Brick & Data is a podcast dedicated to retail news, analytics, and tech with Todd Harris and José Chan. We’ll cover trending news of the week, interview some of the biggest players, surface game changer technologies, and explore how retailers are surviving and thriving.
More places to listen
Brick & Data is a podcast dedicated to retail news, analytics, and tech with Todd Harris and José Chan. We’ll cover trending news of the week, interview some of the biggest players, surface game changer technologies, and explore how retailers are surviving and thriving.
In the red corner, Target and Kroger. In the blue corner, Amazon. Ding ding!? | What's the point of a digital transformation and do we even need that jargon anymore? | Retailers are betting big on another Prime Day outage this upcoming July | Weird news of the week (poor Macy's)
Lila and Jeremy Stuart are the founders of Hari Mari. When shopping for flip-flops and discovering bland inventory, they found an idea — creating a new and improved flip-flop. You might call them flip-flop fanatics?
As always at National Retail Federation's yearly bonanza, we get to meet with some of the most interesting new technologists, thought leaders, and retail pros. This year was no different. Sara Whiffen from Rohvi took a little time out of her crazy schedule to sit with us and talk retail. Specifically, we talked about a new-ish term, called "re-commerce".
Like every show, José and Todd end up roaming the halls like a couple decently dressed zombies. With coffees. And bags. Anyway…
This time we ran into a really interesting company that found a VERY underserved space for brands. IRL, meaning exactly that - In Real Life - is helping brands of all types find new customers in that gap between retail stores and online. Using emerging channels such as Airbnb, WeWork and Health Clubs, IRL not only makes it possible but super easy for brands to cut through the noise and make their products the centre of attention.
So, next time you stay at an Airbnb, open the fridge, and find a six pack of beer with some promotional materials, it might just be from IRL. Oh, and don't forget to drink the beer.
Listen to the episode for more on how they are doing this.
In this special Shop.org 2018 episode we have someone we found really charismatic and interesting during her Shop.org mainstage session with Guy Raz. Her name is Miki Berardelli, CEO of KIDBOX, and she sat down with José and I to talk about just that - her time at KIDBOX and why it's been such an impactful few years for her and the retailer. We will hear more about KIDBOX, but essentially KIDBOX is the first kids' personalized style box that provides parents with a convenient way to dress kids in cool brands at significant savings. We also learned about her background in retail, what the early days at KIDBOX were like, and one thing that no other retailer is doing.
The hype is real. Even after hours of downtime, countless cute dogs served on broken pages, and frustrated shoppers; Amazon still rakes in $4B+ in revenues on Prime Day 2018. In this episode, we have a little fun in our post-mortem of the only Black Friday in Summer.
José gets some time with retail and consumer trends business reporter Barbara Thau to talk about the one thing people really want with their in-store experience, the impact of out-of-stock situations on the bottom line, the tech that is cool but maybe not as useful as we thought, and the domination of Amazon's retail and marketplace models.
Economist’s jobs are hard. There’s really no other way to put it. In this episode, we spend 20 minutes to take a look back at 2017, a better than expected holiday season, and what’s to come for 2018, with National Retail Federation’s Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz at NRF BIG Show 2018.
