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Interview: Caution: Retail Media Might Make You Lazy, with Eric Heller, formerly founder of Marketplace Ignition and Chief Knowledge Officer, Amazon COE at WPP

In the early days at Marketplace Ignition, one of the first marketplace strategy consultancies, the question founder Eric Heller heard repeatedly from his biggest client was “What do I do next?” In some ways, very little has changed. Winning the algorithm requires constant attention, and the new shiny object of retail media should not obscure that fact. Eric, who sold Marketplace Ignition to Wunderman in 2017 and went on to become WPP’s Chief Knowledge Officer for their AMazon Center of Excellence, joined Rob and Peter to highlight the trends that are rapidly shaking the box of ecommerce, media, and omnichannel growth, and how brand execs must keep their eye on the ball.


Peter (00:00):

Welcome to Unpacking the Digital Shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age.

Peter (00:20):

Peter Crosby here from the Digital Shelf Institute. In the early days at Marketplace Ignition, one of the first marketplace strategy consultancies, the question founder, Eric Heller heard repeatedly from his biggest client was what do I do next? In some ways, very little has changed winning the algorithm requires constant attention and the new shiny object of retail media should not obscure that fact, Eric has sold marketplace ignition to Wunderman in 2017 and went on to become WPPs chief knowledge officer for their Amazon center of excellence joined Rob and I to highlight the trends that are rapidly shaking the box of e-commerce media and omni-channel growth and how brand exacts can keep their eye on the ball. So, Eric, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. You have such a great perspective on the evolution and revolution of agencies in this new digital first world. In fact, by selling Amazon agency marketplace ignition to WPP the number one media agency in the world, you have been a real bellwether of their transition. So tell us a bit about your background and what you built the WPP wanted so much and what you think that portends for the entire industry.

Eric (01:33):

Absolutely. So you said a little about the background, so I'll just say that I have the advantage of being in this space since January of 99, when there were just like a thousand people at Amazon and it was basically books and music and no kidding. The day I showed up for my interview at Amazon in 98, the company was so small that actually they forgot to tell me, but there was no one there because Jeff had taken the entire company to the new star Trek movie premiere. And so I had to wait two hours till people showed up because like they've forgotten to tell me that they'll like come in at 10 o'clock because he had taken the entire company to one movie theater. So that was pretty funny. And it's amazing to think of like how big it's gotten is one of the largest employers in the U S and all the other things that go along with that.

Eric (02:24):

But in the process you know, while I was there for seven and a half years, I got to work on a lot of cool things. And one of them was the launch of the marketplace platform and the original third-party sort of fastest growing brands. A lot of people don't know, but in those first, like decade of the marketplace pop from J and R electronics, you know a small retailer that most people hadn't heard of, unless they'd been in New York times, right. Was the fastest growing seller on the platform for like the first decade. And that was an amazing experience working with them because they were so you New York hardened and it was so great. They would call every day and say, you know, basically they would literally call me every day and say, all right, great. What do I do now? I did everything you told me yesterday.

Eric (03:10):

Now what do I do to grow that, you know, to grow again the next day? And so they were so bought in that it really pushed the envelope on what was possible. And it made me realize I want to work with more companies eventually and start a company to work with brands that really understood the transformational nature of, of marketplace. And so I created marketplace ignition for that. And it wasn't you know, it's so funny, you asked about like, what did WPP want? What we created was was not an agency. It was like this consultancy. I didn't want to be an agency. I felt like you're to succeed in this space really wasn't agency. It was this idea of understanding the algorithm, like strategy. And so when we got the, when you mentioned, like, why did WPP pick this?

Eric (04:02):

What did they need? You know, at the time, what was great was, you know, sir, Martin was the CEO and he was on record as saying, you know, what was really keeping them up at night was Amazon, you know, he had, I think he said, I have a three month old daughter, but what really keeps me up at night is Amazon. And right, right. Yeah. And so and what I think the point was is that and I'm sure we're going to dig more into this, but, you know, Amazon is not immediate play at its DNA. Like you could spend a lot on media, but I think what we're, we all know and what we're still discovering is that media isn't, you know, isn't the key here, right? If you're really driving a lot, it's spending a lot of dollars on Amazon media, but your competitor understands the fundamental nature of fixing operations, making pages convert, better, doing all the underlying algorithmic pieces first getting your supply chain.

