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July 13, 2020: Walmart’s unexpected initiatives, digital shoppers flock to new retailers, Pier 1’s interested buyer.

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Hosted by Julia Raymond

Written and produced by Gabriella Bock

Edited by Trenton Waller

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond:
Today, we’re joined by guests, Emily Pfeiffer and Shannon Ryan. Emily is a senior analyst at Forrester Research, where she specializes in commerce technology. Prior to joining Forrester, Emily was the vice president of marketing and digital at Berkshire Blanket & Home Company. Shannon is the executive vice president of North America for Valtech, where he helps leadership teams map, understand and execute digital strategy, mostly in the world of retail, CPG, and B2B. Emily and Shannon, thanks for joining today.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Thanks so much for having us. I’m glad to be here.

Shannon Ryan:
It’s great to be here as well, Julia. Thanks.

Julia Raymond:
Great. Well, we have some good topics today. The first one is a little bit on e-commerce. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has surged to new heights. A recent study was just put out from Activate Consulting, and they revealed half online shoppers have made a purchase from a new retailer during the pandemic. And of those shoppers, a whopping 81% say they will continue to shop from the new retailer even after the pandemic ends.

Julia Raymond:
And when we’re examining online retail’s biggest champions, namely Target, Walmart, Amazon, many of the new online sales at Target and Walmart came from people who had never digitally shopped with them before. Meanwhile, most of Amazon’s sales came from existing customers, and that’s according to data from Facteus, a firm that analyzes consumer transactions.

Julia Raymond:
Emily, What factors do you think are driving new customers to Walmart and Target, as opposed to Amazon?

Emily Pfeiffer:
Well, so what’s interesting here is that according to our consumer technographics data, we know that about three-quarters of consumers told us earlier this year that they had already shopped with Amazon in the past three months. So three quarters, right? The next retailer with the highest rate is Walmart, which was only about half, and Target was around a third. So it’s a lot easier to shop with a retailer online for the first time, if you haven’t shopped with them before, right? Amazon is so pervasive already, that they’ve got the customer base, the customers are shopping with them frequently, and this kind of opened up a new opportunity for those stores to get that traffic for the first time for those consumers.

Emily Pfeiffer:
However, there’s also this feeling of wanting to maintain, right? This is a very difficult time. It’s a scary time. Everything is up in the air. And even though a lot of consumers we know want to be safe, they also want to get back to normal. And something that feels like normal, feels like maintaining, is shopping with the retailers that they see every day, and feeling like they can go to a store and pick something up, even if it’s ordering online, and then picking it up by a curbside, right? So ordering for the first time by a digital, might still mean curbside pickup, but not necessarily delivery.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Also in terms of shopping with Amazon, there’s a pretty big gap earlier this year, between Amazon Prime customer’s expectations and reality. So those expectations were set by Amazon with the promise of extremely quick delivery, incredible selection, depth of available products, right? Amazon’s the everything store, but they’re not free benefits; prime customers pay for those privileges. And both of those promises were broken in March when Amazon literally declared that they would be deprioritizing shipments of nonessential items. They were allocating more of their workforce toward receiving.

Emily Pfeiffer:
The story was meant to be read as, We know we’re out of stock on really important things. We know you need these important things; PPEs and cleansers, so we’re allocating our warehouse staff to receiving, to bringing in those things, and getting them in stock again. Subsequently, though, we’re delaying the shipment of other items; things that we, Amazon, have deemed as less essential will come later.

Emily Pfeiffer:
But this felt like a massive betrayal to the customer base. Partly because those essential items, in many cases, never came back in stock. Sometimes they kind of appear for a moment and sell out. In some cases, even before they came into stock, they were pre-ordered and sold through.

Emily Pfeiffer:
And then all of those cleaning products that everyone was really waiting for, when they did finally show up again, they had a notice saying that they were being prioritized for safety and medical workers. And not to argue with those priorities; that’s valid, we understand it, but Amazon was still not really handling its customer base in the ways that it had trained them to expect to be handled. So that decision did not make for a great customer experience. It disenfranchised a lot of those customers and they went elsewhere.