It didn't fit, so she did something about it. Not just for her, but for all women. We got to spend a very interesting 20 minutes with Cricket Lee from FitLogic at NRF 2018. ---- About Cricket Lee While shopping for clothing and struggling to find clothes that fit, Cricket Lee realized there was a fit problem across the fashion industry. She set out to solve that problem, and improve the shopping experience for all women. Cricket is a veteran of the retail industry who has invented a revolutionary sizing technology called Fitlogic. Fitlogic is a universal sizing standard for women's clothing. It's currently being evaluated by top retailers interested in adopting it to their clothing lines. Cricket is a marketing expert with over 70 awards for advertising excellence, and learned how to solve problems from her father who designed missiles for NASA. FitLogic Fitlogic is a world patented commercial clothes fitting standard that includes size and shape applications. The technology was developed with more than 60,000 women's measurements, then refined through brick and mortar tests with retailers (Nordstrom, QVC, Macys), online and in designer boutiques. Consumer direct programs, customer service and global applications were studied, and a proof of concept was completed through direct to consumer house brand LittleBlackPant after a year of testing. Fitlogic has garnered over 750 media exposures including Wall Street Journal cover story, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, ABC News and segments on The Today Show. Find out more about FitLogic on Twitter and at http://www.fitlogic.com/
José and Todd got a few minutes at NRF 2018 with Michelle Bacharach from FINDMINE. It's a little noise in the background because there were just a few thousand people in the area. Michelle tells us all about FINDMINE and why their "complete the look" tech is changing the way we pair our outfits and the way retailers represent their brand. Michelle Bacharach is CEO and Co-Founder of FINDMINE. As a product and strategy expert, she’s experienced in growing startups and large media companies by launching apps and websites to millions of people, putting together joint ventures, and conceiving of new products. Michelle has shared her expertise with thousands of leaders in retail and technology as a speaker at SXSW and NRF Retail’s Big Show. She has an MBA from NYU Stern and a BA from UC Berkeley, where she wrote her honors thesis on managing innovation in multinational organizations. FINDMINE FINDMINE scales outfitting across a fashion retailer's enterprise. Their automated "Complete the Look" technology creates complete outfits around each product. Blending the art of styling with the ease of automation to faithfully represent your brand at scale and help you answer, how do I wear this? Find out more about FINDMINE on Twitter and over at their internet home.
Great story behind this hot custom clothing company out of Boston! Fan Bi is the Founder and CEO of Blank Label, a custom men's clothing brand based in Boston. He dropped out of Babson in 2009, with one semester left, to start the company. He's a recipient of the BusinessWeek 25 Under 25 and INC 30 Under 30 awards. Blank Label Overview Blank Label is a men's clothing brand with stores in Boston, Chicago, D.C., Atlanta, Denver and online. Through their own custom clothing line, their mission is to help men feel comfortable and confident in the clothes they wear. The company's vision is to build a long-standing national clothing brand. Founded in 2010, they raised $1 million in 2013 to expand into brick-and-mortar. Four years later, they have six stores and are expanding their retail presence.
Nike moving out. Whole foods has some rotten apples. Honeymoon is over for Gap. Wait, what honeymoon?. Weird news of the week ---- Nike Moving Out Donald Trump’s private real estate empire officially lost one of its most important tenants on Monday, when Nike announced that it is closing its store at the president’s 6 East 57th Street property in New York City next spring in favor of a new location just a few blocks away. The announcement comes a year after commercial landlord SL Green disclosed that it had signed a 15-year lease with Nike at 650 Fifth Avenue. Whole Foods Has Some Rotten Apples Whole Foods shoppers complained about finding bruised, discolored, tasteless, and rotten produce in stores across the US. Shoppers also cited persistent out-of-stock issues. Many customers are blaming the problems on Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods in a $13.7 billion deal in August. "Price reductions are appreciated but not at the expense of reliable quality," one customer said. Whole Foods told Business Insider that it has made no recent changes that would affect the quality or availability of its produce. Not much has changed, so they say Honeymoon is Over for Gap. Wait, What Honeymoon? Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic and Gap brands are swiftly losing customers to other brands, according to a report from data management and analytics firm 1010data emailed to Retail Dive. From October 2016 to September 2017, Banana Republic lost 58% of shoppers who had shopped at least once between October 2015 to September 2016, 45% more than in the trailing year, according to the report. Weird News of the Week Nordstrom is selling Marie Antoinette inspires sock loafers. SOCK LOAFERS. According to Nordstrom's product description, the shoe was, "Inspired by the idea of what Marie Antoinette might wear in 2017, a cutout loafer in glossy patent leather is inset with a quirky striped sport-sock shaft embroidered with flowers, giving it a striking, avant-garde look." Despite the fact that the product looks like it was made from your mom's Mary Janes and your 12-year-old cousin's socks, Nordstrom claims you'll feel just like a modern Marie Antoinette — and they've got the price tag to prove it. Originally priced at $1,400, the shoes are now on sale for a precise $839.98, because spending that much on shoes you could probably construct at the Goodwill is exactly what defines members of the modern aristocracy.
