s attributed to them. It’s zero cost up front. Let’s go.
Chris Walton (20:28):
And I also think it’s very much in the ethos of the Adidas brand too, or Adidas if you’re in Europe, relative to Nike and how much money they’re going to throw at all these college athletes that, whatever. But yeah, I love it. I think it’s great.
Anne Mezzenga (20:41):
All right. Let’s go into headline number five. Chris, according to CNBC, dun dun dun, what’s the Judge Judy music?
Chris Walton (20:51):
I have no-
Anne Mezzenga (20:51):
Intro music, I-
Chris Walton (20:51):
I’ve never watched Judge Judy. Are you kidding me?
Anne Mezzenga (20:52):
Okay, Walmart, da da, da da, da da. What was the court from-
Chris Walton (20:57):
Oh, People’s Court. Wapner.
Anne Mezzenga (20:58):
People’s Court. Yeah, Judge Wapner. Okay.
Chris Walton (20:59):
I have watched that.
Anne Mezzenga (21:00):
All right. I know that one. All right. Today in Wapner’s Court, Walmart is suing BJ’s over using scan and go technology. So in the lawsuit, Walmart claims BJ’s launched a self-checkout feature in its mobile app that is nearly identical to the Sam’s Club Scan and Go app. The article also notes that Walmart holds multiple patents protecting the intellectual property for the self-checkout feature, which they debuted in 2016. Walmart alleges its “innovations were simply taken without permission” by BJ’s, which launched its contactless offering Express Pay in late 2021. “Express Pay is an apparent copy of Sam’s Club Scan and Go merely changing the in-app colors and changing the name from Scan and Go to Express Pay,” the lawsuit says.
Chris Walton (21:50):
Anne Mezzenga (21:51):
Yeah, you got to check your work on that one, BJ’s. That’s not looking good for you right now. Chris, what do you think?
Chris Walton (22:00):
Well, my thoughts are, that I love this story. I love this story. I’m not ready to give this headline of the year, but I’m going to keep a close eye on my running list of the topics-
Anne Mezzenga (22:10):
And you say I use so much hyperbole-
Chris Walton (22:13):
It’s my new thing now, because I was getting crap for it at the show, but it’s close, man. It’s close because I love it because it shows Walmart is protecting its [crosstalk 00:22:23], which tells me that Scan and Go is working, which we have long said it could and should be tried and deployed for all the reasons, because it personalizes the experience, gives you lots of options to interact with your consumers, and Walmart is going to fight like hell to protect its position in the space, which is not surprising.
Anne Mezzenga (22:42):
Chris Walton (22:42):
Good on you, Kath McLay who was at Shop Talk talking about how important-
Anne Mezzenga (22:46):
Did you see her face when she said that? She was like, “We take this very seriously.” I was like, “Dang, get out of Kath McLay’s way. She is not messing around here.”
Chris Walton (22:55):
Right. And if you can protect that turf, especially in the warehouse club industry, I think I’ve shared this on livestream, but my mom signed up for the Sam’s Club membership because it was free and you get a $45 gift card. She used the Scan and Go feature, she’s like, “I’m never shopping another way.” She’s 71 year old. She loves it. That’s huge. So they know, that tells me the market needs to watch this because it tells me Walmart has something, they’re going to fight like hell to keep it. It means other people should figure out how to do it and BJ’s, if that is at all true, what the hell are you doing? I hope heads are rolling at headquarters, although they probably can’t until after the lawsuit’s over because it’ll signal something, but yeah, man, this story is so great. [inaudible 00:23:35].
Anne Mezzenga (23:35):
I mean it is, it definitely is. I mean I don’t have much more to add, although there’s so much of this technology that is like, I guess it reminded me right away of computer vision and the checkout for retail space where people are using the same types of technology, but you really do have to be very specific in order to be successful down the road. What’s differentiating your version of this from another version of this? Or I don’t know, I don’t know how you stand out and how you differentiate yourself, so-
Chris Walton (24:08):
Yeah, it’s also just going to be really instrumental from a legal standpoint to decide where they decide where the bounds of what all these people are doing-
Anne Mezzenga (24:13):
Right. Right. That’s a great point.
Chris Walton (24:15):
… in this space [crosstalk 00:24:16] begin and end. You start thinking about the Amazon Go checkout-free technology. What patents are on that and who starts fighting whom for what? So it’s cool, man. God, what a great freaking week. I love the stories. Shop Talk was awesome. Let’s get to the lightning round.
Anne Mezzenga (24:29):
All right. Let’s get to the lightning round, Chris. Question one, in the Hot Topic session at Shop Talk here, they were talking live streaming and they said that millennial men are the largest segment who are purchasing product via livestream in the US. If your 1970s Darth Vader toy that you shared on the show last week was available via livestream, how much would you be willing to pay for it?
Chris Walton (24:50):
Ooh, that probably depends on who’s live streaming it to me. If it was like-
Anne Mezzenga (24:54):
Some man dressed in a Darth Vader costume?
Chris Walton (24:56):
No, that probably wouldn’t work. If it was like [crosstalk 00:25:00] from 1995, I’d probably pay hundreds of dollars for it. Yeah. I had a big crush on Angie Everhart actually.