Shannon Ryan:
What’s interesting is, I’m reminded of the Mark Twain quote, “Lies, damn lies, and statistics,” right? That, concept of 81% of consumers say they will continue to shop with the new retailer. It just goes to show me how fickle the consumer is, and our challenge of understanding really customer psychology at the end of the day. I think, Emily, all very salient points about the challenge that Amazon had to live up to their brand promise, especially around Prime, and will that have lasting implications on the brand?

Shannon Ryan:
And I’m spending a lot of time these days with executive teams, obviously talking about tactics related to how they manage through this time of COVID. And probably the most important conversations we have, is what is temporary and what is lasting, and what are the impacts on that? And for Amazon, I think it’s going to be really interesting to see, will there be a negative backlash associated to the fact that quite honestly, Amazon Prime, did not live up to its promise? And will that cause permanent damage to that customer base? Especially as you mentioned, Emily, given how pervasive Amazon Prime is already to that customer base.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Shannon, do you shop with curbside pickup? Have you done this?

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah, so, I mean, full disclosure, I’m not a Prime member. I know that may be strange to hear.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Very strange.

Shannon Ryan:
I know, but certainly the curbside pickup concept, there’s something I’m more familiar with. Something that I definitely took advantage of. In many cases, because you had no other choice here in Canada. And I do believe that that is a very viable alternative.

Shannon Ryan:
And what really intrigues me is, the Walmart, Target play here, of attempting to try and find opportunities to leverage their physical footprint of stores in a way that is a competitive differentiator for them. I mean, in any given sort of time period, those physical stores can be either an asset or a liability. And it’s truly a matter of how they think about it and how they utilize that, in order to drive that competitive advantage.

Shannon Ryan:
So I think that it’s going to be really interesting to see whether or not that physical store footprint will be able to be exploited by Walmart and Target. And as we will talk about further in this conversation, I think both Walmart and Target are trying to really think outside the box, in how they leverage that physical store footprint.

Emily Pfeiffer:
I’m sure. Yeah. I think they also both had the advantage of being essential through all of this, right? While every retailer around them was closed, because they offer groceries and some of those vital products, they were able to stay open in some form. And Target, and even in my area in the US which is, I do not live in a metropolitan area, it’s fairly rural. But even my local Target already had curbside in place before the pandemic hit. So they were both positioned really well to handle this, and they were able to stay open, right?

Emily Pfeiffer:
So, I mean, the number one reason I would think to order from these stores online for curbside or some or delivery, is just that you knew that it was there and that you could get it. And everything’s a hurry, right? It’s Amazon’s fault, I’m sure, for setting consumer expectations where they have, but everybody wants what they want and they want it yesterday.

Emily Pfeiffer:
And so we know that buy online, pickup in-store or click and collect whatever we call it, that that’s really appealing. And curbside is a contactless version of that. Consumers love BOPIS, buy online pickup in store. They feel that it saves them time, product they were going to get is actually there, right? There’s nothing worse than walking into a store pre-pandemic times, and going straight to the aisle and not finding that thing that you actually went there to buy. You can buy the 87 other things you’ll wind up with on impulse, but that one thing you really needed, if it’s not there, you’re dissatisfied. But when you can buy it online to pick up, you know it will be there, and so that’s a huge benefit.

Emily Pfeiffer:
But we’ve asked consumers of all of these different fulfillment options that you have in front of you now after the pandemic, which do you most hope will still be available because you think they’re the most important to continue using? And curbside pickup was number one. Of all of the other options that have been there for a long time, the number one thing that they expect to want to continue to do, is something that it took a pandemic to make happen. So, right?

Shannon Ryan:
First of all, we should never be shocked by the instant gratification of the consumer, right? Ultimately, that’s totally … But I think what might go down as probably one of the greatest ironies of this pandemic, is the fact that what made Amazon so successful, in terms of their immediacy of the fulfillment and the less than 24 hour shipping and all the rest, might be the one thing that comes back to bite him in the butt.

