Welcome to the Retail Rundown, your go-to weekly podcast where RETHINK Retail teams up with industry experts to discuss the news and trends defining the world of retail.

In this episode, you’ll enjoy a sneak preview of the insights guests Jenny Oh and Shannon Ryan will share during Valtech’s annual Innova event, held Oct. 7-8.

Jenny Oh is the general manager of tech venturing and innovation at PepsiCo Labs where she leads PEP Labs to drive innovation through partnerships with leading cutting-edge startups, focusing on solving critical business needs for PepsiCo.

Shannon Ryan 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.

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.

– – – – – –

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. Joining me today are Jenny Oh and Shannon Ryan. Jenny is the General Manager of Tech Venturing and Innovation at PepsiCo Labs where she leads PEP Labs to drive innovation through partnerships with leading cutting-edge startups, focusing on solving critical business needs for PepsiCo. 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. Jenny and Shannon, thank you both for joining today.

Shannon Ryan:
Jenny’s title sounds way better than mine.

Jenny Oh:
Yours sounds cool to know. Thank you for having us. I’m excited to be here, Julia.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Well, I’m excited that both of you because today we’re going to have our listeners get a sneak peek of the insights that you’ll be covering during the upcoming event. It’s Valtech’s Annual Innova and decision-makers of leading brands and organizations will be sharing their insights on lots of topics, but specifically innovation, business transformation and digital performance. If you’re listening, this is online over two days, October 7th and 8th. It’s no cost to register and I’ll provide you with more details at the end of the show, where you can find the registration link in the podcast description. Jenny, let’s have you kick us off. You’re at PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest CPG companies, will you tell us a little bit about the work you do at PEP Labs?

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, I’d love to. I lead PEP Labs across a number of functions globally for PepsiCo, and what we do is partner with our different business areas to really understand that our critical needs and where we may have some capability gaps. Then we go out looking for the right tech solutions focusing on startups. We run programs for these startups and they’re less of the typical accelerator programs and much more geared towards finding solutions and testing them through pilots and then commercializing and scaling up the solutions in our business. If you think about the PepsiCo value chain and we operate pretty much across that whole spectrum going all the way from agriculture, through manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, retail execution, all the way through to insights and data analytics. Cover a pretty broad area, but we really like to focus on our biggest opportunities so that we can make an impact on our business, which, as you mentioned, is pretty large.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely, and you mentioned you run programs for startups, and you find solutions and eventually scale some of these. Can you give any example off the cuff of one that you guys have scaled?

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, we’ve scaled quite a few actually in the three years that we’ve been around, so we’re still a relatively nascent capability at PepsiCo. We’ve already put more than 100 pilots into market with scaling up more than 15 solutions, with a healthy pipeline behind that. We’ve scaled up a number of solutions across digital marketing, as well as insights, a few in manufacturing. There are a good number of solutions that are already being scaled within the PepsiCo system.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Wow, that’s a lot. 100 pilots into the market?

Jenny Oh:
Yeah.

Shannon Ryan:
I actually want to ask you a question to Jenny too. Obviously, given that breadth of experience, is there anything that you’ve been able to glean across the spectrum of those companies that you brought into the ecosystem that stands out to you as being either really unique in terms of the areas that they’re focusing on some sort of DNA trait of all of the founders? Is there something that really jumps out at you that says, this is kind of the fairy dust that you’re looking for to make it all work?

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, to date in our model, we like to focus on startups that do have a proven product in market so less of the early seed stage companies. If I talk about stage of companies, we’re probably more focused on late stage to A to B and companies with a proven product that they’re ready to commercialize and scale up. In terms of the areas, there are so many amazing startups out there, but we like to stay focused on what our needs are. Of course, we leave some areas open because we only know what we know and we want to learn during the process as well. But at the same time, we like to stay anchored on our biggest opportunities, what we perceive to be our biggest needs. Those are in terms of the areas that we look at.

