Hello, you are listening to the Omni talk Fast 5 brought to you. In partnership with the A and M consumer and retail group Firework, SPS Commerce and Sezzle ranked in the top 10 of all podcasts globally. The Omni Talk Fast 5 is the podcast that we hope. Makes you feel a little smarter, but most importantly a little happier each week too. Today we’re back. It’s July 13th, 2023. I’m your host, Ann Mezzenga.
And I’m Chris Walton.
And we are here once again to discuss the most important headlines from the past week highlight how the physical, digital and human elements of retail are coming together to shape the future. Chris, welcome back from Vacay.
How did your? Vacation Did you have a good time in in Portland? Did you leave PDX? In Portland, yeah. No, it was a, it was a it was a it was a really, really great vacation for me. And you know, Portland, you know, Portland has a reputation being a little, no kind of hippie culture, being a little, you know, kind of different. And you know, I got to tell you, I kind of found myself a little bit and I Oh my God, I know Portlandia.
No, no, but I discovered. I discovered that I am, that I’m by by dental. And you know, and by that I mean like I was talking to my friends or like, do you have a sweet tooth or a savory tooth? And I’m like, you know what? I don’t have either one. I I enjoy both equally. I am bi dental. And I’m curious are you the same way? Like do you do you gravitate sweet savory? Like how do you play that equation?
Did you make that word up? That is no. My friends and I were talking about it. We like, came up with it on the spot. She’s like, she’s like, so you’re bi dental. I’m like, yes, that’s great. I’m going to talk about that on the podcast, like, but see. I don’t think that makes sense. Like dental to me in furs related to teeth. It’s a sweet tooth and you have a sweet tooth or a savory tooth. So what? Like your? Senses are on. I feel like you’re like you have a. Oh, and you’re overthinking. This tongue you’re. No. I like all the things. You’re right.
You’re not the same way. You don’t gravitate one way or the other. Yeah, cuz you and I have similar tastes in terms of food. Yeah, some people are sweet tooth, some people are savory tooth. I’m five tooth. I think, my God, I think you need the sweet and the savory. But I’m glad that that’s the biggest take away from visiting one of our nation’s most beautiful states. It is pretty beautiful, I gotta admit. Except we had a cave incident. It was a whole bad thing. 76 year old aunt with a broken arm trying to spill on just didn’t go well. Let me just. I mean that.
Belongs, though. I feel like that’s the real achievement here. You we Did spill out, but one of us almost didn’t come out alive. It was pretty scary. At one point we almost had to call the paramedics, but anyway. But, but. And it was prime day too.
Oh my gosh, it was Prime Day. I know everybody has been asking what our thoughts are in Prime Day, Chris, before we like dive in. I have to ask you, if prime Day were a tree falling in the woods, would it make a noise?
Oh my God, yeah, that’s such a great way to put Prime Day from my perspective. No, I mean, I’m. I’m kind of bored with it, honestly. I forgot it was Prime Day. I totally forgot my believe that my wife had to remind me, you know? Yeah, of course. It’s the biggest online day of the year, but. You know, but I to my, in my opinion, now Amazon’s got to do something more with the concept, You know, like you’re just having it twice a year now. Yeah, big brouhaha. You’re going to sell a lot. That’s great. Let’s get some real merchants in there around Prime and what it means for Amazon and let’s plus it up, so to speak, and see what I did.
There no more pluses. Walmart plus week like we target Circle week. It was all the weeks, all the weeks this week. But But I did get my steeped coffee and my steep coffee for this show. Yes, it’s pretty sweet. I know, I’m drinking my seed copy. What blend did you pick? Oh God, I can’t remember. I forgot the name of it. Probably the same one you did. What’d you pick? I Went with California.
Yeah, that’s the one that’s very my brain was on Portland, so I forgot about that, but yes I got, I got, I got. I have to say, my best prime deal that I got was dumbbells, which you have to like, as everybody listening in this audience will know, like. How much does it cost Amazon to send me a £20 dumbbell, A £45 dumbbell and Chris they were 50% off.
Yeah, 50% off those are. That is a really good deal, actually. Yeah, and those are the biggest pain in the ass when they arrive at your door because it’s so heavy totally. I feel like I won Prime Day, so I’m OK with it. I think like I I still want Prime Day to stick around and if as long as you give me like great deals like that.
I’ll be back. Well, compared to me and you definitely cardiovascularly one prime day for sure, since I was just sitting on my butt the Driver. The UPS, FedEx or USPS driver who delivers that package will really be the one who wins because they are lifting it onto my doorstep.
But but your future looks cardiovascularly more bright than mine does. Let’s just say that. All right and well, let’s get to the headlines. But before we do that. I have not one, but two exciting bits of news from you and from our friends at grocery shop 1st And Are you ready do?
