A weekly podcast with the latest e-commerce news and events. Episode 304 is an recap of ShopTalk 2023.
ShopTalk 2023 took place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas March 26 – March 29th, and seems fully back to pre-pandemic levels. Over 10,000 attendees, 600 exhibitors, and 50,000 one on one meetings, make ShopTalk the premiere digital commerce event in the US.
In this episode we recap everything you may have missed if you couldn’t make it to Las Vegas. We also briefly discuss e-commerce in Brazil, around Jason’s recent trip to São Paulo.
Key Themes At ShopTalk this year:
- Retail Media Networks
- Social Commerce and Shoppable Video
- Artificial Intelligence
- Retailers Becoming Plaforms
Don’t forget to like our facebook page, and if you enjoyed this episode please write us a review on itunes.
Episode 304 of the Jason & Scot show was recorded on Thursday, April 6th 2023.
[0:23] Welcome to the Jason and Scot show this is episode 304 being recorded on Thursday April 6th 2023 I’m your host Jason retailgeek Goldberg and as usual I’m here with your co-host Scot Wingo.
[0:39] Hey JC and welcome back Jason Scott show listeners Jason you’ve been burning up the frequent flyer miles I was have all your trips been.
[0:48] I have I just I did a double header I was just in Las Vegas for shoptalk, and then sadly I had to cut out of shoptalk a little early and head down South America to meet with a bunch of pupusas clients I don’t I’m not sure I said the portal right there pupusas clients in Brazil so I got two visits Apollo for my second time.
[1:10] People say I don’t know you could be in the manual or how to how to pronounce your company’s name.
[1:20] But it’s got you sound more like relaxed and laid-back than you usually do why is that.
[1:26] Yeah I am coming to you live from my spring break come down here at the North Carolina coast J tone and apologize I’m not up to my usual audio quality I know that’s going to drive you crazy but it’s been three hundred four episodes we can have a low Fidelity one for me.
[1:42] Low Fidelity Scott is still better than high-fidelity.
[1:44] No thank you I appreciate that.
[1:47] Yeah and is it nice down there.
[1:49] It is we’re having good weather it’s nice and sunny not its usual heat so it’s kind of a 78 but it’s nice it’s got fun to walk in the beach when it’s not blazing hot.
[2:00] Yeah I was going to say I’ll take that.
[2:01] Yeah probably better than Chicago her have to say.
[2:05] Yeah it has just in the last couple days warmed up we hit 70 yesterday and then it did back down to 50 today but I’m heading out on spring break this weekend as well so I’m looking forward to some warmer weather also.
[2:18] Yeah you’re going to a more exotic location I’m jealous.
[2:22] Yeah yeah we’re a family and I are going to the Caribbean so that it is purportedly very warm there so just desperately trying to get all the last stuff done here so that we can go without any guilt.
[2:35] Poop including publishing a podcast I love it your dedication is admirable.
[2:38] That is priority number one I can’t we can’t leave without all our listeners that let me hear it at shoptalk that we haven’t been publishing quite as frequently as they’d like.
[2:48] Yeah it’s a between all the things you have going on it’s been a little harder this year but we’ll we’re getting this one in the can before we jump into the e-commerce have you been tracking the Mandalorian.
[3:00] You know I have it’s another great season I feel like we’re treated to like like you know Premiere movie Caliber content every week now it’s amazing.
[3:12] Yeah I’m really enjoying no spoilers part of our policy that I’m enjoying the storyline and it’s kind of a fun adventure to see we’re going to take this the filoni verse is pretty interesting and enjoyable because they call it.
[3:25] Indeed did you get fooled by any April Fool’s jokes.
[3:30] I didn’t know it was on a weekend this time so.
Yeah I feel like usually at work is when I get get kind of caught up in those things but in the ones I saw a companies do were just like so outrageously silly.
A lot of them when you’re in a recessionary period of doing layoffs the stuff that kind of it’s hard to hard to be super jovial so a lot of them were either kind of hit flat or we’re just going like not not really rocket industry.
I I made a LinkedIn post asking why it seems like all these companies are only like really Innovative one day a year with cool product releases.
I thought that would be a like pretty transparent comment and I got like 20 comments back talking about why companies aren’t Innovative anymore.
Mike I was kind of referencing all the the fake April Fool’s products I watched a product in AI based tool that puts your name on the exclusion list when you buy a product so you get to stop seeing ads for it.
[4:32] I thought is that real or that was April Fool joke.
[4:35] There was an April Fool’s joke but the feedback I got is very clear that if someone does want to build that, um they could definitely make some money I thought it was funny because it’s a feature built into every advertising platform there’s nothing stopping anyone from doing it that’s why I thought it was funny.
But apparently like taking the email address of all the people you sell something too and uploading it to a server via an API is too hard.
[5:05] Well the problem is I only you know I’m okay with you pitching the other products it’s just not the one I just thought so so it seems like the way you pitched it was much broader based like my whole I would never hear from you again.
[5:19] Yeah maybe I I mean I wrote it on a plane on the way home from Brazil so we’ve.
But you will be happy to know that I use mid journey to create a logo for the new.
[5:32] Uncle yeah I’ve been really enjoying the journey it’s been a lot.
[5:35] I know you’re getting good at it you’ve uploaded some pretty cool images.
[5:39] Yeah I’m the king of anything to do with penguins can have a lot of.
[5:41] I know you’ve got some like penguins lounging on the beach.
[5:45] I’m a very specific command engineer for anything to do with penguins.
[5:49] Yet another I’m going to go vote for you on LinkedIn for that skill.
[5:55] My long hair looks kills the let’s talk about your Brazil trip let’s do that first because shoptalk I wasn’t able to make it this year and I want to get kind of meaty on some of that stuff because there’s a lot of really good good topics that tell us about Brazil.
[6:11] Yeah so short trip to Brazil for those that aren’t familiar with that market it’s pretty interesting it’s the largest market in Latin America people talk about latam all the time but the.
The Dynamics in each country are wildly different and of course they speak a completely different language in Brazil than they do in the rest of Latin America so like.