Shannon Ryan:
At the end of the day, in terms of, conversation with my peers are, “Well, I would buy it on Amazon, but it’s going to take too long to get here now.” And you hear that all the time now, and it’s going to be really interesting to see whether or not Amazon, when we hit the other side of whatever this is, can get back that aspect of immediacy to their brand. Because right now, I think they’ve lost it.

Emily Pfeiffer:
They have for sure. And it was a very difficult decision that they made about what was deemed essential.

Emily Pfeiffer:
There were still some things that you could get quickly, this was around Easter and Passover, so there were specific holidays that were happening. And there were products that were absolutely seasonal that had to be received by a certain time, or they were just plain too late. And those were not essential items. Those were not items that were prioritized. And so, yes, you’re right, they failed completely on their number one value proposition.

Shannon Ryan:
And Emily, how do you think someone like Walmart in terms of, if you think about it in terms of their grocery play and how they’re going about that, do you see that as, I mean, we’ve almost forgotten Amazon’s play in grocery with Whole Foods [inaudible 00:12:02]. Do you see Walmart being able to really change the game in grocery, specifically related to e-commerce?

Emily Pfeiffer:
I think so. Walmart’s got a lot of strategies in the hopper right now, and they’re being smart, I think, about kind of thinking outside the box and working on approaches that bring the product to the consumer in the places where the consumer is and the ways that they want to receive those products. So, subscription services, local delivery, things like this, this is all in place already or coming, depending on where you are, for Walmart. And I think it’s just smart. Walmart has locations all over multiple countries, but in the US, they are so close to so many consumers more than any other retailer, I believe, in the country, in terms of proximity to shoppers, right?

Emily Pfeiffer:
And so, as you said earlier, Shannon, using that physical footprint in strategic ways, is everything; finding the opportunities to add more value to the consumer by using those locations, to take advantage of that proximity to the customer.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And that’s a great segue Emily into our next topic, which happens to be very much related, because it is about Walmart again. They’ve made huge news, because while it’s competitor, Amazon has largely dominated the entertainment sector with Amazon Studios, Walmart is now taking an old school approach in partnership with Tribeca Enterprises, they are transforming 160 of their parking lots into drive-in movie theaters. So this is something that’s launching next month. And as a moviegoer, you would pay $26 per vehicle, and you would be able to purchase concessions like chips, candy beverages, and other snacks through Walmart’s curbside pickup service.

Julia Raymond:
And the big box retailer rolled out its virtual summer camp as well; that was just last week. And customers can access that for free through the Walmart app. And it’s in partnership with celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Neil Patrick Harris, LeBron James, and they’re providing virtual fun activities for families during this pandemic.

Julia Raymond:
And so with that, it’s just crazy. They’re rolling out movie theaters in their parking lots; it’s huge news. So Shannon, do you think they’re borrowing from Amazon’s playbook and announcing some of these as a way to get press?

Shannon Ryan:
No, I don’t believe so. I wouldn’t be so cynical as to say it’s a way to get press. What I think it is, is an excellent demonstration of some out of the box thinking. I mean, it’s funny, we give a lot of credit to Amazon for being nimble, for being strategic, for dominating the digital channel, unlike any other player. And not to take any of that away from Amazon, they have certainly set the bar incredibly high in many different aspects of this. But at the end of the day, you can’t deny what Walmart has been able to do.

Shannon Ryan:
I find it actually quite, and now it gets to the way that Microsoft kind of pivoted back in the late 90s, around the internet, in the way that they’re able to take a big ship and turn it around and get it orientated into the right areas. We talked previously about Walmart purchase of jet.com and then the fact that they actually sort of in many ways, dissolved that. I don’t think they did that as a negative. I think they did that because they got what they needed out of that, they’ve injected the right people and then they’ve gone and continued to execute during the pandemic on so really strategic moves.