Eric (04:55):

Right. I think they, that what you really understand is that you sort of don't have to spend as much on media. And I know we're going to dig into that, but I think it's really a critical point that agencies at the time did not understand, which is how to fix the algorithmic aspects. One example I want to give that, I think no, no one was really talking about it at the time. One of the most important pieces on the Amazon product detail page is something called fast track in stock, F T I N. And what it really is is this incredibly sophisticated and complicated out component of the page that very few people talk about, but it basically is the little line at the top that says, want this by tomorrow order in the next two hours. And that piece is as important as almost anything else you do on the page or the media in terms of its impact of getting that right. And the complication of getting all the, but the, the supply chain pieces I'm missing on that is, is just not something that agencies traditionally focused on

Rob (06:00):

Question of what traditional media agencies would focus on and what they will focus out in the future is the whatever, a hundred billion dollar question set, similar magnitude. And one thing that's, that's really interesting here is Sara Fisher media reporter reporter at Axios sending the recent article media companies used to be the biggest sellers of advertising globally. Then tech giant took that title now in a post pandemic world. Every industry that has a digital presence is trying to build an ad revenue line in our world. It's you know, not just Amazon with Amazon advertising, but Walgreens and target and Walmart and Kroger, and everybody is creating a retail media program and moving to an auction model where they previously didn't exist. And so, so question for me is when I look at the media space and I look at WPP publicists and, and the folks that have been around there for a long time, it's, it looks like someone just dropped a bomb in the middle of these companies and, or, or maybe put them in a box and turn the box over and shook it really hard.

Rob (07:13):

Oh, I don't know what the right analogy is, but, but they're, they're trying to rebuild as quickly as the world is changing and they're doing it through acquiring talent, such as marketplace ignition, they're doing it through reorganizations internally and creating organizations like Wunderman Thompson, commerce, which didn't exist previously. They're doing, they're just doing a lot of, a lot of stuff here. So the question I have for you is how do you, how do you view this sea change from, from the inside? I mean, with, with WPP and publicists and others trying to reform themselves for this new digital world, how has that, how painful is that shift from selling media to, to now working in the algorithm and working performance media?

Eric (07:56):

You know, I actually want to take your timeline cause that's at your time on, was great right there, Rob, and I want to take your timeline back one even further, which is just before all this sea change we used to go in and I don't know if you had this experience, but we used to go in to brands to talk to them about working with us. And they'd be like, what do I need to need Amazon agency for? Like, we're all prime members in this room. You know, our whole board is prime members. We understand Amazon and you'd be like, I don't think that's the same thing. And I think it's the same thing about compelling content. And I think it's the same thing about distributing what you have to say. I think that the sea change of like, as you said, like blowing up what these agencies are doing, I really think you're right.

Eric (08:40):

Like they traditionally work almost is these concise individual units, but then you get these, you get these, all of these retailers that are now trying to get brands to, to talk directly to their customers. And you've got all this disintermediation that's happening all at once. And I think it does foster and create this reorganization of the agency community. And I think the dust hasn't settled yet, you know, in other words, like, I think we're still trying to figure, I think brands are still trying to figure out where they need help. It's not just about media buying anymore. It's about figuring out how conversion happens. And then I think there's this other piece, which is a huge mystery, which no one has even tapped into in a way to really understand, but how do you create this? Who is big enough to gather enough data, to create this understanding that I am an, I am in the aisle at Walmart and I see something I want to buy, but it's kind of a confusing array of a confusing array of products that I don't know which one to buy. I pull out my phone and I look at reviews on Amazon, but the, and then I see the five star review for, you know, a razor and then I buy it in in Walmart, which, or, or I change what I wanted to buy based on a review on Amazon or their search relevancy of what comes up first. And I think tying that together is something that, you know, maybe perhaps only the largest agencies have enough data to do.

Rob (10:06):

Yeah. And even then there's a little bit of a sea change against the advertising models that underlie the size of these largest agencies. So for your Freakonomics, about six months back, had a couple of podcasts on, does advertising actually work. And one of the stats from it was Procter and gamble a couple of years ago as almost an experiment. This, this was around when it was uncool to advertise on Facebook, Proctor and gamble used the excuse to basically cut hundreds of millions of dollars of ad spend.

