Hello, you are listening to the Omni talk Retail Fast 5 brought to you in partnership with the A&M consumer and retail group Firework, Avalara, TGW and Sezzle. Ranked in the top 10% of all podcasts globally. The Retail Fast 5 is the podcast that we hope makes you feel a little smarter, but more importantly a little happier each week too. Today is November 16th, 2023. I’m your host, Anne Mezzenga.
And I’m Chris Walton.
We’re here once again to discuss the most important headlines from the past week that highlight how the physical, digital and human elements of retail are coming together to shape the future. Chris, we big watch this week. Do you want to do the honors?
Oh, thank you. And I’d love to do the honors. That’s so awesome. Yes, yes. We launched a new daily podcast called the Retail Daily Minute, which I have to say features your mellifluous voice every day reading the top headlines in the world of retail in about, on average, I’d say 3 to 4 minutes.
And I got to tell you, I listen to it every morning. And I learned something new every morning that I wouldn’t necessarily pick up had I just tried to read the headline and scan the headline. So it’s great. I think everyone should check it out.
Yes. I mean we a lot of people, which I thought was very hilarious. People are like, all right, 3 to 4 minutes, I can do that. I can do that. That amount of you is fine.
I don’t know about the full fast 25 to 35 minutes, but for sure they can do the daily 3 to 4 minutes. So you know, that’s good. Thank you. Thank you for telling us that. You can continue to leave reviews like that for us on the retail daily minutes so that we can keep making sure that we’re bringing you only the three to four minutes of content that you actually want from us, right, Chris?
Yeah, and I actually listened to you on like 2 times speed, so my 4 minutes becomes 2 minutes really quickly. But yeah, to your point. If you give it a listen, leave us a review, rate the podcast, let us know what you think. We’d love to hear what you think and get your feedback. Because the reason we do this, as we always say, is we do it for you. And every little difference makes a difference to us. And that’s how we try to go about the content we make for you as well. So.
Also I want to make sure that you tell us which stories you like because we use that. Believe it or not, we use the retail daily minute to determine the stories that will make the fast 5 So in addition to your reviews. You got to tell us, however, in whatever method you you prefer, which stories you think should make the top five.
I like hearts and I like hearts like I like hearts.
Like put little heart emojis on whatever thing you want in social media. That’s a whole separate thing we can’t get into. But Chris, I have some Speaking of hearts things I would like to heart. That is our guest on today’s show back for their regularly scheduled monthly appearance. We have two brand new people from the A&M Consumer and Retail Group joining us today.
We have Senior Director Chris Kreitz and Director Cassie Riding of the Alvarez and Marcel Consumer and Retail Group. Welcome, Cassie. I want to start with you. Tell the audience a little bit about you first and then we’ll go to you, Chris.
Awesome, thanks for having me today. My name is Cassie Riding. I’m a director with CRGI joined the group about three years ago right after I graduated from Business School out of the New York office. Mostly focused on the retail side with our group doing some of the large scale transformations and also some store operations work.
Excellent. Welcome Cassie. Chris, let’s hear about you.
Hey, Chris, and thanks for having me. Chris Kreitz, Senior Director with CRG, long time listener, first time caller. Can I start with a little cliche?
Yeah, why not? We love it anytime.
Perfect. It’s just like listening to Doctor Laura with my mom in the car growing up specialized on the physical retail side. They’ve been working on large scale transformations. Store operations, pricing, promotion, merchandising, a lot of the topics I’m hoping we’re going to dive into today, yeah,
Lot of supply chain in your background too, it look like. Is that right?
Am I currently saying that all right and should we get to it, let’s do it.
All right. Before we get started, do we have any other big content drops we need to tell the audience about?
Actually, yes, we do. We are really excited about this one. We interviewed Brian Kavanaugh last month as part of our Ask an expert series on LinkedIn. You may have caught it and the interest was so high in that content, in that damn content, the digital asset management content that we are bringing him back to go even deeper on the subject with a new podcast that will drop during the last week of November. So that’s coming up right after Thanksgiving, so make sure to keep a lookout for that.
Yeah, keep a lookout for that. And if you want to learn more about Binder before that, which is honestly the most intuitive enterprise digital asset management platform out there, you can also book a demo with them directly at binder.com. All right, man, I think we got to get to these headlines. I think we got to break in these newbie’s. What do you think?
Let’s do it.
All right, in today’s Fast 5, we’ve got news on Amazon and Meta’s new partnership, Amazon’s new Buy with Prime Assist program. Poshmark leveraging live streaming for the second year in a row for second hand Sunday. Great alliteration and a robotic restaurant concept from the founder of Chipotle, but we begin today with lots and lots of earnings news.
And oh boy, it was a busy week. It was a busy week. There’s a lot of stuff in the headlines, Chris, Home Depot, Target, and Walmart all reported this week. And here are some highlights. According to CNBC, Home Depot posted fiscal third quarter earnings in revenue that beat expectations on a sales decline of 3% over the year prior.
