Episode 75
July 16, 2018

PANDA-MONIUM

Is Magic Leap ready for prime time? Adidas and Parley harvest Starbucks straws from the ocean and pack them into overpriced running shoes, and kids experience existential dread while waiting in 7 hour lines for "experiential" commerce. Listen now!

this episode sponsored by

After 7 years and 2 billion dollars Magic Leap created... Snap Spectacles?

  • Magic Leap is a U.S. startup company that is working on a head-mounted virtual retinal display, called Magic Leap One, which superimposes 3D computer-generated imagery over real-world objects, by "projecting a digital light field into the user's eye", involving technologies potentially suited to applications in augmented reality and computer vision.
  • After 7 years of funding and almost 2 billion dollars, Magic Leap shows off new Magic Leap One.
  • The general reaction of the Magic Leap One has been disappointment. Magic Leap has partnered with several companies, including AT&T as a carrier partner for their wireless, who Phil asserts is the "worst carrier" in the US.
  • They are "sort of definitely shipping"? We hear this every three months, so who knows when we'll actually have it.

How has Build-A-Bear outlasted Toys-R-Us?

  • Almost too good to be true "pay your age promotion" from Build-A-Bear seems bigger than any iPhone release, with lines of people wrapping around malls.
  • Creative promotion, fun experience, a product that people build themselves and that lasts a long time.
  • Innovative toy brands like Funko that have experiential retail or take a more storied approach to engage with customers tend to do better than those who don't.
  • Build-A-Bear has more licensed products than not. Customers can further customize products they already know and love. Our modern mythology is influenced heavily by storytelling through movies, comic books, etc. (see Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology by Richard Reynolds) and these tie into the retail experience for fanbases.

Build-A-Bear, but for adults

  • Consortium is a NYC pop-up clothing shop that allows customers to customize their products much like Build-A-Bear but instead with fashion.
  • Brands like Coach, Consortium, and even Nike are capitalizing on customers needs to have an affiliation with luxury goods. They have in-store offers in certain stores where personalized items can be made to order and the customer can take them home in a matter of minutes.
  • The Nike Kicks Lounge in Omotesando, Tokyo sells blank shoes that customers can commission local artists to paint a design on them. They then dry the paint and the customer can take them home in about 20-30 minutes.
  • Doing this adds a deeper meaning to the product by having a long-lasting piece of art that is connected to your community. This could play into different products that are longer lasting such as jackets, coats, and bags.

AR in customization

AR has become a powerful tool in customized products. Brands have been utilizing AR to allow customers to see products in their home. Amazon has also been pushing their AR functionality, which is already built into their app.

Starbucks Innovation - The Grown Up Sippy Cup

  • The inception of the Starbucks "sippy cups" started with nitro cold brew and now that the iconic green straws are leaving, the sippy cups are the future.
  • What produces more backwash: straw or sippy cup?
  • Dunkin Donuts bragged that they are getting rid of styrofoam by 2020.
  • It's time for companies to make changes like this, even if it hurts their "brand". It's a positive example of companies that are saying, "it's not worth it".

Adidas has partnered with Parley to create a running shoe that is made from 95% recycled materials. Yes, it's a good and positive message, but it could also spur some innovation and create new jobs and technologies.

In 2023 we'll be styrofoam free and Jeff Bezos will be colonizing the moon trying to prove his rocket is bigger than Elon Musk's. It's the space race of the 60's but for Lex Luthor types.

Full Circle

  • The future consistently hasn't been delivering as quickly as we all hoped it would. Ex: Magic Leap
  • We're in a sweet spot where there is too much technology in commerce to take advantage of. So much so that the advancement of technology in retail and commerce won't happen until we capitalize on what's here already.
  • This show will become "Future Iterations of Things We've Already Been Talking About for a Long Time Commerce"
  • One thing that hasn't changed is that consumers want a personalized experience. Now retailers are being challenged to have deeper meanings and stories for their products.

Download MP3 (45.3 MB)


Phillip: [00:01:07] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip.


Brian: [00:01:11] I'm Brian.


Phillip: [00:01:13] And we have more news than you can shake a VR stick at today. Before we go to shaking our sticks around now, we want you to never miss an episode of Future Commerce. Make sure that you go and like and subscribe. We are everywhere that podcasts exist, and we can be listened to at anytime from any smart speaker device.


Brian: [00:01:33] All the time.


