Reading time: 9 minutes

June 24, 2019

Welcome back to your weekly update on the changes, trends, and movers-and-shakers making headlines across marketing, brand, consumers and more!

Just released: Forbes’ annual Most Influential CMOs list. These leaders’ influence comes from how they tune into customer attitudes and industry trends to translate ever-more data and marketing inputs into a coherent business strategy – and industry impact.

From Deepak’s neuroscience desk, the overuse of myriad behavioral nudges and consumer psychology manipulations may actually be reducing their power as consumers begin to catch on.

Below are a few thought-provoking articles to kick-start your week. Thanks as always for reading, sharing and sending your contributions.

BRAND & MARKETING

RETAIL, SALES & SHOPPER

  • Shopify launched a new fulfillment service that uses machine learning to predict demand, allocate inventory, and route orders to the closest fulfillment center in order to become the all-encompassing platform engineering the growth of DTC retail, and make fast and inexpensive shipping the new standard on the internet
    • Consulting POV – This development will continue to blur the line between an “independent seller” (largely using Amazon’s 3P network in the US to reach consumers and fulfill) and a “small retailer” (who overwhelmingly use Shopify to execute their eCommerce sites). Shopify’s fulfillment capabilities (if they can truly scale them) would be the first genuine competitor to the Amazon 3P ecosystem.
  • As Walmart introduces Delivery Unlimited, an…unlimited…grocery delivery subscription service to try and entice online shoppers, eMarketer digs into the arms race between Walmart, Amazon, and Target to peoples’ homes as quickly as humanly—or robotically—possible.
    • Consulting POV – Eventually speed of distribution among the largest retail platforms will reach some sort of parity.  The “race to real time delivery” is a topic the media love…the really interesting question is how much differentiation these scaled proprietary platforms can have over something like the Shopify platform outlined above.
  • Meanwhile, the Washington Post warns of Amazon’s ramped-up efforts to win over customers that typically frequent rivals such as Walmart: low-income shoppers.
    • Consulting POV – This probably won’t work. As our piece “Going Fast In A Slowdown” suggests, a huge number of US low income consumers fall into a segmentation known as “cash flow” statement shoppers, who struggle from pay event to pay event. These shoppers are simply unlikely to see the value in any shopping solution that requires paying up front to receive value.
  • Kroger will start selling CBD products, beating its grocer peers in doing so.
    • Consulting POV – With the passing of the Farm Act earlier this year, the status of CBD-infused products in the US became markedly clearer. Expect to see most retailers experimenting with these products over the course of 2019/2020. This piece from Brian Owens is a good view of what that future might look like.
  • Pinterest is betting on DTC brands to help fuel its growth as a now-public company, but marketers are still wary of the platform’s value as a customer acquisition tool. A look at how the platform is trying to win them over.
    • Consulting POV – The fact that marketers can’t sort out how to convert the massive amount of engagement Pinterest generates into effective marketing may say more about marketers than Pinterest. It makes a ton of sense for D2C brands to leverage Pinterest’s strength in top of the funnel awareness and engagement.
  • Verishop, the eCommerce marketplace founded by ex-Snap CSO Imran Khan, will leverage influencers (“tastemakers”) to develop highly-curated shopping zones, similar to a personalized product channel. It promises “quality curation and discovery, with the convenience you’ve come to expect” – likely meaning it will be ad-free. Business Insider has more on what this means.
    • Consulting POV – This is a really interesting idea: essentially a fusing of Instagram and Amazon into an influencer-centric commerce site dedicated to letting high-end brands find a route to market in a brand-safe environment. This is really what Walmart should have done with jet.com – used it as a brand-safe platform for brands not interested in Amazon’s or Walmart’s ecosystem. It will be fun to watch this scale: this is the closest someone has come to replicating the Chinese ecosystem’s integration of commerce, influence and branding.
  • YouTube has introduced an AR / VR program that matches brands with influencers and lets shoppers try on products virtually.
    • Consulting POV – A cool development! Our team put together a good view on the uses of AR in the retail ecosystem here.
  • As one of the world’s largest food chains, Ikea is testing a service that enables it to expand its food footprint into home deliveries.
    • Consulting POV – IKEA has always been a good example of a retailer with a strong footprint in foodservice, and they have done a great job of understanding that the job of food in a business model like this one is distinctiveness and brand resonance. Delivery is an interesting next step!
  • Dozens of recommendations websites have emerged to help shoppers compare options across brands, retailers, and suppliers for every type of online purchase – at it could fundamentally transform how we shop.
    • Consulting POV – Whether you call it network effects or aggregator theory, the challenge all of these niche review sites have is that there is real value in a huge number of reviews being aggregated in one place. That, simply, is highly likely to be Amazon in categories often purchased there. The rest of these platforms will struggle unless they appeal to a targeted audience, establish credibility and become part of the conversation in that general ecosystem

