Experience Starts at the Shelf | One Door's Ken Kuperstein and Andrew Smith

Welcome to the Retail Rundown, your go-to weekly podcast where RETHINK Retail teams up with industry experts to discuss the news, trends, and big ideas that are redefining commerce.

In this episode, we dive deep into the store experience with retail and merchandising experts Ken Kuperstein and Andrew Smith.

We discuss the modern relationship between the shelf and the store experience and how experiential retail extends beyond the consumer to include areas like store teams and professional shoppers.

 

Guests:

Ken Kuperstein leads One Door’s marketing efforts, evangelizing it’s store-centric and collaborative approach to retail merchandising and driving demand for its Merchandising Cloud platform.

Andrew Smith co-authored Retail Innovation Reframed and is currently Co-founder and Managing Partner for the Americas of ThinkUncommon, a global retail innovation advisory and action firm that helps retailers.

If you enjoyed this episode, please let us know by subscribing to our channel and giving us a 5 star rating us on Apple Podcasts.

 

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Hosted by Julia Raymond Hare
Written and produced by Gabriella Bock
Edited by Trenton Waller

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond Hare:
Hello and welcome to the Retail Rundown Podcast. I’m your host, Julia Raymond Hare, and today we have some great guests on with us. We’re going to talk a little bit about the in-store experience. And as the retail industry run with the supply chain issues, labor constraints and changing shopper priorities, retailers are focusing on areas they can control to hopefully future proof their business. And today we’re hearing from two experts on how the right store design, retail tech and team culture are essential to turning store experiences into a competitive advantage.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Joining us today, the wonderful Andrew Smith and Ken Kuperstein A little background before we introduce them. Andrew Smith, he is a top retail influencer number one. He co-authored Retail Innovation Reframed, and he’s currently co-founder and managing partner for the Americas of ThinkUncommon. That’s a global retail innovation advisory and action firm that helps retailers and he’s spent over a decade in senior retail roles from technology to productivity, strategy, customer experience. And was the head of retail operations for Australia’s largest telco Telstra.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Onto Ken, Ken leads One Doors marketing efforts, evangelizing its store centric and collaborative approach to retail merchandising, which is so top of mind right now, and driving demand for its merchandising cloud platform. He’s a strong believer in brand storytelling. Part of the reason he’s on the pod today and he produced the award-winning web series called Off The Shelf, and more recently retired the Paper Planogram Campaign. He’s no stranger to the world of retail, Ken previously served in marketing roles at some of our favorites, including Adidas Group, Life Fitness and Hasbro. He holds an MBA from Babson college.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Andrew, Ken, welcome to the show.

Ken Kuperstein:
Thank you for having us.

Andrew Smith:
Good day Julia, it’s great to be back.

Julia Raymond Hare:
It’s great to have you back and it’s great to chat retail as always because it is crazy right now.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Let’s dive in. When we think of in-store experience, we think about storytelling, promotions, store aesthetics, appearance, convenience, fast checkout, floor layout, fulfillment even comes to mind and there’s a lot. So we’re here today to talk about why all these things are important and why we could also argue that nothing else matters if the products consumers are seeking are not on these shelf. You lose customers and hand business to a competitor, this is something that I have talked about a lot with retail influencers and retailers this holiday season because of these supply chain issues. And given those challenges along with labor shortages and the return to stores, I wanted to pass this to Andrew first. Can you tell our listeners more about the modern relationship between the shelf and the store experience?

Andrew Smith:
Yeah, I mean, and you’re right, it was just, you had to take a breath in the middle there with all the different things that are disrupting retail right now, right?

Julia Raymond Hare:
There’s so many things.

Andrew Smith:
Yeah. I think it’s a really interesting space to think about because it’s going to be different for every retail brand, right. So everyone’s story and context is different. Shoppers, generally speaking, they’re on missions. They’ll have a mission which is generated by their context. If you have someone who’s keen on the new Apple iPhone, goes into an apple store and it’s not on the shelf, it actually generates hype and it increases demand. But if I’m a busy parent on the way to pick up my kids from school and they’re getting hangry and need that choc banana muffin from the supermarket before they crack it after a busy day at kindergarten, then that’s a really different experience, right?

