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.

Jan 11, 2021: With a return to stores on the horizon, guests Ricardo Belmar and Trevor Sumner discuss how retailers can reinvent their store experience beyond curbside pickup.

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Hosted by Julia Raymond Hare; Written and produced by Gabriella Bock; Edited by Trenton Waller; Social media by Natalie Arana

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond Hare:
Hi everyone and welcome to the show. I’m your host, Julia Raymond Hare, and on today’s episode we’ll be chatting with Ricardo Belmar and Trevor Sumner. Ricardo and Trevor, you’ve both been on the show several times, so it’s great to have you back here in 2021. Speaking of which, how did you guys spend your final day of 2020?

Trevor Sumner:
For me, my wife and I and our new puppy drove down from New York City to Florida. Decided to meet some friends in Miami and spend a couple weeks down here, being that outdoor dining with a winter parka is a little less fun these days. We’re enjoying a little sunshine but we’ll be back in New York for February. We actually have a pretty massive deployment in the pet segment and the beauty segment. Have to get back and have to be there, but right now virtual, and if you can be virtual in the sun, why not be virtual in the sun?

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely. I have to ask, though, you have a new puppy you said. What kind of puppy is it?

Trevor Sumner:
She’s a cutie. Her name is Roxy Coco Chanel Sumner, and we were told she’s a mix between boxer and hound. She looks a little bit like a smooth haired terrier, and we have no idea how big she’s going to get. But she grew from seven pounds about a month ago to 17 pounds yesterday. Hopefully it’ll be a big enough dog to run with my wife who runs eight miles at a time. It’s been just a real joy to be raising a puppy together with my wife during these crazy times of ours.

Julia Raymond Hare:
I love that. Yeah, Roxy is the name of my dad’s dog, so I won’t forget that. Next time we chat I’ll ask you how Roxy’s doing, and she sounds like she’s going to be 100 pounds. Good luck with that. Ricardo, how about you?

Ricardo Belmar:
I guess I’ll say nothing nearly as exciting as a new puppy. My wife and kids, we kind of spent the New Year’s Eve time at home watching for the New York City ball drop, and kind of wondering as we were watching if they were running a bit behind, interestingly enough. Because it seemed like we weren’t synced up. My kids were saying, “Is that because of live delay?” That made a kind of interesting night, otherwise we took the opportunity to just relax at home, signed up for HBO Max so everybody could watch the new Wonder Woman movie and see what else there was offer, and then kind of made a night of it that way.

Julia Raymond Hare:
It was just a little apropos, right? The final minute of 2020 and they were off on the ball dropping.

Ricardo Belmar:
Yeah, it was a very 2020 kind of moment.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Yeah. Exactly.

Ricardo Belmar:
Absolutely.

Julia Raymond Hare:
I don’t think I’ve introduced our listeners formally yet, so let me just introduce you. Ricardo is a top 10 influencer at NRF’s annual event, which by the way is starting very soon, this week. And advises retailers and retail tech providers on creating omnichannel experiences. He’s named social media mayor by RAS News, and he’s a contributor for RetailWire, Retail Customer Experience, The Robin Report, and of course a RETHINK Retail advisor.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Trevor is the Chief Executive Officer of Perch Interactive, and Trevor I just saw that CIO Review recently named Perch one of the top 20 most promising retail solution providers, so congratulations to you and your team.

Trevor Sumner:
Thank you, thank you.

Julia Raymond Hare:
That is so exciting. Great way to kick off the year. Some other good news since our last episode, as I was saying, the COVID-19 vaccine has been approved. It’s being distributed to millions of people and the last time I checked it was about five million here in the United States, so that’s good progress, great to hear, especially for retailers operating physical stores. That brings us to our topic today. As vaccines continue to roll out, many of us are wondering will we see a big return to in-store shopping? I’ll just open this up to either of you. Can physical stores compete with the convenience of online shopping? What are you hearing?