Anne Mezzenga (25:06):
I’m trying to think of who she is.
Chris Walton (25:06):
Bordello of Blood. Great flick. Great flick.
Anne Mezzenga (25:08):
All right. All right.
Chris Walton (25:09):
All right. Skittles, Anne, is reportedly using AI to ensure all the colors of the Skittle rainbow are correctly distributed in every pack. Anne, do you eat your Skittles one at a time to tell the colors and flavors apart? Or are you more of a throw a gob of them in your mouth all at one time kind of girl?
Anne Mezzenga (25:25):
Well, Chris, I don’t feed bag Skittles like you do. Listeners, if you see me sometime I’ll explain exactly what I’m talking about, but I’m fully prepared for the next conference this year when there’s free candy giveaways and how bad your diabetes is going to go up.
Chris Walton (25:40):
Anne Mezzenga (25:41):
But no, I eat them weirdly, very weirdly, three at a time. I always eat Skittles three at a time.
Chris Walton (25:49):
That’s so… What does three at a time do?
Anne Mezzenga (25:51):
I don’t know. I can’t even explain it, I’ve never thought about the way I eat Skittles until right now.
Chris Walton (25:56):
You might as well just chipmunk it if you’re going to do three at time-
Anne Mezzenga (25:57):
I know. I know. All right, all right, all right. We’re going on to the next question, Chris. MikMak CEO, Rachel Tipograph said in her Shop Talk presentation that 59% of the US population classifies themselves as gamers, including 90% of Gen Z. What was your favorite original Nintendo entertainment system game, NES?
Chris Walton (26:18):
Oh, that’s so easy, Anne. It’s Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. I think I’ve said that on the show, but hands down-
Anne Mezzenga (26:22):
I know, maybe you have.
Chris Walton (26:22):
… Soda Popinski, Don Flamenco. It was a merchant’s early prepubescent dream, I’m telling you. It was great.
Anne Mezzenga (26:28):
That was a great game. I loved it.
Chris Walton (26:29):
All right, Anne, last question. Walmart is reportedly halting the sale of cigarettes in some stores. Anne, since last week you casually told our loyal Omni Talk fans of smoking during your high school years at Applebee’s, what cigarette brand are you most jonesing for at the end of this long Shop Talk week?
Anne Mezzenga (26:45):
Ooh, I would say-
Chris Walton (26:45):
And how bad are you jonesing for it?
Anne Mezzenga (26:46):
I would take a P-Funk in a heartbeat right now.
Chris Walton (26:49):
What’s a P-Funk?
Anne Mezzenga (26:50):
Chris Walton (26:51):
Anne Mezzenga (26:52):
Chris Walton (26:52):
Parliament or Parliament Light?
Anne Mezzenga (26:53):
No, just Parliament.
Chris Walton (26:54):
Oh my God. You’re like Black Wonder over here on the-
Anne Mezzenga (26:57):
Yeah, yeah. Actually that sounds real good right now.
Chris Walton (26:59):
It probably does, right? You just got off-
Anne Mezzenga (27:01):
That and a stiff drink right now, just, all right.
Chris Walton (27:03):
All right. Well, I think we might have to have a stiff drink after this. All right, happy birthday today to Ewan McGregor, Christopher Walken, and the woman who is always there to put the fringe on top of the story for my late great father, Shirley Jones. And remember, if you can only read or listen to one retail blog in the business, make it Omni Talk. Our Fast Five Podcast is the quickest, fastest rundown of all the week’s top news, and our twice weekly newsletter tells you the top five things you need to know each day, and also features special content exclusive to us and just for you. And we try really hard to make it fit all within the preview pane of your inbox.
Chris Walton (27:35):
You can sign up today at http://www.omnitalk.blog. Thanks, as always, for listening in. Please, please remember to like and leave us a review wherever you happen to listen to your podcast or on YouTube. We were moving up to charts again this week on Apple Podcast, please, please leave us a review. It makes a huge difference for us.
Anne Mezzenga (27:52):
There or in person at the trade show. If you see us, we want to hear from you. Thanks for doing that this week, guys.
Chris Walton (27:57):
Absolutely. And be sure to check out all of our coverage from Shop Talk this past week on our LinkedIn page and of course, as always, be careful out there.
Anne Mezzenga (28:05):
The Omni Talk Fast Five is a Microsoft-sponsored podcast. Microsoft Cloud for Retail connects your customers, your people, and your data across the shopper journey, delivering personalized experiences and operational excellence. And is also brought to you in association with the A&M Consumer and Retail Group. The A&M Consumer and Retail Group is a management consulting firm that tackles the most complex challenges and advances its clients, people, and communities toward their maximum potential. CRG brings the experience, tools, and operator-like pragmatism to help retailers and consumer products companies be on the right side of disruption. And Takeoff. Takeoff is transforming grocery by empowering grocers to thrive online. The key is micro fulfillment, small robotic fulfillment centers that can be leveraged at a hyperlocal scale. Takeoff also offers a robust software suite, so grocers can seamlessly integrate the robotic solution into their existing businesses. To learn more, visit takeoff.com. And Sezzle. Sezzle is an innovative buy now pay later solution that allows shoppers to split purchases into four interest-free payments over six weeks. To learn more, visit sezzle.com.