[6:32] It tends to be pretty variable country to Country, the Retail Landscape in Brazil isn’t super Dynamic are interesting there’s some good retailers but there’s nothing that would work.
[6:44] Super exciting a revolutionary to anyone that’s used to shopping in the US but e-commerce is a pretty interesting Battle Ground Amazon is not the incumbent there’s a Marketplace you know well Mercado Libre that, really focuses on Latin America.
They’re by far the largest Marketplace in Latin America and I think they’re still bigger than Amazon but Amazon came to Brazil late and and people are speculating that they would have no chance that there’s, all these laws that are unfriendly to expats and mercado Libre had a local presence in Brazil and all this stuff, and my sense is both companies are doing really well and continuing to thrive.
E-commerce is growing similar to the US like they tend to be 10 to 15% a year growth for ecommons 4% for retail and both Mercado Libre and Amazon which are by far the two biggest players in Brazil are both growing, much faster than that industry average so.
I haven’t been there for years ago and back now four years ago people are like Amazon’s the new guy and we don’t think they’ll make it and I think, like in most other markets what they’ve learned is that if Amazon is really serious about your Market there they’re definitely going to be able to win over Shoppers and they, open the ton of infrastructure and they seem to be a credible competitor but it’s kind of fun to be in a market where there’s two a gentleman.
[8:13] Yeah and then did you go to anywhere else in South America just presume.
[8:19] Saturday just Brazil and just how Paulo which is biggest city and in Latin America like 22 million, people in the metro area the digital stuff that was fun to me in Brazil so you know I like to talk about these Chinese companies that are doing really well in the US Xi’an, and she and is doing a bunch of experiments in Brazil that they’re not doing anywhere else so in most of the country Shion is a direct-to-consumer model where they have deals with a bunch of factories, and they they sell direct to Consumer the in Brazil there a marketplace with three-piece hours.
[8:54] And so that’s their first pilot for 3p, and I don’t know if it’s related to this or not but there’s a long time SoftBank exact who led like a hundred million dollar investment in Chien who’s based in Latin America and just took a job as like.
The head of Sheehan and Latin America and so it seems like they they definitely have a vested interest in the market.
So it’s kind of interesting to see how well she ends doing there like they are here and then you know Tim ooh is only a three-month-old company it’s a pen duo duo, company that has done really well here in the US with app downloads and they did the Super Bowl ads and very similarly they are making a huge, advertising investment in Brazil and getting a lot of traction so that was interesting all of Latin America is having an inflation problem right now and it’s kind of interesting Brazil has had this horrible inflation problem for a long time and so there’s almost a way in which.
[9:53] Brazil is.
Doing economy is doing better than a lot of other Latin America economies because they are today already felt the pain of the like truly massive inflation that like makes our inflation seems silly.
So that was interesting and then the to me the most geeky coolest thing of all although controversial is during the pandemic, the Brazilian government launched a government-sponsored instant payment system so I got.
A digital wallet but the distinction between instant payments and digital wallets digital wallets can hold like credit cards and traditional forms of payment instant payment is kind of like.
[10:33] You know do direct withdrawal from transfers from One bank to another, um and so they launched this National digital instant payment system called pics and so if you’re a merchant you can accept pics and you don’t have to pay any credit card interchange fees, you get your money instantly from the consumer there’s all the the you know typical anti-fraud and consumer protection stuff in it and it launched in the middle of the pandemic in 2020 and today it’s, used by seventy percent of the Brazilian population so I have to be honest like there’s.
In one sense a little jealous because I believe there’s a lot of digital experiences that get held back in the US because it’s such a pain in the neck to pay for stuff.
[11:18] Yeah for a while most of Latin America with Zod and always had it explained to me that it was kind of like, they like to pass cash because the inflation problem they like to keep cash for than in the bank they don’t trust the banking system a lot of times so there’s this pic thing replacing that that Zod is the most popular payment mechanism.
[11:40] Yeah it definitely has online there still is some cod4 sure it depends on the delivery window of the goods Mercado Libre an Amazon deliver like unsurprisingly fast, but like so you earned order furniture from magazine luiza and it’s going to get delivered two weeks from now like the.
You want to settle up at point of delivery not at point of order because of that that currency fluctuation or but at least you did.
So yeah I don’t know the exact breakdown but it just.
It’s interesting to have this like super ubiquitous payment and part of me and I believe the last time I was in Brazil this that didn’t exist yet, and there wasn’t a lot of Regulation so everybody and their brother was launching a digital payment method and they were all like a bunch of them were like fraudulent and sketchy and like I went down there and met like a client that was like a chocolatier that made chocolate, and they’re like and we have our own digital wallet you’re just like why does this country need 400 digital wallets and so part of me imagines that this pic system was sort of.
In response to the private sector running amok.
[12:55] Ankle and then how was the flight there and back there in ours there in our time zone right but you but it’s kind of a long flight they’re in.
[13:06] They’re so sad Paulo is a slightly more East so for me from Chicago it’s two hours ahead for you they’d be one hour ahead of you.
The flight from Chicago would be uneventful it’s about a 10 hour direct flight but you can’t get there from Las Vegas so I had to go as Vegas.
To Dulles which is the wrong direction and then and then down and I had a tight connection I was super nervous, everything went went perfectly I’m sitting in my comfortable seat on the plane for the last leg of the flight down there and I say to myself.
All green lights and right then the engine conked out on our plate.
Went back to the gate so at the airport for like 5 hours and yeah it ended up being a 24-hour traveled.
[13:56] I hate this map can be recovered.
[13:59] But lucky fresh Jason and exhausted Jason aren’t all that different.
[14:03] Just kind of pull the string and you just start talking.
[14:07] Exactly and it is definitely true that my travel muscles have atrophied so like I don’t know just not quite as routine as it used to be for me.
[14:21] Yeah give me a rundown of shoptalk what was all the good good sessions there.
[14:27] Yeah well so high level this was the shoptalk the definitely felt like back to normal hundred percent like so there were over 10,000 people there which I think was the attendance of 29.
19 if I’m remembering right.
