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EPISODE 088 : 11/17/2022

Dan Berthiaume

Dan Berthiaume, Senior Technology Editor of Chain Store Age, is a recognized expert on retail technology, having covered the space since 1998. Dan is a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Influencer, writes the award-winning weekly Retail Insights blog, and has also served as a moderator and panelist at numerous industry events.

Host: Ned Hayes
Guest: Dan Berthiaume

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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 excited to welcome Dan Berthiaume to the podcast. Dan is the senior editor for technology and chain store age at Ensemble IQ, a North American business intelligent company that delivers insights and information and how to make connections. Dan oversees technology coverage for this leading retail industry trade publication. And Dan’s background in journalism and editing and tech have given him a really interesting career over nearly 30 years. He’s been named a Rethink retail top retail influencer, and he developed the Retail Systems Conference. So welcome, Dan.

Dan Berthiaume [00:00:48] Thank you, Ned. Pleasure to be here. 

Ned Hayes [00:00:50] So you’re someone who has seen retail change through the years. So what’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve noticed retailers facing with new and emerging technologies? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:00:59] I think one of the biggest challenges they’re facing is how do you balance all the amazing things you can do with all these emerging, almost space age technologies, with the fact that at the end of the day, people just want to find what they need and buy it and take it home. And in many respects, the brick and mortar store is really still the ideal channel to do that. So despite repeated predictions of the death of the store and store Armageddon and I think obviously during the COVID 19 shutdown, a lot of people thought stores were finished. The store is still a really great channel and you have to find a way to recognize and take advantage of all these, you know, connected technologies and even virtual and augmented reality technologies and still integrate them with the good old fashioned, you know, neighborhood store. 

Ned Hayes [00:01:46] Right. It turns out the store is still a thing that people want to go to, right? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:01:50] Well, yeah, there’s still I mean, the immediacy of the store. There’s obviously a lot of great advantages to e-commerce, but there’s still nothing as convenient as, you know, you walk in the store, you get what you need, you pay for it, and you just go back home. And now with things like mobile devices, you can really bring all the advantages of the Internet, such as, you know, endless inventory availability and, you know, things like that. And still combine them with, I mean, what’s better than seeing what you want, grabbing it and taking it home? You still can’t duplicate that on the Internet. 

Ned Hayes [00:02:22] Right. If I could just reach into my phone and grab what I need, no problem. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:02:26] But that’s exactly quite true. 

Ned Hayes [00:02:28] Right. Well, along those lines, though, I’m curious if you could tell us about some of the innovations that you’ve seen that really do marry that kind of Internet experience with the physical experience in an intelligent way. What stores or technologies have you seen that you think are really bridging that gap? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:02:45] Well, I think right now one of the really interesting and exciting examples would be friction with shopping. I would say the Amazon just walk out model. I can’t say they’re necessarily the absolute first company to come out with a concept, but they’ve certainly done the most with it and have most widely deployed it. But now using, you know, sensors and computer vision and machine learning and all those kind of technologies, you can let a customer come into your store somehow announce themselves with a mobile device or with scanning a QR code. It does require them to somehow be registered with your store and have some type of, you know, debit card or credit card or some type of financial account linked to your store. But once that person identifies himself, they can just go get everything they need. And when they’re done, they walk out and that’s it, and they’re automatically debited for all their purchases. And again, with all very sophisticated camera technology and, you know, artificial intelligence technology and sensor technology, you know exactly what they took. You know, if they took something and then change their mind, it put it back on the shelf. And, you know, when they leave and you know what it costs, I’d say it’s really the closest, at least so far we have to duplicating an experience of going to an e-commerce site and putting a bunch of stuff in your virtual cart and then just clicking check out if you already have your credit card and save or that retailer, it’s done it. It could show up your house as soon as an hour or two. I think a frictionless store is really the closest, you know, physical experience to that. 