Who won Black Friday and Cyber Monday? The shifting state of fashion in 2018. Weirdest news of the week in retail (involves Unicorns). ---- Who won Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Winners: Best Buy According to data from QSR International, Best Buy was tagged the most in tweets categorized as "very positive," and it overall had the most successful advertising campaign of 15 brands studied. That's likely because the retailer took a different strategy this year — veering away from pushing a sense of urgency in its advertising language with phrases like "sale ends soon," "limited time" or "one day only." Instead, the retailer opted for more helpful messaging about free shipping and financing options. Amazon (duh) Mobile - According to Adobe's estimates, mobile drove 54% of visits and 37% of digital revenue. Conversions have been a tough battle for retailers in the past, but they showed progress, with rates up 16.5% for smartphones and 13% for tablets from the year-ago period. Small retailers - According to Adobe Data, Small retailers (under $10 million in annual revenue) saw 30 percent higher conversion rates on smartphones than large retailers. Losers (so harsh, we know): In-store traffic - In-store traffic dropped a combined 1.6% on those days over last year, and Black Friday visits alone decreased less than 1% when compared to Black Friday 2016, according to data collected by retail analytics company Shoppertrak. Websites! JCrew, Macy’s, Lowes (and more) - website crashes, downtime, transaction processing outages http://news.adobe.com/press-release/experience-cloud/adobe-data-shows-cyber-monday-largest-online-sales-day-history-659 https://www.retaildive.com/news/meet-the-winners-and-losers-of-black-friday-2017/511661/ https://www.retaildive.com/news/macys-lowes-hit-by-black-friday-technical-glitches/511606/ The Shifting State of Fashion for 2018 Business of Fashion and McKinsey issued a report that everyone in the retail industry should read. While it's tailored to fashion, the core tenets apply to all. Quick fact from the report: The McKinsey Global Fashion Index forecasts industry sales growth to nearly triple between 2016 and 2018, from 1.5 percent to between 3.5 to 4.5 percent. More and download: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/renewed-optimism-for-the-fashion-industry?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1711 Weirdest News of the Week Welcome to our new segment! We are bringing you the weirdest, most WHAAAT inducing, shocked-emoji-face news of the week - in retail… This week it’s an old reliable that has resurfaced in an epic way. It’s Paris Hilton who is launching an "all-natural" skincare line starting with a rose water mist branded Unicorn Mist. But don’t be distracted by her history or Instagram account - she’s a savvy businesswoman who has launched 23 successful scents and is known as one of the world's top DJs, sometimes commanding $1 million a gig. According to a press release, the full skincare line will be available in early 2018, so Millennials, Paris Hilton is counting on you. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jannamandell/2017/11/30/paris-hilton-launches-skincare-line-with-unicorn-mist-cue-shocked-face/#598ba7d8592c
Have you heard of "hearables"? Well, now you have. We are joined by the co-founders of "hearable" startup, Peripherii. Their first product is a "smart earring" with built in virtual personal assistants like Siri and Google Assistant to add amazing functionality to jewelery. Not only can these earrings take and make calls and whisper alerts, it can respond to voice commands, call an Uber, or dim the lights in your room. Co-founders Priti Moudgill and Sonal Budhiraja tell us how it all started and where it's going. About Peripherii Peripherii is a NY-based hearable company whose first product is a smart earring that brings smart assistants like Siri/Google to the wearer’s ear, but subtly in the form of a piece of jewelry. Not only can our earring take and make calls and whisper alerts, it can respond to voice commands and call Uber, dictate a text, set a timer, etc. Calling our earring just a headset is fine too, because that simple fact of hiding an earphone in an earring causes an orbital jump in its utility and accessibility. For women, an earring is a natural accessory. Wearing a smart earring will not require much of a behavior change, and yet it will give them full access to the audio functionality of their phones. It is hard to overstate the convenience factor of this small change: that the voice-activated functions of the phone will always be available, without having to have the phone in hand, and without having to rummage for earbuds. And then there is the secret agent aspect: a piece of jewelry that is a lot more than meets the eye! It’s also the answer to every woman’s evening-out quandary: how to stay within ear-shot, in a manner of speaking, of their loved ones, without having to wear earbuds with a party dress or having to hold the phone in their hand all evening. Our broader vision is a world where electronics are minimally invasive, almost