Phillip: [00:01:33] All the time. And we want to be in your ears all the time. We want to have a better relationship with you. It's not you. It's us. No, I have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm super excited about today's show. And I don't want you to ever miss another one after today. So make sure you go hit us up a FutureCommerce.fm. and sign up for our FC insiders. And that's your best way of staying in touch with what's going on in everything Future Commerce Land. Okay, Brian.


Brian: [00:01:58] This is episode 75. So I mean, you really could be listening to us all the time.


Phillip: [00:02:02] You really could.


Brian: [00:02:02] Like if you're just coming to the show you, can go back and listen to seventy five, nearly about seventy five hours worth of content. {laughter}


Phillip: [00:02:13] {laughter} That's a lot of content. We're coming up on a two year anniversary, too. And we got a lot of really cool things planned. And we're coming into conference season pretty soon. We're going to get a bunch of different places. So keep your eyes peeled. And again, FC Insiders is best place to stay in touch of where we're gonna be and when we'll be speaking at various events and what shows we'll be attending in the fall. So don't miss it. OK. Can we talk about how the world is going crazy for a bunch of different things right now, like all of a sudden?


Brian: [00:02:44] Well what kind of things are you talking about, Phillip?


Phillip: [00:02:47] I mean, everything from like custom teddy bears to all of a sudden it's a sin to use a drinking straw. For the 19th time I've heard that Magic Leap is coming out with something, just a few minutes from now.


Brian: [00:03:01] They are.


Phillip: [00:03:02] Yeah, right. I don't believe it.


Brian: [00:03:04] They're coming out with something.


Phillip: [00:03:05] Pick one of these stories and let's kick it off.


Brian: [00:03:08] This summer. It's official.


Phillip: [00:03:11] Is that what we're starting with?


Brian: [00:03:13] Sure.


Phillip: [00:03:14] OK. Go ahead. What's the story?


Brian: [00:03:16] Well, I mean, just that they're shipping their first product this summer.


Phillip: [00:03:20] Magic Leap.


Brian: [00:03:21] Yes. Yeah.


Phillip: [00:03:22] The thing that we've been talking about for seventy five episodes.


Brian: [00:03:25] That means you haven't been listening to the show yet.


Phillip: [00:03:29] Ok. It's we don't want to shame you. We don't want to FC shame you. We want you to... We want you to go back and listen. But in the meantime, we'll catch you up.


Brian: [00:03:39] To be fair, just to recap, Phillip thinks that Magic Leap is complete nonsense and doesn't really...


Phillip: [00:03:48] It's Vaporware. It doesn't actually exist. It's a bunch of really hard work, really clever 3D models that have been, you know, really goofy. I would think that if you're gonna make fake headsets that you say are going to come out one day, that you would make them look nicer than they do.


Brian: [00:04:02] Wouldn't that be hilarious.


Phillip: [00:04:02] They look really stupid.


Brian: [00:04:03] If this headset was literally just the the Spectacles re repurposed, like they just they just bought up all of Snapchat's inventory Spectacles and then slapped a different logo on those glasses. And then... I don't know. And just made them look a little bulkier.


Phillip: [00:04:25] I mean, that wouldn't have been hard to do because they were pretty bulky. Can you believe it's been two years since the Snap Spectacles came out and nothing has happened with that since?


Brian: [00:04:34] Yeah, that's super weird.


Phillip: [00:04:35] It's crazy.


Brian: [00:04:36] I mean, they were really minimal functionality. You couldn't do a lot with them.


Phillip: [00:04:39] Well, they were. But it's like that's what a product... That's what a company that's a software social network releasing a product should do is something minimum viable and then grow it. They did nothing.


Brian: [00:04:49] They did nothing.


Phillip: [00:04:50] What a sad thing. That is my prediction about what Magic Leap will do. It will do absolutely nothing.


Brian: [00:04:58] And I say you're wrong.


Phillip: [00:04:58] quote unquote, spatial computing and mixing reality. I will never be so wrong about anything as I'm going to be about this. But that's OK. I'd rather be super right on like a lark, then be just flat wrong. And we can all laugh about how wrong I was. But it sounds like they've got partnerships in place. AT&T is going to be it's like a carrier partner for their wireless, which, you know, why would you go with like admittedly probably the worst wireless carrier in the United States anyway? It's interesting...


Brian: [00:05:29] Wait you don't like AT&T?


Phillip: [00:05:31] No, I think AT&T is terrible.