Shannon Ryan:
The Alliance and if their relationship with thread up the Alliance and their relationship with Shopify, the ability to take something like summer camps and turn it into a way to drive an audience through an app, which provides an incredible amount of opportunities for exposure. And then simple things like turning your parking lot into a drive-in theater. I mean, this is something in Canada we’ve seen before with Cadillac Fairview, which owns a whole bunch of large malls. They did this even a couple of weeks ago. And yeah. Is it going to set the world on fire? No. Is it a bit of marketing hype? Sure. But is it another reason to be able to allow someone to potentially experience curbside pick up and what that feels like and go, Holy, that was pretty easy. I guess I could do this now I’m in the app because my kids are in the camp. Like it all kind of ties together and it’s not a masterful stroke. It won’t set the world on fire, but it sure demonstrates to me that Walmart is still moving the sticks forward even at an incredibly difficult time.

Emily Pfeiffer:
So I actually think this might be a world on fire moment. This is really interesting to me, right? We’re in this time in our culture where old-timey things are somehow really appealing again. I have a victory garden, everybody I know is growing their own vegetables.

Emily Pfeiffer:
We’re all kind of going back to our roots and it’s really appealing to go offline a little bit. So there’s this magical, perfect storm that drive-ins create. It’s entertainment. You can go out, which all by itself is amazing. You can sort of be around other people and you’re still safely distance, right? Parked near your friends, have a shared experience, but still be safe.

Emily Pfeiffer:
So now we’ve got these locations that are everywhere that most people have access to via a short drive. And repurposing these giant parking lots, which are certainly not as full as they used to be all things considered, eight? And I’m seeing major life events moving to drive-in theaters. So, which has pulled the events back from the brink of total cancellation. High school graduations are happening at drive-ins.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Near me, our Girl Scouts had their Gold and Silver Award Ceremony at the local drive-in theater. This is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. It’s really important to honor these achievements and create all the fanfare that these girls deserve. They worked hard often for years on these accomplishments. And the usual award ceremony had to be canceled because it’s meant to be in person.

Shannon Ryan:
Sure.

Emily Pfeiffer:
But the physical layout of the theater allowed for all the necessary space between people, the participants could park spread out, people were creating little picnics in the parking lot. And you could still see the projects and all the information on the big screen. So even though people were really far away, they still had that experience, right?

Emily Pfeiffer:
So now if I’m Walmart, I’m thinking, “My customers need entertainment, they need relief, right? The camps, the drive-ins. Good golly, the kids are home all the time. They need someone else to just handle it for once these days. And I can give them something safe to do with, or without the kids. I can even provide the snacks.” And beyond the movies, I’m imagining those major life events; weddings. Weddings could happen in a Walmart parking lot. How’s that for a photo op that has loyalty to a retail [inaudible 00:20:12]? Come on.

Julia Raymond:
It’s possible.

Shannon Ryan:
You could get your pictures done through Walmart Photos.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Now you’re thinking; see.

Shannon Ryan:
Exactly.

Julia Raymond:
You can get your hair done at the salon right before your wedding, yeah.

Emily Pfeiffer:
One-stop wedding shop.

Shannon Ryan:
I think what’s going to be fascinating is, if you take the summer camp aspect of this Emily, and you think about what Walmart is really trying to do there, in my opinion, is to drive the behavior through the app of making it so second knowledge in many ways, to open up the Walmart app and it becomes your sort of one stop shop, right. It becomes the place where it’s entertaining the kids, you’re buying grocery, you’re booking this, you’re doing that.

Shannon Ryan:
I mean, in our world, it’s always a challenge to build an app because you got to get people to download it, you’ve got to get them sold. But we’re hearing the rise of things like super apps, where they’re being bundled into either WeChat or WhatsApp or whatever. Is Walmart going a separate way by doing this? Or are we just not there with those super apps here in North America, relative to Asia?