Ned Hayes [00:04:15] Right. Removing all of that friction is key. However, I’m going to flip that coin, so to speak, and there is a downside to removing some of the friction. For example, I’m thinking of stores that I’ve gone into where I’m actually greeted by a person, and then I can ask immediately where something is. And they know. And I can also ask about related inventory. If I’m at a hardware store, I’m like, Hey, what kind of gasket fits this pipe that I have? You know, that type of thing, that type of customer service interaction some people think of as friction, but in my experience, that’s often adding value. Can you speak more to that kind of interaction at a retail storefront? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:04:54] Oh, sure. I would say that most but not all of those, you know, grab and go or just walk. Type environments. There usually are at least a couple of human associates to answer questions, you know, provide assistance, you know, maybe a customer for whatever reason. You can’t physically get an object themselves. You can get it for them, you can check the back room for them. And a lot of times they do also offer some type of traditional check out, you know, if you have a shopper that still prefers not to use that fresh in his experience, for whatever reason, some stores are now fully automated and don’t have the human interaction. But I’d also say it does, I think point to that frictionless model works better with some protocols and others. I mean, I think there’s a reason you’re mostly seeing it in the grocery and convenience verticals because I think for the most part, you know, you go to the grocery store, you have your list, you know what you want, you buy, you take it home. And not going to ask a lot of questions. Convenience store running in and getting a soda or a pack of gum or a bag of chips. And again, you’re not really looking for a lot of detail customer service, but something like a home improvement store where, you know, the average person isn’t a contractor and probably does need someone to explain to them, you know, what tools do you need? What supplies do you need? You know, tell me about your project and I’ll tell you what you know, everything, right? 

Ned Hayes [00:06:07] Right. That’s me. I always need to talk to somebody, you know. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:06:11] Oh, me too. I’m not. I’m not a proven expert by a long shot. And then I think it’s also to the size of the product has something to do with it. You know, if you go to a home improvement retailer, you might be you know, you’re coming out with a bunch of sheets of drywall or something. It just doesn’t lend itself as naturally to grab and go as, say, getting a pack of gum. Yeah. So this is interesting that Amazon has opened a couple of their Amazon style locations, which does offer something of a frictionless experience with the apparel shopping experience. But they do still offer things, for example, like the sitting room. So it’s not quite as, you know, hands off, but it’s certainly heading in that direction. But I, for example, I mean, you can never say never, but I wouldn’t think any time in the near future you’re really going to see a lot of frictionless hardware shopping. 

Ned Hayes [00:06:56] Right? Right. Well, that’s a great example. I am curious if along with stores that you’ve seen who are implementing technology well and implementing customer service. Well, I’m curious if you could tell us what challenges you’ve seeing retailers facing with technology and innovation, what’s slowing them down, what kind of gets in the way? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:07:15] I mean, I think as with anything, for the most part, if you are, you know, the CIO, you don’t just go and say, I want to play this really cool technology and you just have an unlimited budget and you go buy it. You have to make your presentation to possibly, you know, the the CFO, the CEO, the CEO. A lot of times now marketing is very heavily involved in technology purchases and especially for something that’s very forward thinking. You know, you might not get immediate buy in or might have a harder time explaining the benefits. I think also a lot of technology right now like, let’s say, for example, metaverse retailing, which is very forward thinking, which is really offering some type of shopping experience in these virtual immersive 3D environments that for the most part, most people don’t use. If they do use them, they’re using it for gaming or social interaction. They’re not really, you know, shopping yet. So if you’re opening a metaverse store, you’re a pioneer. You’re probably not going to get an immediate hard returning or investment. It’s more of a soft return, as you know. You’re going to be cool. You’re going to reach a mostly younger and tech savvy audience of the kind of people you probably want to develop as lifetime customers. And maybe you’re getting them in their teens or early twenties when they’re still very recruited. And we could offer, you know, 50 years of recurring value. But it’s might be hard to sell that, you know, to a company that’s trying to meet their next quarter’s numbers. And here’s something cool and pioneering that’s going to be fairly expensive. We might not see the hard return for, you know, five years. Right. Right. 

