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EPISODE 103 : 03/02/2023

Andrea Leigh

Andrea Leigh is an eCommerce educator, speaker, writer, and co-host of the popular CPG Guys podcast. With over 20 years of eCommerce experience working with thousands of brands, her deep expertise has unlocked sustainable growth opportunities for brands of all sizes. A ten-year former senior executive at Amazon, she helped launch Amazon’s automated pricing system programs, and ran Amazon Prime for Amazon Canada. She is a recognized thought leader in the commerce industry and a frequent keynote speaker at various conferences and corporate events.and we’re excited to have him on the podcast today. 

Host: Ned Hayes and Ashley Coates
Guest: Andrea Leigh

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Topics discussed in this episode

  • Detailed small business insights from Olympia, Washington
  • Small business resiliency and adaptation during COVID
  • Doubling community outreach during the pandemic
  • Opportunities for small business loyalty programs

Watch Spark Loyalty’s Small Business Success Channel

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Audio Transcript

Ned Hayes [00:00:00] Welcome to Spark Plug, where we talk to smart people working at the intersection of business and technology brought to you by SnowShoe, Your smarter loyalty leader Spark Plug is happy to welcome Andrea Leigh to the podcast today. She is an e-commerce educator, speaker, writer and also a co-host of a popular podcast, the CPG Guys Podcast. And with over 20 years of e-comm experience with thousands of brands, she has deep expertise building sustainable growth. She was formerly a senior executive at Amazon. She was there for ten years and she helped launch Amazon’s automated pricing system and ran Amazon Prime for Amazon Canada. She’s a great thought leader in the commerce industry and she’s a keynote speaker and we’re really excited to have you on the podcast today. So welcome. 

Andrea Leigh [00:00:47] Thank you for having me.

Ashley Coates [00:00:48] Thanks so much for joining us, Andrea. So let’s let’s start off with you had actually left Amazon after ten years there and you were leading 15 product categories and then you actually founded your own ecommerce business. So what led you to strike out on your own? 

