Hello you are listening to the Omni talk Fast Five brought to you in partnership with the a&m consumer and retail group, Firework, trigo, sezzle and silk. Ranked in the top 10% of all podcasts globally, the omni talk Fast Five podcast is a podcast that we hope makes you feel a little smarter, and most importantly, a little happier each week too.
Yeah, we do.
Today is February 16 2023. I don’t know what Chris is on, but I’m your host Anne Mezzinga
I’m high on life Anne. I’m Chris Walton.
We are here once again to discuss all the headlines making waves in the world of omni channel retailing. And for a special treat.
Maybe that’s why you’re so
yes, it’s my favourite show.
It was Nelly that was getting you like bouncing around like an odd but today joining us are two members of the Alvarez Marcel consumer and retail group, Chad Lusk and for her debut, Joanna Rangarajan Welcome to you both. Joanna. This is your first time. How are you feeling about this one?
I am high on life like
It’s good to have you Joanna. Did you get advice from your fellow a&m members on how to handle today.
I was told crush it. So I think I think that was great advice. Yeah
Well, you’re in good company because if memory serves Chad lusk has the single best answer in the history of this show. Chad, how are you doing today?
Well, I’m great with that intro, and also kind of being compared to the excitement level of Nelly, you know, I like it’s a great start.
Chad, it goes it goes Nelly down here. You up here for sure. For sure. Our audience agrees.
Gotta go with the lustre. Yeah,
I know. You didn’t get permission to
Oh, I didn’t. Yeah, I think the first time Chad
I think it’s just asked permission first kind of name. But quickly for the audience. Joanna, will you tell them a little bit about you and your background at a&m?
Absolutely. I’m one of our managing directors at CRG. And I focus predominantly on our product offerings, specifically in product development and sourcing for apparel, accessories and footwear. And I started my career in consulting and then spent a chunk of time in the industry in leadership roles at a couple of large branded retailers. And then I’ve been with CRG for the last two years now.
Excellent. And Chad, if it’s okay, if we call you, Oscar, would you give us all
Chad Lusker, Anne.
Oh God, would you give the audience a little reminder of you in your role at a&m?
I’ll allow the Lusker for the rest of the episode. How about that?
I am happy about it.
Like, like Joanna, partner, managing director with with the firm been here about two and a half years. Prior to joining a&m, I was an operator and senior executive and industry, multi time Chief Strategy Officer Chief Marketing Officer across CPG and retail. So led some major trends change transformations for organisations now doing it for our clients. I work mostly at the intersection of CPG and growth, marketing and commercial strategy.
Well, I imagine loyal omni talk listeners know you very well, at this point. It’s great to have both of you here. Now. I think we should get to it.
Let’s do it, Chris.
But before we get to it before we get to today’s headline
You just had another tea
I know Anne I know that’s just I’m just the highlife, like I said, and I want to read you a list.
And I want you to tell me what you think this list
Don’t you need me to close my eyes.
Yeah, you don’t need to close your eyes today because that doesn’t really work for a podcast but I want you tell me what you think this following list all has in common? Alright, you ready? I’m gonna read it really quickly. Target Best Buy Colgate Palmolive Nike, PepsiCo, Nordstrom, Costco, Chewy, General Mills, Rite Aid, Adobe, Salesforce Mondelez Procter and Gamble Tyson Foods, Macy’s, Amazon and Walmart. What do you think?
First thing comes like they’re all Fortune 500 businesses? I don’t know.
They are all in the retail and CPG industry.
Yes. And they’re all going to shop talk? Yes, they are along with several 1000 other top notch retailers and brands and tech companies and you can actually meet with any of them or any attendees you’d like by by participating in shop talks meetup programme. There’ll be more than 50,000 onsite meetings happening between retailers, brands, texts, startups, media and more. Tickets are available until March 3 Get yours at shoptalk.com/us/omnitalk . That’s Shoptalk.com/us/omnitalk. Yes, Anne
I think we have to sign up for those meetings like next week or something. They start the process.
Yeah, you gotta get your tickets now, folks. All right. In today’s Fast Five we’ve gotten news on ups and RFID. Lidl making some bold, Lidl Yes.
I practiced my German for this.
Again Lidl making some bold statements about how much immediate plans to sell in the years ahead very bold. The latest updates to fit matches technology, Wegmans going from scanning go to smart cart, but we begin today with news out of Walmart, Anne
Oh, yes, we do headline number one, Chris. According to a memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal, Walmart plans to close three of its 11 us technology hubs and require hundreds of workers to relocate to keep their jobs. Walmart plans to close offices in Austin, Texas, Carlsbad, California and Portland, Oregon. Yes, they have that menu that many bad showed up. Walmart says that it will pay for workers in those locations to transfer to other primary offices such as San Bruno, California, or the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas should they desire to do so?