Eric (10:42):

I remember, I remember. Yeah, yeah.

Rob (10:44):

Just to see what happened. And it wasn't just on Facebook. It was across a whole bunch of channels and P and G did totally fine after that. Right. And their CMO got on, on stage at a, an advertising conference and basically said, advertising is dead and so on and so forth. And so you look at the ad running model and the TV spot purchasing and the radio spot purchasing the billboard purchasing and whatnot, the big cash cows of a lot of what some of these traditional media companies are doing. And, and then you look for the future. One possible version of the future is a I algorithmic optimization across the different retail media channels and other channels. Something that's more, software-driven becomes more than norm. And one thing that I worry about is that the business model there now, this is, this is I'm being intentionally extreme, but the, there, there is a question on timing.

Rob (11:43):

So if they're right still right in the middle of this switch how quickly can they become a software company? And know GE tried to do that one under ML, right? Want it to be a tech company and not, not a manufacturing, finance, conglomerate. And they're still around are still a hundred billion dollar company, but they're not a $400 billion company anymore. So, so it's going to be, there's a, there's almost not a question here. It's almost speculation. It's just going to be interesting to see what happens with these giant companies that have to a very large extent created the media world and the cultural world that we've lived in for decades. And and, and what's going to be next next for them in this, in this transition.

Eric (12:30):

So I like to sometimes think in a sort of, bite-size understandable like microcosm examples, and there's this, you said, you know, you said this very provocative thing a minute ago, sort of halfway through it, this thing that, you know, blows up the whole thing, which is, is advertising, you know, dead in this e-commerce space. You know, there's this question. And I think of something that, you know, that in my mind, like, I think crystallizes a little bit of kind of how it's I would more venture to say it's transitioning. And an example I would use is, you know, you take a place where you're only as good as the, your next search result page or your next you know, your next, you know, the person who was in line just now, when we had this discussion or sorry, in the islet Walmart, what product came up first in there, and then they read the reviews.

Eric (13:22):

And if you didn't win that search right there, maybe you have a chance where you lose this. You know, you may have paid all this money for the in-store in aisle placement, but you lost because someone came up to you on someone's mobile phone when they looked at the second screen to look at reviews. And as a quick Rob is a quick thing that I'm thinking of based on your example, your question, I think back to one of my favorite areas to look at noise, canceling headphones. So we all think about noise canceling headphones, and we all think about, you know, the, the number one brand that comes to mind is of course, come on. What are you going to say? What brand is going to come to mind, Rob?

Rob (14:00):

Yeah, I'm probably the worst for it, because for me, it's, Jaybird, I've got those headphones that work in, so

Eric (14:08):

Thank you, Peter, then for fulfilling,

Rob (14:12):

I've got the answer for, I use Lytics, I've got an Android phone. I'm like, I'm not your audience here,

Eric (14:19):

But, but, but for the example that, you know, nine in a conference, if I was standing up in front of a room, it like, you know, Shoptalk 98 out of a hundred people will yell bows. And that's because we all walk through first class and see everyone with the Bose headphones, we all see and identify with them. But in reality, you go in the e-commerce space and often brands like Cohen, C O w I N win. Now they have redefined this, the price for this product at like $59, $69. And bows almost has to sell a $59 product for 200 plus dollars every time they do. And yet they still are successful in the market. And in some ways I think, and I'm not just talking about buying ads, but the investment in content, the investment in brand in some way to help sustain. There are people who are still buying bows, and it's almost like Cohen is if it has increased the size of market and Bose has maintained their share at the top of the market or sustained at least their share at the top of the market. And I think a lot of this comes with sophisticated advertising. And I think it's an example of how, even in this digital native space, you could see, you know, advertising continue.

Rob (15:33):

Yeah. The, the whole concept of you're only as good as your next click that the timeframe compression on advertising is, is right, right. In that statement, instead of planning a national media campaign for a year, you're talking about the next click. Now the truth is probably in some combination of those two things, but I'm not sure that anyone has a marketing mix model that looks at a combination of, you know, national media campaigns and retail media, and can continue in combination with each other and knows what the right mix is there. I think everyone's still figuring, figuring that out. I'm not even sure who's got the data to be able to reason about that. Like the long timeframes and the torque short timeframes and how you allocate across both of them at the same time that it seems like a totally unsolved problem.