You think so? You think so? All right, first, wait for it. There’s two things here. And 1st, they’ve now confirmed over 100 speakers and they keep adding more every day. All of which means that is a ton of top tier content from the biggest names in the grocery ecosystem. For example, they’ve. Yeah, for example, this is pretty cool. They’ve confirmed the CEO’s of PepsiCo Foods North America. I’ll hold delays, Kroger. Like I said, I’ll hold the delays.
I do. I do. I was going to give you a hard time, right? And I was going to wait. Through the budget and Tropicana Eat the Change. Who knew Tropicana was? Now Eat the Change on top of C-Suite speakers from Church and Dwight, Dollar General, Instacart, Sam’s Club, my personal favorite, and many, many more. Now Are you ready for the second one? I guess, I mean, what else are you going to throw at me on top?
All right, all right. They’ve also now officially confirmed that more retailers and brands will be participating in their expanded meetings program that they had in total for the entire event last year and there’s still three months ago until the show. That is some serious buzz and we cannot wait to be a part of it for sure and add to that. Also and this is like.
This is like 2B. And there’s like there’s more add to that there two Expo halls for their 400 sponsors and a ton of fun networking opportunities. We are definitely going to be in for a great show in Las Vegas this September. Ticket prices for all of you loyalisters out there increase tomorrow night, tomorrow Friday. July 14th, so get yours now to join us at the Grocery Show Ecosystem event of the year. You can learn more and register today at groceryshop.com/US/Omnitalk.
That’s and we will be there doing a live podcast recap, which is the coolest thing ever on the last day of the show. So don’t worry, we’re going to bring the house down for the last day of grocery shop, so if you’re not registered.
Do it. Yes. And that URL again is grocery shop.com/US/ Omnitalk. All right, let’s get this week’s show on the road and today’s Fast 5 headlines. We’ve got news on Google acting its online marketplace, YouTube aggressively going after video shopping. Dollar General piloting Just Walk Out Tech Ashley furniture trying to rebrand itself via live events? Can’t wait for that one, but we begin today with back to school headlines from Walmart and would you take the honors please?
I will. All right Chris, Headline No.1 Walmart this week said that it will sell this year’s school supplies at last year’s prices. According to Chain Storage, the Discounter is offering classroom supplies and backpacks at last year’s prices with the most popular or the 14 most popular items. Who knew there was 14 on school supply list that are available?
Why 14? Right? That’s what I know, right? For just under $12.94, the move came one day after. Your target announced its deals which included a one time 20% discount for teachers and on an entire shopping trip both Instore and online, which is huge. But Chris, you were really excited about this one. You’ve talked about it a couple times this week. What are your?
Thoughts. Yeah. I mean, and I always love when I can do the one word to summarize my thoughts on this, but my one word for this is Stella, because she ain’t the only one that got her groove back in oh my God.
Walmart’s got its group back to it. Walmart’s got its group back for sure. I love this because it’s exactly what Walmart is best at and what I’ve what I always feared as a buyer at Target like that they wouldn’t make announcements to this. They’re basically saying the market you are going to touch us on price, you can try, but all that inflation you built into your financial forecast for the season, those are gone and you can and so you can forget about it and you know what you’re going to do buyer at whatever retailer, grocer, whatever you want back to school supply. My company, you’re going to spend the next 24 hours reworking your projections for your DMM because they’re getting hassles for it and they’re going to pound you until you provide that detail to them. So. So yeah, I love this move from Walmart. Walmart is just killing it right now. Killing it. Shout out to William White to friend and colleague from from Target for once again, we’ve called him on the show a lot of time. Just killing the marketing for Walmart. Yeah, God, he’s doing great.
Right. Yeah. I mean, I think you bring up a really important point, Chris, and that is if consumers know. That they can go to Walmart and that Walmart will consistently be the most affordable option for them for these big stock up trips. That’s huge. We talked about this a couple weeks ago with Dollar Tree when they were you know going up above the 125 point or a price point, but like you know that it’s always going to be there. So regardless of what kind of promotions they’re having, like I can go with a good amount of confidence and know that like. When I’m going there for my stock up trip that’s what they’re marketing to get me in the door. I can probably also guarantee on those lower prices throughout the rest of the store. So I think we’re going to continue to see both you know Walmart here and even Target with the some of the initiatives that they’re taking really think taking share from some of those individual places even Amazon where you were doing this back to school stock up trip. I’m curious though like. How come we’re not seeing any of this happen or maybe we are and we’re just not seeing it in the aerospace. Like you’d think with the margins in apparel that they’d be able to kind of, you know, we’d see somebody like maybe, I don’t know, American Eagle or somebody who would be able to kind of. Do some sort of incentivizing of their customers to like get them into the store with some kinds of deals like this, But I don’t know, maybe that’s too like off the mark.