Jenny Oh:
In terms of the startups themselves, really the ones that, of course, have a unique and differentiated technology and something that’s advantage versus other solutions that we might see in the space. But beyond that, a willingness to partner PepsiCo while we have been set up to enable us to be agile and flexible. We still are a large company and we are a matrix organization. Often in a decision making process or initiative, we need a number of stakeholders on board, and the startups that are willing to adapt a little bit and work with us through those partnerships.

Jenny Oh:
It works to the benefit of both of us, we’re really about through these tech partnerships, we’re trying to go beyond the typical vendor relationship and really create a deep strategic partnership, where we can grow value together. Not only does it move the needle for PepsiCo, but in turn, it usually leads to a significant benefit for the startup as well. To really form that kind of partnership.

Shannon Ryan:
Do you engage them as an investor or as a vendor?

Jenny Oh:
I do both. Our primary focus is strategic, but we do do select investments where it makes strategic sense for us. We won’t do investments just for financial reasons alone, but where it makes sense, because we’re developing something together, or whether we need to have some input into their product development process, or roadmap we do do small investments.

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah, I see this actually, it’s an interesting segue to I think, one of the principal collection of threats that many organizations are facing as we move forward into the new, I want to say, new digital era, but it’s not that new, but the idea of the increasing digitization. There’s this challenge that I think many organizations are facing, which is coming back to people processing technology, but the people side in for sure. We just can’t seem to get, there are lots of conversations about war for talent, and being able to find those great minds to be able to drive the business forward.

Shannon Ryan:
Starting up something like an innovation lab inside an organization is a great way to inject that thinking into your organization and it’s something that we see many of our clients also looking to explore. I think where they wrestle with is the innovation evolution or revolutionary that they’re trying to bring into the organization. Do they just want incremental change or are they really trying to make a dent in the universe in that way? PepsiCo, though, given its size, you can spend all facets of that conversation, correct?

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, I think so. I think there are different stages of that as well. I think, if you try to do a revolution from day one, you’re most likely going to be met with resistance. I think the first step for us is this model that’s worked so well for us, and that we’ve really entrenched into the business over the past three years. But we’re constantly thinking about how we ourselves as PepsiCo Labs can evolve as well. What does our future vision like in the next three to five years? Are we going to go more into incubation and co-developed, maybe doing startups internally, exploring all different areas as we think about our own evolution to lead the revolution within our company?

Julia Raymond Hare:
Shannon, you mentioned the people process and technology aspects of having true innovation. Then I also think that there’s another interesting point you guys were talking about whether it’s a revolution or an evolution, can you think of any examples recently that you would consider a revolution? In terms of innovation for a business.

Shannon Ryan:
Well, I don’t know whether or not I would go so far as called a revolution. What I do know is that the pace of change in many of the organizations that we deal with at Valtech has exponentially increased due to COVID and the global pandemic. What I would suggest is that many of the conversations I had in a pre-COVID period around the executive teams understanding of the time horizon to implement change was dramatically shortened from what it was in the beginning of 2019. In 2019, you would hear things around a three to five-year roadmap. Almost half of the playbook of that three to five-year roadmap was probably attempted in the previous 12 months, because they needed to inject that level of digital innovation touchpoint efficiency into their business triggered by the global pandemic, and their necessity of changing the model. What I hope it’s done is created a muscle memory of leadership teams that risk trial testing is actually a viable strategy moving forward and you don’t need to have a completely thought out and articulated strategy to move the organization forward. I don’t know, Jenny, what are your thoughts?

Jenny Oh:
I think you’re totally right, in terms of speed of change, and how things are evolving. I don’t think things are necessarily going to slow down because COVID data if there ever is a postcode. But to your point, I think a lot of it has to do with being able to test in a very flexible way and being okay to fail, which is part of what our ethos is, and our group. We put these pilots into our business in a matter of weeks after meeting a startup, as opposed to typical months that it might take to in the past and move a large CPG company towards putting something in market. While I think we like to say initially, we were breaking the rules and our processes that we had internally, I think we’ve now bent them, so that we’ve made our own and adapted our processes so that we can put more of a bubble gum pilot into market quickly.