Ned Hayes [00:08:46] So you’ve covered so many different retailers and so many different implementations in chain store age. So I’m curious, in an age of, you know, nanosecond attention span. So why is chain store age still relevant? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:09:00] For a number of reasons. I think, first of all, we have a really great daily news site. When I say daily updated constantly, my redditors, you know, myself included, are always writing stories, posting stories so you can see news. We have breaking news announcements when something really important happens. So if something things happens and not just technology, also change stories covers the entire retail enterprise. So really anything big that’s happening in almost any aspect of retail, you can read about it on the show story site, you know, potentially within minutes and certainly within an hour or two. And you’re getting some good retail specific analysis, you know, so you’ll certainly see coverage of, you know, at least big name retailers on like the mainstream news sites. They’re giving you a very broad but shallow analysis of what’s going on. And they’re really writing for the layperson and often the retail professional. We’re telling you why it matters. The retail. Fashionable. The fact that we run the we cover the entire enterprise means that unlike some of our competitors that are really strictly, you know, my case strictly tech focused, I can really look at something happening in technology and give it some good context using our coverage of finance, our coverage of, you know, of merchandizing and operations in physical retailing. I think all our articles are very multi-dimensional. They give you a really good perspective on how all the different areas of your enterprise are interconnected. And then we also have six times a year our print issue, which I think is still very relevant and very valid, where I can give you more of the thought leadership and more of the, you know, the more detailed analysis after the media coverage. You can still go and get a deeper understanding of what’s happening. 

Ned Hayes [00:10:49] Right. Right. So that seems really relevant till like category manager at Target or somebody who’s working at CVS designing how they’re going to do technology implementation for smaller retailers. Why is change storage relevant and useful? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:11:04] Because smaller retailers are facing all the same issues as the large retailers. And the smaller retailers have to know how do you compete with your bigger competitors? I mean, retail is a very, very tough, very competitive industry. And obviously, we have tier one players that are, you know, continually trying to win, in some cases successfully pushing, you know, the smaller, more regional competitors out of the picture. Right. If you want to stay in the game, you know, if you have a regional. You know, we’re definitely a regional, you know, grocery chain with like 30 stores across a couple of states. You’re still competing with, you know, the Krogers and the Albertson’s and, you know, those type, you know, in this case, you know, the Walmarts and the targets of the world. There are no big grocery players. And you still have to use all those types of strategies, the technologies that the bigger guys are using. You can’t just sit back and you lie and say, Well, I’m smaller, so I can’t really take advantage of all this innovation. You’ve got to find a way to do it and we’ll help you do that. 

Ned Hayes [00:12:03] Right. And my understanding is that Ensemble IQ also publishes a number of other publications like Convenience Store News, Hardware, Building Supply Dealers, Retail IQ, pharmacy practice and Business Progressive Grocer. How do all of these publications fit into kind of one picture of the industry, or do they just provide different perspectives on it? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:12:26] Each publication does operate independently. On occasion, there will be some on the websites, there is some crossover content, but I think each publication brings something unique to the table. You know, for example, we have like a progressive grocer where if you want a real deep dove into grocery, maybe that, you know, we have or something like the convenience store retailers, Chase has more of a wide general focus, but every publication stands on its own, providing an extremely high level of value and of analysis. And you could also look at them holistically as we take every ensemble IQ publication you’ve got, you know, the entire retail industry, as far as I’m concerned, you know, lockdown as far as well as you can help. 

Ned Hayes [00:13:06] Right? Right. So one thing I noticed is that you also publish Canada specific publications alongside the US ones. And I’m curious, you could speak at all to any differences between the U.S. markets and Canadian markets. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:13:19] I’m actually not that specifically familiar with the Canadian market. There’s obviously a lot of crossover. And then of course, there are some like Hudson’s Bay is one of the top retailers in Canada and they don’t really have an operation in the U.S. but I think they’re looking at pretty similar challenges. For example, we covered Hudson’s Bay, launched a third party marketplace, well, a year or two ago, where they’re bringing in all these different retail partners that are, you know, selling through the Hudson’s Bay site with fulfillment services and front and back end services. And obviously, there’s some sort of, you know, fee or profit sharing on the back end. You know, that’s something that, you know, an increasing number of large retailers in the US have been doing for a number of years now. And now you’re seeing great retailers are starting to take advantage of that model as well. So I think all in all the markets are relatively similar. You know, the US and Canada obviously aren’t exactly the same, but you know, we’re fairly similar countries but how we operate. 