Andrew Smith:
That is not generating hype and demand. That is a genuinely disappointing experience. There is, as you said in your intro, so much going on in the world that we do get sometimes enthralled by the trend. We get enthralled by what the latest headline was or the latest article from you guys that says, “This is really interesting and look at these stores that are doing this.” And all of a sudden my to-do list as a CEO of a retailer becomes as long as my arm. But there was an old leader of mine used to run a very large Marks & Spencer in London. And he always had this saying that he kept to the day that he was teaching us in telco retail, that I’ve now carried on in the work that I do now is, “Never forget your apples.”

Andrew Smith:
It doesn’t matter how exciting everything else is. Doesn’t matter how great this new product launches. If you screw up the apples, people will leave you. And it’s just incredibly important that we still in this incredibly disrupted world, just don’t forget the fact that retailers are really, really good at executing retail. And we have to maintain that throughout all of this disruption. And we look at some of the big brands that are potentially struggling and I’m sure all of us have a name on the tip of our tongue. They are often forgetting just the basics of retail when they’re trying to do these big fancy things. You need to be able to kind of walk and chew gum at the same time, I suppose.

Andrew Smith:
And the importance… As you mentioned at the start, the shelf becomes just such an incredibly important part of that. Yeah, I want be able to browse online, see what’s in stock, get to store, I want to pick up curbside. I want to have a virtual reality experience. I want to go down a dark tunnel through a secret doorway, into some cool fancy thing and Instagram the bejeebus out of it. But I also want to make sure my apples are there and they’re green and or red, depending on which apple variety you like, I suppose.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Yeah. Nothing like the granny Smith. And I love that-

Andrew Smith:
Big fan.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Big fan, great for apple pies. And I just like how that’s a good visualization to keep in mind if you think about the apples and just going back to basics. And like you said, you have to maintain the excellence in execution. And sometimes it sounds like your point is that it’s easy to get distracted while you’re trying to innovate at the same time.

Andrew Smith:
Definitely. And it’s often because when we do innovate, we focus on the what. What is it that we’re trying to innovate? Let’s go buy 10 things at once and try and implement them all at once. And we don’t think about it the same way we think about our traditional operation, which is just a process. We’ve got to go through design. We’ve got to make sure it’s right. We’ve got to test it. We’ve got to build it beautifully. Then we’ve got to embed it and trust our frontline teams with it, train them, give them all of the tools they need to be successful with whatever this new innovation thing is. It is a process just like any other that we execute in a retail business. And we usually are brilliant at it, but we just get flustered, particularly with the amount of change that’s going now. And it just introduces friction into the system and that’s when we forget the apples.

Julia Raymond Hare:
We can’t forget the apples. And Andrew, you just brought up a really important point, which is thinking about the process and getting that all the way down to training your frontline team, the people that are interacting directly with your customers.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Ken, when we think about innovation and process and the relationship back to the original question between the shelf and the store experience, what’s your view on this? I mean, what are you seeing with your clients right now?

Ken Kuperstein:
Yeah, I look at the starting point here that we see is with the thousands of overworked store associates who we, as consumers rely upon to set the shelves, launch promotions and help locate products. And those tasks are increasing in volume and in complexity. And the one thing that we’re trying to do for our customers is to help them simplify the work for store teams and equipping them with better tools to do their job. And I feel like that should be at the top of the list, for ways to engage and retain workers right now in a time when there are labor shortages. And the work that we’re asking store teams to do is just, it increases every day. And when you ask them to start picking and packing and curbside now they’re coming into their job, not just with a set of tasks to do, but there’s a lot of unknowns.

Ken Kuperstein:
And whatever we can do to help them complete those tasks, especially when it comes to getting the product on the shelf right the first time, it just has an effect that allows for our shoppers consumers to just have a better store experience. It goes to what Andrew was saying, which is we come into the store and the shelf is the final stop in the customer shopper journey. And what happens at the shelf, either the product is there or it’s not, that to me is that lasting impression of the store experience.