It felt super vibrant and busy and you know you couldn’t get a Starbucks because there was a super long line for the first time that I remember you couldn’t get a hotel room at the show Hotel.
And so a ton of people were having to stay off site which is a little bit of a bummer.
The thing that has grown a ton is you know shoptalk offers this Meetup service.
You know where it’s kind of like Tinder B2B Tinder right like you give a list of.
Potential customers you want to meet and they give a list of vendors they want to meet and if you both swipe right like they booked a meeting so shoptalk booked 50,000 meetings, for this event and you can you can go online and get you know Google pictures of the meeting space.
It’s way bigger than the exhibit space so I give it was a.
Pretty interesting Dynamic and people felt like because it was double opt-in that the quality of the meetings was pretty good.
[15:43] Yeah and that’s where this is popular in Europe for a while and then most you should have never did it but it sounds like we’re moving to that where as a retailer if you agree to X number of meetings they’ll pay for your Compu of flight the ticket to the show in a room is it kind of how it works.
[16:01] Yeah and they still have that so yes if you agree to a number of meetings you get comp to the show, I’m not sure about if they comp your hotel room or not I don’t remember but um they used to kind of aggressively sell these meetings to vendors and back then Menders were like the meetings are Hidden Mist because you get a lot of kind of.
Major people that were just using the meetings as a way to fund their trip and that weren’t really interested in the products.
My sense is that they they stopped doing that heavy cell and they now make the meetings free if both people opt-in.
You don’t you can be a vendor and get as many meetings as you want with people that that agree to see you and the only people that are required to take a meaning are these retailers that get their trip.
Um but they still get to pick from amongst the people that want to meet with them so, it sounds like a little more voluntary and it sounds like it’s working better and the inside trade show baseball, the guy that founded this show and sold it Anil apparently started a company to write the software to manage all these meetings and he sells it as a service and apparently, that’s another business that’s taken off for an eel that a bunch of shows are now using this this be to be tender software.
[17:20] Like I never misses an angle gotta respect that.
[17:22] Yeah I do.
[17:24] Always gotta hustle goner.
[17:26] I do I you know normally I’m anti serial entrepreneurs but you know occasionally someone wins me over.
So that was kind of the vibe felt back lots of people were super kind and came up and, told me how much they appreciate the show and how much they regret that you weren’t there there are some people that feel a little abandoned that feel like, you have your new get spiffy family better than you of your old e-commerce.
[18:00] They can visit with us every so often on the podcast.
[18:04] Exactly, so that was kind of the vibe and then you know as per usual they had bunch of Keynotes they had a bunch of track content, they had a big vibrant trade show booth and this this meeting space.
And I kind of divided all the themes of the show into four big themes and the first thing I should tell you is, the first day of the show after about three key notes I made a tweet that like, the shop Todd drinking game this year is retail media networks and generative AI that you have to drink every time each one of those things came up and it got like.
Five thousand retweets so it seems like there is pretty violent, agreement on those two themes so as it turned out those were two of the big themes was retail media networks and generative Ai and then the other two, that I like to talk about our kind of the social commerce video Commerce.
Progression and then this last one that we’ll talk about at the end called platforms.
[19:11] So the first one retail media networks it’s pretty interesting like everybody is talking about this stuff, there are now like we’re tracking over 40 retailers that have launched a retail media Network so there’s there’s a huge fragmentation problem for brands that want to or need to advertise on these things, because all 40 of them have.
Different infrastructures and tools and most notably they have completely different metrics and success criteria so there’s no way to I.
Apples to Apples how well your investment in any of these.
These networks is working but there are a ton of sessions from the brand side talking about you know if and how you should be playing on retail networks there were a ton of sessions including one I did from the retailer side talking about how you should think about, launching a retail Network and use it there are a bunch of.
The kind of Legacy vendors that have been known for these retail media networks like citrus add which is owned by my parent company and then pretty oh but there were also, 37 startups that were you know launching new businesses to help either retailers, manager retail media Network or Brands advertised on a retail media Network so.
[20:30] Ton of taka talking about it I did a session that was interesting at least to me that was slightly broader than just retail media networks it what I was asked to talk about all the ways retailers could monetize data.
Um and I had with me Nadine AA Julie jannetty who’s the VP of, marketing for Vitamin Shoppe, and so I kind of put together this framework for my session hey there’s three ways retailers can make money on data they can sell their data they can rent their data and they could use their data and, for sale I talked about all these examples like Walmart illuminate or Amazon premium analytics or Kroger’s data, licensing arm or even selling data to iri for use we talked about how you could use that data in like personalization engines and generative AI engines and in targeted marketing campaigns, but the rent version was all about how you could use that data to launch and improve a retail media.
[21:34] And the reason I call that renting is increasingly the big Trend in the successful retail media networks is, selling ads that don’t appear on your own website so either off-site digitally so, I would buy retail media Network ad from Walmart that appears on Facebook and the reason I would do that is because Walmart has better first-party data than I do since I can’t use a local look-alike audience from Facebook anymore to build the exact audience I want Walmart can so if I pay them to run an ad for me they can Target that add much better than I can and so the biggest retail media networks are, getting a lot of traction with these sort of off-site AD units, and then the other big thing that everyone is doing is trying to figure out how to move more of these ad units into the store and most retailers still get more eyeballs in more more footfalls in the store and then they do on their website and so they’re able to monetize the store space.
That’s really interesting and increasingly these retailers are offering these clean rooms where you can kind of bring your data and they bring their data and you can you can kind of rent some customer Insight by, by in an anonymous way matching your data up with the retailers to get more insight about what your customers are doing.
[22:57] Yeah and this is maybe just back up for listeners this is all really out of the IDF a and a TT changes right so, so Apple till third-party tracking and then Google followed and all this first-party data is now worth its kind of gold dust because they have the best clothes look data, is that a fair characterization why this is now a thing.
[23:19] It is I would say it’s a it’s a conflation of two things one of them is that that the first party data from the Facebook’s and Google’s got depreciated by by these more stringent privacy restrictions but then the second thing that happened is grocery e-commerce more than doubled and in Inconvenient Truth of grocery e-commerce is that it’s wildly unprofitable so there’s all of this, margin pressure on retailers specifically in grocery and so if you look at the retail media networks that are doing the best it’s Amazon Walmart Kroger you know that are the three biggest grocers in the US.