Ned Hayes [00:14:21] Right, right. Got it. And you’ve written for a number of different publications over the years. Could you tell us a little bit about how you engage with readers and how you’ve built authority over time in the retail sector? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:14:33] I think over time is something that frankly, it builds up. I mean, I started out in 1998 writing as an as an associate editor for a tactical newsletter, which is no longer around. But when I started out, I was literally writing articles like, you know, why should you have an e-commerce site? Because at that time, people weren’t sold on online retail. There was no guarantee. You know, Amazon. So primarily an online bookseller and there were no guarantees they were going to make it even. I mean, everybody agreed that, Jeff, you know, Jeff Bezos obviously was a genius, but they weren’t sure he was going to, you know, go off on his own and create this new model. And, of course, he went above and beyond any place expectations. But the also the prevailing wisdom at that time was, well, every dollar, you know, you make online is a dollar you’re taking away from your stores. And internally, a lot of there’s a lot of friction with a lot of, you know, store executives who understandably you don’t want to give up. You know, they rank these do upstart, you know, ecommerce divisions in the company. But anyway, so going that far back, I think I offer a very deep perspective. I think people are aware of it. I think some of it is just over time. You know, I’ve been to countless NRF big shows about a lot of industry events over the years, but you get a lot of people I’ve met a lot of people. I think my name is just been kind of out there over the past two plus decades. And what I’ve been finding really. Beneficial. Just the last couple of years in particular is my very active presence on Twitter at LinkedIn. And I try it and it allows me to be very responsive with my readers so I can have, you know, dialogs with large numbers of my readers, you know, through a tweet and people comment, I can quickly reply in a way that’s not feasible on any other platform. You know, you can’t answer. All kinds of emails all day. But I can give a quick answer, a Twitter comment, and I love the immediacy of it. It also gives me a very good, very immediate sense when I’m covering something. If it gets a lot of Twitter attention, it’s probably something I want to pay more attention to. 

Ned Hayes [00:16:42] Mm hmm. Right. So engaging with customers has taken a new directions over the last few decades as the market has kept changing and as we have different modes of communication. Yeah. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:16:53] I think social media is real. Well, the word media is right in there. I think it is a real game changer for journalism. I mean, you know, there’s a lot of different talk about different pros and cons of social media that I won’t dove into. But as a journalist, I find it a very, very valuable tool. 

Ned Hayes [00:17:08] Right. Well, I will touch on one thing. I know that disinformation has really been in the news, and I’m not going to touch on the political aspect. But I’m just curious if you run across disinformation in the retail space and what you do about it. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:17:21] I very rarely run across what I would call active disinformation. I mean, I think obviously you learn as a journalist. I mean, I started in local newspapers back when local newspapers were still a thing, you know, when like the early 1990s. And, you know, when you deal with a lot of, you know, town officials in for the most part, you know, they weren’t really lying to me. But it’s like this three sides, the story, yours, finding the truth. Everybody gives their side of things. And your job as a journalist is to figure out, okay, you know, what part of what I was told by this source is really just kind of objective truth. Yeah. What part of it? You know, it’s not a lie, but what part of it is sort of their version of things or their perspective of things? And that’s why you have to talk to different people and have to kind of learn to, you know, dig in a little bit. That really falls upon the journalists to make, you know, make those determinations and use that when they write their article. But I don’t really come across widespread disinformation. I’ve had a few times where we get a press release that basically isn’t true. 

Ned Hayes [00:18:22] Usually it spins the truth a bit more. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:18:25] It’s only happened again. I can count on one hand over the years, but you’ll get a press release and it’s usually a company saying kind of a company you haven’t really heard of, saying, Well, we’re partnering with this very large, prominent retailer or tech firm in doing this really cool thing. And then like, you know, an hour later, that large firm says, we don’t know who these people are, then that press release disappears. So you kind of develop a nose for, okay, this I’m not quite sure if this checks out, I’m going to wait a little bit or I’m going to reach out to this large company and make sure this is really happening before I report anything. 

