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EPISODE 049 : 02/17/2022

Sucharita Kodali

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Sucharita Kodali is a VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester. Her research covers such topics as eCommerce forecasting and trends, merchandising best practices, and conversion optimization. Previously, Sucharita was the Director of Marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue, and she has also held management positions at Toys R Us and the Walt Disney Company.

Host: Ned Hayes and Ashley Coates
Guest: Sucharita Kodali

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Topics discussed in this episode

  • Merchants are shifting from brick and mortar physical locations to online spaces
  • Covids impacts on retail, the trends over the last few years due to covid, and how the trends will change the retail market moving forward
  • Looking at AI and its impacts in the retail industry
  • Omnichannel – the meaning of it and the future of it in the retail industry
  • What makes retail so special and forecasting the future of retail

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Audio Transcript

Ned Hayes [00:00:01] Welcome to SparkPlug, where we talk to smart people working at the intersection of business and technology. Brought to you by SnowShoe, your smarter loyalty leader.

Ashley Coates [00:00:11]  SparkPlug is happy to welcome Sucharita Kodali to the podcast. Sucharita is a VP Principal Analyst at Forrester. She is an expert on e-commerce, omnichannel retail, consumer behavior and trends in the online shopping space. Sucharita covers such topics as e-commerce forecasting and trends, merchandizing best practices and conversion optimization. Previously, Sucharita was the director of marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue, and she has also held management positions at Toys-R-Us and The Walt Disney Company. Welcome, Sucharita. 

Sucharita Kodali [00:00:45] Yeah, thank you for having me. 

Ashley Coates [00:00:46] We’re looking forward to chatting with you today. Let’s start off by having you tell us when you first became interested in the retail industry. 

Sucharita Kodali [00:00:54] That is a good question. Of course, I think I’ve always been a shopper, so I have always felt that it is an industry that I can connect with. But I don’t know that I really decided that this would be a career until I started working with a startup during the first dot com boom in Southern California, and it was around 1998-99 and was a retailer. One of the first online pure plays. And that was when I realized that I liked retail and I could see a career in it. 

Ned Hayes [00:01:29] Well, you’ve also done some amazing work with global brands such as Toys-R-Us, The Walt Disney Company, Saks Fifth Avenue. I’m curious if you could share a little history of your work with these beloved brands? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:01:40] Yeah, that’s pretty much the career trajectory. So my first job out of college was at Disney, and that was not retail specific. It was more business strategy. It was as strategic role that was essentially the company’s strategy team. It was pretty senior level team reporting to the CEO and was in charge of a lot of new initiatives for the company, the five year planning process. And it was a great place to learn about business and learn about business in a consumer facing company, which is always really something that I enjoyed and I think is fun and would highly recommend any young person who is interested in business. The other experiences were for retailers, and that happened after that startup that I had mentioned where I wanted to go, work at some bigger retailers and had some opportunities in different roles and took advantage of them. They were good learning rounds. They were good places to really learn a lot about business, but unfortunately one of them is not around anymore and the other appears to be pretty financially challenged. So we’ll see what happens. That’s always the challenge with being in retail is that it’s not only evolving, but there are so many retailers that are not in good places. Unfortunately, now that’s not to say that people aren’t spending money still in retail, but where they’re choosing to purchase is not where it used to be. So that poses a challenge for anyone who may be working at one of these places. 

Ned Hayes [00:03:16] Right. But it’s fascinating to see some retailers doubling down on a brick and mortar bet or making a statement that they believe that being in physical retail matter. So something especially of the 20,000 square foot Toys-R-Us location in the American Dream Mega Mall in New Jersey that opened in December, that was a resurgence for Toys-R-Us. Any thoughts about how brands are continuing to embrace brick and mortar? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:03:41] Yeah, I would argue that that mall otherwise is. The jury is still out on how it may do, and I think that there have been a few attempts to try to resurrect that Toys-R-Us brand even since its bankruptcy. And I’m not sure that any of them will be the ones that take it into the future. There’s no doubt there’s an opportunity for some type of a toy showcase, and it’s a category that will attract foot traffic, and it is a category that’s not going to entirely go away. But I think the challenge for a lot of these bricks and mortar companies is as more and more retail shifts online, how do you justify the presence of the physical store retailers have stores when those stores are able to generate revenue, but when that revenue is now happening online and not in the physical store, you have to think very differently about how you attribute sales or you have to think about new ways of making money. And retailers historically haven’t changed how they account for sales, and they haven’t been terribly creative about how they make money. So we’ll see how things evolve. That’s part of the reason that we’re seeing the big thing in retail now being retailer media networks, which are essentially ad networks on retail websites and retail properties, so that’s very explicitly a way to address this challenge. 