And indicated caution ahead in its remaining full year guidance. Target similarly beat fiscal third quarter earnings in revenue expectations but said that it’s seeing weaker discretionary spending and more deal hungry shoppers with no meaningful changes expected for the holiday quarter and comp sales in a range of of round of mid single digit decline. Finally, Walmart changing the game a little bit beat sales and profit expectations with sales up over 5% year over year, but also sounded the caution alarm on its holiday outlook as well. Chris, we’re going to go to you first here. Chris K, how do you think the retail boardrooms are looking at like?
What are they looking at amid this coming holiday season? In light of these reports, what should we expect coming out of there?
Yeah. So I think it’s a really nice juxtaposition there, especially with the just went through. So you see Target and Home Depot down year over year, Target skewing towards that, they’re offering, skewing towards that discretionary spend. Home Depot calls out big projects being down, Walmart is up on the strength of grocery, you know your everyday goods. So I think that’s more of a tale of what consumer spending is going to look like going forward.
You know, I think what what some of my clients are talking about and thinking through is do we have to start revisiting, you know our AOP plans for next year. As we look at what we had built in for price increases coming, you know as you see weakness in the segment, perhaps a lot of those prices they have been planning will actually go back the other way and we’ll start to see some. So I think a lot of folks are revisiting that. The second thing I think people are talking about is, you know, maybe bracing for a weaker holiday season year over year. I think you see, you know, the other one that that was interesting to me was Walmart announcing that they’re not going to be doing seasonal hiring this year.
And I think there were some connotations of that in their earnings results, but basically bracing for, you know, maybe a softer holiday season.
Yeah, that’s I saw something just this morning that said like gifting is down like where you were buying 10 things for your, your family members, now it’s nine that the the reports are anticipating this year. Cassie, you guys have dug into kind of other consumer sentiments and I really want to tackle that angle of this with you. Tell me a little bit about what you’re seeing or what you’re seeing consumers doing on that same thread.
Absolutely. So I think what we’re seeing, the consumer sentiment is really mirroring what we’re seeing in terms of the caution going into holiday. So we just released our biannual consumer sentiment survey and nearly half of consumers are expecting to spend the same or less over the next six months on the themselves and their family. So really not a good sign going into the holiday season. Specifically looking at the holiday season, majority of people are expecting to spend the same or less especially on themselves during the holiday season.
So they will continue to give, but yeah, give in smaller amounts And so they’re really focusing just their spend on their basic needs and less on gifts and indulgences. So they’re prioritizing savings and so might be a tough, tough holiday season. We actually saw that five in 10 consumers are actively preparing for a recession. So the the continuous price increases are really being felt by consumers and they just think that products and services are becoming too expensive and it’s a really barrier for them to spend. So as we, you know, they expect prices to continue to rise and I think the, you know, retailers are really going to feel that over the next few months.
Yeah. So kind of echoing what we’re hearing like Brian Cornell saying where people aren’t just going out and buying the thing like they typically do at Target. They’re waiting until it gets cold out and they need a sweatshirt and jeans versus, you know, going in right, right away and just seeing something that inspires them. Chris, you’re laughing at me when I say this. I think that you might.
Have some I’m laughing at this statement. Yeah, I’m laughing at this statement. Yeah, I always. I mean, obviously it’s funny when they start putting the weather in here, like it’s pretty early in the season.
We’re already blaming the weather on the lack of sweatshirts that are being yes, yes, I mean.
I I agree with everything Chris and Cassie just said. I mean fundamentally I think it’s, it’s, you know, pretty straightforward. And Home Depot, I think no surprise in their results. Walmart too, you know, they’re still doing fairly well. But the caution, the caution was a little bit of a surprise to me.
I actually didn’t expect that this morning when we went on this podcast. I thought they’d be like, gangbusters.
Really excited about, you know how Walmart.
Walmart. Yeah. So what did I say?
No, no, you did. I was just clarifying between Walmart and Home Depot just.
From my own sense, yeah. Yeah. For you. Yeah, Walmart. So I thought they I.
I didn’t expect them to be as cautionary or for lack of better word, pessimistic about the holiday. So that’s an interesting wrinkle. But yeah, Target, Target seems all over the place to me right now.
And I mean, you got that comment that you just talked about Cornell’s on CNBC last night, talking about how like customers are coming up to him and thanking him for putting products behind glass, which I cannot get subscribe.
That was the biggest BS statement in the human history of the world. Like, it may be true. Like 1 crazy person came up to him and told him that, but it’s not the truth, right. So like, there’s there’s just a difference there. And so I don’t know.
And you look at targets that stand out to me though. And I I don’t like talking about Target, but like, I think you have to ask, where’s the beef, man? And by beef, I mean, where’s the growth? Digital sales are down 6 percent, 6%. Like that’s digital, right?