Ned Hayes [00:18:57] Right? Right. So verify sources, verify information, and ensure that you’re still a trusted source rather than just publishing press releases. I think sometimes I’ll I’ll just be blunt about this. It seems like people who haven’t worked in journalism get the sense that journalists just republish, regurgitate whatever is given to them. And that’s not true. People actually do a lot of work to get it right, you know? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:19:23] Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Your your your filter. I mean, you’re taking the press release and you have because you have to take the real valuable information, the objective information out of that release. And, you know, you don’t just copy paste, but you really distill it for your audience in a way that, you know, provides them value and makes sense to them. 

Ned Hayes [00:19:43] Absolutely. Yeah. It provides context. You know, maybe explaining, yes, this company is doing this because the market is moving that direction. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:19:51] Yeah, I do. I do that as much as I can when I post something interactive, even if it’s just a paragraph or two, a context. How did this, you know, this technology implementation, you know, okay, they’re automating the fulfillment. And now let’s look at, you know, they’ve been really trying to increase their ecommerce sales for the last couple of years and more efficient fulfillment system makes that possible. 

Ned Hayes [00:20:12] Right. Right. And this is why it matters in large part. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:20:15] This is why they’re doing what happens in a vacuum. 

Ned Hayes [00:20:18] Right. So I’m curious if you could tell us about some of your favorite articles over the last year. What kind of surged to the front in 2020 to what do you think was worth noting in terms of the retail space and what changed what articles you enjoyed writing, too? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:20:34] Well, I think in terms of topics I mentioned a couple. Yeah, I think Metaverse is very, very big. Again, we’re still we’re the ever see the metaverse. And I don’t really think a lot of companies are realizing huge profit yet from opening any kind of, you know, store experience in the metaverse. Some companies are doing a lot of industry promotional work in the metaverse. But I look at it as we’re almost with the metaverse now, where we were with e-commerce when I started out, when it’s like, okay, it’s going to be something, but we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be yet. We’re trying to figure it out. It could also go to the Web 3.0 like NFT is you know this the past year are really evolving from a cool collectibles and retailers are now finding you can use them to actually to sell products. You know NFT is a great way for somebody to buy something virtually and that NFT then provides sort of a portal where they can, you know, get access to the actual physical product. And I think it’s also quite interesting. Cryptocurrency is another thing where an increasing number, retailers are accepting it, even though obviously I think we’re still kind of figuring out exactly how is it going to be used, you know, how regulated or deregulated is it going to be, how widely accepted is it going to be? But that’s another really interesting emerging area that’s obviously very hot. And I think the frictionless retail, we’re seeing more and more of it and we’re starting to see not just the Amazons of the world, but a lot of the more mid-tier convenience store retailers are. We start to pilot it. We’re also seeing quite a bit of frictionless at arenas, and I think you’re seeing a lot of frictionless at airports, which makes total sense because everybody’s in a rush to the airport. And if all you want to do is, you know, grab a bottle of water before you fly, you want to wait 20 minutes on line. That’s been another, I think, really big topic. Supply chain disruption is still an issue. And I think broadly, we’re kind of in this almost post-COVID era where obviously it’s still a concern, but it’s not really preventing people from going out in, you know, say shopping in person or gathering in person the way it was even at the beginning of the year. I think retailers are readjusting to you have a much more normal shopping pattern they’ve had the last couple of years. But, you know, and I think still the frictionless aspects also help our customers, you know, might want to have mobile checkout rather than wait in the line and actually, you know, directly interact with people. But I think and also the post COVID adjustments, there’s still a lot of supply chain disruption. Right. How do you deal with that? You know, I think you see a lot of supply chain automation. I think automation is also we have an ongoing labor shortage in automation. Could help you in that aspect too. I mean, again, the frictionless stores, you don’t need as many store associates, automated warehouses, you don’t need as many, you know, warehouse workers. And it’s frankly not a case of we want to hire a few people to save money. It’s we’re trying to hire people and we can’t they’re not there. Right? Yeah. And in terms of favorite articles, it’s hard for me off the top of my head to pick a specific article that I really enjoy. But I will say I have my weekly retail insights column that I have a lot of fun writing. It’s fun to give a little bit of my own personal opinion and I can inject, you know, a little bit of humor or pop culture or things like that. That probably wouldn’t be appropriate my sort of mainstream day to day reporting. So I think I probably get the most personal enjoyment from writing my columns. 