In addition, the Wall Street Journal is also reporting that Suresh Kumar, Walmart’s Chief Technology Officer also said in the memo that most of Walmart’s global technology workers will need to be in their assigned office at least two days a week and quote, Chad, we’re gonna go to you for some this one. I have to know like, what do you think is the bigger part of this headline, Walmart closing a lump sum of 11 of their tech hub offices, or that Walmart is requiring tech workers to be in the office two days a week?
So, for me, this is like a layoff announcement. That’s not technically a layoff announced. When it’s a layoff announcement. Right. So closing offices forced relocations, like there’s clearly an expectation of a reduced workforce. So for me, I think the bigger part kind of goes back and let me focus a minute on kind of this being another domino drop, because it is centred on Walmart’s tech centres around what’s happening in the broader tech sector. But I say that, and at the risk of sounding insensitive, which is not my intention at all here. I think the the recent layoff news in tech is far overhyped.
So actually, I can’t take credit for this, right. So Scott Galloway actually put out an article within the last week that puts numbers to this. So some of the tech companies that are gathering the layoff headlines, I read a couple off here. So meta has announced 11,000 layoffs, they added 42,000 headcount during the pandemic, Google reduced 12,000, they were they had added 68,000, Microsoft down 10,000. They said were up 77,000, and Amazon trouble at Amazon because they laid off 18,000, they had added 746,000 headcount during the pandang. So the question for me is playing it again, that you know, since since they’re reducing a fraction of what they added, like, where are these companies now pulling back?
So you know, you think about this kind of pandemic environment, right, kind of free cash environment, uncertain future? You know, my bet is they were experimentation rich. And then this environment, there’s pull back on those experiments, which they found that aren’t moving the needle. So perhaps acting a little bit more like a traditional company means calling time of death on some experiments a little sooner and not delving into as many crazy adjacencies. And so this is not the death of the tech sector. And me Walmart’s participation announcement here is no different and it follows suit.
I love that. Joanna, what do you think about this? And especially I think, you know, I think there’s this idea of Return to Work is a hot topic for a lot of people, not just in the retail industry, but in the tech sectors and other sectors as well. But what are you advising clients to do? I imagine you have clients who are asking you these types of things? Maybe Maybe not, but what are your thoughts here as it relates to this Walmart story?
Yeah, I think a lot of our clients, certainly in the in the retail space, are are wrestling with it. And they’ve been trying different models, right? Hybrid, but then hybrid by self selection versus by mandate. And then also, you know, what is the right balance? If I’m going to ask associates of mine to be in the office? How many days? Does it vary by function? You know, there are a lot of variables here. And so I think what the pandemic taught a lot of us is that you’re definitely functions that can be equally productive, regardless of location.
And so I think what our clients are really trying to address is, you know, accommodating those functions in a way that’s cost effective. And if that means they need less space, because those team members can be remote and without a productivity loss and all that then then that makes a lot of sense and as we start reining in costs. That is that is a helpful line item. The idea that we’re gonna then mandate people in a lot of organisations have been mandating five days a week, four days a week. You know, it feels a little arbitrary if it’s a blanket and not functionally specific requirement from from our perspective.
Yeah, I think that that makes a lot of sense, especially when you, you know, probably doesn’t seem fair to some of the employees. And, or, and I think it’s important to point out that, you know, doesn’t make sense to make a mandate across the entire company that people are going to all be in there. But Chris, what are your thoughts here? I mean, you ran teams at Target, like, Yeah, feel about in person versus work from home? Hybrid? End of Walmart story.
I think there’s two sides of the story. And I agree with what both challenge when I said, I mean, I think to me, the the stark thing for me, first of all, was 11 tech hubs in the US is too many, like, you don’t need one in Carlsbad, you don’t need one in Portland, when you already have one in San Bruno, you probably have a decent one in Bentonville, you probably have one I’m guessing down in Texas, two cents. And that’s seemingly open. I don’t know for sure. But you know, whatever. Yeah, the more important part to me is, is the is the force back to work two days a week, I would have held on that move.
Because you’re not getting economies of scale in the layoff like you know, by shrinking but the workforce being so remote now you take them out of the equation, like you’re not necessarily needing those people to relocate, right. And you’re also going to probably lead to more, more turnover down the line from your other employees at those existing still remaining eight tech hubs. So that’s the part of this that I don’t quite understand. But Chad, what do you think?
Yeah, so building on the whole work from home or office pace I agree with with with you guys are saying I think the environment that you create in the office matters a lot. So force mandates around days and physical time just for everyone to go behind their glass office doors and said and, you know, kind of work independently, doesn’t really make a difference, or the other way with these kind of like forced open collaborative areas where you’re forcing people to work independently around each other. And then you’re just talking over each other on our calls, like, how do you make the time in office actually productive, because I think we have seen through the pandemic that yes, we can operate independently, we also are Better Together, but kind of fit for purpose.