Eric (16:26):

I had as you know, and as we've discussed, there's a huge growth in this Amazon aggregation space right now. And I had a conversation with a PE firm that said to me, well, we've got a method for secret sauce. And I said, well, great. You know, what is it? They said, well, that's what we want to talk to you about. We're only interested in buying companies that have a sustainable advantage on Amazon, in Amazon search. And I was like, I was like, you know you know, I've got bad news for you, but you know, there's no such thing as a sustainable advantage anymore in terms of like brand search. You know, it's like this idea that this sustainable advantage comes with understanding the algorithm and building on sales rank and all of these components. It's a new, it's just not the same. You don't get to say, well, we're, we've been number one for 10 years. We get to be number one. Well, that's what I, that's what I loved about. I

Peter (17:19):

Love that. That's what I love about your first story about J and R music world there questions you was, what do I do next? And that's a daily even hourly, maybe even a minute by minute question that needs to continually be answered. And that's for, for many of the listeners on our podcast, that's always trying to consider what is that mix of in-house skills versus agency or consultancies that I need to do this right. And, and you know, what, what the right move. And I think part of it does, does rely on sort of what is the agency model meant to provide to me and that's, that's shifting. And and so much of what's happening over in the brand world are that these silos are really starting to break down whether people want them to, or not they're being broken down because the reality of the period where digital is the, the real growth lever has just started to bust the budgets all over the place and where the money goes. That's where people turn their attention. So I was wondering if, sort of, you have a reflection on that on sort of the, the inside battle at brands between, and whether battle is even the right term. But I think just the people stuck in their own points of view and are those silos breaking down and, and in some ways is media dangerous because it can cover over some of the fundamentals that may not be actually working because of those, those silos and where attention is being paid.

Eric (18:51):

Yeah. I think that's really perceptive Peter, this idea of breaking, you said silos, but almost say breaking the way the brands and organizations work. I can remember for years where I'm sorry, actually, let me take this back and say actually where you come in to agencies. And when we first got joined the WPP team, what I was stunned so often about is when I would say like, oh, great, well so-and-so brand. They could use a lot of help on Amazon. Let's have a conversation. And they say, well, you know, we don't actually talk or work with that team at that brand. We work with the the media team, you know, our boss, our sponsor, his immediate team, and it's actually the sales team or the e-commerce team that works with Amazon. And I think what you just said is really perspective, which is, you know, brand stirred to realize, and especially during COVID where they were like, why are we dominating every bus that no one is on right now in a key market like New York or every underground tube station in London.

Eric (19:53):

And yet when I searched for our brand on Amazon, we don't even come up, what's going on? How are budgets being defined? And I think that this was already happening pre COVID, but COVID really shattered some of those budgets and where they came from and the silos that were tied to them because you can't afford to be winning city buses in New York, but losing every time someone searches for your brand online and even, and I, you keep using Amazon, but you're right to say that the massive expansion here, you know, what does it mean when I'm winning Amazon, but I'm not winning the new platform at CVS or fill in the blank. You know, I have to, I have to be where my, where people are buying my product. And particularly if where they're buying is at the bottom of the funnel, can I really be concentrating dollars at the top of the funnel if I'm losing at the bottom?

Rob (20:42):

What's interesting about that is for me, this is, this is almost the bull case for the NES necessity of agency expertise on the go-forward world. Which is that on some level, if you look at Amazon, a lot of categories, a lot of searches, a good percentage of the first page of results is pay to play. Now, the companies that are going to be able to win those consistently are the ones that have dollars, but the rules of the algorithm and the, and the rules of engagement and how the ad platform evolves and the way that the competition evolves is so dynamic that you just need people with expertise on top of it, 24 7. And it's just way more cost-effective for the top hundred advertisers of the world to effectively pool their resources on experts at WPP, rather than each of them individually building the expertise and, and staffing in-house to be able to stay on top of this. There's, there's no set it and forget it. There's just the treadmill. The treadmill on some level is good for an agency, but potentially on some level I mean, in any event, it's just a hard world for, for these, for these folks that are used to being number one, because they've been number one to adjust to it. There's just, there's, there's no, there's no way around that, that aspect of it.