Jenny Oh:
Then we can quickly determine whether it works for us or not. If it doesn’t, I wouldn’t count that as a fail and I don’t think our organization does, either. It was a huge learning, and then we move on. I think your point about agility is a big one. My thinking on agility is, I think what’s worked for us and may not work for everyone is to have a little structure to support that agility. Because if you just go in and say, I’m going to be agile, I’m going to do anything. It doesn’t work in a big company like PepsiCo, so we’ve set up certain structures and processes that have actually enabled us to be flexible and agile. I think often people think about those kinds of words as being the antithesis of each other.

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah, no, absolutely, I 100% agree. Even in what you mentioned before, with regards to how you handle investment into the groups that you are working with in the pilot phases, you don’t just do investment for monetary gains. Even having that as kind of a Northstar Prime Directive that allows you to keep that focus in the right areas, I think is critical. You don’t need to over script it. But you do need to have a few guardrails to say this is how we’re going to continue to play down the lane. Yeah, absolutely.

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, on that investment topic, I don’t think we are necessarily the experts in just investing behind financial reasons and there’s a lot of money out there where startups can get funding, what they’re looking for from us is industry expertise and ability to scale globally, which we both want to provide. The funding is an add-on where it makes strategic sense.

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah, I find it interesting, again, taking it back to the Conference of INNOVA, and the lineup of speakers and all the rest of it. It’s really interesting that in many ways, the catch all of innovation is used as permission to try things and permission to fail. If you can wrap it in an innovation lab, or you can wrap it inside the context in some of the big companies lab, well, it’s what R&D used to be in some ways in many of these organizations, which is, we’re going to try to do things they could fail, but there’s still a success, but you need to keep it contained in the framework of either an innovation lab or an R&D lab, because that’s the only place where failure is tolerated. But it’s becoming more and more accepted that this is the way to actually move the company forward through this process of constant innovation and constant exploration.

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, I think you can do the base work to really try to minimize the beta fail and to have more hits, which I think we’ve done through the process that we run to identify startups in the pilot. For example, marketing program last year, we ran 10 pilots with 10 startups, the typical VC rate might be what, 10%, something like that? We had like three to four of those solutions scaling up so just because we invest a lot of time to really anchor our business on the needs what we’re looking for in the whole vetting process, we like to say that we try to minimize the rate of fail.

Jenny Oh:
But, we actually don’t want to scale up 10 solutions, we want to select the three to four that are really great and scale those up. The remaining aren’t failures, but that’s part of the learning process to get there.

Shannon Ryan:
Indeed.

Julia Raymond Hare:
It sounds like Jenny and Shannon, you both brought up great points about how the revolution we are talking about five minutes ago was really in the perception of innovation that we’ve learned over the pandemic, as Shannon pointed out in terms of how fast you really can go, what it means to be agile, as you were talking about Jenny and failing fast to learn fast. Would you say, being part of the innovation at a huge CPG company that D to C is top of mind for you right now? Or what are some of the hot topics or trends that keeps coming up for you?

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, I mean, definitely, I think when you say D to C, I think more broadly, across having that first-party relationship. I think owning data and establishing first-party relationship, given that typically, we’re not the retailers or we’re not the natural point where you would have that first-party relationship. But in the past, we’ve relied on external third parties for consumer and shopper data. But increasingly, we’re trying to develop that direct relationship. We are trying to collect data, but do it in a way that feels obviously abide by all the privacy regulations, and concerns, but do it in a way that builds trust with a particular consumer.

Jenny Oh:
As we were talking about before, has a value exchange that is actually valued by that consumer. We’re thinking through the different technologies that can enable us to form that relationship, collect that data, and then manage and enable us to use that data in a way that actually benefits the consumer as well as us. I think that’s a key theme and along with that goes, personalization at scale, so all the different tools that enable us to use that data effectively. I think some of the other key themes that are coming through, we want to increasingly own more of the end-to-end process around planning and automation. We’re looking for solutions that we can incorporate and integrate into those platforms.