[24:00] And then what is if a brand wants to be on like 10 of the 40 of these how do they do that it’s just they just hire an agency to manage it all are there some tools developed coming along they’ll do.
[24:12] So you could do it in-house every one of these networks offer some sort of tool at the moment these are all pretty rudimentary so if you compare the the, instrumentation for these things too like the instrumentation for buying an ad on Google it’s like it’s several Generations behind but, in most cases it requires human intervention so in most of these these networks like you’re literally calling a sales guy to place an ad for you which is.
[24:42] Pretty archaic right like obviously the brands that want to do this themselves want to do it in a more automated way and so that this is where Amazon’s the most ahead of anyone else and you know as you can imagine the bigger.
Companies have little better instrumentation than the than the you know kind of mid-tier retailers are in are certainly then any independent retailer.
So the instrumentation is pretty rudimentary you can use an agency like like mine or many of our good competitors to do this for you I would say the trend while a lot of people use us right now, in the long run they want to be able to do this themselves and not pay a middleman to do it for them so they’re they’re all putting pressure on the retailers to offer better tools and then there are third-party tools, um that try to learn the, the different data vulgarities and metrics from each of these platforms and kind of be a universal translator and I described many of these as like the channel advisor of retail media Networks and I actually think Channel advisor may offer a product in this space now too but like if you.
[25:59] Longtime friend of the show Melissa from Pat view as a tool that that, is it is getting a lot of traction in this space there’s some traditional ad automation tools like kin shoe and what’s now sky, um
[26:17] Do all this stuff so there’s a lot of competition for tools the tools are replacing a lot of inherent deficiencies in the in the media networks at the.
[26:28] Yeah yeah I like this one too many problem so I wouldn’t be surprised of Channel those are spoken in there and then if you did it for Amazon like most of the verdict had done you know then it’s easy to add multiples.
[26:41] Yeah and you know everybody started with Amazon and they’re now starting to expand and so.
You know there’s a lot of like coaching for people at different levels of maturity about all this stuff there were a bunch of retailers that came on and give case studies about how successful they’ve been, because these things are all pretty small they’re growing really fast so like Ulta, I gave a presentation and they talked about how their Regional media networks growing at 40% Macy’s talked about how you know in this was kind of a sales pitch but like, um how you know brands that bought their Premier retail media ads units like had 25% better sell-through than, then brands that that did not so talking about the efficacy.
The tracking and measurement of all these ads is super dubious right now by the way Uber did a presentation and I don’t know if you’ve noticed this an Uber lately but there they are weaning heavily into these ads as a new, monetization Channel I feel like their way over the top like I keep.
You know I’m trying to book a flight to a ride to the airport and I’ve got a click through I you know click around eight ads too.
[27:55] To do that which is somewhat annoying.
So there’s a lot of positive momentum and everyone talking about this is the Panacea and this the way to make money to more nuanced interesting conversations a lot of people are like.
Is this new like when you’re talking about retail media networks moving in store like isn’t that a hundred year old practice called Co-op advertising that like every retailers, been doing I get in many ways this feels like kind of the digitization of a long-standing practice at retail and then you get into all these interesting questions.
[28:28] Where’s the money coming from that’s going into these ads is it a zero-sum game is it like are they taking dollars from their trade budget that used to go to a store circular and buying an ad with it or is this marketing money that used to be going to Facebook and buying an ad with it, all of those conversations came up and then for the first time because this has been the most hype thing in my world for.
[28:50] I don’t know two years 18 months for the first time you’re starting to hear the stories that and it doesn’t always work out right that like.
It’s a lot harder to do than it sounds like when you just see a PowerPoint presentation from a vendor that’s trying to get you to buy their tool.
And you know a bunch of these guys are kind of stumbling like the the amount of eyeballs you have to sell like drop off really fast after you get pissed Amazon and Walmart, um and so you know it the fragmentation problem becomes a real problem for.
For targeting and selling ads and we’ve seen at least one one retailer Gap actually have to turn off the retail media Network and kind of, give up and it makes perfect sense that they like, wouldn’t be successful because at the moment all the advertisers on these networks are what we would call endemic advertisers their people that are selling stuff through the retailer and so you know probably have some, additional interest in having an add-on that retailers properties, there are no insurance companies are car companies buying ads on any of these platforms and if you think about it what who the Gap does not have is any endemic advertisers right like they sell all their own stuff so.
They just had a hard time I think selling enough adieu.
[30:08] Young sir wall she loves it because it’s just pure margin was so much easier to sell a margin add than a product.
[30:14] I have a whole deck of CFO quotes talking about how like this is the greatest business I’ve ever seen in my 30 year career as a retailer, because they’re like there’s 75 percent gross margin businesses for a bunch of companies that are used to eight percent gross margin businesses.
[30:30] Yeah yet Game Changer it doesn’t have to be it could be eight percent of Revenue and it’ll drive likes it.
[30:35] No that’s that’s why I keep talking about like you know a bunch of these guys are like uber just announced that they’re near a billion dollars in.
Ads you know that’s I don’t know that could be a hundred billion dollars in gmv equivalent or 50 billion dollars in gmv equivalent for Gruber.
[30:54] Yeah they’re actually they were one super annoying because I feel like there’s a misalignment there because, they’ll say you’re right is 3 minutes away and I’ll show you an ad and then suddenly will be like 12 minutes away you’re like wait a minute and then they yeah they almost intended to make you wait for the ride while.
[31:11] You’re monetizing your bad service.
[31:14] Yeah yeah that one feels like that’s kind of bad biopsy.
[31:18] Yeah and there’s a controversy with all these things like you can, you know what’s the right level of this stuff to put in right like a little bit of advertising there’s an argument that it’s a customer amenity and helps a customer but but too much is super annoying right and in general, why you know people start to start by sprinkling a little bit on this and it’s not so objectionable but once they get addicted to it you know the first organic result on Amazon is now you know often well below the fold because everything above the folds been monitoring.