Trevor Sumner:
Yeah, I mean, I question certainly a little bit of the premise, right? I don’t think eCommerce to be all that convenient in the discovery phase. It’s great in the shipping and logistics phase. If I know I’m going to buy Old Spice deodorant, like super easy, go to Amazon, click, boom, it’s there in two days. But when I discover products, it’s actually quite difficult. Amazon does a bunch of things in highlighting the best products and putting in some reviews, but nothing beats in-person shopping for a lot of different categories where you’re looking, discovering, you want to touch, you want to really see the selection.

Trevor Sumner:
I think one of the things that retailers really need to do is to move to take advantage of their advantages there, and it’s not just about putting products on the shelves and having the maximum inventory, but actually curating what are the best beauty products and the best baby products and the best pet products? How do you actually mix value of that in person product discovery piece with all the product content that people want. So, 87% of people start their product journeys online because people want ratings and reviews, and they want videos, and they want all these different types of pieces of digital content to help them make their decision.

Trevor Sumner:
But they also want to look at a selection of products and be able to interact with them and see what is suggested. I think combining the best of both worlds actually will far beat the “convenience” on the logistics side of online shopping. That’s part of what we see happening either through mobile apps, through interactive retail displays like Perch, various different technologies. Even online shopping itself, this year was a record year where 42% of online orders were actually delivered by local stores in micro fulfillment centers.

Trevor Sumner:
So, even this notion of like online shopping not being the physical store is quickly becoming less of the case. In fact, if you look at it, even just on the eCommerce side of the house, people with brick and mortar locations actually stole eCommerce share from Amazon in the pure plays last year. This role of the physical store and kind of what Steven Dennis [inaudible 00:06:45] called Remarkable Retail touched on harmonizing retail across the channels. It’s not online versus in-store.

Trevor Sumner:
You serve multiple touchpoints with a customer, each with different advantages, and part of the question is how do you leverage that in-store customer to drive a long term relationship even online? If you open up a store, your online sales go up 38% in that region, and how can retailers start thinking about all those audiences that are building much better brand afinity, much more retail loyalty and then convert that traffic to that harmonized journey that includes online? All right, your thoughts, Ricardo?

Ricardo Belmar:
I’m going to pick on that last point, because I really agree with that part about how it’s not a matter of looking at it as an online versus in-store experience. I think if there’s a lesson to be taken out of 2020 here for retailers is that the real magic is in leveraging all of those channels together. And part of that is because from the customer’s point of view, channels are meaningful. Customers don’t care. They don’t even understand what a channel is. I’m sure if you surveyed any random shopper out at a store and you asked them, “What’s your favorite sales channel?” You would probably get a really quizzical look back from them because they just shop, right? Customers shop and sometimes they buy and retailers hope that they buy from them.

Ricardo Belmar:
I think one of the major lessons that consumers learned in 2020 from all this is that it’s actually pretty easy to move from brand to brand. Maybe this is an inadvertent lesson that consumers learned. They had a different concept I believe prior to the start of the pandemic on what loyalty meant to a retail brand. Consumers learned that because of all the things Trevor, you just mentioned about what were the convenience of eCommerce is strong, those things made it easy in many cases for consumers when they know what they want, to switch brands. I think consumers formed some new habits based on that.

Ricardo Belmar:
But where the convenience really came to play, I would argue, the convenience actually was stronger with stores, even during the pandemic. Why? Because of things like curbside pickup and regular in-store pickup, and even local delivery, whether a retailer did it themselves or partnered with someone like Instacart or DoorDash or Shipt or anyone else. Those were the conveniences that consumers wanted, and of course it turns out those conveniences can’t be done without a store footprint. So, having stores I think actually became even more important from that perspective for retailers.