Emily Pfeiffer:
We are seeing really interesting limitations that are driving consumers to use the apps. For instance, in Target, you can’t place an order for curbside pickup online. You can only do it via the app, right? And so there are a lot of little ways that retailers are driving adoption of their app. And I think you’re right, Shannon, anything that creates the need and the impetus, the desire to log in and to use it and to make it a really regular habit, which it would be if there was a camp schedule and you’re relying on this thing to entertain your children-

Shannon Ryan:
You got to check in your kid to camp every day.

Emily Pfeiffer:
That’s right.

Shannon Ryan:
One of the metrics I’d love to have, you smart people at Forester should figure out how to do this. Which is, how I think a measure of an app’s usefulness, functionality, utility, et cetera, value at the end of the day is, “Is it on the first screen of my phone?” Because you have that sort of first screen type of feeling to the ones you use all the time, right? Your mail’s there. For me, it’s WhatsApp, it’s text messages, right? But is there a way to measure where the app is in the phone screen layout?

Emily Pfeiffer:
I don’t know the answer to that, and it has a lot to do with privacy, but it’s a really interesting question. Also PWAs progressive web apps complicate things.

Emily Pfeiffer:
And a lot of these are still native phone apps because you want to be able to use some of the native phone technology; like location data. Yeah. That’s an interesting question.

Julia Raymond:
And before we move to the next topic, I just have one last question, because obviously Walmart’s been competing head to head with Amazon for a while. And some people are saying it’s possible in the future where people will subscribe to both Amazon and Walmart. They have fairly similar pricing structures and the benefits are similar, but different. And just talking general, do you think people would subscribe to both, or do one or the other?

Emily Pfeiffer:
It depends on what they stand to gain from it. It’s difficult because in both cases, you can get probably most of what you need. If we’re talking about the commoditized products that you need to continue to replenish in your household every day, you can get most of them from either, so it’s difficult. But as a consumer, I’m embarrassed to tell you how many similar services I subscribe to, but it’s because of exactly our preferences and the fact that the things we really want are available from different sources, so we need to subscribe to them to get exactly what we need.

Emily Pfeiffer:
It’s surprising to me, I guess maybe we’re pickier than most. I don’t know, but it’s surprising to me what I can’t get on Amazon, but I can from local stores. And so I need to use Instacart or Peapod or something similar to get those little specialty items. Even Whole Foods, which now is Amazon again, but as a special service.

Shannon Ryan:
I absolutely think the majority of the population will be indiscriminate in their loyalty when it comes to either Amazon or Walmart. They will have both. They will use both. I think the winner will be the company that figures out A, back to the customer psychology and that user experience. I think of things like Amazon Alexa as being a real home run, if they can figure it out. Because things like reorder, and it’s going to be really hard for Walmart to unseed that. But ultimately, it comes back to the ease of use, right time, right purpose, how it all sort of plays out.

Shannon Ryan:
I’m thinking about it in terms of, if I’m in the Walmart app, because I’m in the camps and I get the notification that this is a door crasher special, and then you hit yes. And all of your instant profile stuff and all that, that all works, then yeah, people will I think.

Shannon Ryan:
I don’t see, and this is partially might be my own lens on this. I have a hard time seeing fanatical brand allegiance to super companies. The idea here of, Walmart, 12,000 stores, the Walton family, bajillionaires. And then put that in, you go on to Jeff Bezos and you got the bajillionaires and you got all of the controversy surrounding, the dollars he makes relative to his workers and all. I don’t see that creating that same stickiness and brand fanaticism that you get in a Lululemon, that you get in a-

Emily Pfeiffer:
Apple versus Android.

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah, yeah.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Right.

Shannon Ryan:
I don’t know. Maybe that’s just my take on that, but I really think that people therefore will be a little bit more transient in their behavior.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Well, I think you’re right, and I think that that loyalty when you’re talking about Amazon, for instance, is really about the promise of the experience, which as we addressed is eroding, right? It’s not about a beautiful brand experience. I mean, you could buy a carburetor, you could buy a prom dress, the experience is going to be exactly the same, right? That’s not a process that breeds loyalty and makes you want to come back and have the experience again. It’s utilitarian.