Ken Kuperstein:
And so it’s critical for us to be able to help the stores deliver on that promise of getting the product on the shelf. When that promotion starts, when they’re doing research and they’re excited about the product and they go to the shelf and it’s there, that to us is a great store experience. And if we can do that by helping the store teams get that job done, where something that used to take three hours is now taking them 20 minutes. Well, you’ve made the store associate’s job a lot easier. They’re a lot happier because of that. And now they’re able to move on and do other tasks across the store.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And Ken, I would say, this is a mix of my opinion and the opinions of many experts I’ve spoken with. But the concept of loyalty, like you said, the great experience is when they are excited about a product, they go in into the store and it’s there for them. And if it’s not there that loyalty will fly out the door because they are headed to the next retailer to get what they’re really looking for. We’re inpatient. And so it’s critical to building brand and customer loyalty to have those shelves stocked correctly, beautifully. And we know that this experience extends beyond the customer even to include the store teams, professional shoppers.

Julia Raymond Hare:
So Andrew, when we think about all of the different audiences, I guess I could even call them, when it comes to the store experience you’re delivering, how do you customize it to each audience?

Andrew Smith:
It’s I mean, that’s a great question, because audience is a subjective term, right? So when we design things, we are really… Humans are designed to be efficient and create compartmentalization where possible. So we put customers in big clumps. Anyone who’s ever heard me talk before has almost certainly heard me go on this rant that using things like age demographics, sometimes isn’t right. It’s about behavior and using behavioral demographic kind of breakdowns is much smarter and more effective to create change.

Andrew Smith:
Because you’re right, we treat brands like friends, family and strangers. If I know you deeply well, I’m more likely to forgive you. If I don’t know you well, I’m very much less likely to forgive you. And my context of my situation is just as important in this. Am I rushing to be somewhere, for example.

Andrew Smith:
So all of those things different. But you’ve got a world now where people who are experiences in a retail space have to think about the most important person, which is the frontline teams. We’ve kind of ignored them for a couple of decades. And they’re having their time in the sun and they should. Again, I know this isn’t the topic, so I won’t go on this rant, but we should be paying them more, training them more and making this an incredible career and reward the pride that people who work in retail front lines do have.

Andrew Smith:
So they’re part one. And if you ever embed anything, even if it is given… Ken was just talking about this, the incredible idea of making merchandising a fun, interesting and productive experience. As opposed to what it is now, which is a really ugly big spreadsheet that all I do is get punished for if I don’t nail it perfectly. Even though I don’t understand it in the first place.

Andrew Smith:
If we provide our store teams with the right tools, they’re going to excel. And if they excel and are happy and enjoying the place that they’re in, they’re going to be doing an incredible job, serving these two groups of customers. The customer that is the traditional consumer who’s coming in to shop or browse or discover or learn or whatever their mission is. And then they’ve got these professional shoppers who are coming in, who are trying themselves to be productive and efficient and deliver an experience to their end customer. And it’s just, it is generating a really, really interesting environment. To nail it, the core is to test, is to design and build what you’re wanting to achieve and continuously test it in these different audiences and through these different contexts, to make sure that you are actually going to achieve what you set out to achieve.

Andrew Smith:
We have a saying which we like to use all the time which is, fall in love with the evidence not the idea. So I might have a really cool idea and I fall in love with it and then the senior executives fall in love with it and then the CEO’s in love with it. Everyone’s bought the book, drinking the Koolaid and we push and shove this thing through the chain until it’s out. Even though we don’t know whether it’s going to work or not. Slow it down, bring it back and fall in love with the evidence, not the idea. And the evidence is collected from all of those sets of customers.

Andrew Smith:
So if you have a more complex environment like we do now in retail with different customers, as I was saying, professional shoppers, different humans with different context. The more we test, the more evidence we’ll collect and the more evidence we have, the more likely whatever it is that we’re going to deliver is going to succeed.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And I think that because of the past few years with the COVID 19 pandemic humans or shoppers just have been more open to retailers, testing and learning and moving fast. And at the end of the day, we’re all humans. We love novelty. We love fun. And we’ve seen retailers accomplish this through great execution, always easier said than done. But what are some examples of these of compelling brand experiences that you can share with our listeners?

Andrew Smith:
Oh, wow. There’s so many. Being a retail nerd, I’ve kind of collected plenty of stories.

Andrew Smith:
I’ve got a long list. I really, really enjoy seeing people who were disrupting retail from a business outside of retail, because I think they come up with really interesting new ideas. And I was in the Stranger Things store the Netflix store in New York a couple of weeks ago.

Julia Raymond Hare:
How’d you like it?