Ashley Coates [00:05:08] On that note, we’ve also seen a shift in the opposite way of thinking about Amazon Go stores and Warby Parker moving from online to in-person retail stores. Any thoughts on those brands? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:05:20] Yes, I think that what you’re seeing is the challenges of being a retailer. There’s so many challenges, but attracting consumers, making people aware of your business. These are huge, huge challenges, and they’re only getting more expensive over time. There may have been a window of opportunity that you’d be the first brand on Instagram in a category, and maybe people would learn about you, and that gave you a little bit of a first mover advantage. But now there are just so many offerings of everything. It’s really, really difficult to stand out and customer acquisition costs are getting higher and higher, and you can’t acquire people for cheap anymore. So I think that’s why you’re seeing the physical store investments is that that’s essentially a branding investment. But I think that just shows you how expensive it is to launch a brand when it’s actually cheaper to rent space in a mall than it is to be buying digital advertising. So I think retail is not for the faint of heart. It’s a fun industry, but it’s also incredibly challenging, and the cost of doing business only seems to go up every day. The level of competition is only more intense than it was yesterday. As a result, it’s very, very difficult to survive and thrive. 

Ned Hayes [00:06:42] Right? Well, you’ve had a front row seat to changes in the industry. I believe you’ve been an analyst at Forrester since 2005, correct? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:06:50] Yes, I have. 

Ned Hayes [00:06:51] So tell us about what you love about your job there. What’s interesting to you in retail analysis? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:06:56] Every day is different, and there are so many things to learn every day. There are new companies that I meet, there are new businesses that I run across, whether consumer facing businesses or new brands or technologies that are behind the scenes every day is an opportunity to learn. And who doesn’t love that? So that’s definitely been something that I enjoy and I appreciate. It’s incredibly dynamic, and there are lots of interesting new technologies that are always being presented to somebody in e-commerce. And it’s interesting because I don’t know that retail necessarily is the best place for a lot of tech entrepreneurs. I was hearing some investors talking about it the other day saying retail many ways it’s an investment graveyard because a lot of tech companies will get launched and they won’t ever make it. Because doing deals with retailers is very difficult because retailers tend to be slow to move. Their deal sizes are very small relative to maybe the deal size that a Telco or a hospital company or something else. So it’s such a challenge industry, but it is an industry that because everybody understands it because you have been a shopper since you were a child. Everyone feels like they can address it and some do, and some great, some amazing solutions that can transform an industry. But it’s interesting because it becomes almost a stopping point on the journey of so many startups. And as a result of that, I get to see those technologies at least apply to the retail industry, whether or not they actually end up being successful remains to be seen. But it is that opportunity to learn, and that’s what I like about my day to day job. 

Ashley Coates [00:08:42] That’s wonderful. Speaking of opportunities to learn and no day’s the same, seeing all this evolution happen over time. Which areas of retail have changed the most during your time at Forrester? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:08:53] This point every sector has changed five years ago would probably have said every sector except grocery has changed, but even grocery is now evolving and changing. And there’s all kinds of food technology, and technology, new types of farming, not even to mention delivery formats that have changed in that sector. But every sector, whether you’re a brand manufacturer or you’re in fashion or you’re in consumer electronics, everything from the places that you go to buy, to how things are delivered to you, where things are sourced from, it’s all changed tremendously. If I had to step back and say, what’s the single biggest change, I would probably say it’s Amazon changing the inventory model and essentially disrupting the world with the marketplace model. And the big change there was that historically retailers would buy products, they would buy inventory, usually from brands. And what happened was Amazon, essentially found a way to sell that inventory without ever having to purchase it, and various types of consignment models have existed over time, but never at the scale of what Amazon enabled. They truly, truly enabled an endless aisle and also built trust in not knowing who these sellers are. Those are pretty massive changes to how consumption happened, because that paved the way for so much almost every marketplace place subsequent to that, like Uber even, I would argue, was ultimately an outcome of what Amazon enabled and probably even eBay before that. There are definitely seismic shifts that change things. Others would say device form factor like mobile was a huge enabler to mobile accelerated gave you more purchasing moments. I’m not sure that I would argue that it was quite as transformational as some of those changes to consumer trust and inventory procurement. 