Andrea Leigh [00:01:04] Yeah, So, well, Amazon’s a really exciting place and I think I was there during a particularly exciting segment of time. I was there from 2005 to 2015 where they really experienced kind of the most explosive growth of their timeframe and launched. They launched Kindle and a lot kind of went on during that during those ten years. But after those ten years, I just found I wasn’t working with the consumer brand community as closely as I was in the earlier days when I was a buyer before for grocery and a number of other categories. And I really liked that connection. And so I left there and and I ran a consultancy alongside a woman, Melissa Burdick, from Parkview. We ran and briefly ran a consultancy together before she founded Parkview. And then I went to join Eido, which is an e-commerce agency there, like a were a white glove service provider working on Amazon business. We worked with about 160 brands and I led client strategy there for four years. But a theme that we kept seeing over and over again was that the brands still wanted to work with service providers, but they really wanted to own their own strategy. And so they were asking us to teach them about e-commerce strategy and they should own their strategy. I mean, as e-commerce becoming a bit was becoming a bigger part of their their business and their portfolio. And then the other trend I was observing is I was sitting on the hiring side of trying to hire all this digital talent in a really competitive market. And so and we couldn’t afford to pay for the top talent. We were a startup and so we we created a curriculum to bring someone on that didn’t maybe have very deep digital expertise and get them up and running with clients within like a month. And we found that we that e-commerce could be taught it wasn’t and you could be really effective if you gave a cross-functional education on e-commerce. And so that was kind of the original inspiration for the company. So I founded a loom group about a year and a half ago, and we’re an education company. We focus on digital commerce topics, working on retail market, retail e-commerce marketplaces as well as, you know, things like mutual profitability and retail media and supply chain best practices, kind of the whole cross-functional piece. And we work with consumer brands, we work with brand, what we call brand enablers like agencies and technology providers. And then we also work with retailers as well to help them kind of bring their organizations to through their digital transformation. Yeah, wonderful. What sounds like it’s going very well so far, so well done. And we’re actually going to chat more about the Olympic Harami in just a bit. Really thorough of offering of courses, but just sticking with what you learned at Amazon for a minute. Lauren Johnson actually recently profiled your company in business and in that article you described as applying three things that you learned from the Amazon culture to your company has always come. First, you aren’t afraid to fail and you control how much investment you put into an initiative instead of worrying about the results. So can you tell us more about those learnings and how you’re actually applying them to alone? Yeah, and it was such an honor to be included in Lauren’s profile, but she when she called me, she’s like, okay, tell me the three things. Like what are the three things you learned in your time at Amazon that you are applying? And I’m like, Well, my gosh, I learned so many more than three things, like, how do you boil it down to two, the most important ones? But I the the customer always coming first, I think helps really dispel a lot of potential politics that can occur within an organization. Because if you’re arguing about a project or resources and Amazon was always operating like most organizations with a finite set of resources that had to be allocated among more projects than we could usually take on, you know, and if you’re in a room and you’re arguing about where the resources are going to go, we would always take it back to the customer experience. So which which projects the better customer experience or even within a specific project which feature is. To improve the customer experience more. And I think that dogged focus on customer experience really was critical to Amazon’s growth, at least in the, you know, maybe the first half of their organization’s success. I think it continued to be important, but other things also became important later on. And so that was that’s something that we think about every day, like how do we how do we go out in the in the space and talk to all of these practitioners and interview them for a course to learn about it? And then what’s like the best way to teach this? You know, how what’s what kind of framework could recreate to really help someone apply this to their to their jobs? Because for us, the customers are the learner and, and we need to make sure that we can make them more successful in their jobs. We can make them feel more confident about the business decisions that they’re making. We can help them with some transferable skills that maybe even will help them in their next job or next role or next career. And so I think that customer focus has been really important for us in our in our journey as a young company as well. The second one around not being afraid to fail is that’s pretty core to Amazon’s DNA. I was actually with a client last night and we were just talking about this at dinner, and I like to say that even worse than getting fired at Amazon was being ordinary, you know, would be just like meeting your objectives, just meeting your category goals or even exceeding your category goals. Like, that’s not enough. They’re it’s part of the culture and you’re measured on your ability to invent something that has a broader scale impact outside of just the category you’re working on or like the clients that you work with or the vendors that you work with. And and I think in order to do that, you have to create an organization that rewards failure as opposed to punishing it. And so this is something we talk about. We have a workshop around these things that have become the three success mindsets, but we always ask the organization, like, think about the last time someone on your team failed and how did everyone treat that person? You know, how did we treat the failure and and and did we look at it and ask a lot of questions about it and try to learn something from it to move forward or or was it more or do we spend too much time looking backward on what we could have done differently? And I think Amazon has a real focus on that push forward, like take the failure. Every failure is a success because we learned something from it. So so that’s something we’ve taken. And, and at Amazon we had this concept of like one way doors versus two doors. And if you’re not familiar with that, a one way door is like, you do it and you can’t undo it. You know, you, you make a change or you launch something that you can’t pull back and a two way door is something that’s easily reversed. And two doors are really easy and low hanging fruit for for taking risks. Because if you know, if you want to change your pricing strategy on your on your product category, for example, you know, you can you can do that and then you can roll it back. That’s a two way door, one way doors that were harder for for us on fresh for Amazon Fresh, for example. We’re changing some of those delivery thresholds and there’s still working that out. But, you know, if you go from a 50 to $100 delivery threshold, you’ve angered a lot of shoppers, right? And it’s harder to go back. So so those one way doors and two way doors and and being interested in failing because you’re at least you’re going to learn something like actually even just trying something is better than not doing anything at all is been really key. And then kind of to that point, controlling that investment. So if you make a bunch of small investments in a lot of different ideas, you you’re definitely learning because some of them are going to fail, but you’re also not. You also haven’t you haven’t exposed yourself so much that it’s, you know, it’s going to have terrible repercussions. So we try to take a lot, make a lot of really small investments. So like in our business, for example, this year we we have launched a few different things. We’ve launched a certification program, we’ve launched some share groups, we’ve launched some new material, we’ve done a few kind of like one time open to the public pay per workshops, like lots of just different formats, like we’re experiment and we’re trying to figure out what the right, what really is is going to resonate with our customers. 

Ned Hayes [00:09:03] Well, frankly, you sound like quite an expert yourself and it’s amazing to have your expertise. I’m curious, you say on your website that you have well known practitioners and thought leaders who are considered experts. So alongside of you, you’ve brought along other thought leaders. Can you tell us a little bit about about your team who also offer some of this expertise? 