But that’s a great question and you know who can do it and maybe announce it more loudly because they probably actually are doing it as Walmart, right? You know, like you know, they they can easily win that, win that battlefield too. But the other part of this too, and I think it’s really interesting, the last point I make on this is. This news also comes right after Adobe released a report this week saying online prices have dropped the most they have in any month since I think it’s May of 2020 and inflation in general is down relatively speaking the to its lowest level since around that same time. So you combine that with the recent traffic uptick we’ve seen in retailers that they begin, sorry, that they’ve started to see in June. And all this could make for a pretty nice back to school season if you play the marketing card in the assortment and the traditional merchandising strategies in the right way. Or at least I’ll tell you and I’m excited to talk about that with Ethan Chernovsky, a place of AI next week when we have him on. Live with us on LinkedIn on Tuesday the 18th at 1:00 PM Eastern. Check it out. If you guys want to register for that, just go to our LinkedIn page, check, Click on events. You can register. But yeah, we’re going to talk about that with him. In addition to handing out, it’s kind of fun. And we’re going to hand out report card grades for for the key retailers going into the first half of this year. So who got?
Who’s going to be on the on A roll list? Yeah you want to find out next. It’s pretty fun, so check it out. All right, Headline No 2 in what some might call a shocking move. Google has called it quits with its online shopping marketplace, according to Marketplace Pulse. Who knew? And I guess there’s a online news source for everything at this point. This was an under covered story, I will say like.
Yeah, it kind of was. It kind of was. Yeah, it really was. Well, anyway, according to market pulse, marketplace Pulse, excuse me, Google is killing its shopping marketplace that allowed retailers to sell products directly on Google. For those of you who may or may not be aware of how this marketplace worked, here’s the skinny shoppers would search and add products to a shopping cart and check out while browsing Google via an actual quote add to cart button. Now instead, Google is saying that people can still discover and compare products on Google, but that Google is sun setting the buy on Google Checkout experience that allows buying without ever leaving the Google Platform for historical context and again according to Marketplace Pulse. During 2018 that from the time period of 2018 to 2020, Google actively recruited sellers and attended conferences to promote its marketplace. I can remember this vividly at at Shop Talk and other conferences like they were on stage. Being like come on board on Marketplace, we’ll make it easy for you. And in July of 2020, I forgot about this. And they’d even reduce their Commission fees to 0 to attract more sellers.
Which is crazy. Like that’s just unheard of which means, which means basically people aren’t using it, right. Like, you know, because there’s no, I mean you you gave everything you could to sign people up and maybe you sign people up, but then you didn’t get the consumer adoption. So alas, all that said, the program is now ending. And my question for you is how surprised are you by this announcement?
I’m not that surprised at all. I I’m not a like sports person per se, but I think this is what they call in sports a building year for Google. Is that right? Like when you is that what you call it? I think it’s a rebuilding year and rebuilding a rebuilding year? Yeah a rebuilding year. Yeah, I think that’s. I like the Effort A for Effort. I mean, thank you for the support. That’s just when you have like a bunch of really bad players, right? And you just try to see like, we’re getting better. It’s a rebuilding year. Yes, I think that’s where Google is, OK, And this is because I think Google is. Doing the right strategic thing here because I think they need to stop and think about how people were using the platform, how they’re using the platform for shopping now and how future consumers are going to be using the platform. So like I thought about Chris, like when you have used Google Shopping, what are you using it for? Like what use cases come up to you?
Yeah, no, I have. I was going to talk about that too. I’ve tried to use it a hell of a lot. I’ve tried to use it over 30 times and like usually, I usually the reason I’m using it is like. I want to see all the products available, but to me there’s a rub with that. You know, like I can’t. I don’t have the confidence that all the products are available because I know a lot of the retailers aren’t participating in the shopping experience. And so then it just becomes a dead end for me. But like for me, I was like in the I was, I mean, because I’ve been trying to do it, I was in the mindset of buying, but I think you’re trying to bring up a different point. So go for it.