Andrew Smith:
I managed to get an appointment, which was a fascinating thing. The whole idea that you’ve got so much demand for your store, that you need an appointment engine. It was brilliantly executed, because I didn’t know what to expect, whether I was just going to be walking into essentially something that was a brand immersion versus an actual retail store. And it was both, it was both. And it was executed really beautifully.

Andrew Smith:
I got to walk through the lounge room, get the cold shiver up the spine from remembering what that scene was like. But then walk into the Ahoy ice cream store and be able to buy the full outfit, if I wanted to dress up like an ice cream salesperson from the eighties. It was just a really beautiful execution. Even down to the mannequins being, I don’t know the name, the monster from stranger things. I’m clearly not that much of a fanboy, but just little touches like that was just beautiful retail. It was just a beautifully executed store experience because it did, it drew me into the brand. It immersed me in the stranger things culture. I could play video games, arcade games and then buy myself an I love New York T-shirt. It was a fascinating experience. I thought it was very, very cool.

Julia Raymond Hare:
That’s very interesting because I’ve seen the news stories, our team at Rethink Retail has obviously shared it in our chats and we’re like, “Wow, we have to go see this when we’re there.” But did you end up buying anything?

Andrew Smith:
I did actually. Yes. So I bought… So the I love of New York T-shirt, instead of the love, it had the face of the four mouthed monster. Again, I should have looked up the name before I share this story.

Julia Raymond Hare:
I know, I have a bad memory when it comes to names. So I can’t help you there.

Andrew Smith:
No, no worries, but still it had that instead of the heart. And so I did buy one of those and I bought a old school memorabilia VHS tape, that’s actually a dispenser for napkins to put on the kitchen table. Don’t ask me why.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Oh that’s cool.

Andrew Smith:
But it was really super cool. It’s just, I like retro stuff. [crosstalk 00:18:30].

Julia Raymond Hare:
See the nostalgia.

Andrew Smith:
Exactly

Julia Raymond Hare:
Yeah, people love that stuff.

Andrew Smith:
Yeah, and it brought you in. There’s a whole arcade in there you can go in and play asteroid and Tetris and all these beautiful old arcade games, just like they do in the show. And it was just stunningly executed. They did a really, really good job.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Because it sounds like something you had seen in a theme park, but it’s not, it’s a retail store, which is amazing.

Andrew Smith:
That’s so true actually. In fact, I used to give my team an ambition, which was as we’re thinking about designing our stores, we should make the tourist guide. If we’ve made the tourist guide, we’ve done our job properly. Because that’s what retail should be now, is it’s something that people come to that city and they want to experience. They want to see it. People go to New York and they want to go to [CAMP 00:19:09]. They go to the Nike Innovation Hub. They want to go to Show Fields. They want to go to FAO Schwartz. Now they want to go to Harry Potter, M&M world. All of those kinds of things make the list in The Lonely Planet. I don’t think The Lonely Planet’s around anymore, but still, you know what I mean? They make the local tourist guide, if you set yourself that ambition you’ll go far.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And you mentioned Showfields and I know we were talking a little bit before we air or before we started the podcast about show fields. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience? Because I know you’ve worked directly with them.

Andrew Smith:
Yeah. In fact, Ken and I were lucky enough to produce a miniseries called Off The Shelf with the Showfields team and in the Showfields New York store. It was new too, it was a month and a half or so into their opening that we were in the store filling it with cameras and crew. But if you’ve ever heard the team speak, the founding team speak, which you can if you watch the series, they talk about the idea of disrupting this concept that retail become boring. That it’s become this cookie cutter thing of how do I just become the most efficient operator and consistent in everything that I do.

Andrew Smith:
And we’re seeing consumer behavior shift. We are investing significantly more of our time and money in things that matter to us, the things that we care about. Whether it be sustainability, whether it be just through experiences that I want to share, this idea of socializing, there’s a bunch of values. We’re kind of shedding the sheep’s clothing and finding out what really matters to us and that not only are we sharing that as part of our personality, we’re sharing our money with those brands that align with that.

Andrew Smith:
And I think Showfields has kind of responded to that very quickly. So has CAMP, there’s plenty of other examples of it. But I think the one thing that Showfields does really, really well is that they’re thinking about how do you make, not only the retail experience, incredibly immersive and fun. They have slides, they have virtual reality games. They have a whole bunch of experiences. They have music shows all of that stuff. It’s a place to hang out and it draws you in because it’s always different. It’s constantly moving. But it also just tells brand stories, stunningly.