That’s crazy. And so and. Sales are often times a reflection of your priorities and target. You know they they they invested in stores before the pandemic. That strategy worked out particularly because of the pandemic and your options that you had for one stop shopping during the pandemic.
So you know my question is like where’s the growth going to come from going, I look back like going back to shift which was a long time ago, I think 2017 or 2018, what other growth initiative do they have to count on like I can’t name one and so. I don’t know. I think it’s going to be a tough time and you’re starting to see some weird things being said in the media like that. I don’t know what Cornell’s thinking right now.
I mean, yeah, I I.
Had examined Cornell like no one’s buying that.
I got to, I got to say like as a former Target employee, like I can just imagine you know getting the recap of that conversation and and then as a Target customer too thinking about like am I really thinking Target for making me wait 3 minutes to get a a thing unlocked so I can buy Dove soap. Like I guess I just don’t understand that maybe the fact that it’s there is great like maybe that part of it. But I don’t know. I don’t know man. I I am really concerned about that angle of it and knowing the people at Target who are working really hard to hear the leader saying something like that makes me a little, a little concerned.
Oh 100% yeah. My favorite. My favorite is Somebody text me. It’s like the equivalent in e-commerce. Is like saying we’re going to slow the site down and then just continually move the buy checkout button on you.
Like that’s essentially what you’re doing in the store and people are are supposedly liking that. But anyway, not that that’s the crux of the earnings, but I think it’s a funny little coincidence to point out. All right, let’s keep moving. Headline 2, Meta and Amazon are teaming up again. According to CNBC, Meta has debuted a new feature allows in users to link their Facebook and Instagram accounts to Amazon.
Quote For the first time, customers will be able to shop Amazon’s Facebook and Instagram ads and check out with Amazon without leaving the social media apps and Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. Customers in the US will see re time also also can be said as real time. Really struggling with this one. I had too much coffee today. I haven’t feeled it.
Oh my God. Prime eligibility, Delivery estimates and product details on select Amazon Product ads in Facebook and Instagram as part of the new experience. End Quote. Cassie, let’s go to you first on this one. What do you think of this?
If you can’t beat them in social commerce strategy, then join them from both parties. What letter grade would you give to each of them? I’m curious.
I think the the jury is still out a little bit in terms of where we’re going to see the biggest winners here. So there’s definitely a range of grades.
Yeah, cool. I can’t wait.
But I think right now as I’m understanding it, there’s a little the meta is not going to get as much of the access to data that I would have hoped to see in this and to be able to get as much that benefit from it. So I think Amazon, the consumer, the advertisers are really the ones you know those are the A students, whereas meta might not be benefiting as much from this because they’re not going to be getting as much data back as potentially would be available. And on the opportunity to sounds like Amazon’s not willing to to give that data back. So obviously it’s going to create less friction. And for the customers better experience, we’re going to see increased conversion which you know ultimately makes these the experience and the advertising more valuable rate for Meta.
But in terms of being able to how they can lever that data if they’re not getting the complete cycle, I think maybe not quite as valuable as we might be hoping it would have been for them. So you know, they might not be an A student right now.
So interesting. So you think good move for good move for Amazon? Maybe not so much for Meta or curious. Time will tell.
Still a winner, still a winner and and better than where they are right now, but. With the data, I’m not sure that it’s necessarily an A+ move for them.
OK. And what do you think you got anything to add on that?
I mean, this was a huge week for Amazon. I really was and actually more I think what the more important story kind of broke after this, which is actually the the announcement with Snap because I think that’s the the most growth potential for them given the audience that’s on Snap and now able to transact within the Snap platform as well. I think like Cassie said, huge benefits for Amazon here. I think this also helps them get more retailers on the platform, gets more spending on ads in the Amazon platform and then also benefits creators. Chris, you were talking about this last week where when we started to see Facebook starting the subscription program for the creators on these platforms.
Like now you have the creators who are able to tie this into their Amazon affiliate accounts, that page, they’re able to take people, right, you know, right to that and still get the credit so that those brands now have a better picture of the efficacy of their campaigns with creators of the ads that they’re putting on Amazon and other platforms. And I think those are the really the the people that benefit here along with what Cassie said, The the seamless customer checkout experience that I think is, is really where we’re headed and it’s a smart move from both parties like you said, if you can’t beat them, join them. Like how do you figure out how to make that that perfect marriage happen so that more seamless transaction can happen in general on these platforms?
Yeah, it’s a pretty overt move from Amazon this week. I mean to announce Snap and Meta in the same week. And it’s not that they haven’t tried social commerce themselves. Remember the failed spark experiment from a few years ago? So it seems like they’re just saying, OK, we’re all in on this.
We’re just going to be the conduit for commerce off these platforms, which is a really bold thing for them to actually. Say and start to do so. Chrissy any any any other thoughts here?
Yeah. I mean, I, I agree with what what all you guys have have said so far. I mean, I think, I think it actually speaks to the Pinterest partnership with Amazon too. Like that’s the first big partnership that they’re doing that’s similar to this. And I think it speaks to how well that partnership’s working.