And the other side of it is that, you know, it’s real, it’s easier to maintain relationships that you already had in a remote remote environment. But it’s really hard to build new ones. It’s really hard to build trust in new working relationships. And we see that across clients of ours that are fragmented around, especially around like new executive teams that are scattered across the country that have never taken the time to actually be live in person and you know, create, if you’re going to be an office, do it fit for purpose and, you know, kind of in the right way that makes you more productive.
And I think that makes sense, too, when you start to think about consolidating the hubs like it makes more sense to have like in person, like whiteboard sessions or strategy or planning sessions to once you know, once you have fewer places to be doing notes, and then 11
Right, right. All right, let’s keep rolling. Now headline number two, UPS said last week that it plans to take its smart package RFID project nationwide. According to supply chain dive, the initiative had been in operation in 100 UPS facilities and involves pricing are placing excuse me, placing RFID tags on packages, and wearable devices on employees to eliminate manual scans, reduce Miss loads and accelerate parcel throughput in the delivery giant warehouses. The company now says that it will invest $140 million in the initiative in 2023. I know that’s a lot as it rolls out the technology edits remaining 940 us buildings. One other fun fact.
Yeah, right. Yeah. Hold on your seat Anne
Oh, my god. What happened
Waiting with bated breath, aren’t you? UPS hopes this implementation will reduce the frequency of Miss loading the wrong packages onto trucks from one in 400 to one in 800 and says that 50 of its buildings are already operating at a rate of one in 1000. Whoa,
Joanna, we talk a lot about RFID on the show. How important is this move?
So I the last time I was with you, I talked about RFID. It was a big, you know, big champion big believer in it. I felt a little less jazzed about about this headline purely for you know, a few a few reasons. I think it’s great for UBS. I think it makes sense for, you know, their operations. I understand what they’re trying to do from an efficiency perspective. What wasn’t clear to me is, you know, exactly how the KPIs that they’re looking to offset, you know, the Miss load count, for example, how they’re, you know, what is the cost leakage of, you know, where they currently are that this is going to somehow regain that warrants the, you know, hundreds of millions in investment. But also what is the customer benefit of it?
You know, as as the recipient of many a UPS package and parcel, you know, what am I seeing as a result of it in terms of, you know, really improved service? Because the one in 400 is, you know, what is that a quarter of a percent of the time, right. Um, so, you know, I was a little less jazzed when I read it that way. Now, all that having been said, I chose to read it maybe, as a means to actually go after it from an ESG perspective.
And thinking about, you know, the Miss loads, when you extrapolate that out across all their packages, and kind of annually, that’s going to be, you know, well over 5 million parcels that are sort of in circuitous routes, if you will, which is, which is then you know, adding to, you know, co2 emissions, and given some of their their goals that they have around being carbon neutral and carbon offsets between 2025 and 2050. Maybe this will help them in that. But if that’s where they were headed, I was surprised. They weren’t, you know, more explicit about it.
Right. Interesting. Interesting. Yeah. No, we remember the conversation we have with you last time, and that is specifically why we picked this headline. So that’s interesting points of view. Anne what do you think, though.
So, I think I love Joanna’s point, because I had not thought about what the consumer end of this looks like. But I think what’s really important here for me is that there’s a huge advantage for the employees at UPS like this is all about improving the lives of your staff to then therefore, hopefully improve the lives of the customers. And I think just the efficiency of the business there, this process is eliminating 20 million manual scans daily, like that’s a day per day, that’s a lot. And so and it’s hands free, it’s safer for the workers, they don’t have to be holding a gun, and, you know, and trying to shuffle packages back and forth.
But I think most importantly, for me, it just it like solidifies that RFID is just another one of those technologies that is worth the investment, because there’s so many buildable features that will continue to be added to this that, you know, they’ll continue to see benefits, whether it’s for the employee, for the end customer for efficiency of processes going forward.
It’s a great point, you can know exactly what’s in that truck, right, with a good scan and what should be there and what should be there in like seconds.
Scan pretty soon.
Right? Yeah. Chad, what do you think here?
Yeah, I mean, you got the expert breakdown from from Joanna there. You know, I think no matter how you skin, this, I think it’s all a net good, you know, part of a couple of CPGs. And, and living in these, you know, big warehouse environments and watching this on the front line. And, you know, the scanner is all around. I mean, anytime you’re introducing technology to reduce errors, improve service levels, reduce costs, you know, either for either the consumer in me or the marketer in me who just wants the product to get where it needs to be right, right time, right place. I’m happy, so I applaud it.
Yeah, if I geek out on this for a second, if you’ll allow me like 30 seconds to geek out on this, like, I love this headline, because I think it shows another example of RFID being a technology that has so many, like virtuous use cases. And we’re just starting to understand what those are. And like coming out of NRF, there is now connection points with point of sale to help with the inventory accuracy and the leakage. We could just check out like I think that’s important. Even I remember back to our target days, like looking at like RFID and trying to figure out like, How can I just understand where all my goods are placed in a store, right?