Ricardo Belmar:
I view this situation for retailers going into 2021 as an opportunity. There’s an opportunity to really change what the in-store experience means. In fact, there was something I just posted recently on LinkedIn because there was an interesting article on Glossy where they were hinting that the idea of experiential retail was dying, or maybe being phased out in a sense because of the pandemic. I actually argue the opposite, that it’s just evolving. What makes that good experience? It’s a combination of reinvigorating how a consumer discovers new products, and that could either be by a well-merchandised display, or it could be by a digitally enhanced interaction in the store, which could be as simple as something like what I’ll call traditional digital signage.

Ricardo Belmar:
Although, as a side note, I’m actually also fond of … I know Trevor you’ve said this before, where that typical traditional flat digital signage that’s not interactive is akin to web banner ads online. Because it’s meant to interrupt a consumer’s shopping rather than enhance it, but if you go beyond that, I think there’s a great opportunity, again, for retailers to change their in-store experience. The way I see it, retailers have two choices as vaccines roll out and consumers start, and larger numbers returning to store.

Ricardo Belmar:
Option one is basically complacency in that you can just accept that consumers are coming back to the store because it’s what they want to do, now that we approach a post-pandemic world. But in my mind the retailers that choose that option, I would question how you’re going to be able to stick around in 2022. Why? Because option two, which is the better one, is to say, “Not only am I going to expect consumers to come back, I’m going to make it worth their while. I’m going to make them want to come back.”

Ricardo Belmar:
It’s interesting that even before the pandemic, many of us were always talking about the difference between customers needing to visit the store to shop versus customers wanting to versus the store to shop. I think this is a new opportunity for retailers to really focus on emphasizing the want to shop versus the need to shop. During the pandemic, consumers focused on the need to shop, and however they could get it done because it’s what they needed. Now as we come up, I do expect there’ll be at least some pent up demand for the wantful shopping.

Ricardo Belmar:
So, how will retailers do that? I think that’s where better integrating these digital based experiences, which many retailers have started to do, in 2020 we saw it manifest as operational efficiencies. My favorite example there would be a brand like Target that really did a great job blending shopping via mobile, in-store pickup, curbside pickup, local delivery, and along with traditional fulfilment of shipping things and making it easy to shop. I think they are probably, for me, the number one retailer that enabled that easy to shop with us approach.

Ricardo Belmar:
Now, they started investing in those technologies long before the pandemic and that’s why they were able to achieve that in 2020. For retailers that didn’t do that and were playing catch up in 2020, now you have an opportunity to keep moving beyond that point. Let’s say you are a retailer that did implement all these convenience fulfillment options with curbside pick up or local delivery. What do you do next? It’s the time to focus on that in-store experience. Build an interactive approach where maybe I have product categories that lend themselves well, where I can display multiple brands or products, have something where instead of just focusing on flat content on a digital screen nearby, make it interactive.

Ricardo Belmar:
Customers I believe will come back to things like the touch screens or maybe there are gesture-based devices that can be used to trigger content based on what a customer is looking at. Or even better still, if you pick up a product from a shelf and that causes new digital content to be displayed nearby, that immerses the customer experiencing what the product really is and what it can do for them. That’s really what I think customers are going to want when they come back to store. They want to experience that sense of discovery again that they couldn’t get online.

Trevor Sumner:
Yeah, Ricardo, one, thank you for the Perch shout out about touching a product and launching digital. That’s exactly what we do, and I agree with you a whole 100% obviously. But I also really think it’s interesting what you’re talking about, whether experience is dead, and at the same time seeing these retailers who are now, who have nailed a lot of the convenience and logistics, they are moving into experience.

Trevor Sumner:
I think you’re seeing that in surprising areas, that experiential isn’t dead. It’s just being adopted in CPG and mass and big box, and the reality is that people talk about oh, Amazon is stealing share from department stores. That’s not actually what happened. The spending shift actually went from department store to big box. The big box retailers, Target and Walmart, stole more shares from the department stores than Amazon ever did.

Trevor Sumner:
What we’re seeing is what Walmarts, the Targets of the world keep on investing, not just on the convenience side of the house, but now the experiential, and you’re seeing that in key trip drivers. For example, you look at beauty, right? Beauty is one of the reasons that you go to a department store. And now you’ve got Ulta at Target, Sephora at Coles, and these are huge trip drivers below to this mid-market where you’re supposed to get that kind of sales associated experience.