Eric (22:15):

So I want to you know, Rob, you and I once talked about it, a show about this conversation I have with a very large well-known brand in the U S and I was doing the strategy session for their board and the CMO. And she said to me, you know look, I think you guys are great and everything, but I have a hard time digesting what you're saying, or at least buying into it because you keep showing us all this data from brands. I don't, that we don't really compete against. And I said, what do you mean? Did they sh and she said, well, you know, I know that if it was real, it would be brands that I recognize, like who I compete against in the aisle at bed bath and beyond, and target and elsewhere. And I was like, you don't get to pick who your competitors are.

Eric (22:57):

You know, these brands are real, this is who you're losing against in the e-commerce space. And I think it gets to you a little bit of what you were just saying, which is you know, it's just a new playing field. And, you know, you mentioned just now, you know, this is where agencies might really have an advantage, but I do want to say that, you know, we still, you know, major brands still have to come at this holistically. There is still that component that if I'm up against the digital native, that is a more nimble B has a team that understands the space better, or C just understands the platform well enough that they are that they can create pages that convert better. It goes back to what you and I have said before, which is if my competitor's page converts twice, as well as I do, it's like they have twice the ad budget.

Eric (23:45):

I do. And so you're just, you know, as, as I say, all the time, you're flooring the accelerator on a car with the gap, with the brake on flooring, right. I mean, it's a way to go, but it's, it's just you. And that is, I think the key thing you talked at the beginning about reorganizations within within these companies, within the agencies to really address and deal with the changing nature of the space. And one of them is like having a holistic offer. You know, you mentioned software, but there's also the holistic piece that it can't just be media or else it gets to that flooring, the accelerator analogy. If it's just media, you're not fixing the problems on the page.

Peter (24:31):

And that's really where I'd like to dig in here, because we've talked about a lot of these trends that are happening because of digitally commerce mixed in with a little SU Saul, a pandemic. So, I mean, what is, what is sort of the, when you think about all of those things coming together and shaking that box up, what are some of the things that stand out to you as big changes that, that come out of this, this moment, that brands should just seriously be paying attention to?

Eric (24:59):

I think that's a great, I think that's a great question. And I think a lot of the transition or transformation sure. It's happening at the agencies, but you know, you said this, by the way, I love that you've got the word Sue song, and I'm not sure I can ever recall someone getting that into a podcast. Well, we'll play, someone's taking a shot right now in podcasts, podcasts shots or something. But so you know, this transition is really, you're not getting, you know, there's this two songs of COVID combined with the other transitions that were, that were already happening. So I think one of the things is that we have almost this idea because so many of us live in areas where where maybe in major cities, where a lot of people may be our vaccine.

Eric (25:52):

We see a lot of people out at restaurants and we think, oh, we're transitioning on. It's become like in the way that the Renaissance came out of the black plague, we are on our way to this new Renaissance of e-commerce. And I think that's true, but I also think like, look, we all have this, there's this nagging doubt in the market about, about what will variants do and will people walk down again and no one quite believes that will happen. And yet I still think that we realize that we're not quite out of the woods. And so because of that, I think e-commerce is sort of still sustaining a lot of transitionary periods. And I think what we're seeing here is people are still going to buy online at a higher plateau. I think that be a digital native brands are still going to continue to be a little bit higher concentrations in terms of a threat to traditional brands, because people are willing buy and try these products online.

Eric (26:45):

And it is still easier to find them online than it is in, you know, in the traditional Isles. But I think as you've been writing a lot, Peter, there is this Renaissance of physical retail. And I think we're seeing some really incredible ideas there. And I think and, and the inverse I'd say, or I'm sorry. And as Rob was saying, I think we're seeing a, sort of a transformation in how agencies are working, where they are helping brands operate across multiple retailers that now all have an agency plan, I'm sorry, a media platform, which is really complex for brands to get around. And so I think that I've sort of combined, let me try and consolidate this. I don't think a, I think COVID has really changed us in some ways permanently, although maybe obviously not to the peaks we were at drink COVID, but certainly changed us to, I think that we are still seeing you know, the growth of retail media and all of these different platforms is super complex and brands are gonna have to prioritize who and how they work with it.