Like, I’m the X Y axis. Now I know I can’t get Z for those geeks out there. They’re listening. I know, I can’t get the Z coordinates. But I knew I could get xy and like, just having that ability to understand as a store manager, where my goods are correctly positioning the building. Yeah, r&d in the building, are they correctly positioned and giving me the exceptions to manage that? Now, that’s not what this is about. But that’s where this could ultimately go, which is why we’ve hammered RFID so much.
And it’s and the points you brought up and I think are great, because, yes, that can happen. And there’s a lot of operational efficiencies that can begin there. And they’re basing $140 million in this. That’s insane. So they’ve got to fight. They’ve got to believe that the cost value is there.
All right. Well, let’s go to headline number three German discount supermarket chain, Lidl has revealed plans to pursue a more sustainable business strategy with a focus on reducing the number of animal based products in its offering and increasing its range of vegetable proteins by 2025. According to the veg economist, economists yes veg economist first time appearance I know I don’t even know I was like, Do you is it like vegan economists? Are they trying to like go with that anyway?
Yeah, it seems like you could have come up with something a little better. To the veggie economist Christoph graph chief buyer for the 100 million dollar 100 billion turnover retail giant told the trade magazine, leaving Smith and Zedong that he wants to replace more animal proteins with plant based alternatives said graph there is quote, no alternative to this step. as a human species, we must live within the boundaries of the planet and that this can only be achieved with fewer animal products end quote.
Chad, I gotta, I gotta see what your opinion is here on this, especially, you know, coming from a background working from working with CPGs like hostess and like pounding those super sweet, wonderful treats into stores, like, how do you feel about a store? Just saying like, this is our stance, we’re gonna we’re gonna just focus 100% on on non animal proteins.
You may be surprised by my answer, actually. So I thought this was actually really cool to see. And I don’t mind saying like, I got Patagonia, like goosebumps when I read it
Like, yeah, you know, the language is pretty strong, you know, the chief buyer, I mean, your your quotes, right? And they’re not leading with consumer trends, taste preferences, Rise of plant based meats, etc, etc. Like, he’s talking about an obligation that companies have to pursue more sustainable approaches, right? Like, you know, what was it? I wrote it down, it’s without alternative, because there is no second planet, like that’s a company that knows what it stands for. And retail in particular, is back this up for a decade or so right? across a series of sustainability initiatives, both externally and internally facing. It’s actually one of our one of our CRG years. Have you spoken with John clear before he’s a former lead on merchant speaks of it firsthand.
So you know, I saw I appreciate that kind of commitment to it. Now, that said, that said, surprise, there is a business and profit angle to this too. So we’ve actually been seeing more data emerging out there that consumers are voting with their wallets on ESG and sustainable products. You know, animal welfare, and plant based products are part of that, in addition, other elements of sustainability. So I think we can stop just kind of ignoring millennials and Gen Z’s just talking about how much they care like the dollars are following it. And growth rates are higher for products at these claims.
Don’t get me wrong, like there is still a gap between those who say it’s important in actual purchase behaviour. But that gap is closing. So yeah, overall, for Lidl in particular, given this has been a decade long, you know, trend for them. I think it’s a great example of a profit driving initiative aligning with a company mission.
Wow, that is a little surprising Chad. I was not expecting that response from you. But I think I mean, Patagonia level goosebumps don’t come, don’t come every day, Joanna you, you brought ESG in right away into this, like, what are your thoughts there? You do agree with what Chad was saying?
I do agree with what Chad is saying about, you know, it’s a company with a mission and a passion. And I think, you know, when we think about their private label that they launched a couple years ago, supporting the plant based items, I think they had an assortment of, you know, four or 500 different products under a single label, you know, they were very committed, and it’s a Climate Neutral brand. So I think, you know, they’re, they’re definitely pursuing this and they mean it. You know, there’s been a lot of growth in in the plant based market, it’s also heavily saturated with brands.
And so what they didn’t highlight in this announcement is whether or not this expansion is coming solely through the private label they’ve been offering, or if they’re going to be adding other brands to it, where you may end up with a scenario where, you know, some of their customers might be slightly confused as they learn, you know, some new, some new labels, for example, but if they keep it under, there’s, you know, I think there’s kind of a little bit of an equation to ask, you know, is it really Climate Neutral? If you add all this, and you’re shipping it all around? As opposed to, you know, having a particular market that has, you know, some locally sourced animal products in it, you know, Where’s where’s the environmental benefit there?
You know, the flexitarian markets real, right. Not everyone has, you know, just an exclusive plant based diet. And so, you know, continuing to expand those offerings we’re seeing in fast food, you know, up until I think it was last week, Chick fillet had their announcement about, you know, their cauliflower sandwich. So, you know, we’re seeing we’re just continuing to see it. It’s here. It’s staying. You know, I think they’re committed.