Andrew Smith:
They help brands that are traditionally DTC, but they work with all brands now. Take the product and physically manifest that brand in a space that’s both beautiful, interactive, memorable, and very, very shareable. And the store is the new billboard, right?

Julia Raymond Hare:
It really is.

Andrew Smith:
It’s how you get people’s attention. And then online is where you make your money.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Definitely. And Andrew, you mentioned CAMP. So shameless plug here. I interviewed Nikki Kaufman, one of the co-founders of CAMP. And that podcast is just a couple months back. So if you’re listening, go ahead and listen to what Nikki had to say about her vision for the company. It’s super cool. And another toy based company Toys R Us we all used to know and love. I think it’s coming back in a big way. It is opening a new retail store soon, 20,000 square feet. They have a big press release about it. They also have a slide like Showfields you mentioned. And Ken, I wanted to pass this to you and ask, do you think considering the quite turbulent past that Toys R Us will be successful?

Ken Kuperstein:
I do and I wish them the most success kind of relaunching their brand from someone who worked at Hasbro, there was just so much joy in what Toys R Us meant to kids and to parents and going into that store and just kind of really falling in love. And we’ve seen that like the Lego Store, they certainly have created a… When you talk about a compelling brand experience. But I think Toys R Us has the knowledge now of what it will take to create that store experience in so many different ways and using technologies that are available today to really bring the shopper into the play world.

Ken Kuperstein:
So be it Harry Potter or superheroes. There is such a way to bring the shopper into that world that they’re looking at and helping them understand the joy of playing with a toy is definitely something that they’re going to be able to focus on. And that’s where I’m hoping that we get to see with Toys R Us, because that hasn’t really been around for a while, that toy store that you can go into.

Ken Kuperstein:
And we see that with when you were talking about compelling brand experiences, and I’m going to go back a little bit of what does a great example look like? And we’ve talked about this, Julia, the store for me that come to mind is REI for someone who just loves the outdoors. When those stores reopened after kind of COVID close downs, there was just so much energy going back into that store and store associates enthusiastically welcoming people back into the store. And I feel like that is an opportunity that retailers have taken advantage of.

Ken Kuperstein:
Andrew, when you were talking about the way that retailers weren’t really thinking about store experiences. I feel like all the disruption that we’ve gone through over the past 20 something months, if anything, what that’s helped us realize is that shoppers really do like going into stores. And we miss that opportunity to be into a store. And I feel like stores are really trying to think about what does it mean now for us to welcome a shopper into the store? Because like you said, Andrew, from a convenience standpoint, we can buy everything online. I don’t need to go to the store. But geez, it is such a great feeling when you go into a store that you really love and you feel immersed in that brand. And I think Toys R Us will be able to do that for so many people.

Julia Raymond Hare:
I agree. And I also believe this might be a little odd of an opinion, but I think these stakes are actually higher. I think people will have bigger expectations for a company that has… they sell something like toys. So you’re looking to be entertained from the get go as compared to maybe like Nike blew us away with their house of innovation. But I think the expectations might be a little lower for consumers going to buy new athletic wear and sneakers versus, “Okay, I’m going into a toy shop. This should be almost like a theme park.”

Julia Raymond Hare:
So let’s move beyond bells and whistles a little bit. I want to talk about products. How does merchandising tie into these store experiences? Andrew, I asked you, did you actually end up buying something from that stranger thing store? And you said, yes. And I want to know how do you make that bridge? Because at the end of the day, we’re trying to make money.

Andrew Smith:
Yeah, very good point. The long bow that we have to draw and trust, because there is… I mean, we don’t have to trust to be fair. There’s plenty of evidence that tells us this. Experiences in stores, brands, storytelling, and excellent merchandising and curation makes you more money. Everyone feels different shopping at a store that is clear, that’s telling a story. It has product in logical places. And that generally speaking encourages a longer docket.

Andrew Smith:
The difference is that between stores like that and stores that perhaps don’t execute it as well. As retails we, as I’ve said before, we excel at execution, but we always forget the end point. We create what the end of the stores look like and the merchandising elements, the end cap and we shift it to being a project of military precision. And then we just email it to thousands of stores across the country and just expect people to kind of understand the marketing context. Put it out perfectly, take photos, send it in blah, blah, blah.