invisible, and we interact with them in an instinctual manner so we can focus on what matters without fumbling or fussing with gadgets. Advances in AI are leading up to emotionally savvy smart assistants. In such a future, it will not always be the user who initiates the interaction. Our smart earring, anticipating your tiredness at the end of day, might whisper in your ear if you would like the lights dimmed or white noise played or a pizza ordered. Our smart earring is a first step in that direction. For more, including how to get involved in their IndiGogo, visit www.peripherii.com. About Sonal Budhiraja Sonal has a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from LSU and B.Tech from NITK, India. For her second Master’s thesis in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers, Sonal tinkered with programming a glove for use in a virtual surgery. Sonal has also worked as a developer and writer at various software companies such as SAP and IBM. About Priti Moudgill Priti’s engineering background includes degrees from IIT (Kanpur, India) & Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), and research/engineering positions at IBM. She has a strong product instinct with consumer inventions licensed to Conair and Rubbermaid. She has also worked in the fashion industry designing and manufacturing accessories for clients such as Bergdorfs, Holt Renfrew, Tsum, Gilt, etc.
We are joined by Aman Advani - the CEO and Co-founder of Ministry of Supply. This episode truly represents the intersection of technology and fashion - literally weaving technology into the fabric we wear. Does the name 'Ministry of Supply" sound slightly familiar? If you are a James Bond fan, it should.
Augmented Reality is about to explode in retail. Downsizing the store in ways we never expected. Automation is coming and it can't be stopped. ---- Augmented Reality is about to explode in retail AR is the key to connecting the physical world with digital. And, AR has already been in our daily lives in the form of Snapchat and Pokemon Go. So, we have already been trained. The introduction of Apple’s ARkit, a developer platform for augmented reality, and the subsequent launch of iOS 11, which hosts it, has paved the way on iPhones and iPads. Google’s ARcore meanwhile, brings the same to Android. This is very much like a modernized catalog. The forecast is for 900 million AR-enabled smartphones by the end of 2018, according to consulting firm Digi-Capital. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelarthur/2017/10/31/augmented-reality-is-set-to-transform-fashion-and-retail/#460752363151 Downsizing the Store Hudson’s Bay, said Tuesday that it was selling off the flagship Lord & Taylor (676K Sq Ft) store to WeWork, a seven-year-old start-up whose office-sharing model is helping to reinvent the concept of work space. Lord & Taylor will rent out about a quarter of the building Macy’s has struck a preliminary deal to sell the top half (700K Sq Ft/Fl 8-14) of its State Street flagship building to a Canadian real estate investor that plans to convert the space into offices Target recently opened 11 small-format stores across the US as part of its ongoing readjustment to its brick-and-mortar strategy. The format aims to create a streamlined shopping experience with square footages that range from 12,000 to 80,000, significantly smaller than the 145,000-square-foot average for a standard Target store. The new stores seem meant to serve densely populated urban and suburban areas, where consumers are likely far from a full-sized Target. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ori/ct-biz-macys-flagship-sale-ryan-ori-20171017-story.html http://www.businessinsider.com/target-opens-new-small-format-stores-2017-10 Automation is coming Walmart is using automation to handle tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual, like scanning shelves for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels. This new shelf-scanning technology frees up time for our associates to focus on what they tell us are the most important and exciting parts of working at Walmart – serving customers and selling merchandise. Walmart is expanding the use of shelf-scanning inventory management robots to more than 50 U.S. stores after testing in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California, according to a Walmart blog post. The robots, which have a vertical scanner tall enough to scan all the shelves in a given store aisle, move down each aisle scanning for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels on products. The aim is to have robots perform manual, repeatable tasks that otherwise would be performed by human store associates. Having the robots do it instead is expected to free up store associates to spend more time directly helping customers. https://www.retaildive.com/news/walmart-expands-use-of-in-store-inventory-robots/508402/
Coach is now Tapestry and people are losing their minds. Under Armour isn’t cool anymore (Todd loves UA, is marginally cool, and doesn't agree with this). Amazon is flexing its supply chain muscles once again.