Trevor Sumner:
Target and Walmart are taking convenience, value-based messaging, technology, that integrated loyalty apps to provide a better overall experience. Except now it’s happening at a Target, which is democratizing this whole notion of experiential. I think this is part of the hollowing out of the middle that we’re seeing is there will still be experiential at a Gucci, at a Chanel, and you’re seeing it in China as you go to the backend of China. The luxury spending is extraordinarily high and if you look at the data, Americans actually have 1.3 trillion dollars more savings than they would have because of stimulus, because of other things. It’s just not evenly distributed.

Trevor Sumner:
The ultra-rich have a lot of money right now to spend. They’re just waiting for the right opportunity and what’s going to drive those trips is going to be great experience. And then on the value side of the house you’ve got Target, Walmart investing in experiential and digital in slightly more democratized way. I would actually think that experiential is stronger than ever in many ways.

Ricardo Belmar:
Yeah. I would agree with that. Again, even if you look at … You just described it. You’ve got these extreme ends with luxury and value, where there are some clear cases where that’s happening if I were to come back to that middle segment which we all know has been suffering, particularly I’ll call out the apparel segment, which we know in particular fared poorly during 2020 for obvious reasons, but if you’re in that segment, or you are one of these department stores that’s trying to recover now into 2021, what could you do?

Ricardo Belmar:
I would look at this experiential nature as one of the areas where I would want to focus. Why? Because those stores, they need a reason for customers to want to come back into the store. They may have had gains in eCommerce based purchases during 2020, the numbers bear out that that’s not enough lift for them to make up for losses of in-store sales. Just having product in-store and those middle tier segments, these retailers should have learned by now that’s just not enough. That’s not exciting enough for customers and frankly, at the end of the day, we’re really talking about merchandise that most consumers can find in other places.

Ricardo Belmar:
If they know that’s the particular item they want, like we said at the beginning of this discussion, they can go online and find it just about anywhere, so why would they have to go into that department store?

Ricardo Belmar:
In fact, I had a recent conversation talking with another colleague of mine in these areas and segments, why wouldn’t for example, a department store that’s primarily an apparel business, but what makes them unique is the fact that they have so many different brands on offer. Whether they’re some of their own private label brands with other third party fashion brands, they have knowledge of what their customers historically have bought. So why aren’t they building technology-enabled solutions, digital-enabled experiences that help customers use the knowledge of what’s sitting in their closet to help them pick what the next thing is they buy, that just happens to be in the store?

Ricardo Belmar:
Rather than focusing on sending an endless stream of discount offers via email to those customers, they should be having them come in so they can see, “Here’s the next latest and greatest thing. Here’s the next new product. And by the way, it would work really well with those three items that are hanging in your closet right now.” And they can leverage AI technologies and other digital technologies to make something like that happen, but it always surprised me that we’re not seeing this, because the capabilities are out there, they’re just not being applied yet.

Trevor Sumner:
Yeah. No, I agree with you. Being in the retail technology market, it’s very frustrating because I feel like we talk about it, we literally drive 30 to 130% sales lift. You should do this right now. It takes-

Ricardo Belmar:
Exactly, why wouldn’t you?

Trevor Sumner:
… so long, and part of it is cultural. And I think you hit on an interesting point also of like great, you got these eCommerce gains. Well, the reality is it’s a little bit of the curse of getting what you want. You’ve been talking about wanting this eCommerce growth for so long. Great, now your return rates are 50, 60, 70%.

Ricardo Belmar:
Exactly.

Trevor Sumner:
What are you going to do when you realize that all of those sales is actually eroding into your margins and a lot of it, certainly grocery, is at a loss. And we as consumers have always said, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if we could just go online and order all our stuff?” Well, we’ve done that in COVID. How is it? We hate it. It’s soulless. You talked about grocery, like 80% of people who tried to order groceries during the pandemic got the wrong orders, orders were delayed, orders never came.