Ned Hayes [00:10:58] Got it. Well, I know you mentioned seismic shifts and I know when major seismic shift that we’ve had is Covid. So what have you seen shift in the retail industry over the last two years, almost three years now? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:11:11] Yeah, it’s longer than I think we had all anticipated. Well, the good thing is, when we started, things had fallen off a cliff so precipitously and we had seen terrible numbers that we hadn’t seen in decades and we didn’t know how long this would last or whether this would lead to some massive catastrophe. And while by some measures there absolutely was a massive catastrophe from the measures of economic resilience, like how much revenue a lot of these retailers were generating. The pandemic actually ended up not being nearly as terrible for most of the retail industry as I think we would have thought it may be at the beginning of March 2020. There are some sectors that fared worse than others, like the apparel sector and the restaurant sector, I think, did particularly badly. Although restaurants certainly are on the path to recovery, at least from a demand standpoint, they’re facing a lot of other issues from labor management and being able to find workers point of view. But at least from a demand standpoint, they don’t have that as much of an issue. But retail was a beneficiary of the mass government stimuli packages. It was a beneficiary of the stock market doing well. It was a beneficiary of travel restrictions, which essentially create instead of people spending money on travel and vacations. They shopped and they spent it on physical goods. And that actually helped a large number of retailers. So the industry overall ended up doing quite well, and 2021 the numbers were double digits. And not only had we completely come out of the hole that was in 2020, but sales for most categories actually exceeded 2019 sales. Some of that was inflation related, I think everyone at this point has heard the record inflation levels in the United States now, but even including inflation, there was still more spend than what inflation would have driven, which suggests that the consumer demand is quite robust. 

Ashley Coates [00:13:22] Yeah, it was amazing looking at the numbers from 2021. So thinking specifically about all the technological advances in retail over the past two years and that pace of that adoption really increasing due to COVID, which trends have you seen that you think are really here to stay? Which ones do you think will fade away? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:13:41] Well, certainly the big one is that percent of people who purchased online and there was a huge, huge burst in the beginning March, April of 2020. And I don’t think we’re going to see numbers quite that high. But what we ended up seeing was a permanent shift that basically maintained all of the shopping that we would have seen in 2020 and then almost leapfrog to what our projections were saying that we would see in 2021. So you just had that shift and more people purchasing online more frequently with higher price points across more categories than we would have seen before. So that’s probably the single biggest shift. I hope that one of the other big shifts is that people move faster from business standpoint like retailers. Remember, I said earlier that retailers tend to move really slowly. COVID was like a fire in their pants. It was the first time that they had ever move that quickly to do things that they’d been talking about for a decade, like buy online, pickup in-store. And not only did they execute it, they executed it generally pretty well. And I think that once you do that, there’s not really any stepping back from that because especially now that’s a cost of doing business. It’s become such a standard. And if you don’t offer it, competitors will, and many of those competitors like a Target, are doing it really, really well, and they’re doing it so well that it’s actually shifting shopper behavior in their direction so you can choose to not compete but then you better have great products or a unique assortment that is still going to attract people to your store. Because if you don’t, forget about it. It becomes a question of why would anyone even shop with you if there’s not a reason to shop with you. 

Ned Hayes [00:15:24] Right. Well, speaking of understanding reasons for customer shopping, one thing a lot of businesses are gravitating towards is A.I. or what we call a AI. It’s machine learning, it’s taking customer behavior and being able to map it to past behavior and trying to project the future. So do you see that as a trend that the majority of retailers go with? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:15:43] Well, it means exactly, like you said, a lot of different things to different people, and there’s so many different solutions within that. I mean, it’s everything from autonomous checkout free stores to other camera vision or pricing optimization technology. So there’s so much that falls into that broad umbrella of what can be characterized as artificial intelligence. The way that we’ve broken it up. And we did some research, we did actually a long research study on this. That was the better part of a couple of years. But what we summarized it in retail, as is almost all AI addresses one of three constituents. It either is a consumer facing AI solution like an autonomous store, or it could be like some kind of an advertising display in a store that could change depending on who you are. Like what you probably saw in Minority Report? It could be a field worker facing AI solution, so it could be a solution in a warehouse, or it could be a solution to support a store associate. Like, for instance, if a store associate can automatically be told that this shelf is out of stock because there’s some camera vision solution that identifies that that hole in the shelves and some message can be sent to somebody to fill that shelf that could theoretically create a better store. And then the third type of benefit is for field workers. So that’s actually where probably most AI solutions have been for a long time. It’s everything from fraud management solutions to tech solutions that can tell you how fast your website may be operating or not. And we basically came to the conclusion the field or worker facing solutions were probably the ones where there was the greatest benefit. But in all honesty, those are also the solutions that have already, for the most part, been pretty broadly implemented. So I don’t know that there’s going to be some wild new AI that we’ve never seen before, and that’s like some crazy sentient robots that are going to change all of retail. But it’s more than continued deployment of a lot of these machine learning solutions, the software solutions that have actually been around for probably the better part of the last decade that a lot of the better retailers like Amazon and Walmart have already deployed. And if anything, it’s gradually making its way through the rest of the retail industry as well. 