Jenny Oh:
Those platforms have to be super easy to use, in order for it to be adopted by a large company like PepsiCo. Then another key one that I would think about is just, and again, we were mentioning this prior to the podcast that reaching people, or reaching consumers and shoppers, increasingly in places where they are, I think a lot of people are moving away from traditional media channels, and traditional formats, where we used to reach them in a much more blank way. Finding them where they are, whether it’s the 3 billion people who are now playing games, or whether it’s people moving into ad-free formats and streaming, and doing it in a way that’s not invasive, and doesn’t bother them and actually may even enhance their experience and speaking to them authentically in that environment.

Jenny Oh:
I think those are some of the key themes. My thinking about innovation has evolved over the significant amount of time I’ve been at PepsiCo. I think as a company, when I joined PepsiCo, innovation was so anchored in the product, like in the food and beverage, and what we were going to introduce to the market. During the last couple of decades, it’s now really become about every single part of our business, and how we do things, how we operate every single part of those areas, we constantly need to think about and challenge and rethink the way we do things, even though the fundamental business model. I think that for me, has felt like the revolution in the world of innovation is just everything about the business now.

Shannon Ryan:
It’s interesting, but there are a couple things on there, I’d love to pick up on. The last point there of the fact that there is no part of the business now that is excluded from the idea that it can innovate, that it can change. Obviously, I think that the catalyst for that, obviously would be increasing digitization of the business in general and how that triggered reform, even in back office, accounting departments, which historically never change in many ways. I think a lot of organizations struggle with the idea that it’s all of those organizations changing at the same time, and the coordination necessary to then formulate a strategy on top of that, of where they’re going to apply their focus.

Shannon Ryan:
I think many organizations get lost in the noise of all of the churn that’s happening in each of those areas in that way. Organizations that get that right have kind of cracked the Holy Grail. But again to your point, it’s a constant and ongoing process, it’s not something possibly like our pandemic, it’s just going to be reframed in a different way. That’s super interesting. The other part I’d love to talk about, just quickly, if we can go back to was your comment related to a large marketer or an advertiser such as PepsiCo having to rethink some of the traditional strategies of how it attracted and retained customers.

Shannon Ryan:
Now, a lot of the focus is around trying to meet customers where they are, to fish where the fish are, so to speak. How do you balance the need for the measurement side of your advertising business to be able to say that these things transacted and pulled this through with the idea now that a lot of the focus around the marketing is much more about community and brand building? Therefore, by definition, less measurable in some ways. What’s PepsiCo thinking in that area these days?

Jenny Oh:
We have a very measurement forward and also trying constantly to tie things back to sales. While there is the whole funnel of marketing, and some of it tends to be more upper funnel than lower funnel, we are constantly looking for solutions that can help us get to those lower funnel measurements of sales attribution. It’s a little challenging for us, because while we have increased our portion of sales going through e-commerce, and digitally even through our DTC channels, the bulk of our sales still remains at retail in physical locations. It’s difficult for us to often tie the effectiveness of our ad spend and media spend directly to dollars.

Jenny Oh:
But actually, leading into the Innova session, we are highlighting as select to use case where we’ve never had ROI measurements in the world of sports sponsorships previously. Being able to tie our sponsorship of a certain NFL team or NBA team to particular retail sales. We’re working now with a startup solution that’s enabling us to get as pretty strong read on what incremental sales at retail, as certain sponsorship is leading us to. If I were to answer your question, we are very much focused on that, we have internal models that we’ve built for the ROI engine that constantly tries to measure the impact on sales. Whenever we do partner with external partners on different elements of media, we’re trying to get a good read on that.

Shannon Ryan:
Interesting. If ever there was a plug to listen to the Innova component, anyone there for a hot new startup measuring sports marketing type attribution, so there it is.

Jenny Oh:
Awesome.

Julia Raymond Hare:
That’s exactly what I was going to say as well, because I would love to hear more about it. But we have to save that for the event.

Jenny Oh:
Exactly.