Trevor Sumner:
And it turns out this isn’t a great life and that’s why you see shoppers literally risking their lives to go into store, because physical shopping does have a lot of those advantages. We just have to get to the point where we’re solving a lot of the convenience issues, my Apple Pay is so much better than putting a card-based payment with the chip in, waiting for … Like, getting people to adopt these technologies, adopt the convenience, adopt these experiences long term, that’s where retail’s going and I think once we get on the backend of the vaccine, people are going to flock to retail. My wife and I talk about how much we would pay to be able to go to a crowded dance floor, and just how celebratory that is.

Trevor Sumner:
Well, the reality is I think that would be true of like just going into retail, going shopping, and the joy of that, and the joy of discovery of products and connecting people and products and that experience. I miss it. I miss it. I think most people do, too.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Yeah, to your point, Trevor, I totally agree. I think people, and Ricardo, I think people are craving experiences. Experiential’s not dead. The article you referenced I don’t think is correct. I think as we discussed before Ricardo, it’s changing. And people are looking for the stores to connect with them. They’re looking to see all of their past purchases in one place on their phone, pay with their phone, use their phone to make payments in-store, connect with interactive displays in-store, do everything, control the experience.

Julia Raymond Hare:
I want to ask you guys, are there excuses for retailers at this point? I mean, is there some infrastructure considerations when it comes to 5G and being able to offer really fast connections? Are there privacy concerns? What do you think some of the big barriers are?

Trevor Sumner:
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, look, it’s easy for us to be armchair quarterbacks and say, “Hey, they should adopt all this technology and da, da, da, da.” And they’ve tried, right? Often times it has failed, right? Because the hardware’s too expensive, it’s not reliable enough, retail is a chaotic environment, kids kick the robots, whatever it is, right? One of the biggest challenges is just internet connectivity.

Trevor Sumner:
People have store WiFi but it’s not throughout the store, and generally doesn’t work very well, and people change passwords. All of a sudden these smart IoT devices are offline and it’s extraordinarily expensive to maintain. One of the exciting technologies that are coming out is 5G where you’ll be able to have much greater device density and people are starting to … 2021 will be the year where 5G goes from like, “Oh, I have some service in maybe New York, and this special plan to” … For example, Walgreens announced it’s lighting up 9000 of its stores with 5G, and specifically to power in-store robots, interactive displays, mobile applications, make sure everybody has access to the content they need while shopping.

Trevor Sumner:
Other retailers are going to follow very quickly, so this notion of having connectivity to these smart devices, which is one of the biggest issues, I can tell you, if we can’t get to one of our interactive displays and we need to go make an update, I have to send somebody in-store. That costs me $200, right? And that has to go somewhere towards either cutting into my margins or eventually paid by the customer. That’s expensive as can be, especially in a world where you’re trying to get data, you’re trying to optimize on a regular basis.

Trevor Sumner:
The I in IoT or Internet of Things, is the internet, right? I think this connectivity is going to be groundbreaking to enable people to not only deploy these things but to update them in a constant fashion, so they can actually be maintained. That to me is probably the most exciting underlying technology catalyst of 2021 that we will see. Along with advances in computer vision, costs of hardware continuing to be commoditized at 20-25% a year, so if you’re skating to where the puck is going, these devices, these electronics are going to be cheap. They’re going to be easy to connect to the internet and they’re going to be smarter than ever, and that’s been a lot of the barriers for retailers to be able to deploy reliably in-store.

Ricardo Belmar:
Yeah, I think just adding to that, I’ve spent many years working with retailers on exactly that kind of infrastructure build out. Always used to tell retail execs, the devil is in the details of scaling these deployments and the biggest enemy of scaling a new technology deployment to stores is always this hidden infrastructure, which oftentimes is that internet connectivity at the store. Sometimes it’s the WiFi connectivity in the store, and all of these things add to operational, let’s call them inefficiencies and distractions that prevent all of these great things that build those experiential scenarios that were just talking about in stores.