Brian: [00:05:33] Interesting. I think they're overpriced.


Phillip: [00:05:36] Said the guy who's still on Project Fi, like two years after he said he was leaving. All right. So anyway. So Magic Leap. Yeah, definitely. Sort of definitely shipping. I hear this every three months, and we'll see three months from now... I'm going to make a prediction. October 1st, we'll still have nothing. We'll be well past summer, and there will be no such thing as a Magic Leap device. But we do have $199 entry level. Oh, shoot. What's the name. What's the VR headset? Self-contained VR headsets?


Brian: [00:06:08] Oculus Go?


Phillip: [00:06:11] Yeah. Oculus Go. That does exist. And nobody is talking about it. Isn't that crazy.


Brian: [00:06:16] I mean. It's not that surprising. The review said it was it was fun, but it was that like...


Phillip: [00:06:23] Not that surprising?


Brian: [00:06:24] Life changing.


Phillip: [00:06:26] I mean, we're going back to like I think we talked about this back in March or May or something like that. Yeah, I would have assumed that there would be a lot more fanfare around it than what we've seen. OK. Anyway, maybe technology adoption is just slower than I anticipate it being.


Brian: [00:06:42] Well that's something I did want to talk about today, but maybe we can get into that later. But just the sort of the promise of technology and like how consistently I think it doesn't, it never comes about in the timeframe.


Phillip: [00:06:57] Disappointing. Yeah. No, it doesn't come about in the way that you think it will.


Brian: [00:06:59] Exactly.


Phillip: [00:07:00] Right.


Brian: [00:07:02] Anyway, let's talk about something that is super relevant to commerce right now. How about that?


Phillip: [00:07:08] Yeah, actually, you know what? Can we talk about Build-A-Bear?


Brian: [00:07:13] Yeah. Let's talk about Build-A-Bear. I think that's a great idea.


Phillip: [00:07:15] Here's a store that if you had asked me a year ago, I said would be like would have gone bankrupt well before Toys R US, overpriced teddy bears...


Brian: [00:07:25] They're not that pricey.


Phillip: [00:07:30] Oh, thirty bucks for a teddy bear. That's pretty pricey. And then and then you've got like, you know, all these accessories and upsell, you can easily walk out spending 50 bucks on bears, clothing, not withstanding. A really interesting experiential retail business model. But you have to wonder h how much they can ride a fad. Right? Like because those are the kinds of things that, you know, these kinds of companies tend to overexpand while they're hot. And then once the market decides that they're kind of over the fad or a lot of copycats pop up, then it's done. It's as done as done gets. But for whatever reason, it's impressive. Build-A-Bear seems to have some legs. So they've actually sort of revitalized a little bit in that they've been hyping this, you know, coming promotion that they were gonna do. And today, as we speak, at the time of recording. There are massive lines queuing all over US and UK because Build-A-Bear did a really innovative, probably potentially profit and business killing promotion to hey, where you pay your age for a bear or any stuffed animal. So any stuffed animal in the store, you can pick and pay your age. So if you have a three year old, you know, she's gonna get the bear for three dollars, and which I just think is fascinating. And so did hundreds of thousands of people.


Brian: [00:08:59] People went bonkers over it.


Phillip: [00:09:00] Because people, they are going nuts. And, you know, people that probably haven't shopped to Build-A-Bear in years are queuing up in malls are shutting down. People are citing massive lines. I have like 30 people I know and Facebook right now or like Facebook live videos of malls that have like stanchions that are wrapping around and around and around. It's bigger... It is bigger than any iPhone release I've ever seen in my local mall. It's crazy. I'm not kidding. I was there for the original iPhone release 10 years ago, and it was nothing like this. This is pandemonium, Panda-monium. Pandemonium. So I wanted to kind of talk about this a little because I have seen this in a few different ways. It's a creative promotion. It's a product that people kind of get to build themselves. It's a fun experience. It's not a short thing. You do pay a premium for it. But they have this whole script they go through and they stuff the bear and the kid gets to put the heart in it. And there's a bunch of upsells. It's really fascinating, actually.


Brian: [00:10:04] Yeah I've done this with all of my kids, you know, and they all love their their bears that they got. It was an interesting process. And I think kids absolutely love it. And so when parents can take their kids to do something that's interesting to their kids, that has a lasting effect and a promotion that's sort of like almost one of those too good to be true promotions, if you will, it's an irresistible offer and those bears lost a long time. Like my son's...