[31:50] So that was the thing on retail media networks happily my company has like 50 subject matter experts in that that no more than me so I don’t end up having to talk about that as much as I used to, which I’m frankly grateful for because I don’t I don’t like that business that much it’s Louise interesting part of our whole Space to me, but the next big Trend was the whole evolution of social commerce and I’m kind of lumping shoppable video into social commerce so there were a bunch of platforms that gave Keynotes, Bill ready is the CEO of Pinterest he gave a keynote and he had kind of an interesting metaphor he’s like you know for a long time, Pinterest has been kind of like the digital equivalent of window shopping except you are only window shopping at night when all the stores were closed and you weren’t allowed to buy anything, and he’s like you know the big goal for Pinterest this year is to open up all those stores and let you buy the stuff that you’re interested in right and he made.
Yes um funny arguments you know there’s there’s a lot of objectionable stuff on a lot of these social media networks and negative sentiment and all this stuff and because.
[33:01] Pinterest is mostly product-centric it kind of side steps a lot of those.
Those controversies and so you know he talks about it is a much more brand safe platform than a lot of other social networks they launched a second product last year called shuffles which is kind of a.
A gen Z version of Pinterest that’s even more kind of shopping list Centric, um it has and it has more video and short form video on that vis-à-vis Tick-Tock and so they announced that the show a bunch of shoppable features for shuffles for example.
Um They do have some live streaming which one of the conversations that this show is that you know mostly live streaming isn’t very high volume and isn’t working but what bill was saying in their case is, they’re using a i to chop up the live streaming video and turn it into short form video that’s not live, and that that’s monetizing pretty well so so you know he gave a kind of interesting talk about.
[34:10] Commerce getting social getting more Commerce E from his perspective Tik Tok was also a platinum sponsor they had a big booth, um before shoptalk they launched the most robust, checkout experience I’ve seen on a social platform so they they have a multi-item cart called Tick Tock shop so you can add multiple items you can add actually add multiple items from different vendors all in a single Universal car, and check out a lot of the things that I always point out are usually missing from social check out like in tick-tocks to take tax credit they’ve added so this is a pretty robust, shopping feature that they’ve launched and when they launched it.
It came with a Shopify integration so the first cuss clients that were on the shop we’re all like Shopify customer so you know to me the most recognizable brand was packs on had a had their products on a tick tock shoptalk, and then at shoptalk the announced the first customer that was using their Salesforce integration which is the Cosmetics company e.l.f.
[35:19] Um and so so you know we’re starting to see.
More robust shopping features on at least the tick tock platform, WhatsApp it’s owned by meta they were pushing they were also Platinum sponsor they were pushing a lot of newcomers features that they built into their chat interface and so they’re they’re leaning heavily into this chat for business thing and they have what’s called, they’ve had it for for Facebook and Instagram for a while now they’re adding it to WhatsApp so you can kind of.
Use WhatsApp is your customer service channel for asynchronous chat and you can natively sell stuff through that, B dance which owns Tick-Tock and you know also one of the biggest Platforms in China they have a they have a couple apps now that are doing really well, and you heard it here first on the show the up-and-coming one in the u.s. is called the laminate which is kind of, Tik toks version of short form video Pinterest it’s very product Centric wish you eccentric version of tick-tock, and it’s targeted at kind of gen Z, users and they announced shopping features in eliminate so that was interesting, Twitter had a I don’t think Twitter had a formal presence that I saw but it kind of leaked during the show that they had applied for a license I didn’t realize you.
[36:49] I don’t know who the governing body here is but to do in app payments so.
You know you on musk likes his digital payments and so we try Twitter’s moving there.
Their shop gave a keynote the founder in Minecon gave a keynote, and he talked about severe shop is a native we social commerce Marketplace, um and he talked about how you know most social commerce experiences just suck and particularly the post-purchase experienced when you’re going to get this stuff how you would return it, the shipping confirmation all of all of that sort of stuff oh I forgot my promo code all of that sort of stuff most of these native checkout Schmitt are missing, and so you know he kind of position very shop is a more robust version of all those and, particularly interesting because they have a livestream feature and they’re often called out as the livestream success story and he said live streaming is a mixed bag he’s like, live streaming converts way better than any of our other media types but it has way poor reach than any of our other media types so his thing was, it’s very hard to get people to watch your video live but when they do you can sell them some stuff.
[38:09] And then the last keynote that was interesting to me in this whole social space is tapestry which is the parent company of coach, talked about this whole notion that you know people used to discover stuff in store and now they’re discovering new products they want to buy on, Kamar on social media platforms, and so sort of influencers are becoming the new Merchants for all these products and so they talked a lot about their their micro influencer campaign, and I’m always pretty getting interested tapestry turns all of the coach employees into micro influencers so they give, tools to all their sales associates to kind of publish influencer content and they financially reward them for doing that so, so a lot of cool interesting stuff in social commerce in short form video in the hallways there’s still a lot of conversation about.
How you measure this and how big is it going to get and you know are we going to catch up to China or we inherently different like they’re all these kind of.
You know open questions that are still out there but there was just a heck of a lot of talk about this whole problem of discoveries not happening on the stood in the store as much it’s happening on social networks so, you know how the heck do we make that Discovery happen as much as we’d like it to.
[39:33] Yeah it’s a fascinating problem the Pinterest guys have been at it forever and never really broken the code on it you think by now they would figure something out.
[39:41] Yeah this is the most explicitly I’ve heard them say and we’re all in on building Commerce features, um the you know he talked about the progress they’ve made on onboarding shoppable pins like you know a small percentage of all the pins on the site are, are shoppable right and when I look at readers I have some retailers with huge catalogs and you know they could have.
Millions tens of millions and a few cases hundreds of millions of skews and they might have like 6,000 shoppable pins on Pinterest right and so those pins.
Do pretty well but it just like the the infrastructure of Pinterest isn’t really there to handle these these massive catalogs yet.