Ricardo Belmar:
And makes it so that they’re, not only are they not consistent, they’re not reliable. And those two things, that’s the number one enemy that prevents retailers from deploying things of that sort. Why? Because when a retailer typically goes about doing this, they’ll run a proof of concept, and I’d be curious Trevor if your experience is the same, but I’ve always found that just about proof of concept works. They work because most retailers, they have a set of their stores that they always go to and say, “Oh yeah, let’s do a trial. We’ll put it in store 15” because that one, the people at that store, they love working with new stuff. There’s a long list of reasons why that’s the test store.

Ricardo Belmar:
But what happens then is that you go through the test store and everything works. Maybe you have a couple of hiccups at the beginning, but you work them out and what does almost every retailer decide then? Well, I made it work at the test store, I’m sure we can make it work at the other 150 stores. And they start repeating the process. But what happens? Well, of course, all 150 of your stores, they’re not exactly the same. That store in Midtown Manhattan is probably not the same exact even physical construction or layout as the store you might in a suburb of Atlanta.

Ricardo Belmar:
Different things affect different types of deployment. I worked once with a wine shop retail customer where they found out the hard way that the actual products they sell, right? Liquids in glass bottles, tend to attenuate WiFi signals. They found that as they tried to put WiFi in their stores, they had all of these dead spots throughout the store, where the signal just couldn’t get through the wine bottles. Those are things that you just don’t think about when you go to deploy any of these new things.

Ricardo Belmar:
And in their case, they were just trying to do something simple like digital signage in the store, or WiFi. I always find that there are these hidden infrastructure components that make it difficult for retailers to deploy these things at speed. If I can call this an advantage, I think many retailers learned in 2020 that a lot of things that they used to believe would take them six months to deploy, they can actually get done in six weeks now, and maybe more to that point, a lot of retail CEOs now are looking at their teams saying, “You know, you used to tell me it would take six months, but now that I saw you can do it in six weeks, I’m going to expect that the next time, and then the time after that.” Learning to-

Trevor Sumner:
Yeah, and I think that also-

Ricardo Belmar:
… [crosstalk 00:27:53] is going to be important.

Trevor Sumner:
… hits on a big point which is culture, right?

Ricardo Belmar:
Yeah.

Trevor Sumner:
You talk about these test stores. It’s easy to add the test store with the sales manager who’s on the floor, who’s used to doing these trials, to communicate to the sales associates, “This is how it works.” But then you get to the 100th store, the sales associate is like, “I don’t know what that technology does.” You’ve got to think about training and then like-

Ricardo Belmar:
Yeah, exactly.

Trevor Sumner:
… we’ve coordinated with stores on an install, we get there, they’re like, “We don’t know what you’re talking about.” Like, “No, we’re not going to let you install that in-store.” We’re like, “You haven’t talked to these people?” I’ve literally had to take my team and reschedule because there is coordination, there is communication, there’s training, there’s all these things, and it’s also cultural in terms of thinking about the value of data, right?

Ricardo Belmar:
Right.

Trevor Sumner:
Traditionally, certainly on the brand side of house, the brands that we talk to, they don’t have a lot of data even on sales per store, and we can tell them like, “Hey, here’s what customers touch and pick up.” I ask brands this all the time. It’s like, “All right, top 10 products. Great. Which one converts the best when a customer picks it up and considers it’s a sale?” They look at me like I’ve got five heads on. Like, “What do you mean? We just get the sales numbers.”

Trevor Sumner:
“No, no, like that bottom of the funnel, customer comes in-store, they pick up your product to consider it, how do you know if your pricing, your packaging works? How do you know if it converts well?” They’re like, “Well, we don’t. We’re totally blind there.” There isn’t that culture of data, and that is starting to open up because people are doing more of these things, being able to deploy technology at scale.