Well, yeah, I mean, I’m just trying to think through like the actual scenarios where I have used Google Shopping and one thing is like, you know, you’re in a pinch somewhere. You are looking for. Like I always use a sports analogy because I think that happens to me the most because maybe I’m like the worst sports mom on the planet. Clearly, I don’t know what a building year, rebuilding year is. So that will give you some taste. But like I. I forgot shin guards for soccer. OK, like, so for me it’s like, where am I? I’m at this tournament. I need to get shin guards. Where are the closest places that have the sizes available? Like that’s what I’m using Google for, but I’m not clicking the ad to buy button in that scenario that they’re talking about. Like I’m just going to that place. It’s more location based or the other times I’m doing it. And I assume this is kind of similar to the instances that you were talking about where like I’m looking to compare prices of the item like I’m looking for something and then I. Click Google Shopping because I want to see like, what’s this worth? Where should I buy it? What are the closest places that have it available? But none of those things require the Buy Now button. You know, like, that’s not so. I think that it’s just the UX of this whole process. The consumer behavior is just not going through it the way that Google really kicked this off. And I think that Google are they’re bringing in the right people to really help them pause and reset, including one of our good friends from Target, Nicole Nutland, who’s on the shopping team. So I think you can do it. I want to see what you what what happens when do you win the Super Bowl.
Yeah, Yeah. And then I press, I press you a little bit, even your Shing Guards example. Like, I think, I think actually now you’re probably going to DoorDash, given your love affair with DoorDash. And you’re saying like, how do I get this as quickly as possible because I need this possibly even delivered to the soccer field and that’s the marketplace that I want to consume on because I can see what retailers are in there. I have the confidence coming from the retailers. And you know if it’s available, it’s available and I can get it quickly. But yeah, I mean I, I, I agree with you. And I think the point I, you know, the point I’d emphasize and what you said as I think the headline speaks to a theme that we’ve talked about on the show a lot which is where and when are people wanting to buy things right. What mindset are there in? I told you I’ve tried it many times and it’s just never worked for me because like you said, Google is great for researching facts like price compare you know and and then it has everything available. But you know when I said before like. When I try to use it for shopping, I don’t get the confidence that everything is there within that shopping experience. So I’m like list missing out on what’s available on Amazon, I’m missing out on what’s available on whoever’s not typed into that network. And so for me that it’s much, it makes much more sense to buy something on TikTok or Instagram because in those instances I’m buying from. Right from what is most of the time a beautifully what I’d call videoized, I’m, I’m making that term up videoized brand experience, right. I’m confident that that experience is taking me right to that and so commerce is much easier for me cognitively to get to get me to that point right. So it’s just a there’s just a different. Confidence level as you’re shopping through it. Experience like this on so many levels, especially when you’re going up against like you know, Amazon being able to essentially do the same thing with a much wider selection for the most part.
Right. Well, you talked about video izing, which is definitely not a word, but I know what you’re talking about. So I’m going to move us into headline 3 where we’re going to talk about video, Chris, because YouTube now. Google owned YouTube plans to double down on video shopping. So according to Glossy at Vidcon, maybe they do videoizing at Vidcon, Chris. Vidcon sounds like something else, but you know, I don’t think it’s that, but it sounds like that well at.
Vidcon from June 21st to 24th, the platforms, yes the Platforms YouTube Drop shop is taking place. Or took place actually, with a star-studded lineup of participants including the likes of Aaliyah Gaynor, Cassie Ho and Christian Dominique, all of whom Chris has likely never heard of and can you have you heard of them? No, you haven’t. OK, good.
OK, so this news comes on the heels of YouTube’s June 14th official launch of its affiliate program for any creator with 20,000 subscribers or more. Bridget Dolan, the Head of Shopping Content Partnerships at YouTube, said beta tests of the program have been going quote really well and quote with with retailers including Sephora and Ulta Beauty participating since the fourth quarter of this year. Chris. What do you think about this? We we kind of gave your thoughts on Google, but now let’s talk about the videoizing of YouTube.
Yeah, it’s a great segue and I think it’s why we put these headlines right next to each other. You know, we put them right smack next to each other because you can’t look at the last story without also looking at this story. So I go back to the point I made before where people, when they want to shop or engage with content that inspires them. The answers to that, quite frankly, right now are simple. It’s TikTok, YouTube, probably Instagram as well. So Google is right to put more eggs in this basket. The question will just come down to the user experience design, which will get better over time. So net, net you get back to the strategic question of do they stand a better chance of winning here than with an online marketplace that will always be no better than a poor redhead, redheaded stepchild to Amazon? Well, the answer is, I mean when you think about it that way, the answer is hell yes. So you can see why they’re sun setting their shopping platform, putting more eggs in this basket. And to your point, I think it’s great taking a Greenfield approach to probably commerce in general through Google, which I think makes a ton of sense as well.
Yeah, I love this. I’m going to bring up the Commerce Next Gen. Z panel again, which you know, at first I was not sure whether I was going to go to that and I’m so thankful that I did because I think it’s giving explain the audience what that was?