Andrew Smith:
And it loses energy through that process. And especially, if we chastise them if they get it wrong. Merchandising is retail and everyone needs to be a part of it and understand the story of it. So just as much as you’re sending what’s going to be on the end cap, tell the story, celebrate the story, kind of share elements of the product energy that is going to help you then sell it. And what we’ve seen working with retail brands across the globe, if you want to create really stunning, immersive high value experiences, your environment has to reflect that. You can’t put a balloon arch at the front of your store and expect people to think that your high end, or that you’re going to create a stunning experience. You’re going to expect people wanting cupcakes.

Andrew Smith:
So stunning store can be on the opposite end of this of course, ruined by a lack of great merchandising execution. If you imagine walking into a Louis Vuitton and you’ve got a half dressed mannequin in the window and four sweaters crumbled on the entry table, you’re probably thinking you’re in a Macy’s not in a Louis Vuitton. That’s probably a bit rude to Macy’s, but it’s my experience. So why not? But you’re certainly not going to be thinking you’re in a Louis Vuitton, right.

Andrew Smith:
So the execution is important. And we look at store teams with this mindset of your job is just to stick a poster up. It is absolutely not. Your job is to tell the story. And if I don’t give you the story and give you the tools to do this brilliantly, guess what, they’re probably not going to do it brilliantly. And therefore my customer experience is going to be impacted.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And I think it was you, Andrew, I think you actually said in one of our previous engagements that it’s the art and the science. And it sounds like what you’re talking about is the art. I mean, getting it right, knowing the brand and having it be well executed, but at the same time makes sense.

Andrew Smith:
A hundred percent. And the science element, execution process, all of that stuff, retailers have that in the bag. We know how to do that, but bringing in the art and then bringing in what the art means into the processes, into the science of it, is the hard part. And we’re not used to that. It’s a really new style of world for us when we get especially at scale. We’ve assumed scale means cookie cutter efficiency, and it can’t. So you have to build structures and processes around how you can execute that image you have for your flagship store in every store. And it’s possible and it doesn’t take an army and it’s not that much, it’s not like this ridiculous investment or anything like that. It’s just a shift and a nudge of the way that you work and the tools that you have for your teams that can make just a tremendous difference.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And I want to round out today with you mentioned tools. It’s so important, even for my team at Rethink Retail. I mean, we’re always reevaluating and looking for what is best in class. And when retailers are looking for a way to get the merchandising right, to be super digital with their approach, how do they look for a partner? What characteristics should they be looking for in a partner to deliver that brand experience across all of their stores?

Ken Kuperstein:
Julia, to your point about characteristics, certainly merchandising cloud we’re in that space. So I’m going to share why what we do we think is important, but there’s a lot of other people out there that are providing similar solutions. And something that Andrew and I talk about it’s the people foremost, the people at the companies. Anytime you’re going to work with someone, it’s that question of, do they know my business? Are they interested in my business? Can they help me understand where my business can go rather than just give me the tools to fix something that’s broken. So I think that’s really important.

Ken Kuperstein:
And I think if we are talking about solutions, digital solutions, I think what I had said earlier, which is the store teams. And we’ve had a lot of fun this year with the retire the paper planogram, it was retros, it was seventies. And we did a podcast with you, Tom Erskine, our CEO and Andrew. But there was a really important message in that, which is the paper planogram. This is technology that was invented in the seventies, right, if you want to call it technology. And it’s outdated and can it withstand the test of time. And we think not. We think that the world of retail today, the paper planogram cannot keep up with it.

Ken Kuperstein:
And so having a digital solution where HQ and store teams can communicate together in real time and be able to deliver a merchandising plan on a mobile optimized tablet or phone. Where a store associate doesn’t have to spend as much time trying to decipher what the planogram is. But being able to go through the tasks and in the process really understanding what that is requiring them to properly merchandise the shelf. And we think that is critical right now to help in any sort of store team do the job of what they’ve been asked to do. In terms of getting merchandising, the shelf’s set right the first time, every time and in doing so, being able to deliver a consistent brand experience. So I think that is something that we think is really important in terms of when you’re looking for a partner to ensure success.