Ned Hayes [00:18:23] Right, so one thing that you did touch on, though, was the idea of omnichannel, of being able to have businesses marry together their different experiences, one of the things Steve Dennis says on record is calling this harmonized retail instead of omnichannel. Do you think that’s a fair characterization of calling it harmonized instead of just omni? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:18:43] Yeah. Well, I feel like every few years somebody comes up with something new at the NRF show. I heard it called Phygital Cross-Channel, and then omni channel gets appropriated by everybody like the ad industry have their version of omni channel and supply chain has its version. So whatever the terminology is, I feel like these are just buzz words. Really, what they represent is solutions, and whenever you have these conversations with people, you just need to ask What is it that you’re talking about or what is it that you want to talk about and just make sure that you’re addressing things that that are on the same plane, because that is one thing that’s always made my eyes roll is a lot of the buzz words in the space that can be confusing and mean different things to different people. When I hear the word omni channel or somebody asks me let’s talk about omni channel. I assume that they want to talk about supply chain issues, omni channel fulfillment. It’s really if they want to talk about inventory and inventory visibility across channels, or how are you delivering that inventory to different types of consumers based on where they want to maybe retrieve that order, whether it’s at their home or they want to pick it up in a store, or if you want to get it curbside or whatever the case may be. So I always ask, is that what you want to talk about, because if in fact, that’s not what you want to talk about, it’s actually something like cross channel marketing for attribution, then we just need to make sure we’re on the same page because everybody’s got their own term for everything, and one just needs to make sure that you’re discussing the same thing, whether it’s omni channel or harmonized retail or whatever. 

Ashley Coates [00:20:22] So are there any brands that stand out to you? Sucharita, who are doing this particularly well, who are getting things right in terms of using technology to create, I’m gonna use the word omni channel, experience for the consumer? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:20:35] Yeah, I have been in the market for glasses and contacts and have been pleasantly surprised by how much that sector, for instance, as an example, and there are so many that I think have done pretty good jobs with taking what was historically an offline experience where touch and feel was such a huge part of what it was, what was important to consumers and have tried as best they can to facilitate an online buying experience and not just on a desktop, but even on mobile devices as well. And I count companies like Warby Parker and Peepers, and there’s an ad world where it’s everything from detailed product detail pages that are pretty accurate and that do have all of the key pieces of information that a shopper would want, as well as technologies like augmented reality. And you know, that ability to render a product on a person, which historically was something that was the main reason that you would typically go to a physical store of that to see something that’s good enough to at least guide a decision I think is incredibly valuable. And then on top of that, there’s also those additional layers of the customer service experience, whether it’s how seamless a returns process may be or what they do with respect to letting you try things on. Now the challenge, I think for all of this, though, is whether or not the economics actually make sense. And for a lot of these companies, I think they have done a good job nailing the what consumers want part of the puzzle and where the challenge is, is that how do you not lose your shirt on it, part of the puzzle? And I think there the jury is still very, very much out, and it probably will be so long as there are investors willing to fund these types of this. I think over time, we will see even more improved omnichannel experiences. We’ll have more partnerships between different types of solutions that are leveraging the shipments to commercial addresses and letting people try things on at stores or make a decision very quickly at the point of when they receive a package so that you can basically not have what’s essentially working capital tied up with a shopper, you can turn a decision around and improve ultimately the utilization of those assets. So things will change and they’re still evolving. One of the big areas that it’s either going to be a major hit or it’s just going to be such a huge blast. Is this whole direct to consumer movement of brand manufacturers. And I truly believe that there is consumer demand for people to a purchase directly from brands. I mean, if we learned nothing from companies like Dollar Shave Club, it was that you absolutely can persuade people to go to a single website and go buy a single SKU. I think that’s been the fundamental pushback of a lot of brands is that that oh nobodys going to come to my website and buy a diaper. You know, there are a whole bunch of guys that went to Dollar Shave Club to go buy razors, so I actually think that is possible. The challenge, though, is how do they make the economics work? And the trick is going to have to be that you’ve got to recognize that there’s so much inventory already being sent to physical stores every single day of the week. And the trick to making DTC for brand work is how do you hitch a ride on the truck that’s already going to Walmart and Target and deliver something that’s cost effective for everybody? Because that’s the win for the consumer, the retailer and the brand? Nobody’s really thinking about that yet. Everybody still insists on putting things in a cardboard box and dropping it off on somebody’s doorstep. But as long as we’re in that frame of mind, I don’t think we’ll see the massive success in DTC that it could be, but hopefully somebody will figure it out and go in that direction. 