Julia Raymond Hare:
If you’re listening, go ahead, you can register by the way at valtech-innova.com. I’ll repeat that again at the end. But Shannon and Jenny, you both have touched on this already a little bit. But Shannon, you mentioned there’s a lot of difficulties sometimes when you’re trying to innovate across multiple organizations, and have one strategy at the top. What are some actions you guys have seen whether that’s with retailers or brand companies to weave innovation into the fabric of the culture?

Shannon Ryan:
How come I don’t get the cream puff questions like Jenny does? Again, I’m a big believer in that, a lot of this starts at the top in the executive team and their willingness to create a culture of experimentation, testing, learning and constant innovation. It must be and partially it’s my own, I would call it corporate blindness that I have, since I’ve never worked in an organization that is the size of PepsiCo. I can understand managing a traditional business, not traditional business, but a business that is extremely well established, it’s very hard to deviate out of the swim lane sometimes because you have a tried and tested playbook that works.

Shannon Ryan:
It’s just you’re trying to map it, I think these days to a world and a piece of technology that is extremely challenging. I go back to the examples of retailers, or just to mention one vertical, where I think they’re trying to create those cultures and do that well. You come up with your obvious examples of Nike, for example, who has been extremely early on in leveraging the technology and tying the data part together to create a loyalty of their brand and of their customers that is exemplary in its approach. I think, it’s all because they were willing to take some risks, very early on to try new things. I think that really is the backbone of success of a brand or a retailer is, do you have this set of leadership that is open to the changes that are taking place in our environments these days? I don’t know, Jenny, did you probably have a way better answer than that that I did?

Jenny Oh:
No, I think I would just add to that. I think leadership and the culture coming down from the top is critically important. I think you’ve got to marry that with some structures that kind of embed that throughout the organization whether it’s tying things to people’s incentives, or whether it’s allocating a certain percent of the budget towards things that innovation forward. I think there are certain areas about business where we say, okay, 10 to 15, to 20% of our budget is ring marked for innovation purposes.

Jenny Oh:
To your point, because we’re a massive business, and we’re focused on running the day to day, and just making sure that machine is constantly going for us to dedicate a part of our focus and keep dedicated to innovation through the different quarters, and the performance that we need to deliver each quarter requires a significant amount of cultural push, but also just organizational as well. Then, I think the only other thing I would add is that, as we work through the business, it’s been a sandwich of the top down, but it’s also from the bottom up as well. Really embedding it into the culture of the people who were on the ground, actually implementing the pilots and driving scale up, as well as constantly messaging from the C suite down, that this is a critical part of our business. I think those are the only things that I would add to your comment.

Shannon Ryan:
How successful or if at all, is PepsiCo in harnessing the ideas of your existing employee workplace? Do you use an internal tool for ideation, idea generation where there’s vote up, vote down the ideas look at them in a processing series? Yeah?

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, I was just thinking about this internal competition now, before I live at the moment, it’s actually from our CEO.

Shannon Ryan:
Business focus innovation fashion?

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, it’s basically the next big idea, the startup idea, and we have people who can invest fake money into it. It’s definitely, there’s a culture of innovation increasingly coming throughout the business. Then, as we work with startups, we welcome through the organization, any leads that they have, it’s not just about us having our external network through the VC and others in the ecosystem, it’s about everybody. Let’s all bring it in, put it through the one funnel, so we don’t have siloed efforts here and there and everywhere on lots of little things. Really harnessing the power of 290,000 employees, we get that all going through the same funnel.

Shannon Ryan:
I think, done correctly that area is extremely rich garden to harvest because A, they know the business quite well. Again, Julia, back to one of our central themes here of evolution revolution, you might not get revolution out of those ideas, but you’re going to get a whole bunch of evolutionary ideas of how to optimize the business from all aspects and all angles. I think that’s an incredibly fertile ground if companies can figure out how to harness that one.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Once they figure it out like you guys have Jenny, you’ve scaled over 100 pilots. What are some challenges that the retailers who are listening or the brand companies? What would you recommend they consider when they’re scaling or maybe before they begin scaling based on your experience?