Andrea Leigh [00:09:23] Yeah, our expert community is really interesting. They don’t work for us and they’re not officially a part of our team. It’s the broader community of e-commerce and digital professionals and even in some cases, folks with more brick and mortar expertise for some of our courses that are more about omni retailers. And it’s my favorite thing about this industry is just everyone will take a call you know like there’s just there’s been a real outpouring of support for what we’ve been doing. And I think it’s because it helps everyone be more effective if, you know, if the whole organization is kind of on the same playing field from an education perspective and looking at. And has that broader P.O.V. on on digital and in brick and mortar and media and supply chain finance and how all these pieces come together in retail e-commerce. So our expert community are are just those are our relationships. Those are folks who’ve donated their time to us for interviews to help us build our courses and our curriculum, and we learn so much from them. And I will say that is the most fun thing about running this company is that community and those interviews and talking to people and all the things that we learned through that expert community and they actually get to be in our courses, which is kind of cool. So we’ll record the interviews and then we’ll pull as we’re putting together our frameworks and thinking about how we’re going to teach the course. We pull in kind of different pieces from those interviews to help support some of the content. And I think it’s a real win win all around because they get a chance to give back to the community and they get some recognition for their expertise and then our learners get access to just such a broad perspective and different points of view. 

Ned Hayes [00:11:02] Right. I really appreciate what you said, that one thing that’s great about this industry is that everybody will take a call. And that’s something that we’ve really found to be true, especially with this podcast. I mean, we’ve been able to talk to Ron Thurston and talk to people who are really working at a very senior level in retail who are willing to share their expertise. So thank you for sharing yours. 

Andrea Leigh [00:11:20] Thanks for having me. 

Ashley Coates [00:11:21] Well, so Andrea, who were also recently named one of the top 100 retail influencers. So how did you achieve that and what does that distinction mean to you and to your team? 

Andrea Leigh [00:11:32] It was a really big honor. I was first named it last year and then we and then was just renamed this year. It’s a program that’s put out by Rethink Retail, which I believe is either partially or mostly supported by Microsoft. And they’ve just been such a great organization to work with. You know, they do they do a lot of events. They’re really trying to bring together the voices and the community. And I’ve learned so much from the other people in that group. They hold like monthly mixers and they’re all virtual and they have these cool, like online meetup rooms where you can just like drag your person into the topic you want to talk about and suddenly you’re in like a video call with all these other thought leaders. So it’s been a really incredible experience and they do a really nice job of helping promote the members and like giving us opportunities to write and speak. I think I got it because I was pretty early on the bandwagon of sharing whatever information I had, at least on e Commerce, having kind of more recently left Amazon back then. And I used to write a lot of articles about e-commerce and about how to work with Amazon and speak at conferences and things like that. And I think my first piece was what is crap and what does it mean for your brand and crap is Amazon’s turned term for you can’t realize a profit and it’s kind of the kiss of death for your products if if Amazon doesn’t make money on them. And I just kept coming across brands that didn’t understand that and didn’t know how to navigate through it. So I wrote a piece kind of giving them a little more instruction and, and it was kind of went a little bit viral on, on LinkedIn. And, and then that just was the start. And I started writing more pieces and getting to talk to folks like you on podcasts and, and just share what I knew. And then it’s been really fun now to expand it beyond just what I know and learn from the other experts in the field as well to create our courses as well. 

Ned Hayes [00:13:21] So thank you for sharing that. You also offer through through your academy various certifications. So can you tell us about some of your workshops and why they’re important for eCommerce brands? 