Yeah, such a great level of insight of just the next generation and some really interesting tidbits on their shopping behavior. But basically it was. Five students that were all from all over the country who were participating in college students participating in this Gen. Z panel talking about buying behaviors of their generation. But the thing that they said that I that still sticks with me and I think really proves that where YouTube is going with this is so intelligent. Is that we, somebody in the audience asked you know if you are looking what was the last product you bought? And how did you, like, discover it? Where did you buy it from or how did you gain confidence in buying it? And every single one of them said either TikTok or YouTube. That’s where they’re doing their research on products. That’s where they’re going for discovery, like you said, for the engaging content that’s going to get them interested in a brand. And then they’re buying. So the ability now for YouTube to allow creators that these Gen. Z customers are are following to be able to buy that right within the video, I think is huge and will really kind of provide the the blueprints for how brands are going to start to sell to their consumers and I think this is. Is where Google should be focusing their efforts. Like how are you powering the location database, the search database of Google inside of YouTube? Like how are you helping people find this content first like shopping experience and then purchased. Right in there. And I think the other key part that’s going to help in the success of this Chris, is that this is a way better experience for these content creators, which you know, Karen Tracy from Meta said like invest in your creators. Well now the ability for these creators to be able to put this like shopping experience directly in content. Across their entire channel. Like that’s making it super simple for them to make money and more motivated to create more content. So I love this. Love, love it.
Yeah. The other point I’d raised to just to close it out too, cuz I remember I asked you this stuff, you came back from that panel too. I was like there’s a discretionary versus a non discretionary element here too. Like, my hunch is that the Gen. Z’s were thinking about like the last, like, inspirational product that they bought, you know, was through TikTok or Instagram. But I doubt they’re looking for their like, I doubt they’re searching for the last two. But toothpaste they bought on YouTube?
Actually, that’s not true. Like they were talking about buying sunscreen like it was. It was functional things, Chris. I was shocked. Yeah, it was not.
I’m talking like truly discretion sunscreen. You get into a little of the beauty elements to skin elements, but I’m talking like truly discretionary things like the things that you’re restocking your pant or non discretionary things, apologize the things you’re restocking your pantry for. And I think it goes back to the other point because for those you’re going direct to the grocery, you’re probably using Instacart or you know DoorDash or you know or Amazon. And so like it’s hard for Google to sandwich itself in on on these elements when it comes to non discretionary items in particular. And so the discretionary side to your point is totally going to go this way instead, I think, but last week before, I mean there’s that there’s potential there like it doesn’t matter if it’s Crest doing the hiring, the creator to like it’s it’s all kinds of, I think content driven. Shopping experiences like that’s the way.
Yeah, I’m talking about the reload, though. I’m talking about like, when you’re in the reload mindset, you’re not going to go do that on Google. Like, you’re just not going to search, you’re not going to shop Google that way. Like, it’s just not going to happen. All right, Headline 4, this is a fun one. We’re getting a little saucy already, which I always like. Ashley Furniture is planning to lean heavily on experiential, marketing, my favorite word, and experiential, which I’m not even sure that’s a word, but it gets thrown around all the time. I need to look that up. According to Modern Retail at the Santa Monica Pier last month, furniture retailer Ashley was handing out coconut drinks, playing live music from DJ Bella Fox, someone also I’ve never heard of, and showcasing some of its latest outdoor furniture. Ashley hopes that experiential events like this are meant to keep hopes that sorry, let me start that again. Ashley hopes that experiential events like this will keep Ashley, formerly Ashley, home store. Top of mind for shoppers and to allow and will allow people to see their products without entering its stores. These events feature fun activities such as workshops, giveaways and live music from a range of artists including Believe It or Not and Surprise Me, John Legend and Pitbull. That can’t be cheap and they can draw anywhere from 40 to 2000 people depending on their capacity. But it’s Santa Monica Pier event was expected to draw, believe it or not, 30,000 people. Based on natural traffic.
Yeah, it’s a Pitbull and John Legend concert for free. Like, yeah, okay. Yeah, it’s insane. So Anne, lucky you, you get the put you on the spot Question of the week from the Alvarez and Marsal consumer and retail group and here it is. Quote Ashley furniture and put Pitbull football, Pitbull concerts are two things we never would expect to hear in the same sentence. Fair enough. Putting on your marketing hat, where do you rank these types of live experience events among other consumers facing tactics when attempting A purposeful rebrand with new audiences?
Well, OK. I think you have to look at this as like rebrand, getting your name out there will actually get impression lifts from these kinds of events 100%. But I think the question comes in where you’re saying. Yes, they’re they they’re getting good impressions for this. But can you can, can you look at that and is that turning these individuals, these 30,000 people into Ashley customers and not just like Ashley customers for now, but like longterm Ashley Furniture customers. And I think that if I were the marketing team at Ashley Furniture. I think this is cool. They’ve been doing it for five years. But I think I would start to be investing in other activities with Pitbull, like getting him to like go into an Ashley furniture store, walk around and you know, start tick tocking or like the spokesman?