Yeah, Chris. Yeah. You I mean, is this is this is this happening in the European market? And like, yes, we have Chick Fil A’s. Is this do you expect, like Kroger to start going forward with this initiative?
No, I don’t, I think I think do you? I think that’s the point. That’s where the jaded side of me looks at this really differently. Like, I think Lidl is way out in front of this making a statement like this. I think that’s partly because of where they are. But, you know, from my experience, and Chad, you both alluded to this really like the supermarket shelves shaped themselves based on what the consumer wants. And so ultimately, that’s what’s going to happen and so In the US, I don’t see a mask grocer ever making a statement like this, they’ll just follow the trends, they’ll adopt the shelf space, adapt to shelf space over time. It’s way too risky to go out and make a bold statement like this if you’re a US retailer.
And so I think a little bit is there’s a part of me that’s like, are they just taking credit for something that’s already happening? Which is the point that Chad brings up? Which is why it doesn’t give me the Goosebumps that say Patagonia did.
Well, like would you compare this I was trying to think of like the early days of Whole Foods where it was like that was that was still like in Co Op land. You know, it was like you had your very specific segment that was only shopping organic. And now look at what I mean Whole Foods is now owned by Amazon, it’s so much more prevalent real shopping or more people are shopping organic, but that took 20 years in the US like it took us so long to happen. So I agree. I tend to agree. I think this might be something that you know, like sustainability metrics in general is much more prominent in in Europe and the UK in those regions of the world before we start to get
I mean, can you imagine people’s careers like where to stop selling me like Oh, I’m gonna go ape
We thought it’s bad that we’re shooting down Walmart drums, I think we might have some serious
Yeah. Chad, final word.
No, I mean, and to be clear, right, I mean, my point is that this is right for Lidl in order to capture that portion of the market I also don’t foresee it going into mass you know Kroger US base because I don’t think that segment of the population is large enough to have a total shelf takeover across grocery
Yeah. Which is interesting because part of the part of the the reason if we tell the audience how the sausage is made, we got to ask about this headline because we’re keynoting the NCAA the national confectioners associations conference here in a few weeks and they were asking us about this headline and they were asking like where does it stop? Does it stop with meat does it stop with you know sir every corner yeah. So there’s a lot of options to this so we’ll have to keep an eye on as we go forward. But before we get to headline number four, we got to take a second to
It’s the Omni talk conference minute
Nicely done I wasn’t expecting that. All right. We’re going to tell you about home delivery roll home delivery with as the largest free supply chain and retail logistics Conference and Expo this June 14 and 15th in Philadelphia. It is free to it is a free to attend Expo hosting over 350 exhibitors showcasing cutting edge retail logistics solutions with 7000 Plus attendees. That’s insane. I didn’t know is that many people come with us to Philly Yeah, we’re gonna be there you can sign up today at terrapins.com/home delivery world that’s te R R A P I N n.com/home delivery world. Alright, headline number four.
According to TechCrunch I can’t wait to do this headline and shoppers that Rihanna is laundry brand savage by Fenty may soon find it even easier than ever to find products that fit their measurements through its newly enhanced partnership with fit match. Loyal omnitalk fans will remember the daring video Yeah, it was very very very bold. I wouldn’t have done it shot shot. Matches tech in the savage by fed the store in Las Vegas last year where she had store employees scan her body with a mobile device. But now in no mobile devices required oh no shoppers who opt into the experience can now step into a fitting room.
Where using LIDAR sensors made by Intel fit match will create an anonymized avatar based on the individual’s body shape, that it then compares with a database of so called digital twins, to find the best fitting products for the shopper. No videos or pictures are stored and the whole process takes less than 30 seconds from beginning to end. To end. And my question for you is this. Where do you come down on this new concept? And on Fit tech more broadly? This has been a hotly debated subject in the omni talk household.
Yeah, I so first of all, what a week for Rihanna, I need more bookend with her. Super Bowl, baby. British Vogue. Now we’ve got British Vogue.
Oh, God, those photos like those photos.
You right. So
Whatever podcast on British Vogue, and
Unknown Speaker 29:02
We can we’ll we’ll hop to that next. Why me? I am so excited to see more and more brands coming out coming out with this. I think you know, not only is it from a frictionless experience and getting the right fit for me, but also, you know, really helping with the inclusivity tenant that a lot of brands are really championing and savage by Fenty, that’s a huge, huge part of them. So I think it makes a lot of sense. I was really fangirling. And after your video last year about this and was waiting for this expansion, I think we thought it was going to come last year.
And so you know, it’s a few months after, but very exciting. Hopefully they can scale it quickly to the balance, you know, five or six locations that they have along with the app. Right because that that’s supposed to also help the consumer. I think that where that’s really exciting is upstream as well when we think about how we can pull some of this information into you know, what’s been sort of more traditional elements of the product development and fit process that’s really been anchored in measurements.
