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Hello and welcome to Unpacking the Digital Shelf. It's a podcast created for brand manufacturers who are confronting the crises and opportunities of the digital age.
I am Peter Crosby, executive director of the Digital Shelf Institute. We engage a spectrum of experts from across the commerce ecosystem to discuss and define and wonder about what brand manufacturers must do to survive and thrive. So this podcast can arrive in your ears every week. Listen to conversations with manufacturer, execs, top consultants, retailer and distributor, thought leaders, agency heads, media folks and analysts and featuring our own founding members of the Institute like Rob Gonzalez, formerly of Endeca, now co founder and CMO of Salsify here talking with Sonesh Shah, VP of brand and digital marketing at Bosch power tools.
Specific experience is, is kind of less relevant than it might've been in the past. Right? Cause you kinda, you don't know what the job is going to look like a year from now. So the soft skills of, you know, fearlessness and creativity and the ability to fail without it, like destroying your sense of self and like all of those kind of softer things matter in a way that they, that they didn't when things were more predictable, right.
We see that ability in so many startups where you can bring in people with various backgrounds and the attitude they share, the values they share are so common that they can work together regardless and they're willing to accept someone else's idea even though they may not be classically trained in that way. Don't get me wrong, we have really good skilled people in certain areas where you just can't live without that.
And Justin King. Justin was formerly head of B2X partners, a B2B commerce consultancy and he's now VP of B2B strategy at Salsify here. He's opining away with Brian Beck, author of the, about to be released book billion dollar B2B eCommerce.
I had a customer say to me: We're not a distributor, we're a technology company. I said: Oh wow, that's amazing. You know, introduced me to all your technology people. We don't have technology people. Then I talked to the CEO and I said: people are telling me you're a technology guy but you don't have any technology people. And he's like: We want to be a technology… that clarifies it. So you talked about, you talked about an interesting about e-procurement and Amazon business. I'd love to talk about Amazon business.
You look at the businesses you used to buy from all the time. Circuit Cities back in the day, you know, the Sears which is on the just about out of business.What happened with those businesses? Well, a lot of the way they differentiated for hundred years was, was on price and selection and convenience to the customer. The world has changed and they, you know, they all have an excuse to some degree because no one saw e-commerce coming the way it's come on. But you know, in the distribution world, guess what guys? The story's been told. If you're a distributor, it's a very analogous business model to the department stores and the retail chains. And as a distributor you got to step it up, man. It's, you've gotta be looking at how do you differentiate in the market beyond price and selection. So the bar is, is, is, has been, is continuously being raised by Amazon.
And finally, Molly Schonthal. Molly was formerly head of digital at Mars and now she's VP of innovation and strategy at Salsify. Here she is from one of our weekly roundups of commerce news for brands.
What grabbed your attention this week and why?
So this week, uh, I was sent another link to another, a digital first company that is opening a physical store. This time it is Wayfair, this is a trend now for sure. I think we first saw this with Warby Parker, then Casper, you know, then Quip, um, the Nike Melrose store, Amazon, Amazon four-star, Amazon go Bonobos… And we're seeing more and more of this revitalization of the physical retail presence, but through the lens of a digital native brand. And I think what's so interesting about it is these brands have a distinct advantage over traditional brand manufacturers who are already in physical retail stores. They already have a better idea, I think, of who's buying them. They can enact sort of interesting merchandising strategies and then in a physical environment they can get these amazing insights on how people shop in a way that digital environments can.
It's interesting that you, that you, that you're using digitally native brands there, cause Wayfair retail brand, not, not a manufacturing brand, right. And most of the others that are on that list are manufacturers. And what I think is super interesting about the manufacturers is the in store experiences, give them a chance to actually brand the experience and give the consumers what they're looking for.
Any way you get the point, digital is upending every way products are made, discovered, researched, and bought. If you care about that, join our community. Subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts. Let's start Unpacking the Digital Shelf together.