From the Ashley furniture store, so that people actually get a sense of what is happening in store. But Chris, you know what, they can’t do that because the the store is not paying off. What they’re giving people in this experience and I think that’s a major problem, like do you have the product to support, you know, all this hype? Like are you paying it off? Is it worth it? And I I really question whether or not that’s happening. They say that they’re seeing some lift in sales, but. You know again like where how is that translating into the a long term customer. I I just don’t know that like this is going to work for a while. I think that they’ve probably allocated a ton of budget to this. They’re seeing that those impressions. But I I again I really wonder and I think A and M’s asking a great question to you like does that end up paying off, does it translate to sales and can you keep throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at you know doing these concerts when? In the long run, it’s not doing anything for sales. But you love this. What do you what do you think?
I do. I think you’re bringing up really good points. So like, the point is like marketing is one thing, but you have to be able to execute on the marketing strategy at the end of the day too, which is creating the right Instore shopping experience, if that’s your goal or the right ecommerce experience if that’s your goal. And having the product that is dependable and of a quality that people can grow to love and appreciate once they get it into their home. And the part about not seeing the products, interesting to me too, but But yeah, I mean. You said it, but I I do kind of love this. I think it’s smart because the answer to A and M’s question to me, to answer it correctly, you have to look at what plagues the brand the most. And Ashley, one could argue, is one of the few recognizable brand names in home furnishings. And it is by the way, a far number one in the wholesale furniture market. It’s light years ahead of everyone else, which at this point is just a bunch of no name drop ship vendors selling on Amazon and Wayfair. It really is. And so like. I put it to the test like I went into Google search and I looked at how often people are searching Ashley furniture versus other, you know, truly branded furniture stores. Because there aren’t that many of them, right? There’s like a handful, right? There’s West Elm, Restoration Hardware, crate&barrel, etcetera. So interesting statistics. Ann Ashley Furniture is searched 3 to five times more than Restoration Hardware on an annual basis. crate&barrel and West Elm twice as much. The only one of those that I just mentioned that I don’t even remember if I mentioned them. That beats them is Pottery Barn. Otherwise Ashley’s squarely in the lead and yet I don’t think into to the the exacts Ashley exacts point, the awareness is there, but I don’t think they’re actually considering purchasing. It’s a holdover awareness from decades ago with like our parents you know and seeing the stores on the street. And so she’s right. The the executive said one of the things that we found is that our consideration was behind our awareness. Our goal is to try to be the number one in consideration within our category. And so that’s what really led us down the path of experiential events. So getting people ultimately into your stores, however it matters, touching feeling the product is the right marketing strategy in my opinion. And it’s attacking the issue that Ashley has at the point it’s marking funnel. So I think it’s the right right marketing tactic. But to your point, you have to be able to back it up. And from my experience in home furnishings, that was always where Ashley fell off like damage rates were higher. This is 10 years ago. So I have no idea if this is the case. Damage rates were higher in e-commerce, like things like that. They continue to hold the brand back from where it could have been, but maybe they’re working on that. Hopefully, they’re looking at this surround sound. That’s my opinion. What do you think?
Yeah, I don’t know though. I I think it goes back to the last story we were talking about, like the Google search, Like who’s searching Google? Yeah. People our age and older like that. That makes sense that Ashley furniture is showing up there. But I would be willing to bet if you stopped any Millennial or Gen. Z on the street right now and asked where they purchased their last five pieces of furniture from like. Ashley is not in that consideration set and and probably they’re probably not searching on Google again Ashley furniture like they’re going on Google if they are at all or going on TikTok in or Instagram in this case and looking at or Pinterest even and looking up mid century modern couch like that’s the way that they’re searching and so I feel like. While the the the what you’re saying it makes sense like I just think that again like you’re you’re going you’re pushing money into Pitbull like you’re trying to attract a younger demographic DJ Bella Fox like all these things but then are you paying it off like but doesn’t actually though Ashley furniture person also said. So I think it’s interesting like the my favorite quote in that article was that they’re doing these events so they can quote allow people to see products without entering the stores. That’s the direct quote. And I think like, that’s the problem, like you’re still not getting people into, yeah.