Ned Hayes [00:23:57] Right. Well, that’s really interesting. Thanks to our sponsoring company for this podcast. No, she specializes in retail loyalty and customer engagement. And so I’m curious if you have any thoughts about why bringing back customers matters for a retail store or why why building that customer loyalty actually makes a difference? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:24:20] Oh, yeah. I think this is actually a very. Easily defended project because everybody knows most of your costs with customers are in customer acquisition. It is far more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing customer coming back. And loyalty and engagement keeps the customer coming back. So even if your loyalty program on an individual sale, you know, maybe they bought four of this item, we get the fifth free. If as a result, they keep coming to your store motivated by that occasional free item or gift item or reduced price item or whatever you are giving them. You more than make up that individual short term, if you want to call it a loss with their long term loyalty, because you don’t have you don’t have to recruit them. They’re already there. You already know if they’re going to come to your store, depending on your vertical, your grocery retailer, they come in a couple times a week. You know, if you’re an apparel retailer, maybe they’re coming in every month. You know, they’re coming in. You count in their business. You know that whatever freebie you’re giving them, you are more than making that money back with their continued loyalty. So there’s actually a very good, you know, hard ROI associated with those kind of programs. 

Ned Hayes [00:25:35] Got it right. Building a loyalty program in or using loyalty, it has payoff for a business. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:25:40] Yeah. There’s a definite ROI associated with a loyalty program that, you know, it always associated with every kind of technology deployment. 

Ned Hayes [00:25:49] Right. Got it. So going back to your writing and your insights, I’m curious if you have a story that you feel you broke or that you were able to showcase in a way that you’re really proud of. I’m just curious if you can tell us about a story that you wrote over the last time period that you’ve been in chain storage or even previously to that that you’re really proud of in your career. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:26:13] Know, something kind of funny. I always tell people before I get to the retail portion. I was actually the first reporter in the state of Massachusetts back in, I think, 1995 to report that coyotes have returned to the state in large numbers as a coyote attack in a small Boston suburb and wrote an article about it for this local weekly. And the next day, you know, the the major city dailies and all the local network news affiliates were reporting on it. They hadn’t previously. So I was kind of like the coyote guy, and I used to even bring that up in our job interviews. But moving forward, 30 years, whatever, something I’m proud of recently is for the last couple of years I’ve been writing articles and columns about how it seemed to me. It was pretty clear Instacart was moving away from just being an online delivery company to really being a full fledged retail technology platform. And they’ve done it. If you look at what they’re doing, they now have their whole frictionless store model. You know, they have a very sophisticated advertising solution. And Instacart has really turned into then I’ll call themselves a grocery technology company, I believe, and they are one. But I think I was, if not the first, certainly one of the first industry observers to point out, you know, two years ago, hey, look what Instacart is doing. I think they have much bigger plans in mind than, you know, simply being the people that get you your groceries quickly. 

Ned Hayes [00:27:36] Mm hmm. Right. So being able to see those things coming from the future and being able to kind of show your audience where the world is going, that’s. That’s part of the job of journalism, right? Oh, yeah, definitely. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:27:48] I think in something else. And again, I was the only person, but I still think I was one of the few really. US industry observers on Amazon ran a pretty sophisticated pilot of a metaverse shopping environment in India last month for a couple of weeks. And I think Change Story is one of the few U.S. outlets that gave it coverage because a lot of people have been wondering what is Amazon going to do with the metaverse? They’ve been pretty quiet about it, but obviously the company is going to be there with Amazon, isn’t going to ignore it. And it’s like, well, they’re doing some of testing outside of the U.S., apparently. And that’s that’s pretty notable, right? 