I think we’re going to see even more of these start to roll out. Chris, it kind of triggered a thought for me the the last piece you said about. You know, bringing a trusted commerce platform to to social commerce. You know, I think, I think that’s exactly what Amazon fills here, is they, they fill the role of having a trusted platform where when you’re making a purchase, you know what you’re going to get, You know that you’re going to see unbiased reviews. You’re going to have a very easy, smooth checkout experience.
So I think this is just another way Amazon’s embedding themselves in the transactions happening outside of Amazon.com. Com.
Yeah, 100%. And I think that’s the point I would make on this too. And I think there’s a big lesson for the retail audience to take from this based on what you just said. And that is you need to get on board with technology that’s going to give you real time visibility and the availability of your inventory in your ads on these commerce platforms. Otherwise, Amazon’s going to sneak in there and snake it from you very, very quickly, and it’s going to be the preferred option for many people trying to shop ads on.
On, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Snap, you have to go in that direction. So if you haven’t listened to our podcast with Lucky, which is all about the technology that enables that to happen, I think you should. But the one last point I would make that I think has been missing from this discussion is TikTok. I’m curious, anyone have thoughts on that? Like where does Amazon go with TikTok?
How do they think about that angle? And you got any thoughts there?
I mean, I think that there are still some apprehension working with TikTok. Like there’s still like a lot of countries that are banning it. A lot of they’re like they’re still hurdles to get over, I think with that platform. And TikTok has taken some pretty strong moves to create e-commerce facilities of their own. They’re looking at product fulfillment on their own.
Know whether or not that’ll be successful and they end up defaulting to Amazon is another thing. But I think there’s still some hesitancy with that platform, unfortunately for Amazon in this case, but that, I don’t know, kind.
Of feels like a defensive move by Amazon too against TikTok in a lot of days.
All right Headline 3. Amazon has launched a new program called Buy with Prime Assist. According to an Amazon press release, the new feature allows businesses to offer 24/7 real time customer service to Prime members who have checked out on their e-commerce sites using Buy with Prime at no additional charge to the business. Meaning Buy with Prime Assist delegates customer service for Buy with Prime order related queries to train representatives to offer round the clock. Human assisted customer service through live chat.
No bots, not a not a bot insight Chris actually and while maintaining the look and feel of the business’s brand, which is important to note. Chris C, not Chris K which I called you earlier. My apologies, Chris C, Do you like this Prime extension and what do you think it says about Prime overall?
Yeah, I love this. I mean, I for retailers, yeah, I really do. I mean, I when I think about it, if I’m a retailer, 40 to 70% of my contacts that I get through my different channels, whether it’s Twitter, social, you know, phone, text, etcetera, are we call them Wismo? Where is my order? And they’re just super simple contacts to resolve.
People want to change a shipping address. People want to see, you know, the status of their order make. Transactional changes and I personally think that brands think that they need to deliver a quirky fun customer experience in every single interaction. But I really think for those types of interactions, customers really just want straightforward fast resolutions. Now if I’m calling to to talk to you about your product features and and that’s absolutely where I want to speak to.
You know a trained high level associate who can help me learn more about the product in your brand. But man, this this like where is my order tactical execution stuff. I think this is a huge, huge opportunity for brands. I love this, you know and the other thing I think about what I think that what does this say about Prime. I think this says a lot more about Amazon’s dance with Shopify as they try to expand into other areas of commerce outside of.
That’s interesting ofamazon.com exactly like we were just talking about Chris, because to me, this is this is a lever on how you can use Amazon for your back, back end, and it’s just one more piece of stickiness that makes it harder to switch away once you’ve started.
Yeah, totally. I could not agree more, Chris. I mean it’s it’s really getting to me establishing Amazon as the everything platform like what we’ve seen with Alibaba and China is like they’re facilitating orders, they’re you how you are using payments as I know on a lot of retailer sites. Chris, what are your thoughts here? Are you, I mean are you feeling like this is this is cementing prime as something that has staying power in in the US?
Yeah, I mean, Chris, these points are really good. I mean, I never thought about the Shabba fango, especially in light of the other story. I’m glad we put these back-to-back because like you’ve got. All these different platforms for commerce that now Amazon’s becoming a linchpin inside of, right? And Amazon is the best at being the infrastructure for commerce.
That’s what they’re good at, right? And that’s what they should be good at. And the point about Prime that I would make to add on would be, I think, you know, from a consumer perspective, Prime feels like it’s kind of tapped out. Like how many more benefits can you give me as a Prime subscriber, right? There probably are some, but it’s probably hard to come up with those, you know, from a merchandising perspective, but in the business landscape.
Wide open, right. And so now you’re just seeing the value over price of of buy with Prime going up. So like this cost nothing. So now you’re getting and those points Chris brought up were great to the Wismo thing which I’ve never heard of. That’s a cool term.