And this is really talking more about the shape and the dimensionality of a person and the wearability of a product and so I think this is you know, end customer experience and then we’re going to start to see so much happened with the ability of the data to be used upfront as we as we develop our products better yes, for the people who were buying them
Yep. All right, Anne let’s go to you next because I think you know, you enjoy it probably no offence to Chad although I think he probably agrees you probably understand this category particularly better than he and I do so I’m curious what your thoughts are
That can go in there there is a quite a lot
There’s I didn’t know ther’s old men’s products Yeah, okay. Average by funny thought when we’re in there you sit there I don’t remember that but oh yeah, yeah. All right.
So no one is going to be shocked that I love this headline that I love this technology. I will I will stand behind this I think that number one here I love the the variations in the technology that Joanna highlighted that they’re now fitting fit tech is now expanding into you know, something that doesn’t require any associates at all I can opt in and go get this done. I don’t have to have an associate that knows jack squat about, you know, measuring somebody for a bra and I can still leave with Chris just made some weird gesture about jack squat. Chris Farley listening.
Okay. So anyway, I love I love that there’s a variety and multiple ways of retailers being able to test this technology. I think that this No, Chris is going to come at me about this because we’ve been talking about it. But I love this for specialty retail. I don’t think it’s just for bras. I think that this is a 2d area for we’ve seen it in footwear with volume mental. Wow. I think anytime that you can take it, especially with the labour shortages that we have that you can take a technology like this, and supplement that for the specialty retailer employee is going to result in higher sales, greater stuff, customer satisfaction, and if there’s a 16 year old of Victoria’s Secret that’s trying to tell me how me and my 41 year old body needs to wear laundry or something that I put on my body every single day.
I don’t trust that 16 year old but if that 16 year old has a 3d avatar of my body and can use that as a tool to say yeah, I don’t know. But this is what the this is what we’re both looking at collectively. Let’s make a decision about it. I love it.
Yeah, well, you’re just eight mile Eminem me there a little bit. I can’t like drag my turn. But I want to see what Chad thinks here too is Chad is gung ho on this as You two are, I’m curious.
I, I you know what, I am. I am.
Alright, I’ll spend on that island. Okay.
I mean, I I loved this when I first heard of it, you know, back in its beginning introduction, loved it more when when and gave it the trial and Vegas a high marks I love how it’s getting easier. You know, for me, whether it’s fit match, specifically or other providers, I think this is game changing on the apparel industry. And I love I think what I love most about it is that you just get better over time. Right? So this should be a self learning system that the more scans it does, the more digital twins that can create, make better matches and just allow for more customization over time.
And I agree with and I mean, you know, I haven’t worn abroad but you know, when I think about other categories that you know, where fit is tougher, and really fit is about preference. So think swimwear, active wear jeans, how jeans, right? Do I like them looser, slimmer, you know, like, all of that should be customizable. And then just, you know, kind of the business model implications like in a world where Jay crews are in the list is getting longer of people who are starting to charge for returns like getting this first time, right? Like is a huge advantage.
Yeah. All right. So all right, I gotta jump in here, then because I’m playing devil’s advocate a little bit here. I don’t disagree with anything that you guys are saying. I think fundamentally, all that value is there. But what I started to think about, and let me start over to I liked this move, especially for like the bra fitting like for the reasons you said and like that’s a very intimate purchase. There’s an employee that’s generally involved in that. But I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t similar to just walk out technology, when you look at the long term customer a customer adoption issues here. Because outside of the bras and shoes use cases that we’ve covered extensively on the show where there is this point of contact with the customer by the sales associate almost built into that process.
And even those somewhat takes some acclamation to this for the end consumer. I think it’s going to be difficult to scale for that reason. And the fact that this tech is already pivoted and savage by Fenty and what is basically a year I’ll be it I think for the better I like this design better than someone Mobley scanning me with the device or me having to do it myself. I think that tells me that the consumer adoption issues here are potentially real. And for that reason, if I’m a specialty retailer where that can suit that customer touch point isn’t Nestle have a quote aren’t part of my process, or department store or Walmart or even a target any of those stores that are struggling with staffing right now, I wouldn’t be touching this because it’s only going to create headaches for them.
And I wouldn’t put any more money towards it at all in 2023 I’d be looking at other things because I think there’s more here at play. Yes, the use cases and the value are they’re just like they are would just walk out technology. But I think we’ve got to still figure out how to crack the code on that that’s what I would say.
I think the customer adoption I think that you pose a good point but it’s not eliminating the the options and savage by Fendi they’re not doing away with handheld like with associate lead to I think if I know for sure that when I walk in, I have a guaranteed fit that I think that that is worth giving me you know me opting in or walking into that fitting room in this case, but we can,
Yes and it’s a great debate. It’s a great debate to see where it goes.