Phillip: [00:10:41] Yeah a lifetime. Why wouldn't they?


Brian: [00:10:43] So, you know, I think it's one of those things where people like, oh, yeah. We've been wanting to do this for a long time or we have that bear and we love that bear, that stuffed animal and... Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. I kind of wonder, you know, here's a retailer that's doing something interesting in a mall and driving traffic to a mall. You know, if I was a mall, I'd want to Build-A-Bear in my mall. You have to wonder if Toys R US had I purchased Build-A-Bear, or copied Build-A-Bear or, you know, done something similar like in-store customization and created more story, a storied approach to what was going on in the ways of interacting with the customers, if they would still be around right now instead of now finally closed.


Phillip: [00:11:36] Right.


Brian: [00:11:39] You look at other innovative toy brands like Fun Co. We talked about Fun Co a lot of the show, but they've done all kinds of interesting things with their toys and their stories and their experiential retail. I think what this is proving is, find ways of engaging with your customers that they love. And then when you do promotions and you do go after them, they're going to show up because they love your stuff.


Phillip: [00:12:15] Yeah, 100 percent. But I think that like the way that these have panned out is they've actually carved out really interesting niches for themselves that sort of allow you to age into other brands. So you might start with Build-A-Bear in this experience. But when you get a little bit older, it might be kind of a sort of gender divided, but American Girl has a very similar type of experience for an older demographic.


Brian: [00:12:39] Right.


Phillip: [00:12:39] And having a story that's kind of woven into it. Now, Build-A-Bear went heavy and licensing at some point and maybe they've been doing this for a long time. But I noticed like it's a huge, it's like maybe 60/40 split of mostly licensed goods now. So they do a lot of Marvel. They're doing a lot of like, you know, DreamWorks, like they've got recognizable characters that the kids identify with. And then they get to customize from there.


Brian: [00:13:07] That's the interesting point. That's what Fun Co did, too. And what they did was brought in their own original artists, you know, and created more. Essentially it's like iterating off of license brands, things that people absolutely love already. But instead of just going the standard route, they're going and doing something creative with it, you know, getting outside the box.


Phillip: [00:13:29] Yeah. This actually reminds me of a book that's often cited in a bunch of podcasts that I listen to. It's a book called Superheroes: A Modern Mythology by Richard Reynolds. And it comes up all the time. But I find it endlessly fascinating that our modern mythology is sort of pervasive around superheroes, comic books, you know, mythical characters. You know, my kids are super into How to Train Your Dragon right now.


Brian: [00:14:03] Yeah, totally. But it's not just superhero. It's all kinds of mythology. Like anything that's sort of like, you know, in that range of beyond human has done well.


Phillip: [00:14:19] Right.


Brian: [00:14:19] You look at, you know, fantasy and sort of like the whole Harry Potter and and Twilight and Lord of the Rings and all of that. Anything that has sort of an in depth like long history of consistent storytelling that's usually got some sort of a loyal fan base.


Phillip: [00:14:47] And apparently a tie into retail experiences as well. And I think when you get older, yeah, Fun Co appeals to a particular, you know, crowd. I think even when you're looking at this, something that caught my eye this week was a story on Adweek about a brand that I wasn't familiar with before. Called Creative Consortium.


Brian: [00:15:14] Yes. This is super cool.


Phillip: [00:15:15] Yeah. Apparently so Consortium is sort of like a bespoke clothing bag, jeans sort of designer pop up that is going on a bit of a retail tour. But they allow you to make customizations to their products and sort of choose and design your product right there in the pop up. It's not clear to me because I've not been and I've only read one article about it. It's not clear to me if they produce it right there on the spot and you get it like on the other side or if you're just sort of custom designing it and it comes to you later. At any rate, there's a lot of this happening right now in retail. I was walking by a Coach store at the Palm Beach Gardens Malls, sort of a high end mall here in West Palm Beach. And I noticed that they have a luggage tag embosser in the window display at the front of the store now. And you can, it's at a price point, I think, $40 or $70 or something like that. But you could go in and have a small like piece of Coach that you custom designed and embossed with emojis and you know, your name on a luggage tag. And it's leather and it's Coach. And it says Coach on the one side. But you can put your own creative element with custom foils and stamps and that sort of thing. I think that that's insane that a brand like Coach or these brands like Consortium are capitalizing on our need to have affiliation with, you know, certain types of goods or luxury goods and be able to take that sort of personalized stamp and apply it to that brand. It's a different way of engaging with brand and retail.