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah.

Emily Pfeiffer:
And when those utilitarian benefits can’t be trusted anymore, yeah, the loyalty is at risk for sure.

Shannon Ryan:
I agree.

Julia Raymond:
Well, hopping to our last topic, we’re switching away from the big boxes and discussing Pier 1. So the homeware retailer continues closing its physical stores, and one company is looking to perhaps revitalize the brand’s e-commerce business. Retail Ecommerce Ventures is a firm co-owned by influencer Tai Lopez and Zoosk; founder Alex Mehr, has agreed to purchase the IP of Pier 1 and its eCommerce business for 20 million. Retail Ecommerce Ventures famously purchased the intellectual property of Dressbarn after the retail shuttered 544 of its stores. And Pier 1 said just last week, that if no higher or better offers are presented, then they will approve Retail Ecommerce Ventures’ bid at a hearing scheduled for July 30th.

Julia Raymond:
This is some pretty interesting news concerning their bankruptcy announcement. And Emily, with Amazon and other major players like Wayfair, Home Goods, Target, even, how much is the Pier 1 name even worth these days? Are we seeing a mass consolidation?

Emily Pfeiffer:
Yeah. This is a shame. You kind of feel for these retailers, right? You’ve watched them through the process; maybe you’re kind of pulling for them. It’s sad to watch them fall. And so Pier 1, they’ve been growing the digital side of their business for years and years. The growth, although it’s been going in the right direction, hasn’t been enough to offset the decline they’ve seen in store sales, so they’ve still been losing, in terms of those total numbers, year over year.

Emily Pfeiffer:
They did move to a drop-shipping model in 2016, meaning they added products that were from other suppliers, not their own inventory, to their website, to try to bolster those online sales, without taking the risk of bringing in the inventory and picking and packing it themselves. But they also recognized they had to offer free shipping in order to compete. And so they had to make a plan to recuperate those costs by reducing their promotional spend.

Emily Pfeiffer:
And so you can almost feel the spiral happening, as you kind of explore this adventure with them. And that’s exactly the same timeframe when Wayfair, for instance, was just blowing up. And they did that by saying, “We’re going to be everything home. We’ve got a purpose. It’s not everything, everything, but within home, here’s the experience we want you to have. And we want you to shop at Wayfair, not because you want to buy a decorative pillow for your couch, but because you’re redoing your whole room. And we’ll give you an experiential shopping process, where you can shop by modern industrial, or whatever your style is, and really get a handle on those products that will make your home feel like you’ve elevated it.”

Emily Pfeiffer:
Where Pier 1 has kind of been the same for decades. For as long as I can remember, it’s not a different style. It’s not a different feel. It’s not a different shopping experience, in store or online. And so when we compare Pier 1 to other nichey, very limited style retailers like Restoration Hardware or West Elm, you can sort of see how they might fall by the wayside.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Restoration Hardware has this incredible aesthetic that they continue to evolve while staying really true to who they are. It’s a certain price point, it’s a certain customer. They know their customer base and they own it. And West Elm is more affordable. It’s the mid-century mod thing. It’s very clean lines. And again, they continue to refresh and refresh and try to stay relevant in the ways that they do. And mod, for some reason, just seems to be a thing that won’t die. So there’s that success, but I don’t really see Pier 1 being strategic about their expansion.

Emily Pfeiffer:
There are different ways to build out that endless aisle online assortment. And I don’t see them saying, “We’re going to be the everything store in a certain direction,” or, “We’re going to be amazing at this certain style,” or, “We’re going to create an incredible experience for our customer because.” And so it’s a shame, but I don’t really see a need in the market for this retailer in particular anymore.

Shannon Ryan:
I mean, sad is a great moniker for Pier 1. This is a retailer that quite honestly, in my opinion, has lost its way. It’s caught in what I would say is no man’s world retail, right? You don’t have the definitive look. You don’t have a niche that you have carved out that is exclusively yours, like a West Elm, or the Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn. You quite honestly are caught between trying to serve a physical store audience and a digital audience, and therefore you did neither well.