All right, let’s
We all agree Rihanna had a great week. So yes,
Rihanna won the week
Rihanna won. Okay, let’s, let’s bring it on home to headline number five Wegmans after halting scanning go last year is now trialling smart cards. According to website grocery business to Wegmans Food Market stores are testing a clip on device that turns a standard grocery shopping cart into a multi functioning smart card. The chain is piloting shop dash e, a frictionless checkout device from Tel Aviv, Israel based startup shopping in supermarkets in Amherst, New York and in the Rochester suburb of Pittsburgh. Here’s how it works.
So it’s a device that clips directly onto the front of the cart, you pull it off the wall, you clip it onto the cart, and the clip on touchscreen device employs that computer vision algorithm that identifies items placed in the cart in real time while also displaying a running total of their purchases as well as product promotions and discounts on related products. Finally, the system also allows customers to pay for their groceries without having to stand in line to pay shoppers simply remove the device when they’re done. And they roll the put it on the back on the wall and then roll the car back out to the parking lot Simple as that Chad right. Well, what do you think? Let’s go to you on this one.
Um, you know, I guess my one word reaction to the headline in a way was like, was relief. Right? So it’s really well, it’s so it’s been a little bit since Wegmans told us they were pulling the plug on scan and go and I was of two minds on that. Initially. When that happened. It was like, really like you’re bailing on kind of frictionless checkout, like Wegmans, beloved Wegmans, like saying isn’t isn’t for us. Customers were ticked, like it didn’t look good on them. But at the same time, it’s not like scan and go is at the forefront of where the industry was.
So I don’t know, it’s a relief to see they’ve had at least one thing cooking in the background to reassess how they want to go about this. Listen, the cart might not be the ultimate answer, either. I don’t know. It’s still a pilot. And I think that’s where we need to check ourselves sometimes from, you know, the sidelines, like a pilot is not a commitment to move forward. Not even a planned precursor to scaling 100% of the time, it’s just very public. So I guess what gives me hope and relief is that Wegmans is trying different things.
They’re learning, I believe they’re really looking at the data to make informed decisions about, you know, the customer experience, the financial implications, you know, they had quoted, shrink and theft as the mechanism to get away from from scanning go, you know, how does that fix across the cashier labour equation? You know, the operational considerations? I just, I think it’s, I think it’s a good sign that they’re looking to do something. It’s not going to be antiquated in six to 12 months.
Yeah. Interesting. All right. Joanna, what are your thoughts?
I have similar reaction to Chad in like the reaction to the shrink force. And they said, I mean, it was only five or six months ago, right. And they said, you know, shrink is the leading cause. And we’ve learned a lot. I’m really curious what exactly they learned in this relatively short horizon that informed this decision and what measures they’ve taken either through improved technology or other elements in the store to counter that. I know, you all talked about the food cellar a few weeks ago, right. And some of the challenges, you know, there was the scalability, given their footprint, Wegmans is a totally different scale story. So you know, I think it’s hopeful it is a pilot, but I’m really curious how they’re addressing the shrink issue that led them to shut down, right something and you know, how that can, you know, those learnings could be shared, or this pilot may not go anywhere beyond the couple locations?
Yeah, I know. Chris agrees with you.
Yeah, no, I think I mean, yeah, kind of going going even stronger on this. Like, I think this is a silly move. Like I think it’s funny that they put PR behind this. I mean, for a couple reasons. One, you still have all the same issues with scan and go that you’re going to have with this card as well, at least from what my reading of it like I don’t think they’ve solved any of those. And then the other point I come back to customer adoption again, the usage rate is going up low. customers understand scan and go far more than they understand how to use a smart card like we’ve been scanning QR codes at restaurants for the past three years.
But if people have trouble understanding how to insert their credit card and walk out with a bottle of water at an airport as which as which we’ve seen firsthand what makes Wegmans think that they’re the people are going to understand how to place items in a cart have them read a camera then just leave the store put the put the device back on the shelf as leaving the store.
There’s so many issues with that from a customer adoption standpoint that I think the chances are slim that this works so my prediction is like we heard about with in the store last week that you mentioned you ran it with food cellar piloted keeper card, I think we’re gonna hear about this and we probably never hear about again, quite honestly,
I agree with everything that’s been said. 100% The last thing I’m gonna throw in here is the mom and me is maybe extend this where the hell are the kids supposed to go? Why can’t this on the other end of the cart? Like it doesn’t it’s still function that way. Like
It’s not the media opportunity because you can’t see it and that’s exactly why but you’re right.
That’s better for the kids anyway, like, what are you going to do with the kids? I don’t I don’t like it. I’m sorry.
I had the same question Anne
Yeah, like what, you can’t order your coffee or whatever Anyway, okay, we gotta we gotta bring this on down because
I wish we didn’t do because I’m having fun now I know. A lot of fun topic
Alright, let’s get to the lightning round first question Joanna goes to you. A new tic tock trend called D influencing is going on right now. We’re influencers talk about products that their followers should not be buying. What is one product that you purchased recently that you think was overhyped or is not worth purchasing?