That part’s interesting me. Like, why wouldn’t you do it at the store level? I don’t understand. I don’t understand that part are doing at the store level but not to this Not not this this thing is this is like doing it you know Santa Monica, Pierre. But I mean it could still get you like to confidence with the product of the products there in front of you. But but in, I mean I but I would ask you like I’m gonna play the other side of that which you just said to me which is like. Okay, They’re definitively going after a younger audience with who they’re targeting with these events, right? That’s what they’re angled towards. What is West, you know, how is West Elm and Restoration Hardware and all those guys doing that thing too. Why couldn’t, why shouldn’t The Ashley home stores, the furnishing stores be on the same part with them as we think about them? Because I would tell you, we don’t, even though people still know this brand. So there, there’s an untapped opportunity there. And I I mean, I for that reason, I think. It goes to your point a little bit too.
Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I think it’s really hard like especially basing this on the Google search information like I just think that’s it’s. That’s fine. That’s one data point. But I think we need to look at the entire consideration set of what place people like Restoration Hardware are doing. Like they’re brand new stores and like, you know, if you look on Instagram at the Restoration Hardware restaurants, like that stuff.
That’s that’s probably the worst the worst example like the pottery like yeah the party bar in the West is kind of more in the realm but like and and even those are higher end but like. Why couldn’t there be a like a low end, more nationally branded furniture offering? There could that is applicable. To everyone. Kind of goes back to your baby store discussion a couple weeks ago. But there definitely could be. I think that you just have to make the store experience pay off, and that’s where they’re lacking 100% and shipping to you all right.
Let’s keep going. Let’s go to headline 5, Chris. Dollar General is trying its hand a cashierless technology. According to Supermarket News, Dollar General is experimenting with just walk out like technology in one of its North Carolina stores in. Banner Elk NC, the tech is provided by ify and Dollar General reportedly told Business Insider. Quote, it’s consistent with our ongoing strategy to continually look for new ways to meet our customers value and convenience needs. We recently piloted a store with frictionless technology. While we do not currently plan to expand this technology, we instead will continue to test and learn and quote Chris. Yeah, it’s a big move from one of the nation’s largest retailers. What are you what are you thinking here?
Definitely the largest in terms of number of stores, 100% like yeah, I mean so I think I think this news is big like you know I mean and the other point I’d say too hand is like Dollar General is one of the last retailers I would have thought would ever be piloting this technology. Like I just didn’t expect it but then I got thinking about I’m like OK why would they be doing this but. There are so many angles to this beyond just as what beyond what is just reported in the news with just walk out. Like that’s where I kind of feel like I wish the retail reporters were a little more nuanced in their discussions about this. Because you know for example, we know that locating inventory in the Dollar General is extremely difficult, extremely difficult. So they’re like extremely difficult. I said that three times. So there could be operational efficiencies just from the deployment of the cameras in the ceiling, right. Which you know brings me and so and then you’ve got the AP angles to this, to the loss prevention, the safety angles to for the employees, the cashiers in the store, all that kind of stuff. So which brings me back to this whole point which we talked about on the show. It is still just one store and it probably cost to do this one store. It probably cost the equivalent of the year end bonuses. I’ve said this 1000 times of three to five retail executives that are working for you. So just try it out. See what the value is. It’s better to do that than some silly AR in store wayfinding project marketing scheme that your creative teams probably baked up and it’s just going to end up wasting you a ton of money. Whereas this has so many value offshoots that most of us as retailers. True retail operators have no idea what those even are yet until we start to get experiments like this in place. My hunch is, I’ve said this before, just walk out technology, just the just walk outside of this is probably not where the value is ultimately going to be. Yes, correct. Because we’ve seen that, like, people don’t care about that enough as a hook to go into an Amazon Fresh store when everything else is lacking. So anyway. I think it’s way to go, Dollar General, because I didn’t expect this from you at all.
Totally, I agree. And I think that you know that you mentioned theft being an issue. You mentioned, you know, the inventory visibility, but there’s also the labor consideration for Dollar General with this too. I mean you have you know, 1617 thousand stores, especially in rural areas like. It it could get to that point where you’re worried about staffing and I think that’s where it’s not, it’s not as much on the consumer point of view here or like the consumer shopping experience as it is like Dollar General just being able to keep a store open. So I think this is really important for us to like. Consider and think about here about the advantages that they’re getting from one test in one store. Your Walgreens did this in Chicago earlier in June, where you know they’re doing this one store test where they’re they locked down everything in the Walgreens store except for two aisles that are flanked by associates and it. When you want something in the Walgreens store, you’re pointing it out and the associates are going to get that and bring it to the front of the register for you. Like, no, this is not meant to be the most like. Opportune customer experience, but I think it’s allowing them to test in a real life store, which is very important as Annika Vous from Reva told us a couple of weeks ago. Like you have to test in real life to see what’s working and what’s not and to understand where you get stand to gain the most from automation in the store. So I love it. I think it’s really important. Plus not to mention like for Dollar General, they’re the perfect store size for these cashierless checkout concepts like this is. Perfect for them for.