Ned Hayes [00:24:36] Right, well, one of the key things that I found really intriguing about retail is the way that things that we used to have to go to the store in person for we don’t anymore and vice versa. So you’ve recently written about online grocery shopping and that searches for that peak during the height of the pandemic, but that kind of behavior seems to be continuing. So I’m just curious about grocery shopping, is that something that’s changed forever?  

Sucharita Kodali [00:25:04] Possibly. So where we settled with online grocery shopping is that it ended up having a few percentage points penetration lift. It had a few percentage points more ultimately going into that channel versus before the pandemic, and it ultimately ended up representing maybe a couple of years of leapfrogging. So the pandemic was good for anybody who is in the online grocery sector. But was it to a degree that 50%? Eh no, it was not that that level of transformation, not in the United States. And there are some unique factors that are very different in the U.S. versus any other market in the world that have impeded online grocery sales. The United States is extremely overstored. Most Americans live a couple of miles from multiple grocery stores. The real estate that grocery stores are on is relatively less expensive than, say, for instance, the real estate in Europe. So that also changes the cost economics of the affordability of grocery in the United States and the trade off is it that much cheaper to have grocery and a warehouse located in even cheaper place? Well, not really in the United States, because what you may see with somewhat cheaper real estate is you still have to pay for the labor for transport. So there are a lot of things that actually make online grocery shopping not as convenient, not as inexpensive as physical grocery shopping. But that first thing that I said was that not as convenient. Well, that’s the reason that you have this arms race to get to faster and faster grocery delivery because they think that’s going to be the inflection point that could potentially change people’s behavior. But the issue is that there’s no viable way yet to make faster delivery more economically viable United States. So people are trying their darndest, and the closest that you get to is maybe in some dense urban areas. You can open up a micro fulfillment center, in some cases open up a storefront like Go Grocer in Chicago. And if you have a dense enough delivery area, it’s unlimited enough assortment that consumers want. You may be able to get to at least break even. But it’s a challenge. And also the only place that comes closest to that are the dense, dense urban areas. And in the United States, the densest urban areas are not even a 30 percent of the population, which is not small. I mean, that’s still like 100 million people, but it’s not something that is going to address everybody. 

Ashley Coates [00:27:51] And then looking at another sector of food industry restaurants spending at restaurants is way up since the start of the pandemic. Do you think restaurants are in the clear now and we’ll go back to spending more money at restaurants than we do at grocery stores? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:28:07] We had been spending more at restaurants and grocery stores for a long time, and then it reversed during the pandemic or reversed at least for several months of the pandemic. And then by 2021, it had gone back to not only where it was, but exceeding even 2019 levels for the restaurant industry. So restaurants should be in a better place, but the one part of the equation that’s still a challenge for them is this whole labor issue. And depending on how that turns out in 2022 that will have a big impact on restaurants, whether wages stabilize and whether restaurants are able to either raise prices to accommodate some of those higher expenses that they may have to incur. I think what we saw with a lot of the restaurant industry in the last couple of years anyway, is there were a number of the weaker players that shook out and then of those that remained behind, many of them started to invest more in technology. So you started to see a lot of these POS vendors and these companies that supplied the restaurant industry, whether it was, Toast, I think Toast was one and there were a bunch of players like that, and they introduced a lot more sophistication into how restaurants could market, how they kept track of their consumers, how they were taking orders, how they were managing waste. So all of those things are ad margin to the retail transaction at a restaurant. But as you saw wages going up, some of that margin ended up getting eaten away. But over time, those investments will pay off, particularly as prices hopefully will stabilize, which I expect will happen within the next 24 months, if not sooner. 