Andrea Leigh [00:13:32] Yeah, so we teach off of a model that we call the eCommerce Success Framework, which are the fundamental building blocks for success in eCommerce and our eCommerce strategy certification has it’s a pretty well-rounded curriculum of six courses that ladder up to that eCommerce success framework. So the idea is if you’re doing retail media, you need to know about more than just retail media. You need to understand how to manage it. If the product is not in stock, there are financial implications. You know, all of these things kind of come together and the eCommerce success framework is that products will be successful online if we have a sustainable strategy for them. So distribution strategy, pricing, promotional strategy, they’ll be successful if they are if they’re mutually profitable for the retailer and also for the brand, they’ll be successful if they’re in stock, you know, they’re they have to be set up properly on the digital shelf and they have to be receiving traffic and activity. And so those are kind of the building blocks of success. And then our curriculum ladders up to that. We launched the Ecom strategy certification last fall, and it’s about a three hour and 15 minute program to complete for an ecommerce strategy certification, and then that can be posted on people’s LinkedIn. And it’s transferable to other jobs and things like that. And then this quarter, we’re working on retail media certification. So of course, on every retail media platform as well as an Amazon specific strategy certification for just those folks that work just on the Amazon and want kind of more of the nuts and bolts of. Of Amazon specifically. And then we we like I said, we offer the classes online and then we also do private workshops for brands and brand enablers and retailers. And some of the topics that we spend most time on with the brands are future proofing. So we just came out of most of our companies, no matter your industry just came out of a period of a lot of change and it took a lot of us by surprise. And so how do we prepare better for the future? And that might sound like you need to know what the future is, but you don’t. You just need to create pockets of agility and nimbleness within your organization. So how do we do that? What do we need to change about who we are, what we do, and how we do it, And to kind of evolve with that digital shopper because they’re they’re changing so much right now. You know, we just did a we just did a piece over at Target and we did a bunch of research on the digital beauty shopper. And if you just look at over the last couple of years, for example, Amazon is no longer like always the primary destination online for beauty. Alton Sephora totally up their game. You know they’re they’re competing so much better on taxonomy and search and reviews and all these things that matter to shoppers experience samples, you know, all these, all these things. And, and that’s changed so much in the last two years. And if you go back like even five or eight or ten years, you know that beauty shoppers experience and preferences have changed just so much. So there’s a lot of change. And how do we think about how we prepare for that? And then we also do probably the most our most requested workshop is mutual profitability. And this is a big year for that. That’s the biggest thing we’re hearing from brands. We did a survey on LinkedIn the other day asking what’s your biggest concern going into 2023? And we gave them a bunch of answers and it was profitability with retailers. That was the number one answer. You know, as as demand slowing down a little bit. And we’re all kind of right sizing the investments that we’ve made over the past few years. It’s just it’s a huge area of focus. Well, and speaking of all the change that’s happened over the last couple of years, few years, there’s been a huge increase in the adoption of technology in the retail space. So I’m curious if you’ve seen a real uptick in interest about e-commerce and and what the biggest reasons are that people are coming to you and to a boom academy these days? Yeah, I think probably the biggest reason people come to us is that you don’t just like if you work in e-commerce, obviously you need to know about e-commerce, but now you need to know it even if you don’t work in e-commerce because it’s touching all the elements of the business and, and you know, and it’s impacting the profitability and it’s impacting the finance team and the supply chain team because it behaves a little bit differently, particularly Amazon. Amazon’s very unique, but even even the other retailers kind of for from an Omni perspective, you know, there’s think there’s it’s just a little bit more hands on. You know, you need to be managing a little bit more hands on. It’s kind of like a 24 hour store where stuff’s always moving around. You know, you’ve got to be like you have to it’s it’s a little bit more it’s less of a set it and forget it kind of experience. And so most times when clients are coming to us, they’re wanting to help the organization have a better understanding of that digital shopper. Because the thing we always hear is, well, if you look at the data, it shows e-commerce penetration in the U.S. is around 14% right now. It kind of went up to like 18 or something during the pandemic and settled back down around 14%. It varies a lot by category. Some categories are way more penetrated online, obviously, and grocery saw a lot of stickiness online, but the digitally influenced sales are more like 60%. And so that’s yeah, isn’t that interesting? The shoppers beginning their journey online and even if they’re not transacting there, even if they’re transacting in stores almost as much as they did before the pandemic, their behavior has changed dramatically in terms of where they’re discovering new product. And then there’s there’s this really interesting DWI report that talks about how, like they asked they did a survey about why people go online. It’s not specific to shopping. It’s just like, what what do you use the Internet for basically. And to two or three years ago, people said they went online to research things and that’s gone down. And now the number one reason people go online is to connect with friends and family, which, you know, there could be some it could be some social media or some other other ways that they’re doing that. But one thing that jumped for positions was I go online to be inspired. And so that was way down low before maybe the Internet wasn’t as extensive inspiring as it is now, but it moved up four positions. And so that’s where shoppers are, you know, learning about new product. You’re going online to be inspired to try something new or think think something differently. And I think that’s really changing shopping. 

Ned Hayes [00:19:55] Absolutely. In fact, the shopping experience that I think. We never thought we’d really move online as grocery shop. And now a lot of that is shifting to e-commerce. And so I did read that one of your upcoming courses is all about Kroger’s fundamentals and advertising. Okay. So I mean, consumer habits have really shifted, as you were just discussing. So how are grocers as a specific category responding? 