Where the tech is now. Yeah, right. Exactly, exactly. So I think yes, you should absolutely be doing this. And I think people need to ease up on their feelings about like 1 store test like Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing. Like 1 store tests are great because you learn things from them, you know, especially if you got your whole organization thinking about the lessons you’re going to learn from them. The other point too, real quick and closing like. Check out for retail starting to have its day in the sun too like Amazon’s pulling back. But you know we’ve got we had Revo group over in Germany telling us about how they’re actively finding value in this and deploying it more. We’ve got further examples of new largescale grocers bringing this online with companies like Trego and stuff. So like this is keep, we’re going to keep close to this because it’s it’s starting to happen. You can kind of feel us starting across the chasm a little bit here I think, but anyway.
All right, Chris, let’s go to the lightning round. Question 1 Some exciting news out of Chipotle. Chris, did you know it takes roughly 50 minutes to make a batch of Chipotle’s guacamole? I did not know that and it doesn’t surprise me because it takes me like 50 minutes to make a batch of guacamole. Not anymore. The new avocado robot unveiled Wednesday could cut the prep time in half. Chris, I want to know what laborious but delicious meal takes you 50 minutes that you’d like to create a robot to expedite. Well, that’s such a good question. And because this this is a fight that misses Omnitalk and I have every single week, I would tell you none. None. I refuse to cook any meal that takes that long. And and believe it or not, I set a new record and I made Rigatoni Bolognese in 18 minutes because I had, I had like 30 minutes to get my kids fed and ready for soccer practice and I whipped it up. Fast I was.
Pretty nothing. Nothing like inhaling a bunch of bolognese and then running around a soccer field in 90 degrees. Well, I had to. That was part of the reason I had the time crunch. I had to leave time for them to digest. And of course, you know, all right. Question 2A new survey from Del Monte revealed that a majority of general consumers regularly replace meals with snacks. Brilliant inside there, with parents especially likely to snacks the to what was the last thing you snacks the to did in place of a meal.
It was not a good choice but raw almonds and a protein bar, let me tell you, not a complete meal. Not a complete meal. Snackstitute is a really fun word to say. You should try Snacksitute. Snacksitute. It’s really fun, isn’t it? Doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Snacksitute it twice last night. It was fabulous, all right. yeah, OK, Question 3, a new Angry Birds retail cafe launched in New York City last week. Chris, what video game would you propose follows in their claw steps?
Oh wow. That’s a good question. I’ve, I’ve long want this too. That’s why I like I like that story too a lot this week. But for me, it’s not a video game but it’s a franchise that has video games. Like I would do a Transformer store. I want to see an actual Transformer store at the Mall of America. There are so many cool things you could do with that concept and geez, they’re putting out a new Transformers movie like every year. So you know the contents there and the the products are there to support it too. Probably even more so than Angry Birds I would think.
All right. We’ll get you, I hope, Jill and the team at MO. You’re listening. It’s more Hasbros Hasbros purview on that one, but Snoop Dogg has lines. Snoop Doggy Dogs, a Of pet products that will soon be available in Petco, PetSmart, and Kohl’s. And what is your favorite Snoop Dogg song that I, again, most likely have never heard of?
The first one that came to mind was Ain’t No Fun. Have you ever heard that song? No never heard of It ain’t no fun. No the homies can’t have not, no you don’t know not helping not help it up. Look it up. Is there?
Another one. I mean, like, you know, gin and juice. Right. Gin and juice, I’ve heard. Yeah, yeah. Okay juice. Yeah, for sure. I know that one. Yeah, without a doubt. Okay. All right. All right, So ain’t no fun. That’s that’s what I need to. That’s what I need to put on the old turntable today. Is that right? Yeah, Nate Doc. Cool Oh God it. Was that Nate? Does he have a double G at the end of his name too? Or she just? So, yeah, I do. He does. Yeah, you can.
Look that up when, for us at the end of the show, we got to find it out. All right, Happy birthday day to Patrick Stewart. Harrison Ford and to the man who penned one of the most famous lines in movie history, show me the money, the great Cameron Crowe. And remember, if you can only read or listen to 1 Retail Blog in the Business, Make it Army Talk, the only retail media outlet run by two former executives from a current top ten US retailer, Our fastest, Our Fast 5 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. It also features special content exclusive to us, and we do it all 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 in. Please remember to like and leave us a review wherever you happen to listen to your podcasts or on YouTube. And so until next time, and on behalf of all of us at Omnitalk Retail. As always, be careful out there.
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