Jenny Oh:
What’s worked well for us, definitely I agree with you from the beginning that scale up is a major challenge. I think we’ve worked out kind of the secret sauce of getting pilots into markets now and getting that done quickly. Every scale up requires a lot of pre-planning, a lot of different areas of the business involved. A few things that have worked well for us, one is having the business on board, the business has actually going to be responsible for scale up, having them involved and owning the process and owning the decision making process from the pilot stage. They’re the ones putting together the business recommendation, post the pilot, and then helping us you shape the scale up and lead that process has really been a key factor I think.

Jenny Oh:
I think the other thing has to be that it has to because, often, it’s one thing to put in a new platform or put in a new tool into a platform, but it’s other things, the key part of scale up is getting adoption and getting people to use it. It has to be simple to use, everyone’s busy as you mentioned, running their day jobs and if something takes a month for you to learn how to use it, no one’s going to use it. It has to be intuitive, it has to have a simple UI/UX, and just be super easy to use. Because, a huge part of it is just behavioral change and culture change.

Jenny Oh:
Then another thing, which is a little bit more tactical, but I think equally important is having some budget support for the first year. I think this is getting really tactical, but where scale up has been effective for us a lot of businesses don’t know exactly the solution next year that we’re going to be recommending to scale up. If we put aside some money to centrally fund a portion of that scale up in the first year before it starts to really demonstrate impact in the business, I think that’s been helpful for us in a few select cases as well.

Shannon Ryan:
Do any of the startups currently in the pipe offer solutions to the cargo ships and ports problem of logistics that [inaudible 00:32:26] team right now?

Jenny Oh:
That is a big challenge for us, especially these days, everyone faces the same macroeconomic conditions, supply chains is a massive issue. We are actually halfway through a supply chain program. But prior to COVID, a lot of the focus was on micro fulfillment and robotics and those types of areas. But that’s a key question, I wish I had the exact answer.

Julia Raymond Hare:
That’s a tough one I will say, I think retail put out our commerce report for 2025 and by far the biggest challenge that executives in the CPG grocery space ranked with supply chain for the past couple years.

Jenny Oh:
Right?

Julia Raymond Hare:
Right, yeah, it’s crazy. But Jenny, you said, the bulk of sales is still in retail, if you want to bring this back a little bit to retail really quickly, because actually, Shannon said something that stuck with me a while back, and he was like in the store of the future, I think you said you’re interacting with the store today, but the store of the future is interacting with you the idea of connected stores. Shannon, is this something that you can talk a little bit about, like your vision of where the retail store is headed as everyone’s excited to hopefully get back to shopping in person more often ramping up for the holidays? Hopefully we don’t have a supply chain issue, get shopping early, if you’re listening, because it’s coming. But what do you think?

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah. Again, I want to make sure I can get a little philosophical on this one, because I really do feel like our primary definitions of a store and shopping are changing. That the primary raise on that thread, if you will, of a store historically was transaction and fulfillment. That’s no longer the place for many of the stores right now. The store is to quote Doug Stephens, “The opportunity for the media and for the opportunity to drive customer engagement and new customer touch points into a product set and not worry about the fulfillment side of that equation.” Now that depends on what category you are within the broad spectrum of retail.

Shannon Ryan:
Obviously, if you’re in the beverage market, there is an immediacy of fulfillment that is necessary there as well in some cases. But I really do feel like one of those changes that we’re seeing right now is what we at Valtech sort of call a kid of parts, if you will, where the physical store is less focused on a particular set format in a particular set, please. By that I mean, stores are becoming hubs for community, they become the way where you potentially go and take classes. Stores are becoming the lunch and learn drop-in centers. They’re becoming multi-format in some ways and so the modularity of the floor footprint in the store layout is becoming increasingly digital, because digital gives you the flexibility to change out a lot of the format that exists inside of a store.

Shannon Ryan:
In many ways, the conversations that we’re having with our retailers continue to go back to this idea of running a store is equivalent to running a theater, where you are putting on a production for a set amount of time, you have you’re lighting your stage, your front of house, your back of house. But in six months, you’re going to be putting a new production through there, whether that means a new brand, or whether that means a new take on an existing brand, I think we continue to see retailers pushing the boundaries of what they mean by a store. It continues to be super exciting.