Cassie, what do you have to say to what Chris was but what both Chris’s were saying? What’s your Chris’s consensus?
I mean I largely agree with the Chris’s, but I do think that there are some brands that are this is not going to work for everyone. So you know especially someone who customer experience and having brand control is super important to their core values. I just don’t know if you want someone. Yes, maybe they have a question of where is my order, but then next they have an actual question about their product. And that’s confusing for the customer experience.
So for the majority, yes, this is great that Amazon is going to be able to take this seamlessly, an actual human being able to talk with you through chat, that’s great. It’s great for the customer very easy. But I do think there are some that it’s not going to work with, you know, especially something that’s a more niche brand that you know customer service representative who’s answering question about you know a very basic product. Then then their next inquiry could be a little bit more fashion related because they have a where is my order. And then also I have a question about this other product as well I’m thinking.
About and then I know that’s supposed to be smart enough that it can direct that to the right place. But I’m interested to see how smart it is and from a consumer standpoint if they’re they’re no to go to 1 area for that. If they’re thinking, oh, I need to go to a different place to ask this specific question.
I completely agree, Cassie. I think like there’s going to be some definite growing pains with this because I think you’re also thinking about the there. You’re kind of taking this unilaterally where it’s just a Wismo question, just a question about, you know, the, the cost of a product or, you know, helping with the existing transaction. But that’s not always going to be the case either. Like there’s some cases where my product isn’t going to come.
I need it in this time frame, What’s a similar product that I could purchase? And then I think you’re totally right, Cassie. To get into questions about like how much does that human being, like how much can they advocate for the brand in that scenario, Especially when I imagine they’re going to be using these associates to tackle multiple brands at one time or one call center to be able to tackle multiple brands at one time. And even when you have a a real human being on the other end of the line, if they’re not able to answer those questions, will there be friction for those brands that are levering, you know this, this type of technology? But Chris, you had something to add too.
I don’t know. I think I think what I think that sounds like it could be a problem. But I think when you talk about who’s actually going to use buy with Prime, I don’t think these brands are going to be electing to use buy with Prime to begin with. Like the high touch brands, you know the high service brands, they’re not going to choose buy with Prime. So I feel like that’s.
That subsets almost excluded from this conversation I.
Don’t know, Chris. I mean like we just got an e-mail this week about a brand that’s claiming, I mean these are smaller SMB and specialty brands claiming that you know buy with Prime is increasing their business 70%. So like there could be this kind of scenario I think more often than maybe we think.
I love that. And I was looking at some of the numbers on the buy with Prime last night and I think that they’re they’re wild like some of the things that Amazons claiming you know 25% lift in conversion by switching to buy with Prime, you know increased basket sizes et cetera. I I just can’t help but wonder like how much of that is tied in with additional support that Amazon pushes to those retailers and positioning on their site, right. Because the whole idea is they have 167,000,000 Prime subscribers. They can push people to your site or your channel.
So whenever I hear those crazy numbers about conversion going up with buy, with Prime, all I think about is like, OK, but how in the background, how much support did Amazon give to those specific retailers to make those numbers happen to me? They they feel manufactured. I don’t understand why you’d see a 25% lift in conversion just because your checkout is, you know, two to three, you know, maybe 1015 seconds quicker. It doesn’t quite track for me.
Chris has a story for you.
Yeah, I can tell you having that as a validation point is very big because I’ve gotten duped into buying a few things through Facebook ads that have turned out to be fraudulent. And so it can be a big factor when you don’t know the brand particularly well. So I think the interesting point for me is just as when as when we move on here is it seems like it’s a, it seems like it’s a good concept that Amazon’s come up with here that they’ve rolled out. I think we’d universally agree with that. All right, headline 4.
Poshmark is leaning into live stream to promote resale for the second year in a row, according to Chain Storage. The online resale site, which ruled out Posh, shows a live stream shopping solution designed for fashion resale in the US and Canada in April 2023, is hosting its second annual Second Hand Sunday, which it calls the Quote Only national holiday dedicated to supporting second hand sellers. And circular fashion during the peak holiday shopping season End Quote taking place on Sunday November 26th, Second Hand Sunday is focused on encouraging the purchase of pre owned goods for holiday gifts. This year, Poshmark is launching a lineup of shopping live shopping events supported by the Posh Shows live stream feature, including and. Are you ready For This?
Yes, tell me all about them.
All right, I know, because you’re going to be all over this, actually. A gifts galore posh show on November 16th, an upcycling posh show with shopgoodwill.com on November 19th and 26th, and of course the bevy of live streams that will occur on second hand Sunday again on November 26th. So, Cassie, my question for you, is this live streaming, are you in or out? And how are you at ANMCRG advising clients around the concept?
Live streaming is is very interesting to me. You know it’s basically today’s version of QV. CI will say, I will admit I loved QVC as a child which probably concerned my parents about my future shopping habits, but she loved it. But I think you know live streaming is very category dependent. So this isn’t going to work I think for a lot of categories.