Part 2/2 of our Shop.org special welcomes guest Casey Sullivan from Barneys New York. Casey oversees startup and growth initiatives at Barneys. We talked about: Digital initiatives at Barneys How to please all customer segments at once, shopping simultaneously? How does Barneys balance the physical and digital experiences for each segment yet maintain a cohesive, consistent experience? and more...
In this Part 1 of our two part Shop.org special we welcome the ladies from Retail Minded - Nicole Reyhle and Jasmine Glasheen. Things we talk about: Why independent retailers are important to the survival of retail. Do they experience the same challenges the bigger retailers do? Are members of the Amazon Marketplace concerned about the tighter grip Amazon is placing on them in terms of competition and requirements? Can department stores survive this re-invention of retail? Are their brands strong enough?
Mariam Naficy - Minted CEO, spends some time with us. She shared with us some what it took to start Minted, why Minted's business model is unique, how technology is being used, and if there are plans to open stores. https://www.minted.com/
Episode 30 gets a healthy dose of Amazon (shocker) and their latest Whole Foods news along with the future of Amazon Prime. Since it's earnings season, which is our favorite time of quarter, we pick on Dick's Sporting Goods and Foot Locker. \
In Episode 29 we realize it's our 1-year show anniversary and that we should do a giveaway! Who's in!?!? We also talk about what it takes to be "immune" to Amazon, how some retailers are changing their business model to embrace Amazon, and how AI and predictive technologies are changing stores - specifically grocery.
It's Episode 28 and we get 45 minutes with Doug Stephens - Retail futurist, book author, and Founder of Retail Prophet. We talk about Walmart's path to retail domination through acquisitions, Amazon Prime Day success and how they are redefining retail, ever-changing customer expectations in stores, one amazing in-store experience that everyone should try, and why some retailers are hesitant to adopt technologies.
In this episode, Paul Raffin joins José to talk about how technology is causing retailers to make changes to their businesses not only for growth but to make their customers happy. Did you know we will be at Shop.org in LA this September 25-27? We will be recording live! Come see us. If you haven't yet registered, be sure to use code 'BRICK10' to get 10% off your registration.
It's episode 26 and Todd & José talk about how being smarter about space will be an even more important activity for retailers as stores are closed and shrunk. The viability and need for data is questioned and we respond. We also travel to Shanghai (not really) to discover a new type of grocery store.
Walmart is on a warpath to beat Amazon, but it's true... Amazon is now twice their market cap. We circle back on IoT to see how mainstream it's becoming. Retail analyst Kenny Yeo was on CNBC with three key tech focus areas for retailers to focus on - we talk about each of them.
Between mud covered jeans and Amazon Dash for underwear, we are pretty confident that retailers are losing it. Coach is shrinking to grow (this was recorded right before the recent acquisition). Amazon Echo can now judge your fashion. Like what you hear? Subscribe and review on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher!
Wal-Mart is paying for store traffic, Bed Bath & Beyond has some work to do on omnichannel and store assortments, and Jeff Bezos shares his Amazon secrets. Like what you hear? Subscribe and review on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher!