Oh, that’s a tough one. Admitting all of my bad purchasing decisions so publicly. I don’t I don’t know if I can pick a single item brand but what I can say is anything in the beauty skincare cosmetic realm is always a touchy one for me because there are there’s a lot of hype and a lot of promises and at the end of the day, I still wake up looking the same way right so I do find you know, sometimes some of that can can get in the way of really great formulations that are out there but I’m gonna hit one that that sector
totally agree with you there. Il maki Yash is my latest one that was like sold because the woman on the office she’s like the influencer that puts it on I was like, oh my god, I gotta order this and I am not loving it but I totally
Beauty industry is fueling this whole influencing trend, my favourite line possibly the history of the shows I still wake up looking the same way, that is such a great line. Oh my god I’m gonna
Watch their their product is called I woke up like this. And I was like, I’m not feeling any different waking up. I’m gonna be honest.
All right, Chad, let’s keep rolling a journalist for NPR had this to say about a grocery store this week. Quote, think about it. Your grocery store is a place made up of fresh fruit, birthday balloons, Skittles, live lobsters, flower arrangements in a hot and ready like, right? On on weekend, the perfect place for a date and quote, I don’t know why Skittles got thrown in there. But Chad, if you could take your significant other down one aisle at the grocery store for a date. Which aisle would it be?
Oh, God. This is this is kind of sad. But But happy. So you know, my kids are getting a little bit older. And so we’re finding ourselves with like random unexpected Friday or Saturday nights where where my wife and I actually get to hang out now. So we had fun. A couple of weekends ago, where we dropped, we dropped our kids off. And we’re like, hey, let’s watch a movie. So we stopped at our local grocery store did walk the aisles, bought a combination of fried chicken and sushi. brought that back to the house and tried to watch everything everywhere all at once until realising the beginning of it was dubbed. And we couldn’t like read while we were eating. So we scrapped the whole thing and watch the different movie. But there we go real life tales inside the Lester’s house.
All right, Oscar
Oh my God. All right. Chad, Apple Maps got a new update. And some say that it may now even be better than rival Google Maps. Chad, who do you trust to get you from point A to point B?
Well in the Apple versus Google Maps debate, I’m a I’m a I’m a Google Maps guy. If not ways first, but yes. Who do I want to take me from point A to point B? I guess it kind of depends. So if I’m in a rush or want a thrill it’s the DRE it’s the dude who drives and baby driver.
Or if I just want like, if I want just a sweet melodic soothing sounds of Morgan Freeman’s voice I’d pick him from driving.
Right? Oh god
To accompany you. You went with a company you on point A to point B I love that. All right. Last one, Joe. When a Coca Cola recently released Coca Cola move something that is that it is hailing as transformation flavoured. What is the most transformational food or drink you have ever imbibed?
Okay, so we’ve got to address the name the elephant in the room. It’s It definitely sounds like it’s promoting some type of of situation in my body and so I feel like that could be transformative transformative but you know remains to be seen works exactly Miralax we could the list goes on yet right Taco Bell. Um, anyhow, we I don’t know what the most transformative I mean, I want to be plain and ordinary and say water. Hydrate.
All right. Well, that wraps us up Happy Birthday today to the weekend. Elizabeth Olsen and you cannot be serious Anne John McEnroe
Not do that again so Everybody’s here.
Oh, and remember, remember I’m gonna bring it down a notch. If you can only read or listen to one detail blog in the business. Make it omnitalk. Our Fast Five podcasts is the quickest fastest run out 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 all fit within the preview pane of your inbox. You can sign up today at http://www.omnitalk.blog. Thanks as always for listening and please remember to like and leave us a review wherever you happen to listen to your podcasts or on YouTube and Chad, Joanna if people want to get in touch with you either one of you learn more about a&m Get your help, what’s the best way for them to do that?
So you can always learn more about a&m crg at our website, AlvarezandMarsal-crg.com You can visit us on our LinkedIn page or reach out to Joanna and I directly on LinkedIn. Thanks for having us.
Awesome. Yep, great. Thanks for being here. Yes, thanks to Joanna and Chad for sitting with us today on behalf of them and all of us here at omni talk. As always be careful out there.
The omni talk fast five is brought to you in association with the am 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 fireworks. Firework is the largest video commerce solution built for the world’s leading brands. They empower brands with shoppable and live stream video on their own websites where people like to shop. Put your commerce in motion with fireworks, you can find out more firework.com. And Trigo. Trigo technology powers grocery stores with market leading frictionless checkout and digitise operations. To learn more visit trigoretail.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 Finally, silk the silk cloud DB virtualization platform is a virtualization layer between your workloads and the Cloud helps you scale your cloud without scaling your costs. Visit silk.us to learn more