I think there are a few highlights where you know we can see potential there. Beauty is one of them. So you know, with the success of Get Ready with Me on Tiktok. People want to sit there and watch someone use different products and also being able to interact with the brand about why they’re using a product. I think live streaming actually could be a great success there.
For single retail brands, I don’t necessarily think that people want to watch someone walk around, they’ll go to their website, they’ll filter to exactly the type of product they’re looking for. So and then specifically with Poshmark, this is not how people are necessarily shopping for Poshmark you’re looking. They’re selling one individual item. There’s not the scale there to make it successful. So I don’t really see it.
I think there’s more potential in the live streams with things like the Amazon Live. So the Amazon influencers, I know there’s, there’s so many influencers who has regular programming. So you know Paige the Sorbo who’s a Bravo Liberty Summer house, she has a regular Amazon Live every week and she’s recommending her products that she wants. People are already looking to her on on her Instagram, on her tik toks for what she does. So her live streams are great and there’s potential for brands to partner with her potentially because it’s going through a variety of products, but I don’t see people tuning in and shopping just for.
For, you know, one brand.
Wow, looks like we hit your wheelhouse on this one. Great guest for this week, great guest for this week. And what do you think? You got it? Do you agree with Cassie?
Anything you change what she said? Any disagreement?
I mean, I I think Cassie’s like hitting on all the right notes for this. I I guess I don’t see the harm in doing this, especially on the Poshmark platform, because one of the worst things about buying something on Poshmark is that you’re dependent on the posture, who’s not always the best photographer showcasing an item. So it’s much simpler from somebody who shops consignment frequently for me to see something on form, for me to see somebody walking around in an item. And I do think that there’s. The capability within Poshmark to, you know are these live posh shows to say this is my item in size 28 this this pair of jeans.
But then here’s the same item or similar items across the board that are also for sale. But it kind of gives you a better sense of like what that product looks like, moves like, and feels like. And I I think this is even even to get even more granular, I think this is a really great tactic that some of our local consignment shops here, especially the luxury consignment shops have started to use because it it creates demand for that product. It is allowing one of our local consignment shops here, they’re selling out of products much faster now that they started doing Instagram reels and doing some of this live shopping to showcase this product instead of like waiting for people to come in and consign, they’re able to do. Sales online.
So it’s like opening up a new channel that is really difficult or has been historically really difficult for one off thrift items to be able to be sold that’s.
An interesting angle and yeah, it basically is enlivening the local businesses as a general concept potentially on 2nd, but.
Yeah, to Cassie’s point. Not for every. Every single brand not going to work.
Right. Yeah, it is category specific. I think there’s also the other point I’d make. I think there’s a time frame specificity here too. Like I think the because we, you and I actually both, we participated in Best Buy’s live stream last week, right.
It was like on Thursday night and we, we sat there, we watched it. And I don’t know. My opinion is like it can be an additional revenue stream for, I would actually say for most brands during the holiday. Because it’s a fun way to interact. It makes you feel closer to the brand.
Like I was feeling close to the brand, I was feeling close to you as we’re like writing messages back and forth during the live stream. But you know, my big take away is, and you guys have hit on this, is if you’re going to do it, you have to do it on your own platform, which is what Best Buy didn’t do. I think they’re probably thinking through that in the long run, but. You got to do it on your own platform and then that way customers can go there, they can see the content, it can live on in perpetuity and you can play the content until the items basically run out, which I think is a great point when you think about it in that context of what you said with the local consignment shops too. And but Chris any final words here?
No, I, I I agree with with what you guys have said. I just it’s it’s it’s interesting to me and I I just wonder if there’s any way that like vertically integrated retailers could use this in like a different way. Oh I agree with this. I just think through like all the challenges folks have had recruiting and you know retaining really good store associates. And I’m just wondering if there’s some sort of play on this where you could expose your best store associates, give them a platform to evangelize and serve, you know, hundreds of customers a day versus you know 10 to 20 customers a day and give them a really different Ave.
to earn actual Commission. Because it that’s one of the toughest things in physical retail today is it’s really hard to track what sales associates told you what. I just wonder if there’s any runway there.
Yeah, that’s freaking great. You got my mind going too. Why don’t you take a page out of Timu and Sheehan, like we had on the show last week, too, and go direct from the factory with some of these live streams? Like, here’s the product immediately coming off the line. Who wants it?
We’ll send it to You got to wait a little bit longer. But you’re being the first ones to see what’s coming, which isn’t going to arrive in stores, you know, three to four months down the line. Oh wow. Exciting stuff.
Super cool. All right, let’s go to our last headline headline 5. Chipotle’s founder is set to unveil a new restaurant chain. Run by what else? Robots.