ON THE HORIZON

POWERFUL PARTNERSHIPS

GROWTH GOLDMINES

  • Shopify launched a new fulfillment service that uses machine learning to predict demand, allocate inventory, and route orders to the closest fulfillment center in order to become the all-encompassing platform engineering the growth of DTC retail, and make fast and inexpensive shipping the new standard on the internet.#GTM #eCommerce #Innovation #ShopperSolutions #CategorySolutions #CX #RetailStrategy #EvolvingExperiences
    • Consulting POV – This development will continue to blur the line between an “independent seller” (largely using Amazon’s 3P network in the US to reach consumers and fulfill) and a “small retailer” (who overwhelmingly use Shopify to execute their eCommerce sites). Shopify’s fulfillment capabilities (if they can truly scale them) would be the first genuine competitor to the Amazon 3P ecosystem.
  • As Walmart introduces Delivery Unlimited, an…unlimited…grocery delivery subscription service to try and entice online shoppers, eMarketer digs into the arms race between Walmart, Amazon, and Target to peoples’ homes as quickly as humanly—or robotically—possible. #ShopperSolutions #Innovation #CX #RetailStrategy #ChannelStrategy #eCommerce #EvolvingExperiences #MultipleModels
    • Consulting POV – Eventually speed of distribution among the largest retail platforms will reach some sort of parity.  The “race to real time delivery” is a topic the media love…the really interesting question is how much differentiation these scaled proprietary platforms can have over something like the Shopify platform outlined above.
  • Meanwhile, the Washington Post warns of Amazon’s ramped-up efforts to win over customers that typically frequent rivals such as Walmart: low-income shoppers.#Human&Cultural #CustomerInsight #ShopperInsight #RetailStrategy #eCommerce #AbundantMarkets
    • Consulting POV – This probably won’t work. As our piece “Going Fast In A Slowdown” suggests, a huge number of US low income consumers fall into a segmentation known as “cash flow” statement shoppers, who struggle from pay event to pay event. These shoppers are simply unlikely to see the value in any shopping solution that requires paying up front to receive value.
  • Kroger will start selling CBD products, beating its grocer peers in doing so. #RetailStrategy #Human&Cultural #Futures #BrandStrategy #CustomerInsight #ShopperInsight #AbundantMarkets
    • Consulting POV – With the passing of the Farm Act earlier this year, the status of CBD-infused products in the US became markedly clearer. Expect to see most retailers experimenting with these products over the course of 2019/2020. This piece from Brian Owens is a good view of what that future might look like.
  • Pinterest is betting on DTC brands to help fuel its growth as a now-public company, but marketers are still wary of the platform’s value as a customer acquisition tool. A look at how the platform is trying to win them over#eCommerce #ChannelStrategy #ShopperSolutions #RetailExecution #CustomerInsight #EvolvingExperiences
    • Consulting POV – The fact that marketers can’t sort out how to convert the massive amount of engagement Pinterest generates into effective marketing may say more about marketers than Pinterest. It makes a ton of sense for D2C brands to leverage Pinterest’s strength in top of the funnel awareness and engagement.
  • Verishop, the eCommerce marketplace founded by ex-Snap CSO Imran Khan, will leverage influencers (“tastemakers”) to develop highly-curated shopping zones, similar to a personalized product channel. It promises “quality curation and discovery, with the convenience you’ve come to expect” – likely meaning it will be ad-free. Business Insider has more on what this means#eCommerce #Strategy #RetailStrategy #ShopperSolutions #CustomerInsight #Human&Cultural #Futures #CX #EvolvingExperiences
    • Consulting POV – This is a really interesting idea: essentially a fusing of Instagram and Amazon into an influencer-centric commerce site dedicated to letting high-end brands find a route to market in a brand-safe environment. This is really what Walmart should have done with jet.com – used it as a brand-safe platform for brands not interested in Amazon’s or Walmart’s ecosystem. It will be fun to watch this scale: this is the closest someone has come to replicating the Chinese ecosystem’s integration of commerce, influence and branding.
  • YouTube has introduced an AR / VR program that matches brands with influencers and lets shoppers try on products virtually#VR #AR #CX #Innovation #eCommerce #Futures #OpenCulture #MultipleModels #EvolvingExperiences #HumanizedGrowth
    • Consulting POV – A cool development! Our team put together a good view on the uses of AR in the retail ecosystem here.
  • As one of the world’s largest food chains, Ikea is testing a service that enables it to expand its food footprint into home deliveries#ChannelStrategy #Innovation #CX #RetailExecution #RetailStrategy #MultipleModels
    • Consulting POV – IKEA has always been a good example of a retailer with a strong footprint in foodservice, and they have done a great job of understanding that the job of food in a business model like this one is distinctiveness and brand resonance. Delivery is an interesting next step!
  • Dozens of recommendations websites have emerged to help shoppers compare options across brands, retailers, and suppliers for every type of online purchase – at it could fundamentally transform how we shop. #ShopperInsight #CustomerInsight #Human&Cultural #Futures #ChannelStrategy
    • Consulting POV – Whether you call it network effects or aggregator theory, the challenge all of these niche review sites have is that there is real value in a huge number of reviews being aggregated in one place. That, simply, is highly likely to be Amazon in categories often purchased there. The rest of these platforms will struggle unless they appeal to a targeted audience, establish credibility and become part of the conversation in that general ecosystem.