In this episode, José interviews Soon Yu, former Global VP Innovation at VF Corp and book author. We learn about his background in retail building and innovating brands for 20 years. Soon's new book is called The Iconic Advantage - more info can be found at www.soonyu.com.
Generation Z seems to really love stores and we explore a bit why (especially compared to Millenials). High-end department stores are making some last ditch efforts to recover the steadily dropping number of in-store shoppers. TJX is continuing their success in the off-price world, launching a new set of 'home market' stores.
Dr. William D’Arienzo is the founder and CEO of WDA Brand Marketing. We get a few minutes with him to talk luxury and fashion brands, retail problems in 2017, consumer expectations, and his new book "Brand Management Strategies - Luxury and Mass Markets".
We were at NRF 2017 and have some thoughts. Good thoughts and bad thoughts. And our feet hurt. Holiday spending is up and higher than predicted. E-commerce seemed to do better than in-store. We explore why. It's only a few weeks into 2017 and major brand retailers are closing stores. The sky isn't falling and there's a silver lining to all of this.
Mid November to mid December was huge for retail - we talk about why and what that means going into next year. Amazon once again dominates the year, but it's not about online. It's the end of 2016! We cover the top retail tech trends of the year.
We recap Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) numbers and it was a close race. Maybe we weren't exactly right that Black Friday doesn't matter. GAP CEO talked in WSJ about the design driven early years and how the company is embracing analytics now. Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz relinquishes his title.
Black Friday really doesn't matter anymore and we explain our reason why. Millennials have shown they will pay extra for faster shipping and immediate gratification. Alibaba sets a doozy of a record on Singles Day. Yes, we just used the word "doozy".
This episode is an interview with Bridget Johns, Head of Marketing and Customer Experience at RetailNext. We spoke with Bridget about how IoT is being used in Smart Stores, some of the changes we have seen over the years across all types of retailers, and how in-store performance is being impacted by the adoption of IoT technologies. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Stitcher! If you enjoy this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. Helps a ton!
Instagram is working with a handful of retailers to bring back a version of the "buy button". Staples is releasing a smarter version of the Easy Button with IBM Watson technology. Brands are jumping on the opportunity to build chatbots and various types of digital assistants on Facebook messenger and other apps.
Adidas and Under Armour play leapfrog in an effort to hold onto the #2 position behind Nike. Adidas has awoken from its slumber. Amazon's next conquest seems to be clothing (fashion) and grocery. Which will they succeed with? We have our thoughts. Let's play psychologist and dive into the mind of a consumer. What is it about stores that makes them want to buy?
Everyone has an opinion about upcoming holiday retail sales - will they go up or down? Does the Election impact anything? Department stores are having a rough time this year. We talk about why this might be happening. VR has seen all the hype lately in gaming, but is it the same in retail? It seems that AR (augmented reality) is the winner. José also talks about some of the takeaways from his time this week at the "NYU Expanding Horizons" retail conference.
We dig into why Amazon Prime customers are worth a staggering amount of money to them, how Crate & Barrel is bringing online shopping habits to their stores, and why search is getting smarter and better thanks to AI.
Brands that have been around for a while inevitably need to reinvent themselves we explore how and why. Shipping costs are going up near the holidays so what does this mean for consumers and retailers? Luxury brands are starting to adjust how they attract new customers.
There's a new app that brings crowdsourcing to grocery shopping, Google now helps you shop the look from your favorite fashion bloggers, and Tommy Hilfiger is sending styles from the runway straight to you.
It's episode 2 and we talk about what is possibly dragging down Gap and Banana Republic. Analytics are being used to keep grocery food from rotting and making us all sick. Apple bans the word "store" in a company-wide memo. IKEA goes upscale!
In our first episode we talk about some of the expected shopper behavior during back to school shopping this year, Walmart eating up Jet.com and why it may not help them after all, Target stocking Harry's razors starting this month and why that's perhaps better for Harry's than Target, and the not-so-subtle Russian flags under the jackets of Team USA at the Rio Olympics opening ceremonies. Recorded on 8/12/2016