According to The Independent, Chipotle founder Steve Ells is set to open a new restaurant run by Robots that’s aimed at reducing waste. The new restaurant, called Colonel, is scheduled to open in Manhattan soon and will also rely on robots to make most of its food. The Chipotle founder has said that while the robots will be used to make the food, the restaurants will also have a skeleton staff of about three people, I believe. That will be responsible for packaging food and washing dishes, and could operate with fewer employees than a traditional QSR, The New York Post also reported, with Els claiming that removing humans from the preparation process will also allow them to enhance safety. Chris, we’re going to you here.
Are robots the right move in this current business climate?
Internal Pessimist tier.
Really, I just think like this sounds sexy, right? Sounds like you know everything working for this concept, but like break it down a little bit. We have 3 concepts that have significant headwinds right now, right? We have. So they’re doing like a hub and spoke Ghost Kitchen model with this.
So that’s one element. Then you have like the labour automation, the high tech CapEx labour automation, another element that no one successfully pulled off yet. And then and you have poor market conditions for alternative needs like like it or not, alternative needs not performing super well right now. And maybe long term that is the right direction, right? But just launching this concept right now in an environment where cash is expensive, it’s a high CapEx environment.
There aren’t demonstrated platforms for any of the equipment that you really need. Like, I love Chipotle, but I’m selling this one.
Wow. All right. Wow. That’s great, man.
Let’s see, Cassie, what are your thoughts here?
I like that.
Yeah, I get to be a little more positive on this one, I think So I’m, I mean, I I agree with a lot of Chris”s point, but I also have a slightly more optimistic take on this. Particularly in this situation where we have the, you know Chipotle founder who understands the economics of you know, quick serve and he he gets it. So everyone else who’s gone into this space has been more start up driven. They haven’t had success in this space before. I think he’ll understand the economics of if this can work and so that’s you know a positive for me.
Hopefully he can be the one that shows this. So you know, given the tough labor environment, given you know, high turnover, just the cost. I think being able to bring the consistency to you know, quick serve will be very exciting and also you know, not to mention the points about the reliability, the increase in food safety, I think those are all positive. So yes, to Chris’s point, it is you know, a tough environment, cash is expensive, but I also think this has the potential to be the one that actually can breakthrough and show this is a a viable model.
Yeah, I think Chris brought up some really good points and I think I, I almost have to separate the two where like on one hand is a plant based concept going to be the right concept and then on the other side you’re looking at the operations of this restaurant. So I think those two things like I think there’s there’s very good points brought up in both cases. But Chris Walton, what are you thinking here?
Yeah, I think that’s a great point. And I was going to actually say the same thing. I think you have to divorce that in terms of how you’re going to talk about this story, I think. You know the the robot. I I’m all in on the robot angle though here.
Yeah. I think it’s. I think it’s a really smart thing to try. And I think Cassie’s point is right and that you’ve got the right person trying it for the first time. And I’m all in on robots since we went down to Schnucks a couple weeks ago.
I got we got to see that thing live in action, which is the first time I’ve seen a robot actually scan a store. And you know, I got to think about it and like, there’s all this talk about it, but. At the end of the day, it’s really just like the bag, the bag scanner in the security line on wheels. I mean, it’s basically TSA line. Yeah, the TSA line, it’s basically doing the same thing.
And yet we’re afraid of it because we think it’s going to like come over and come in and take over the world like the like the robot in Terminator Two or something. But. But when you get down to what it’s doing, it’s not. And it’s freeing people up to do the job that they wouldn’t normally do. Same thing.
You still have people in this operation that are still going to need to be employed. It does probably make things cleaner and safer because those people aren’t touching the products, which you know is a big hang up of mine when I eat at fast casual restaurants the number of times I’ve gotten sick while traveling over this past year. So I. I I just think, you know, it’s just another example of technology improving how things work, which is something that’s existed since the dawn of time, quite frankly. So robot phobia, I’m kind of like let’s get over it.
It shouldn’t even be in the headline in my opinion. It’s just like we’re going to figure out how to do a fast casual restaurant better.
Yeah, I love that Chris. I mean I think that the most important part of this headline is watching how they’re they’re they’re grasping the reality of this which is robots or technology working alongside human beings in this type of concept. I think you’re looking at you know to Chris see to push back a little bit. I mean, you’re looking at the technology that they’re using in Chipotle now like the avocado maker, the automatic avocado maker right now that that’s cutting down on time, you know, by hours for each prep cook to not have to make the. The the guacamole on you know by hand and I think you know when you look at the savings of 1 prep cook spending, you know, 4 hours cutting Peppers over and over and over again.
Like is that something, Is that a repetitive, mundane task that makes sense to be replaced by robots? I think in this case the answer is yes. And then you’re leveraging, you’re still leveraging that human workforce to be the backup here to make sure that they’re troubleshooting with customers, ensuring that facilities are clean and that they’re you know getting into the the nooks and crannies of the business that the robots can miss. So I I’m excited about this one. I think it’s got some legs.
I do agree though that I think the challenge may be the plant based portion of this and that’s where this might fail unfortunately. And that could kill the validity of the robotics being included.