Andrea Leigh [00:20:18] Yeah, Well, so home delivery for grocery is really hard. I mean, we we really struggle with that with Amazon Fresh. You know, I think we’ve all kind of seen Instacart in the news and their valuation moving all over the place and Gopuff and all these ultra fast delivery companies kind of struggling to make money. But click to order. It does have a future. And what I mean by click to order is where the shopper begins the journey online and places the order, and then maybe they have it shipped to them or maybe they pick it up and in most cases they’re picking it up grocery. Most cases they’re picking it up. So if you look at like Kroger, Target, Walmart, most of those online sales are pickup and and that is a pretty sustainable model. In fact, we had that model when I was a kid. I don’t know if you guys remember, but we used to go to the grocery store and pick up our products. I don’t know if my mom called them or they just had some standing order. I don’t know how. I don’t know what the shopper journey was. But I do remember we picked it up and and that’s kind of come full circle, right. And because it’s a lot easier to be in your house, on your phone, you know, building your grocery basket and then just sort of drive by and pick it up. And the different retailers have different behavior around that. So Target is so interesting. They said this in their earnings call. 60% of the shoppers who do a pickup order pick the product up, parked the car and go into the store and you see that? Yeah. Yeah. And you could say it’s because they forgot something. But Target’s rate of occurrence of that is much higher than other retailers. And I think it’s because you don’t want to waste time picking out your toothpaste, like, get that done on your phone and then go look at, like, their latest, you know, home decor, collaboration or like their private label fashion or all the other fun stuff about shopping. Right. And but so I think the click to order model is very sustainable. It is it is less profitable for the retailers. So they have to pick the pick the products. I think a lot of them are figuring out how to, you know, reformat the stores and do things to make that like a little bit lower friction for them. And and I think that’s a that’s a really winning model from a grocery perspective. The other interesting thing about grocery, if you look at just home delivery, which is, by the way, a very small, very small market, the stickiness of that is really different across the generations. So I so if you look at like the youngest generations are most likely to order grocery delivery during where most everyone order grocery delivery during the pandemic, but they stuck with it the most. And then as you go up the generations, the oldest generations stuck with it the least. So they totally like if you look at boomers, they totally went back to the stores and the younger generations are continuing to order for delivery. So I think that’s interesting, like how habits were like more or less sticky depending on your your age group. It’s like it’s totally linear. Well, your example of Target actually really illustrates what I wanted to ask about in my next question, which is the relationship between physical retail and e-commerce. Many of our listeners have a physical retail store, so I wonder if you can give us some kind of guiding principles about how to create a cohesive experience for customers between a physical retail storefront and a brand’s online experience. How do you make that a good experience for your customers if you have both? Yeah, I think it’s a great question. Well, first, I think the relationship between the brick and mortar experience and the e-commerce experience, the shopper isn’t thinking about that. They’re not thinking about channels like they’re just thinking about products that they want to buy and beginning that journey online. I do think that the lines are going to continue to blur quite a bit between physical and digital retail. And what I mean by that is if you if at grocery shop this year, you know, you get to walk around and look at all the cool innovation that they’re building for for grocery stores and there’s a lot of focus on tech in simplifying the shopper experience in self-checkout. But some of the things that I thought were really interesting in Instacart is making a big play to build technology for stores. I don’t know. I don’t know how successful they’ll be or if they’ll be the one that takes this to market or someone else. But they had this cool technology where you have the app on your phone, you’re in the store, you’re in the grocery store, you search for the product and the aisle lights up like this, like light shows up to tell you where the product is in that aisle, which totally simplifies and eliminates like one of the most frustrating things about grocery shopping, which is hunting for the thing that you need. So I thought that was interesting. And then you can think about all the applications if of a shop that you would have as a retailer for a shopper that’s in the store and on the app at the same time. Right. Like promotions, retail, the advertising. So so that’s a really blurry experience. Like, is that an online order or is that a in-store order or that’s a real omni experience right there. So I think we’re going to continue to see the lines blur. I think we’re going to see them blur a lot with retail media, too. We’re starting to see retail media move into stores. You know, some of the retailers have self-checkout. There’s screens there. There’s a lot of screens in a store where you can show shoppers media that’s specific to that retailer and that. So but I think where where the retailers can really do a nice job in some of the examples we’ve seen is where there’s a little bit of a differentiated experience between shopping online and shopping in the store. But there’s different benefits to doing either. And what I mean by that, a great example of a retailer that does this well is Sephora. So if you shop in the store, you can talk to their beauty consultants, you can try the product on, you can walk through that cool mini aisle on the way out of the store where you always I always buy something there in the mini mini section. And so there’s a reason to go to the store because that’s a specific experience. But if you go online, you can read the reviews, you can search, you can the taxonomy is incredible on spray, you can search by skin care concern, and the refinements are very robust. And then you get samples. As you check out, you can choose your samples. And that’s a differentiated experience from in the store. So there’s reasons for a shopper to do both. And and I think that’s kind of a winning combination if you want your shopper to do both. I mean, I think what we saw a few years ago was as retailers launch e-commerce sites, they just it was like a a parity play where they were trying to put all the assortment online that they had in the store, that they were trying at the same experience. And that’s the first phase, right. But now we’re starting to see retailers do a little bit more differentiation in the two experiences to give the shopper reasons. 