Sounds like they’re working on it and by the way the CTO at Pinterest used to be the CTO at Walmart so he Jeremy King knows how to do Commerce at scale.
[40:33] Wow cool.
[40:35] So then my third trend is.
Like the most megatrend of the year at the show and outside the show and they’re actually a bunch of things that were like hinted at the show that then happen afterwards is the hole, emergence of artificial intelligence and whether you want to generically talk about artificial intelligence or specifically about large language models or generative AI like theirs, there’s a million ways to slice this but I did a fun thing I scraped all the exhibitors from the the show and there’s something like.
680 something exhibitors at the show if I’m remembering approximately right but 23% of them describe themselves as an AI company.
So everybody has an AI story whether they’re you know how a gentleman it is or not.
And I’ll be honest this is a plea for anyone listening in the show do not send me an anonymous LinkedIn invite telling me that you’re the one company that invented a revolutionary way to shop Vai for the first time.
Because you didn’t.
But I get a lot of pitches and I’m sure there’s some amazing ideas in there but there’s also a lot of noise.
[41:57] So at the show I think Salesforce may have announced this at their own show beforehand but you know they’ve had this AI, Persona called the Einstein for a while they announced Einstein GPT for Commerce so for the Salesforce Commerce Cloud they’ve licensed the opening I technology so they you know you can now, use the their language model for shopping functions on your Salesforce Commerce Cloud thing.
Meta did a keynote and they talked a lot about.
[42:31] The use cases they saw for AI and and they maybe like an interesting comment that Mark Zuckerberg and Senior leadership are spending the bulk of their time on AI, and it almost feels like they’re starting to do this pivot we’re like they’re calling they’re trying to call a i part of the metaverse so that they can, stay say that they’re still on the original Mission, but it seems like they’re leaning into a I more than the metaverse right now and they hinted about some new image tools and then this week they released a new tool called segments anything which is sort of like an intelligent, um tagging and masking system so I put it through its Paces it’s pretty powerful.
[43:17] You know imagine you’re you have a catalog of 100 million a pair of pieces of apparel and maybe your Marketplace so all that content was developed by different people and you want to show all of the dresses, on a mannequin instead of a live model and you don’t know if you have the talent rights to the live models.
The segment anything makes it super easy to, Why move all those those dresses to a mannequin or to a flat you know, merchandising hero image or whatever you want to do like so these these tools are solving real business problems for for high-volume e-commerce sites that are pretty interesting.
There was a lot of talk at the show there weren’t so many scheduled sessions on AI because if you think about it.
[44:04] Shopify or shoptalk you know booked other sessions months ago so I need before all this chechi Beauty Buzz started and so the titles of the sessions weren’t so much a i generated but the content and all the sessions was AI Centric, um she PT is something we’ve talked about several times on the show we probably should do a deep dive but they launched a new framework called plugins and so now for the first time you can extend chat GPT with actual Commerce actions so you can say plan I said make a meal plan for a week I want it to be keto friendly I want the meals to all be under 2,000 calories for the day and cost less than $20 and be easy to make and order all the ingredients and chechi PT will, build you a meal plan figure out the calories figure out all the ingredients and place an order with instacart or Shopify for all the stuff on that that shopping list and as you and I have talked about.
The chat CBT website is now a huge platform and it was the fastest technology in human history to get to 100 million active users it took him two months and so there’s over 100 million people using that website every month and they can now use it for actually buying stuff if they so choose.
[45:21] Yeah the plug-in framework is amazing the it’s kind of a whole new platform it’s crazy.
[45:28] It’s pretty exciting a nuanced conversation I’m having with clients is that plug-in framework is not for the API so it’s not so much like extend the capabilities of the, AI engine you’re getting from open a.i. that you’re building in your own branded mobile app it’s extending the capabilities of the website URL owned by chat gbt owned by open a right and so.
It really like they’re creating a destination that arguably is going to compete with Amazon or Tik-Tok for visits and attention and so it I don’t know if that is kind of a, you know a short-term thing until this functionality gets you know ubiquitously deployed or whether that’s permanently going to be a super high volume destination but it’s super interesting right now.
[46:17] Yes fastest product 200 million users of statue PT so it’s well on its way to being a whole new destination and it’s been funny watching Google be so dominant for so long and all the excesses of, one time I went there with an engineer and he had a hissy fit that he didn’t get fresh coconut milk and and yeah it just has been raining money out of the sky for those guys for so long it’s going to be interesting to see them with a new competitor and see how they react, I think I think they’ve had it easy for so long that’s going to be very hard for them to react at all.
[46:49] Yeah the one of the Keynotes was this guy Sean Downey who’s the president of America’s for Google and that was his kind of first position he’s like.
Yeah you know search is one of the ways you’ll use generative AI but, you know they’re like I’m really excited about all the capabilities that you know we’ve built into Google Cloud platform to enable other people’s to do Ai and so you know they’re they’re kind of saying like hey don’t look over here at the large language models where we’re not doing very well like look look at all these other things, but he did kind of you know he he openly talked about it and he’s like hey from our standpoint.
There’s three things that you’re going to see retailers do with a I right, where you know you’re going to use it to help businesses grow You by better ads do better marketing better targeting stuff like that, you’re going to improve operational efficiencies and he talked a lot about the demand forecasting use cases Amazon later gave a keynote where they talked about how they’re really leaning into a i for for supply chain efficiencies, and then you’re you know you’re going to have new customer experiences like it’s going to be a lot easier to shop for a product you saw in an image or that you can see with your phone or, or things like that then it than it ever was before and so so yeah he talked about it.
[48:14] You know Amazon talked about how they’re seeing that they now have 600,000 skews that they ship in 90 markets same day.
[48:24] And so the big question is what’s the right 600,000 excuse to ship and and which ones in which markets.
And so there are saying that like this is really a problem that you know is way more efficiently so via a Ai and so there you know increasingly turning over the, the demand forecasting to these AI models they’re also like heavily leaning into a i automation for the, the Fulfillment centers and you know you’ve talked about.
They originally acquired Kiva and which was kind of an early a i model and they were kind of slow to really push that out to all the Fulfillment centers but it sounds like with their new focus on efficiency.