Ned Hayes [00:29:56] Let’s hope we’re all kind of hoping for this, right? So you can. Say recently on LinkedIn that 2021 was a tough year, but retail was surprisingly resilient and you had various proof points for how retail was resilient, do you see that trend continuing? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:30:12] Yeah. Well, actually, I think that there are good things that retailers have invested in that should keep them continue. Well, like a lot of the technology investments that we had talked about, not just for the restaurant industry, but a lot of whether it was the curbside pick up capabilities, the in-store pickup capabilities that know before you go into the store. A lot of that is here to stay, and that’s good. It is for the benefit of the consumers long term. Now, over time, spending will likely revert to where it was and the biggest competition, I think for retail dollars was in the travel sector and other discretionary spend, and that spend has still been relatively suppressed. But it will likely go back to where it was, whether it’s this summer or the summer after it will. And when that happens, I expect there will be less spending that happens in physical stores. So where you end up is retail historically, before 2020 was just inching along around the rate of inflation. And I think we’ll probably ultimately stabilize back toward there also when inflation stabilizes, too. I mean, these have been very unusual years. Do we see this continuing forever by no stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think it’s going to regress. I think it’ll just go back to where it was. 

Ashley Coates [00:31:36] Also tying into what you said Sucharita what makes retail so special. Why do we all love it so much? Why do you think this is such a special segment of the economy? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:31:46] Yeah. You know, Steve Dennis wrote a book called Remarkable Retail that I think addresses a lot of that. But it’s so much of it is an emotional experience, a lot of the happiness and so many people is tied to for better or for worse, the things that we own. And it can have an emotional impact. It can have mental health impacts that many other categories don’t necessarily have, and it has an immediate gratification element. The products that you purchase enable you to live often your best life. And I think that’s part of why it is an experience that is often tied to emotion. For many people, particularly physical retail can also be a highly social experience. So I think that is something that you often enjoy with family or friends, and I think that’s part of what people like about it. But I think the guts of it is that it’s about collecting things that, for whatever reason, gives many of us joy. At least now, at this time in the economy, where for the most part, we have space to store the stuff, what happens in the next 20 years, 50 years remains to be seen. I just sense that we’re heading toward the pendulum, swinging in the other direction where we’ll probably go toward minimizing what we own and getting to as much reuse state of things as possible in the name of the environment. 

Ned Hayes [00:33:13] Well, it sounds like you’re forecasting the future. So do you want to continue down that path? Tell us what’s going to happen in the next 10, 20 years? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:33:20] Oh, goodness. That’s something that I couldn’t even begin to have any level of credibility on. But what I will say is the two things that we’re hearing a lot about and I’m still a little skeptical about. Both are we are hearing a lot about the Metaverse, and I’m not sure that it’s what it is even going to be and how it impacts anybody, much less retail. So that is something that is not necessarily something that we all have to jump on, but just kind of keep an eye on. And the other, which is related is a whole world of crypto. And this is probably the thing that I have heard more excitement from investors than almost anything. I mean, this level of energy I almost haven’t heard since 1999, which means that it’s either going to be really, really big or it’s just going to bomb. And so we’ll see, I think that there are some things that make sense, like it potentially represents a new ways to record transactions and validate information. But are we really going to displace our currency with some of these digital tools? I’m not completely convinced that there is a need for that, and I’m certainly not convinced that any of these are better than our incumbent solutions. And that’s the part that, well, if they’re not better than incumbent solutions, then where does that leave us? So we’ll see. 

Ashley Coates [00:34:47] Thank you so much for being with us here today Sucharita, this has been so fascinating to hear all of your insights. We do have one last question for you, which is what do you want to be your legacy? What would you like to be remembered for? 

Sucharita Kodali [00:34:59] Well, I would hope that it would be for something bigger than things that are probably done to date. I’d ultimately like to do something probably outside of the retail industry. There are just so many issues that we have in the world today, whether they are climate issues or struggles with embracing democracy or whatever. So many different issues, human rights issues, social justice issues. I think when the time is right, beyond just helping support some of these causes financially, I’d like to do something more in one of those arenas that’s hopefully where I’d be able to make a contribution. 

Ned Hayes [00:35:35] Well, that sounds like a really valuable contribution. I really appreciate your time and your thoughts today. Thank you. 

Sucharita Kodali [00:35:41] Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you guys for having me. 

Ned Hayes [00:35:45] SparkPlug is a wholly owned property of SnowShoe. All Content and copyright 2021 SparkPlug Media.