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, I think that world is while we’re not necessarily as close on the retail side, we’re definitely interested in what’s happening in the retail space, and we stay very close, because we want to see how we can tap into those changing experiences in the store, to potentially have a direct relationship with that shopper while they’re in the store and hit them at the right moment with the right offer, or the right incentives, or the right brand association. But it’s really interesting, because as you were talking about how the world is changing, there are stores that are click malls that are closing down by the day. Then there’s companies like Amazon that are opening stores, and going into that format, where typically in the past, they’ve been a little less active there, but…

Shannon Ryan:
Well, and again, you’re seeing this tension between what a year or so as we got into the 2019, the death of retail, the retail apocalypse, because the physical format stores, I think, unless there is a level of adoption and innovation on how they’re thinking about it, the idea that the store is essentially a fulfillment warehouse in the most desirable and expensive real estate markets in many of the cities just doesn’t make any sense anymore. When you can have a toothbrush delivered in downtown Manhattan inside an hour from an Amazon courier, the fulfillment side of the transaction, and the fact that quite honestly, even in most store footprints, 1/3 of that floor pay is dedicated to housing products.

Shannon Ryan:
It’s hilarious to me that on Fifth Avenue or Melrose where you’re talking about a very expensive and desirable real estate, that essentially it’s dedicated to boxes. We need to think about how we are introducing products into consumers and how that customer journey really works and what they’re looking for when they go shopping. Because, many times we go shopping for fulfillment, but many times we’re going shopping for the socialist experience of what you get when you’re there.

Jenny Oh:
I mean, especially these days, I remember in COVID my experience, it’s much, much more experiential, the only place you could go out was to go buy something at Target, right?

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah. I think that the COVID, post-COVID whatever we want to call it this day, it better be a damn good experience to get me out of the house to be able to warrant that and if it’s just fulfillment, I have found a better way.

Jenny Oh:
Exactly.

Shannon Ryan:
Therefore, this increasing rise of experiential retail which sometimes loosely gets dropped into shopping, I think is going to be critically important especially for new brands that are looking to establish a market because the online space as we know, is an incredibly difficult one to build from scratch. By definition, it means you’re playing in a global marketplace. I think that there are other ways where you have a true what used to be omnichannel strategy, but at least multi-format strategy that many retailers need to look at and investigate.

Jenny Oh:
I think as part of that multi-format strategy, you want continuity and negativity across your channels, so if I’m not saying consumer shopping online, and then I walk into the store, or vice versa, I want something that I was browsing in the store to pop up into my shopping cart.

Shannon Ryan:
Absolutely. That whole idea of continuity of experience is key. We did some great work with MAC Cosmetics, where we created something called the MAC Pass, where you went into the store in Queens, and whatever product you picked up, if you stand it on your phone to get more of it, it was automatically in your profile, you went back, you did anything on the site, those experiences were still there and linked together. It seems simple, but those are the types of things again, to your point, Jenny, about the increasing necessity of personalization in that customer journey is key. Because, there’s a level of expectation that, it’s going to happen.

Shannon Ryan:
The more retailers CPGS or whoever can do it, the better they will be for sure.

Jenny Oh:
Yeah. But I think on that it’s not personalization, just for personalization’s sake, but in a way that actually adds value to you and to Julia and to me in different ways, right?

Shannon Ryan:
Listen to motion and all those.

Jenny Oh:
Yeah, and whatever is important to you. Yeah.

Shannon Ryan:
Yeah.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely, and it’s specifically with makeup, because sometimes you try something and you’re like, no, I don’t know, maybe and then later, you’re like, actually, I did want that. Then you’re trying to remember what specific shade it was or something like that. It’s crazy. That’s super valuable.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Jenny Oh of PepsiCo Labs and Shannon Ryan, executive vice president of North America for Valtech. Thank you both for joining and I hope to have you on again in the future.

Jenny Oh:
Thank you so much for having us and it was super fun. Thank you.

Shannon Ryan:
Absolutely. Thank you very much, Julia.

Go to Top