Ned Hayes [00:26:48] Judgment about channel and about the blurry lines. Kind of reminds me of the early days of the Web when people were like, Oh, well, we’ll have this thing online and then we’ll have our actual business over here. And today an actual business is just online by default. You know, if you start a business, you probably do the website before you open the physical store. You know, it’s just it’s just very blended. And I wonder in the future if that kind of process of buying, we aren’t even going to distinguish between how how the lead came in or how the purchase was made as long as the purchase happened and the consumer was happy. It doesn’t really matter what channel they came through. 

Andrea Leigh [00:27:27] I agree. And there’s I mean, there’s a mad dash right now to measure that. Like everyone wants to know what’s influencing what you know, what you know, what’s the profitability of these types of advertising and promotional campaigns, like what’s influencing in-store and what’s not. And I just have to say good luck with that. Like really hard job. There are very smart people taking that on and and really trying to measure that. I do kind of wonder to what end, you know, why do we need to know that so much? We know it’s true. Like, we know it’s true that shoppers interact with both and trying to steer them to do one thing or the other, I think is really hard. 

Ned Hayes [00:28:04] Yeah. So it does beg the question of when you have online data, ecommerce data, how do you effectively use that to inform a decision about a physical retail store? Like I know you said, a lot of people are trying to measure it, but that just produces data. Then how do you make that data actionable? 

Andrea Leigh [00:28:21] Yeah, I think that’s a really good question. You know, one consumer trend that I think is really important right now is focusing on loyalty. You know, the the shopper is switching brands more often. The brand loyalty and retailer loyalty is at a low, lower point right now due to economic pressures. Right. Like that’s a that’s a that’s a catalyst for shoppers changing shopping preferences. There was a great payments report, I think it was in like Q4 of last year that talks about shoppers changing brand preferences and trading down and buying more private label and lower basket sizes and all these things. And so, you know, and it’s really tempting in the digital space to focus on new customer acquisition because it’s easy to target people who’ve bought similar brands or, you know, whatever. But this is not the time to forget about your existing customers for sure. And figuring out ways to continue to drive loyalty with those existing customers is so much cheaper than acquiring a new customer. And I think that’s a that’s a big area of focus that we’re seeing a lot of brands pay attention to right now. Well, customer loyalty is definitely something that our listeners care a lot about. So what kind of tools should retailers and brands keep in mind when it comes to building customer loyalty and driving repeat business? Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean, there are there are some tried and true ways to do that in the store, but I think it’s actually harder. Because you can’t. Like if a shopper comes in and says, like, I like Clif Bars, if they go online and they go on Amazon and they search Clif bars, that’s the equivalent of a shopper walking into a physical store and shouting, I like Clif Bars. And if the store could reorient itself every time a shopper walks in knowing that preference, they write like they would reposition all to be put all the fires up front. You know, maybe. Maybe the search would be more specific. Like I like peanut butter flavored Clif bar as maybe you’d show them some other peanut butter flavored things like that is what the virtual environment does. And and it’s really hard to do that in store, but it’s very easy to do that online. And so I think some of the better loyalty driving tactics that we’ve seen are obviously auto replenishment programs. So if are consumables allowing shoppers to, you know, have products delivered to them, you know, as they’re as they’re running out and and just put that on a program and at Amazon, that was a huge piece of our business and consumables and it lowers the cost structure for the retailer. So it’s it’s also, you know, margin accretive because you know, when you’re going to have to ship that thing or when the shopper is going to need it and you can make sure that it’s there and you can send it sort of the slowest method possible. So auto replenishment programs I think are huge and there’s there’s big opportunity there. I still see like major retailers, omni retailers that don’t have those. And I feel like for consumables, they’re just a no brainer. They’re hard. I mean, it was it’s really hard when products run out of stock and, you know, there’s a new innovation and things are just continued to manage programs like that. But they’re they really pay a lot of dividends and they’re better for the shopper experience as well. So I think those are huge. And then there is just so much you can do with automation on a retailer site in personalization to to really keep surfacing shoppers products that you know, they’ve bought in the past. And in our recent research on our Instacart course, we learned that by I think it’s like by the 20th order, a shopper is almost entirely shopping off of their buy it again area off of past purchases because it’s so much easier to look at what you bought before than to like run a new search. It’s just there’s less friction in that experience. And so I think those kind of tools are like, if you can figure out a way to surface to a shopper, their past shopping and things like that, just like really simplifying that experience I think can drive a lot of loyalty. And it also drives retailer loyalty because there’s a big switching cost. Then to switch to another retailer. I mean, I think that’s part of been part of Amazon success is you’ve got that past order history and so now you’re sort of locked in. You’re like, Well, I want to buy this thing. I don’t exactly remember what model it was, or I want a second set of those Bluetooth headphones. Like, I don’t I don’t remember what it was exactly. I’ll just go grab it out of my past purchases. I’ll just buy it again. And so I think that kind of automation can really drive a lot of a lot of loyalty both to the retailer and to the specific brands. 