The the heat is turning up on automating all these these fulfillment centers with quite a bit more.
Um so those those kind of supply chain and back of house AI stuff we talked about a lot a thing that I didn’t think about that’s coming up a lot is.
AI for employee training like that they’re all these.
[49:28] Tools about training people and helping people understand new Concepts and having access to vast knowledge bases and things like that and so a lot of the use cases that the show were, AI tools for employee upscaling in education which I thought was pretty interesting.
Of the obvious application that we’ve done the most with is AI for product content so you know writing better product descriptions writing more unique product descriptions generating better in images, stuff like that and then again not a formal session but a lot of hallway conversation about.
The brand risk associated with all of these AI engines so you know Getty is suing one of the big AI engines for kind of illegally training, on trademark Getty Images there was big news this week that some a bunch of Samsung Engineers were taking their most.
[50:31] Why proprietary secret code like the debugging code for some of the the you know silicone chips that suck that Samsung makes, and uploading them to chat gbt to debug which you know then means open a.i. employees had access to all this you know all these Sam, secrets, um so they’re a lot of those kind of things and the most bizarre but interesting keynote at the show and I think shoptalk always gets one of these like left-field Keynotes where you go why is this person in a Commerce show was Jeffrey katzenberg.
[51:03] Who’s you know one of the founders of DreamWorks and he works for a VC now or is one of the founders of a VC I think it’s called Wonder company, and one of the companies in their portfolio is a net is an AI company called Natoma me and, they’re trying to solve part of this brand safety thing they’ve invented their own flavor of, large language model they’re calling sanctioned a I wear the the AI model is trained on a constraint set of data and it can only learn from that data, and so their pitch is hey you want to have an employee knowledge base and you don’t want it to run them run amok and start trying to talk employees into leaving their spouses and stuff like that that like, the sanctioned a I approach is a much, bran safer sensible way to do it so I don’t know where that all that out but it’s it’s super interesting to think about some of these problems.
Are you worried at all about AI.
[52:07] I am yeah there’s there’s a lot of icky things to be decided you know where yeah right now these things are crawling all this data and coming up with these insights from you know is that fair use copyright none of the IP laws were written with any of those in mind sir, there’s a whole lot of lawyer and that’s going to have to go on to figure it out so then being able to turn it on your own data is super handy because you own it and you could have your own little way either.
It’s happening so fast you can’t even keep track of it you know there’s there’s people that now have wired a chat GPT to these 0 code interfaces so you can using your voice and some prompts you can build apps now it’s just kind of.
It’s really crazy to see where this is going so fast.
[52:52] Yeah yeah yeah I mean to me the speed is the the super exciting so a scary thing there was this letter that came out last week you know that was signed by, um a bunch of like super credible AI researchers and also some.
Some like interesting you know competitors and people would likely ulterior motives there was calling for a pause on on all AI research that’s more powerful than Chet CPT for and so now, you know all of my clients that are like hey I think I should be doing a I but you know, I have too much on my plate and I don’t know what to do they’re now using this letter as kind of an excuse to slow play it right because they’re like.
Like what are the you know concerns and ethics about all this stuff so I do I’m not saying they’re necessarily wrong but this letter is I’m kind of dubious of this letter did you follow the.
Nothing at all.
[53:51] Yeah I don’t think it’s kind of causing one to slow down by any means so it seems.
[53:58] That’s a point like like how could it like a it’s like.
Is China gonna follow the pot like you know I mean you’re not like them nobody’s gonna be able to enforce it like there’s no like what’s the governing body that’s going to enforce that and it has language in it like.
Stop AI models more powerful than Chet gbt for well what’s the metric for how powerful a large language model is.
[54:25] Like how you know is bared more powerful I don’t know.
[54:30] Yeah so yeah I don’t know but it it does put some fear uncertainty and doubt in the whole thing which is just kind of interesting and then the last of my four Trends is retailers becoming platforms, so you have a bunch of big retailers Amazon Walmart and instacart the between them had seven booths at the show.
Walmart was a two-time gold Platinum sponsor of the show right so they separately have a Walmart marketplace booth, Walmart Commerce Technologies Booth where they’re selling they’re their SAS Commerce platform they’re selling their Walmart go delivery services and they separately had a booth for Walmart data Ventures which is illuminate and all these, these other services like monetizing Walmart data, Amazon had three booths they had a by with prime Booth which is super interesting and they were they were touting, 25% sales with Don sites that added by with Prime and there was a lot of hallway conversation about the pros and cons of by with, that Amazon pay Booth which I found it interesting that they didn’t roll Amazon pay into the buy with prime booth that it was its own separate booth and then.
There are third booth that I have to be honest I think it was watch before the show but I had never heard of it till the show called Amazon today are you familiar with Amazon today.
[55:56] Yeah so this is a service for brick-and-mortar retailers to list their in-store inventory, on Amazon search and if a customer wants to buy it they’ll have an Amazon Flex driver go to your store pick it up and then deliver it to the customer.
[56:13] So it’s extending the marketplace inventory to the to the you know these brick-and-mortar retailers and so I, GNC PacSun and Superdry were three retailers that were always piloting it and I I think what that means is like, retail to the word that you know who’s inventory isn’t Shopify which is funny that it’s Amazon.
[56:37] But yeah I hadn’t heard of that service and that’s interesting like I’m digging into that service more but like.
It just super interesting that like a company that you think of as a, competitor for a bunch of retailers has three separate booth that are booths at a retail trade show selling stuff to other retailers and by the way they’re huge Marketplace they did not have a booth recruiting marketplace hours, I’m assuming because most of the new Marketplace sellers are located in other countries.
And then instacart who you think of is a b2c company that has a bunch of consumers going in their website they had a booth totally dedicated to all the white labeled services, they’re selling and most of them have carried in the name so I call it carried everything they call it instacart platforms, so it just super interesting to me to see all of these retailers again saying.
Selling bananas is a well margin business it’s way better to sell Services I Scot Wingo used to do it at Channel advisor.
[57:48] Exactly yeah so you have a lot of Prospectors that are starting second careers as as pickaxe salesman.