Trevor Sumner:
They have to deploy technology at scale to survive this pandemic and now they’re realizing that there are ways that they can do it with the right mandates, with the right infrastructure and support from technical teams that were traditionally more on the eCommerce side are now being pulled in, into logistics, fulfillment, data, experiential in-store, and that blending of those cultures is going to enable success, that harmonized retail is not just the experience for the shopper. That harmonized retail is the culture in an organization to be able to deploy this across all these channels successfully.

Ricardo Belmar:
Yeah, really is about breaking down those silos within organizations. I’ve seen so often where you have to work a little bit harder to get those retailers from those folks on the marketing team, to coordinate with the store operations team, and then to work with the IT team who’s got to make everything actually run in the store, and do all these things hand-in-hand. I find it’s actually one of those areas where I think that smaller retailers have an advantage over larger ones, because they have fewer silos. They either have in a sense, an advantage because it’s a smaller team, so they have more intrinsic knowledge.

Ricardo Belmar:
I’ve actually seen examples where, to your point, Trevor, where you ask them, “Of those products, which one converts best when you pick it up?” You ask that question to a smaller retailer that actually talks to their staff, and maybe knows, the execs know the staff in the stores, they might know that answer. But if you talk to a large brand with 500 stores, you’re right, they won’t know because they don’t even know whether they’re collecting that data anywhere. Or if they were, how are they collecting it? I find a unique situation there.

Trevor Sumner:
I think there’s a balance there. I think at small you get customer intimacy but what we’re seeing overall in the retail market, the scale wins, right?

Ricardo Belmar:
Right.

Trevor Sumner:
Target, Walmart, those guys are just capturing share at a tremendous pace because the cost of retail infrastructure, the fixed cost of deploying some of these technologies can be amortized over a giant store network. They have the type of infrastructure in place to be able to adapt now. On the other hand, to your point Ricardo, now you’ve got Shopify and Square and Stripe, and all these technologies that are enabling smaller retailers to compete, and underlying all of this going back is everything’s going to be lit up 5G, and all of a sudden you’re going to have all this data, and there’s going to be a treasure trove of data, and the CEO, the CIO is going to be say, “What are we doing with this data?”

Trevor Sumner:
Once you start having to look at it, then you start realizing the power and the need to invest in all these experiences in-store, and these technologies in-store. That’s why I think 2021 is going to be … We’ve laid waste to a lot of struggling retailers with difficult balance sheet situations, and who are in weaker positions. We’ve accelerated that, but we’ve also established who are the types of people who are going to win? And now when we open back up, there’s going to be this land grab to invest and win that customer, and drive them back to the store where profitability is driven, and that’s going to be such an interesting dynamic in 2021, and when does that wave hit? Is that April when we’re all vaccinated? Or is it June when-

Ricardo Belmar:
Is it June or later?

Trevor Sumner:
… we’re all vaccinated? Or is it October when we’re all vaccinated? Because that’s why we started this talking about vaccinations. That’s a big driver on-

Ricardo Belmar:
That’s the key factor.

Trevor Sumner:
Yep.

Julia Raymond Hare:
It is definitely the key factor and we’ve covered a lot but I feel like we could have covered even more. I think the three big takeaways from having both of you as thought leaders in retail on the show today is number one, experiential isn’t dead. In fact, you said it’s being adopted and democratized by big box. Number two, 2021 will be the year of enhanced connectivity in-store, and then also tracking and personalization and then number three, you guys said you’ve seen it time and time again, the number one challenge to overcoming new technology is scaling and culture.

Julia Raymond Hare:
However, as we saw in 2020, there’s been incredible increases in roll out speed and what retailers can really accomplish, and that could either work to their advantage or hurt them in overcoming these challenges as 5G and other technologies really take off this year. It was great, Ricardo Belmar, and Trevor Sumner, having you on the show today and I look forward to having you back.

Trevor Sumner:
Thanks so much.

Ricardo Belmar:
Thanks, Julia.

 

 

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