Ned Hayes [00:32:38] Right? I just love the depth that you’re going into. You have so much, so much to teach people, and I hope people are able to go to your academy and learn more. But as just a little taste of what you offer, I’m curious if I was in one of your workshops and I said to you, you know, I’m a retailer. I have, you know, let’s say 10 to 15 franchise stores. What technology tools do I need to be successful as a retailer this year and moving forward? 

Andrea Leigh [00:33:07] Ice cream is was that year? Is that your example? 

Ned Hayes [00:33:09] Sure, sure. I’ll go for ice cream because I know a number of retailers who are ice cream vendors as well. 

Andrea Leigh [00:33:15] I mean, ice cream is really hard from a digital, digital perspective. But I think, you know, I think there’s some well, first, I think it just goes back to like really foundational retail stuff. Like we in the space that we’re in right now with shoppers transitioning, you know, so much of their discovery online and us having so much data at our disposal, it’s really tempting, tempting to kind of glom onto all these latest technologies. And some of them are very valuable, don’t get me wrong. But we just did. We just built for a client. We built like an e-commerce retailer success framework. So what does it really take for a retailer to be successful in digital? And it’s really basic stuff. I mean, if you look at what the shopper says matter to them when they’re choosing an e-commerce retailer, it’s has the assortment that I want. It’s priced competitively, it’s in-store at my local store. And and what’s interesting is I think there’s been a real race to do this really fast. The last mile delivery, these ultra fast delivery companies and every retailer once thinks they have to compete with Amazon two day shipping. But there was a study from Coresight a couple of years ago and they found that shipping speed was the fifth most important thing to shoppers. So has the assortment that I want. It’s priced competitively, like all these retail basics came up way before fast shipping and and there’s certainly an occasion where you need fast shipping, but it is not the majority of shoppers that need that. They don’t all need it today and it’s really expensive to get it to them today. So I think it goes back to really no. Going your shopper like, what do they care about? What assortment do they want? How do you make sure that you’re. What kind of experience do they want? What matters to them in a search experience? Like going back to that is the, for example, what matters to them from a discovery perspective. And in their example, you know, they sort of address that with sample sampling and some discovery based stuff on, you know, on the home and category pages. And so I think it’s knowing your shopper and being really in touch with that and that like customer focus and then, you know, making sure that you have the things that they want. 

Ned Hayes [00:35:19] Right, Right. I love that you emphasize the customer focus because I see retailers, some of them are customers who add technology because it’s cool or because they think it’s interesting without really paying attention to their audience. So I know a retailer who had a successful boutique store and she wanted more foot traffic, so she added chocolates at a front counter and it was surprising what kind of foot traffic she got and then how that converted into buying larger big ticket items. Right. So she was paying attention to her audience. She didn’t have to added any technology other than chocolates to her store in order to make that happen. And by the same token, you know, if we think of a piece of technology as a chocolate or something that is going to be enticing or useful for our customer, then I think it helps us to make the right choices rather than just adding it because it’s useful for us. Would you agree generally? 