Eric (27:48):

I think agencies are going to respond and help working with that, trying to figure out how $1 spent here affects dollars received elsewhere. And then finally, we've got these disruption happening where, you know, you've got this sort of death by a thousand entrepreneurs that happens in the marketplace space, but what happens when those entrepreneurs are being aggregated together? In other words, we thought that they were formidable competitor before, but now you've got thrust CEO's and purchase and others. And now you've got even companies in Singapore and Shanghai and Shenzhen and Hong Kong. They're starting to pull together dollars in pulling together digital native brands. And I think that is all like this sort of thing on the horizon, which is not just what are the aggregators doing to this space, but what happens when the aggregators start to operationalize what they bought? And I think none of us have started to see that yet, but that will be quite interesting.

Rob (28:40):

Oh yeah. I, it just further goes into one of the things that we were talking about before we hit record, which is that whatever ending that we're at in terms of e-commerce disruption in the traditional space, it's not like the sixth thing of this and the second inning, maybe, and disruption of media disruption in the media agencies, disruption in competition, disruption, and new routes to market this, you know, and so on. And so on. It just, I mean, to me, I think you nailed it. There's just a lot more to come.

Eric (29:15):

You know, a lot of people aren't talking about this in the aggregation space yet in terms of aggregating sellers. But I think a lot of these companies are venture capitalists and PE firms, and they're like the dog chasing the car. Like I actually think a lot of them are going to start catching cars and then they're going to be sitting there with a bumper in their mouth, wondering what to do. And I think, you know, you and I, and all of us know this is really complex. Once you catch the car operationalizing, it is just the beginning. Like it's hard work. And I think that this is where we're going to see, like, I'm not even sure it's day one yet in that space. I think it's like date 0.1 in the aggregation space. Yeah.

Rob (29:53):

And I agree that there's there's folks like [inaudible] that get that? I mean, Carlos Cashman made a point when we interviewed him on the podcast that if you acquire an Amazon seller that sells yoga balls, guess what? Now you're selling yoga balls. If there's a supply chain in the shipping containers, delayed from China, and like all the things that happen with manufacturing and distributing a product, those are your problems. Now you're not just buying a business and flipping it or buying a business and throwing some Amazon advertising magic on top of it and going to more effectively or whatever, like you're legitimately in the yoga ball business at that point and everything that implies. And I agree there's not all of these, not all of these folks, I think truly understand that, or truly understand the point you made earlier in the episode that you know, you can't just buy a business with a sustainable anything and expect it to work. There's a continual investment. So it's going to be really fascinating to see who of those companies makes it out and becomes a major, major player across categories. And which of them just kind of flame out?

Eric (31:04):

I mean, if you could just set and forget Amazon businesses there wouldn't be a, there wouldn't be a role for, for companies like Salsify or for agencies like the continued demonstration of success just demonstrates the whole idea that none of this is set and forget that's part of the complexity and part of why some companies can overachieve or steal everyone else's lunch money, they get it. And then they go and they go and do that.

Peter (31:32):

And that's why I feel like the KPIs here are so important because in some ways I wonder, you know, if I were a a cantankerous newcomer executive at an e-commerce company coming in to run the business, which no one would ever want, by the way. But if I did, I feel like I would come in and say, we're not spending another dime on retail media until I get KPIs on the platform converting at these levels. And you know what I mean? Like making sure that, and that everyone across the company should understand that. I think the lack of alignment between incentives and KPIs and a sharing of those responsibilities is a real problem that needs to shift across marketing and sales.

Eric (32:17):

Yeah, I think you're right. And I think it goes back to Peter what you were saying in the middle of this, this, you know, our brands and the way that they are organized and the silos within traditional brands are those being blown up right now, or at least reorganized to pick a friendlier term. And I think you're right, you're exactly right. The way money flows, the way the brands, the way the metrics, the way we think about what success means and, and how to value a dollar spent. I think all of that is transitioning and it transitions even more when we move from things like placement fees and shelf facing frontage in a retail store to how can I win on the number of square feet at, you know, in aisle at CVS, but I'm losing on cvs.com because I didn't think holistically about the dollar I was spending. And you know, it's a complex world where I think data is going to be forefront very quickly all over again.