Ned Hayes [00:28:24] Well, so you’re looking to the future. I’m curious if you could do it for us now. Where do you think retail will be in 5 to 10 years? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:28:32] Oh, well, 5 to 10 years is so, so tough because technology advances so rapidly and predicted COVID, even in, you know, late 2019, nobody really knew it was coming. And that’s you know, we’re still dealing with the effects of that, I would say. But if I was a broadly speculate, I think connectivity is going to be much, much bigger. I think your smartphone is going to keep evolving and do more things and just be a lot more of you go to the store in your I mean, I remember years ago people saying your smartphone is kind of like the mouse pad of the real world and the mouse of the real world. And of course, now the mouse is kind of obsolete, but I think it really is going to be your phone is going to be how you interact with or control your environment. I think a store is going to be completely built around the assumption your customer walks in with the phone and pretty much controls their own experience. Yeah, and there will still be a need for the things we discussed. You’ll have a human associate, but even that’s going to be that is we’re actually much more mobile oriented. I think it’s too early to say really how the metaverse will evolve, but it’s going to evolve. I think virtual environments are going to play a much bigger, much more mainstream role in how people shop and how people engage with each other. And it’s hard for me to say exactly how that will take place. I mean, that could be you visit the Metaverse Mall and again, maybe for using NFT as your sort of purchasing virtual representations of physical objects that are then shipped to your house or you go pick up at your local store. You know, there’s some type of hologram of the store in your home when you’re actually taking your phone to click on a virtual representation of an object that gets shipped to your house. So it’s hard to say how it’ll happen, but I think definitely you will see a lot more of that, you know, virtual retailing taking place and not just in retail, but I think society in general much more of a blurring between the virtual and physical worlds. The retail always just reflects what’s happening with society around it. 

Ned Hayes [00:30:34] Right? I’ve heard things like this before. We actually interviewed leader at shop shops that does livestream shopping. And I’m curious if this kind of fits into your vision of kind of the metaverse and physical retail kind of blending together. Are you familiar with livestream shopping? 

Dan Berthiaume [00:30:48] Oh, absolutely. Yeah, very familiar. What that’s that’s that’s a good topic. And it’s more prevalent now in Asia than is in North America. But it’s growing and I think and definitely livestream, a livestream is becoming more interactive. I mean, I think now there’s a lot of appeal for a lot of people. If one of your favorite celebrity is one of your favorite influencers is, you know, hosting a livestream event and you can directly engage with them and ask them questions about it and you can ask your favor. Beauty influencer. What do you think of this product and get an answer from them in real time in almost goes back to what I’m saying about I can engage the retailers on, you know, readers on Twitter in a way I never could before. Livestream lets retailers directly engage their customers in ways that never could before. It also is a great way to take advantage of influencers and celebrities, and I think our society’s become so focused on celebrities and social influencers. And so if you’re a retailer and you have a partnership with a Kim Kardashian type of person, you can put them on your live streaming and get a lot of eyeballs and a lot of interest, and that inevitably is going to result in a boost to your sales. Yeah, I think Livestream shopping definitely should become more prevalent. I think especially in North America where it’s still relatively small sales channel, which I would expect to grow quite a bit in the coming years. 

Ned Hayes [00:32:03] Well, so I’ll ask our classic closing question, which is what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be remembered for? Dan. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:32:11] What do you see? Wow, I’m I guess hopefully I gave people the truth. I gave people things they could use. And I hopefully delivered it in a way that was readable and informative and not overly dry. And maybe once in a while, like with a column, I can even, you know, made them laugh a little bit, you know, professional sense. That’s that’s enough for me. 

Ned Hayes [00:32:31] Well, it’s fantastic to chat with you today. Thanks for your time, Dan. 

Dan Berthiaume [00:32:34] Sure. Thank you. It’s great. 

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