Julia Raymond Hare:
People, I love that you brought up people. It’s super important in all aspects of business. And tying it back to do they know my business? Are they understanding my situation? Can they help me get to where I want to go and get that vision executed? And I think that the how, the paper planogram idea, the fact that all three of us know retailers who are still relying on paper planograms, and the fact that half of the world probably can’t read a map anymore, a paper map. It’s crazy. The how needs to be addressed. It needs to be digital. And the why of course, is because of the speed of change and adapting to things quickly, you have to be online. It has to go fast.

Andrew Smith:
I love that analogy, and if I can just build on both of your responses to that quickly. And I’m going to start with a story. I was in a store the other day who I won’t name and the team were trying to set up a display of mulled wine. Which in Florida is interesting choice, because it doesn’t exactly get that chilly here. But still I quite like mulled wine, so I was still interested and enthralled. And they were just, there was two of them staring at this printed off planogram, trying to work out which of these German words made the most sense and what the kind of the concept was the idea behind the setup that they were building. And they just had no clue. They were just left with it. This is a talented store team who I visit often and they’re really great people.

Andrew Smith:
But they just are staring at essentially what is a terrible printed off piece of paper that’s trying to articulate instructions. It’s like a really bad recipe. And you’re halfway through going, “What am I meant to do with these damn mushrooms? I don’t… You haven’t told me anything.”

Andrew Smith:
So anyway, it’s very much like that. And the idea that we haven’t moved beyond that is quite laughable to be fair as a retail industry. However, the partnership part is the most important for me. Who you partner with has got to align with your brand and your brand personality. True partners don’t see you as a sales target, true partners sit there and go, “Man, we could actually help you. Our solution is absolutely the right one for you. Because I know that it will support you and your teams.” And you will find that out within 10 minutes of meeting people normally.

Andrew Smith:
Because as long as you’ve already pre-filtered the idea, you know that the idea is right for you. And the best way to do that is follow the golden rule. Three simple questions. Does it add value to my business? Is this idea going to deliver a benefit to the business whether it be saving of costs, growth of sales, whatever. Is there a benefit to the customer, i.e. Is it going to make it faster, easier, simpler, better store experiences, better online experiences, whatever. And third, is it aligned to the purpose of why we exist or are we following a trend for the sake of following a trend? And if you follow those three rules and then you find a partner who you know is there, that can actually align with those three as well. You found yourself the right partner.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Well said, Andrew. And that was a great story that you told us to really show what we’re talking about here in action. And I just want to go ahead and tell all of our listeners we will be at NRFs retail big show in New York City in the coming weeks and Ken, Andrew, where can our listeners find you if they want to say hello at the show?

Ken Kuperstein:
Sure. So we will be at booth 3937, but I think the best way to learn about what we’re doing at NRF is to go to onedoor.com/nrf2022. There will be plenty of details about the demos that we’re doing, use cases. But something we’re really excited about two big idea sessions, one of which is with Andrew Smith and his Think Uncommon co-founder Gareth Jude and bestselling Amazon author, Ron Thurston. So a really exciting panel that will be moderated by our CEO, Tom Erskine. And it’s really similar to what we’ve been talking about today. And so coming to that panel session with three experts, it’s going to be a really fantastic discussion.

Julia Raymond Hare:
I love that. And Andrew, what about you? And he just mentioned you’ll be at the big idea session, super excited to hear you. Of course love Ron as well. I think it’ll be very good. And to hear from your CEO, it’s a really solid session. We’ll have this info probably on our site as well. We picked out some of our sessions that we’re excited about in our NRF guide. So keep a look out for that on our social channels coming soon. Andrew, did you have any other comments you want to share about the big show?

Andrew Smith:
No, I’m excited to be there. I’ll be hanging around many a booth, but the best way, please feel free to just reach out. You can find me on most social platforms as at Uncommonly Smith. It’s very difficult finding a username when your name is Andrew Smith. So I thought I’d go with Uncommonly Smith. So find me there and then reach out to me and we’ll catch up. I always love to chat with fellow humans that makes me better and smarter.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Wonderful. Well, great to have you on the show Andrew Smith and Ken Kuperstein. I hope to have you on again soon.

Ken Kuperstein:
Thank you so much.

Andrew Smith:
Thanks so much. Thanks for having us.

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