Peter (33:18):

Yeah. We just came out where by the time this airs, we will have announced a new set of research that the digital shelf Institute is, is doing Molly Schonthal, who used to run digital at Mars and is now the head of the digital shelf Institute, executive forum, and Chris Perry who ran e-commerce well pad and Kellogg's and and is now running his first mover. He just say they got together and talked to dozens of executives about what are the fundamental shifts that need to happen in business practices in order for maximum growth to be achieved across all channels, rather than this sort of channel by channel view. And they came up with sort of the four shifts that need to happen. And they're a big deal. Like they are entirely cross-functional in nature across supply chain and brand and trade and finance.

Peter (34:09):

So much of it is about sort of finance being stuck in a view of the business that this is how I measure things, do not bother this because I have to report. And I understand it's a super complex thing, but these are shifts that, that groups are gonna have to work on together across the company, in order to, to achieve the growth that they're going to, that they, that they should be achieving as a brand instead of by each individual channel, you know, dynamic price matching and and, and marketing and sales actually having shared incentives. And so there's four of them that are really fundamental and I'm super instant seeing, cause those are the shifts that need to happen for this to, to actually drive growth the way it should.

Eric (34:53):

I, I, I love that I'm really am looking forward to that. You know, we used to say that like for us, the shifts that were so huge where like, you know, we used to say, you know, there were just so many great examples of this where you would bring up and say, you know, well, how do you, how does your team work with supply chain? And they'd say like, oh, well we have a dotted line contact in your lab. You know, an e-comm, you know, like supply chain has to be on your e-commerce team. And, you know, you would say things like I, Rob, I think you and I have talked about this before, where we'd say like, well, what would it take? You know, what would you give to find out what everyone said about your products yesterday? And they'd say like, well, you know, boy, no numbers too high.

Eric (35:31):

And you're like, okay, great. How is your company using and digesting user-generated input, you know, feedback and other things that they're leaving. And they're like, oh, that's the e-comm data. You know, we get a digest once a quarter from the team, you know, we've been working on that and you're like, well, I'll tell you what the digital natives you're competing against. They have a team that reads it every Sunday night and Monday morning, they've got, you know, things that they're working on to change their content and starting to think about, well, maybe people want this product waterproof. I think that it's about like universally sharing the data across your teams as well as the dollars. And I think I look forward to seeing what your data finds. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of that's in it.

Peter (36:10):

Yeah. There was one executive on the executive forum. And I won't name names, but they explained that one of the big shifts that they've, that they had to do to get full funnel data-driven marketing into the org was actually rip out the sort of major textbook that they had followed on marketing and branding principles, Byron sharp. They had sort of, they, they looked at the Byron sharp kind of thesis and a lot of it was very acquisition focused very, just get them in the funnel. And, and they, they discovered as a full team, this is handcuffing our organization. It doesn't align with new consumer behaviors and we need to redirect that we need to put that in its place where it might still belong. And then think about these new principles of marketing that, that will drive the results that we need to do.

Peter (37:01):

And acquisition is only a small part of that. And I just hearing that conversation is so exciting because I think that's the stuff. Those are the wake up calls, the moments that are happening in brands that are really thinking about this, that I think everybody that's listening to this podcast should be having conversations inside their org and with their agency partners about what is this new what is the new funnel look like? And how do we lean into into thinking more about things like loyalty and long-time long-term customer value rather than just getting that next sale inside the door. So it's just a fascinating time to be alive in e-commerce, but that's just me

Eric (37:41):

And we're all blind guys grabbing different parts of the elephant,

Peter (37:43):

For sure. Totally. Yes, absolutely. No one has. And that's, that was another thing in that conversation was like, God, I'm kind of getting sick of just keeping talking about these things and not actually doing anything about it because everyone's sort of struggling with the same thing. So it's I'm looking forward to that this sort of continuing conversation of which Eric, you have been such a great addition to the digital shelf, Pantheon of podcast guests. We were really appreciative of, of what you've brought to this conversation. And and it's been a joy to talk to you. Thank you so much.

Eric (38:17):

Thank you for having me.

Peter (38:21):

Thanks again to Eric Heller for joining us. If you're interested in the total growth accountability research, I mentioned go to digital shelf institute.org and click on the research page. It's at the top. Please share this episode with your colleagues and thanks as always for being part of our community.