Shannon Ryan:
And it was a place in my opinion, that survived based on geographic proximity and inventory. And quite honestly, those things have gone away now because they can be so well-served by retailers who have a very specific look and an image, or by the Wayfairs of the world who, quite honestly, crush it when it comes to doing this in an online environment.

Shannon Ryan:
I mean, the only thing that Pier 1, I think is left for, is to get the garden plates for the victory garden. And that’s about- [crosstalk 00:33:40] And the idea of the idea of buying $20 million for the brand of Pier 1 is, I mean, I’m not going to question the folks over at Retail Ecommerce Venture. They obviously have models that they know way better than I do. I question that, given they bought something called Dressbarn, which I would imagine wouldn’t be necessarily anyone’s favorite place to shop.

Shannon Ryan:
But I really struggled to see how Pier 1, and there are lots of other Pier 1s. If Emily and Julia, we put our thinking caps on, we can come up with hundreds of other retailers that fit that genre of retailer, who are caught; caught between trying to figure out how to serve a physical store customer and an online customer. And therefore, they’re doing neither well. And it’s a scary place to be. I feel sorry for them for that, because it takes revolutionary type leadership and intestinal fortitude that is rarely seen in current environments.

Julia Raymond:
Great point, Shannon. I think we all, I don’t know about Emily, but I definitely agree with you, that it’s really unclear. How will they use the Pier 1 IP? I mean, where do they go from here, considering the other players that they’re up against?

Emily Pfeiffer:
I almost wonder whether it’s not the IP as much as it’s the equity, and the mailing lists and the customer data.

Julia Raymond:
Right.

Shannon Ryan:
But I mean, you would imagine, Emily, thinking cap time. Who’s the average customer at Pier 1? Categorize them for me. Female over 55. Right?

Emily Pfeiffer:
Those would be my assumptions, but she’s still shopping.

Shannon Ryan:
She is, but has so many more options now, that when she thinks of what she’s looking for, Pier 1 isn’t necessarily the name that comes to the top of the list.

Emily Pfeiffer:
So just for the sake of devil’s advocating, [crosstalk 00:35:54] maybe there’s, just maybe, there’s some magical cross section between Dressbarn, Pier 1 and the next two or three. “Oh my gosh, they on the precipice. Watch them tank. Quick, scoop them up,” [crosstalk 00:36:11] retailers. Right.

Emily Pfeiffer:
So, maybe there’s actually an opportunity in the data from the customer basis of these combined retailers to really do something useful. Otherwise, it’s a moonshot. I don’t really see it either, but I guess in the scheme of things, 20 million isn’t that much, and maybe it’s a bargain.

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah. I mean, it’s an interesting thought experiment on the data, right? Is there something in the data list, that when combined, create something net new, and figure out how that gets played together.

Emily Pfeiffer:
And how you’re allowed to use it with privacy regulations?

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah. You throw in a Jamba Juice and an LL Bean, and maybe you’ve got something.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Maybe.

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah. Who knows. I think the greatest successes you see in retailers, are when you have a group of individuals who are in a position to be able to capitalize on the opportunity because they are not afraid. And I think when you are in a position where you are afraid, because your market is evaporating, the customer base is shifting on you and you’re stuck with legacy, I think those are really challenging environments to be in. And very few are able to navigate the waters. And quite honestly, the world of technology, all it has done is put more pressure on those teams to leverage technology, to be the savior. And quite honestly, it’s even harder with that pressure.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, Shannon Ryan of Valtech and Emily Pfeiffer of Forester, I really enjoyed hearing both of your comments today. And thank you so much for joining. Hope to have you on again in the future.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Thank you so much, Julia.

Shannon Ryan:
Thanks, Julia. I appreciate it. Thanks Emily.

Emily Pfeiffer:
Thank you, Shannon.