[57:58] Yeah and then of course there’s all the, the actual platforms that are you know dramatically expanding their their services so Shopify waiting into the Professional Services Market a lot more Salesforce weaning into it and then a social commerce platform snap, actually like was selling all of their AI stuff which there are I’m sorry AR stuff which they’re pretty you know advanced in as white labeled services to build into your own apps.
[58:27] Probably cleanses and.
[58:29] So if you want like if you have a product catalog that you need you know that’s why I get home decor and you need to visualize it in the canoe in the consumer wants to, you know kind of use a IR to visualize it in the room or makeup Tryon or, or you know those kinds of things or maybe you want to scan a shelf and overlay reviews over product on the shelf or any of those kind of a our use cases you can now license a set of snap.
And I think they call it snap are at our ease which I think a res is acronym for something but.
You can you can license all those capabilities from snap instead of building them yourself.
Yeah so that was in my those were my big takeaways from the show the kind of stuff that didn’t make my list but came up a few times, there’s a lot of talk about the the macro-environment macroeconomic environment and all the uncertainty there were a lot of sessions around convenience and Rapid delivery, they’re you know our e-commerce and resale is still a big thing and there’s kind of just this General notion that that it’s the year of efficiency so retailers are investing a lot more in.
In stuff that has a short term Roi and that’s kind of back-of-house in the lesson just growing at all costs.
Do you feel like you’ve been in the show now.
[59:52] I knew that was awesome you saved me a lot of travel and a lot of trips in Starbucks.
[59:58] Yes but you missed enjoying a bunch of iced lattes with me and you know hearing from all the fans that appreciate your your knowledge and POV on this podcast.
[1:00:10] Yeah we need to open up an auto segment and then I can justify the trip can’t do it right now.
[1:00:16] Oh I forgot the most important part they announced a new show shoptalk fall.
So shoptalk is normally in April they have two shows in the u.s. shoptalk in April grocery shop in October and then there’s a shoptalk Europe that’s in I think June or May so they’re starting in 2024 they’re going to have to shop talk shows in the US, the regular shoptalk in Las Vegas in March and a shoptalk fall which will be in my hometown of Chicago in late September.
Yeah so second show I think there’s some controversy if you’re an exhibitor at grocery shop and shoptalk those two shows might be pretty close together and it could be annoying but I’m excited that a bunch of my Commerce friends will have an excuse to come visit me in Chicago and I’m thinking we I got a host some kind of event for a meet up for for listeners that want to get together because I never get to schedule meetings with as many people as I’d like to.
[1:01:22] Yeah that’s a lot easier to get to than Vegas for me so we’ll see.
[1:01:25] Yeah that’s why I’m saying is you and I we should have a Jason and Scot Show event and we’ll get like.
Foxtrot is a local market and restaurant to host like cater breakfast tacos for everyone or something.
[1:01:40] Okay I’m liking the sound of that did they announce the time let’s work what will work on it offline.
[1:01:45] And you think like if I was going to do a podcast I would do some research and get my intern on it it is October 8th through the 10th 2024 in Chicago at Javits Center.
[1:01:57] All right let me check the calendar and get back with you.
[1:02:01] I like it I know that was a lot there was a little bit of Amazon news did you have a POV on the recent layoffs.
[1:02:11] It’s been pretty dry an Amazon lamp they’re just really trimming staff like crazy so they announced yet another 9,000 way off so I think this gets up to 27,000 because Amazon rules the warehouse people into their head count they’re always in a million so it’s feels like a small percentage but these are coming from, yeah I’ve heard the Alexa team got hit pretty hard, Lester was way out in front and all these new chat gbt capabilities far none of them are on a device yet but pretty soon I think we’ll see it all over the place, there’s some speculation maybe Microsoft will come out with a new phone products that would be that gbt enabled which would be kind of an interesting next-gen phone platform so I think.
They’ve got a lot of precious they got macro they having to trim their head count to hit their numbers from a bottom-line perspective they were hired and then they’re in this kind of gun / a knife fight over a i.
So it’s very interesting to see what they do the rest of the year around some of these these areas it’s a tough sledding for sure for Amazon right now.
[1:03:19] Yeah it’s interesting because on the one hand you if you look at how many people Amazon added over the last 18 months like the layoffs don’t you know.
Don’t seem that severe but it is interesting like some of these layoffs were in pretty key areas like areas that you would think of is primarily.
Like income additive like they like they laid off people in the Amazon ad unit right which.
To me that’s not necessary where you’d expect to see.
Ceci hits I personally am a little sad that they have this huge focus on efficiency because I very selfishly feel like the the echo Hardware is getting kind of long in the tooth and now there’s all this new exciting large language model capability and like I’m super eager to see like a vastly improved.
Solution there and I’m kind of worried that like all of this efficiency stuff is going to slow down the likelihood that it’s going to come from Amazon.
[1:04:19] Yeah I talked to a lot of people at Amazon still and something happened kind of during the pandemic where, the whole work from home and then the explosion of employees they’ve lost their efficiency so you know for a long they did it better than any other company with the two pizzas team Rule and all this Jazz but now there’s so many to Pizza teams running around none of them know what’s going on and it’s kind of total chaos has become very hard to get stuff done, so I don’t know them feel like trimming that count can be a good thing.
[1:04:53] Yeah no I feel like the investors have mostly liked it by the way but yeah I think the big problem is its Day 2 at Amazon.
[1:05:04] To be sets the stage for a bob Iger like return of pesos at some point maybe he’ll.
[1:05:10] Yeah I think that was that was on the bubble for me as a prediction for this year so.
I don’t think I actually pulled the trigger on it so I hope it doesn’t happen this year I’ll kick myself.
But Scott what a shock we’ve used a lot of time again so as always if you found value we’d love it if you jump on iTunes and leave us that five-star review, and super appreciate everyone taking the time and all the kind words that you passed along the Scott and I the we’re grateful that the show adds value and we really appreciate you guys.
[1:05:47] Yeah have a great spring break Jason and until next time.
[1:05:51] Happy Commercing.