Andrea Leigh [00:36:10] Absolutely. I think studying that customer, if there’s technology that helps you better study and understand that customer, that is what I would prioritize right now because this is not like kind of going back to the LLC thing. This is the time to focus on your customers and make sure that you’re, you know, continuing to drive that loyalty, you know, because they’re they’re they’re they have a tighter grip on their on their wallets right now. And, you know, and so this is the time to really focus on that. I think another trend that that we’ve seen over the last couple of quarters is this. And it kind of goes into your chocolate thing that you’re just talking about is this idea of little splurges. So, you know, this isn’t maybe the time where the shopper is going to, you know, make a big ticket. Big ticket purchases are getting postponed, like the data showing that, but little splurges in the beauty space. I think, as I say, Lauder was like years ago called this the lipstick index. So it’s like you can find these little splurges like a beauty products or cosmetics or chocolates or whatever that don’t cost very much, but kind of satisfy that customer need to feel like they’ve they’ve splurged and they’ve treated themselves. And so maybe figuring out if you don’t have those things in your assortment too, the chocolates example, is there a way to kind of add some things to your retail experience that allow that shopper to engage in those little splurges right now because they need it? 

Ned Hayes [00:37:32] Right. Absolutely. And I should I should give credit where it’s due. At the store I was talking about is Popinjay in Olympia, Washington. And Janice Dean has been a retailer for 30 years. She’s operated multiple locations and she’s a wealth of knowledge. And I think all too often we think of technology as being the only way to understand our customer, especially in the domain that you and I operate in, and yet actually building a relationship with your customers and understanding when that guy walks in the door, he’s probably going to want to salted caramel or when she walks in the door, she wants to look at my new hat. That kind of knowledge of your customer base is is a gold mine. 

Andrea Leigh [00:38:10] It’s so true. We we do a eCommerce insider quarterly report where we research all these consumer trends each quarter and in the year. In the Q4 report, we found this quote that I wish I could find the source of it. There’s a new C in the C-suite and that is the customer. And so the of this collapse, like a lot more of the retail experience and brand innovation is more of a collaboration between the shopper and the company as opposed to being very company driven. And I just spoke on this panel with this influencer like YouTuber Instagrammer name is Mindy McKnight, and she was she just launched a hair Caroline for Target or for Walmart. And she was talking about how, you know, she put some of the decisions to her followers, like what color should we go with and how, you know, what tools should we make and kind of like engaging them in that process so that, you know, you see in the C-suite, I couldn’t have said it better. And I’m like, you have to really develop that relationship with your customers. That’s really the best way. And and it’s a lot more personal and gets you kind of more deep information, I think, than a lot of the data that you can subscribe to. 

Ned Hayes [00:39:21] Yeah, So I’ll get credit again, Janice Dean, Popinjay, and she knows what she’s doing. 

Andrea Leigh [00:39:26] Right in my backyard. Sue In Olympia. I’m here in Seattle. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Well, I think that’s a perfect note to almost end on. We have one more question for you, Andrea, which is what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be remembered for? You know, as I was just looking at your show notes, I was like, Why? Didn’t. I read that one in advance. Should never be really prepared for that. I think I would want my legacy to be that the professionals that we have touched feel more confident. I think that’s something that we see a lot, and it’s probably self-selecting because folks that come to us are feeling like they need education usually. But when we go through a workshop or we we teach them a topic and we get to the discussion and Q&A and things like that. We’re in an industry with really smart people and they know the answers for their business. I think sometimes there it helps to have some external points of validation or some frameworks to use or some tools to use to help them be, you know, more successful in their jobs. But really what I want to build is confidence in their decision making and in the process that they go through to make decisions and in collaborating cross-functionally and, you know, with other team members and things like that. But I think that’s what I’d want my legacy to be, is to increase the confidence of a lot of these professionals at so many different stages in their careers to really drive their business in their career. 

Ned Hayes [00:40:49] Well, thank you for sharing. I just really appreciate your insight and your time with us today. 

Andrea Leigh [00:40:53] Thank you so much for having me. And it was a real honor. 

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