Yeah, Chris is right. So you never want to look at a business plan when there’s like 3 unknowns, you know, at play here too, like that that, that that makes it a lot harder. There’s an uphill battle, for sure.
All right, let’s go to the lightning round. Cassie, you get the first question. Nepal’s government decided to ban the popular social media app. We were just talking about TikTok on Monday, saying it was disrupting social harmony in the country. What other person, place or thing would you like to have banned on the grounds that it disrupts social harmony?
So this may be slightly controversial or maybe just a personal thing, but very specific action. I hate a hanging high when someone pings you high with no ask after it and just lets it hang there. And so I, you know, it just, it creates that oh, something big is coming of an ass to me. So I think, you know, just being a little bit more up to slacker teams. And the hi, how’s it going?
And you know, letting letting people know it just it will create less stress in the workplace. Oh my gosh, that sounds terrifying to me. Actually, I’ve never thought about that, but. I’m going to start doing that to you. Add. No, don’t. Don’t get any ideas. Don’t get any ideas.
They’re already trepidations in the morning, All right, Chris Chili’s hired Boys to Men to sing an updated version of its iconic I Want My Baby Back Ribs Jingle, which I will spare all you listeners. My rendition of the song was last used in the mid 2000s, and many, mistakenly at the time, thought the R&B group originally recorded the hit. Chris, what is your favorite Boys to Men song?
This is a tough question, Chris. I know I couldn’t able it. I can’t.
Yeah, so I why if I think about it, I have to go with the 1 sweet day. I’m currently in the middle of packing up my house and moving to a brand new house. And I’m really looking forward to Sunday this week when all of that will be will be done and I’ll put on a little boys to men and you know, shoot you a little clip dancing in my unpacked house.
Nice. Just don’t put high in front of the clip. Like, don’t make me wait. Don’t make me wait. Yeah, just no. It’ll actually be no other text. It’ll just be high.
And then yes. Oh my gosh, Chris, you’re getting all of the musically related questions in the lightning round today, Chris. I want to know what’s cooler than a polar bear’s toenail? Andre 3000 is set to debut his first album in 17 years tomorrow. What performer from the 2000s would you most like to see release a solo album this next year?
Wow, that is a great question. And I think we have to go with the Tom Delonge Christmas album. A Little Blink 182 Christmas.
Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Oh, I would love that. Yeah. You got to get that in motion.
That’s out of left field. Oh my God. All right, let’s close this up with this one of my all time favourites. McDonald’s and Crocs are releasing a line of $75 shoes inspired by Grimace and the hamburger Cassie in your words, without the help of anyone else or even AI. What the heck is Grimace?
Well, First off, I’m just going to call it. I can definitely see this Crocs collab on Travis Kelsey coming up. So I think he did have a designer Crocs collab on recently. So want it want to put that one on record. We’ll see if he actually has that.
But what is Grimace? I I think that it’s going to be some kind of. Big, you know, a lot of unruly fur, fluff, purple. I think that’s actually what the real grimace is. And I think that’s, you know how I picture it in my mind, just a little unruly. And you’re laughing. What? What? How would you define grimace as a as a as a thing? Like what?
I don’t think I can have. Intellectual as possible here, I don’t think I. Can have a big furry purple thing, yes. A lot of fur, like all stuck together. That’s going to leave like like grimace remnants wherever it goes on, like your clothes and on the ground.
And it’s like glitter, but in fur form. Chris, any thoughts on Grimace to close out the show? I’ve never used the word in a sentence in my life, so I’m not the right expert on this one.
All right, all right. Well, that closes us up. Happy birthday today to Sam Watterson James, widows of Charles in Charge and Animal House. And to the woman that many adolescent boys in 1983 wish was their mom when they went on vacation, the great Beverly D’Angelo. And remember, if you can only read or listen to 1 Retail Blog in the Business, make It Omni Talk, the only retail media outlet run by two former executives from a current top ten US retailer, our Fast 5 podcast is the quickest, fastest rundown of all the week’s top news.
Our twice weekly newsletter tells you the top five things you need to know each day and also feature special content that is exclusive to us. And we do it all just for you, and we try really hard to make it fit within the preview pane of your inbox. Thanks as always for listening in. Please remember to like and leave us a review wherever you have to listen to your podcast or on YouTube. Can follow us today by simply going to youtube.com/Omnitalk Retail.
Cassie, If people want to get in touch with you or anyone else at the Alvarez and Marcel consumer and retail group, what is the best way for them to do that?
Yeah, the best way. You can learn a little bit more about us on our website albertsonmartial-drg.com or find us on LinkedIn Albertson Martial Consumer Retail Group and you know, find Chris and I on LinkedIn as well and feel free to reach out. Awesome.
Awesome. Well, it’s great to have you both. So on behalf of Chris and Cassie and all of us here at Omni Talk Retail, as always, be careful out there.
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