Brian: [00:17:00] I wonder who powered that embossing. You should go back and see like what tech they're using for that. I remember that a few years back, I think two NRFs ago, two NRFs Big Shows ago. Xerox was there with like an onsite customizer machine. And they were making a really big deal of it. And, you know, I think they had some really interesting... You could use all kinds of colors and you could emboss and you could do all kinds of interesting customizations with it. I totally agree with you. I think in-store, on the spot personalization is going to become a bigger thing. And, you know, I think this Build-A-Bear example is a great you know, it's kind of showing that people love that. And I mean, I think that's been true. But, you know, you have to think like card stores... Physical greeting card stores... That would be a great, great place to have customization on site.


Phillip: [00:18:04] The thing is that greeting card stores have been doing custom invitation, wedding invitation, and Bat Mitzvah for decades, hundreds of years. Back when calligraphy and handmade monogramming was still a thing. The fact is that Build-A-Bear itself had to get very creative in the way that it repealed to an Amazon centric household who doesn't go to the mall as much anymore. They had to give them a reason that they couldn't refuse to come back, right?


Brian: [00:18:40] Right.


Phillip: [00:18:41] And I think that's the other story here is that people still want this experience, but it's going to have to be an offer they can't refuse to get them back in the day the door and get them to buy back into the experience and remember what kind of a joy it was all over again.


Brian: [00:18:57] Maybe. I think that's true. But those kinds of offers happen all the time. They just happen with brands that have no.... The offer gets lost in the noise. You know, I mean? Like J.C. Penney goes and offers "Oh, we're giving out clothing for a dollar. Everything in the store is a dollar." Right? Or, you know, something along those lines. I mean, you probably would get some noise, but Build-A-Bear has a storied brand, and I think that really helps play in to the offer. You know what I mean? It's so recognizable versus Penney's.


Phillip: [00:19:37] Yeah. The thing that gets me really excited is that, you know, I want this to come more into the realm of the things that like I'm excited about, which there is the Nike Kicks Lounge in Japan has something similar to this. There's a video on YouTube where they actually did a thing where you can buy like triple white colorways of particular silhouettes of shoes. So if you have like the Nike AirMax or, you know, some other shoe, it's rare to find them in like all white. Like everything is white. You can buy them. You can find them, but they come out in limited releases, usually have to buy them resale. But they carry them. And that's all pretty much they carry in the store specifically for customization. So artists are in the store and it takes 20 to 30 minutes for the artists to basically make the shoe the way that you want the shoe to be made and designed. Everything from like, you know, graffiti-esque airbrushing to paint splatters to intricate painting or, you know, all of those things are kind of being done right there on the spot and they actually dry them. They dry the paint with heat guns and fans and you can walk right out with the shoe. I think that that's really compelling.


Brian: [00:21:01] Yeah. That's super compelling. It's almost like going to a tattoo parlor. You bring in your design or like you say, you know, here's a general idea of what I want. And then, you know, you're walking out with something that's going to last you for a long time, that's going to be really specific to you. I mean, I think the big question that I have in all this is like the in-store experience vs. just, you know, ordering this ahead of time. I think there's something really cool about that tangible in store community, being in your community, being connected to artists in your community and being able to talk to them and almost like commission what you what.


Phillip: [00:21:50] One hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah, that's exactly what it is. It's a deeper, more meaningful experience with the product.


Brian: [00:21:58] Exactly.


Phillip: [00:21:58] Because you were there when it was created. It's like you own a home and you love your home. But there's something special about building a home.


Brian: [00:22:06] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:22:06] And designing a home. It's so uniquely yours. And you put a lot of thought and labor and care and all the little pieces. I'm not saying that paint splatter on a shoe is the same, but, you know, you have a more personal connection to it.


Brian: [00:22:18] Totally. And I think that, you know, this is going to play into things that last longer, like shoes. Shoes last a long time. It'd be cool to see like jackets or coats. You know something that you're going to keep around for a few years at least. It's gonna be high enough quality where you're gonna want to keep it. And I wonder again, do you have to walk out with it right then? Could you go in and like have a meaningful experience with someone that's working with you on something custom and then, you know, come back and get it later or have it shipped to your house afterwards? I think that's fine, actually. I think this is not an instant gratification type of product...


Phillip: [00:22:57] Yeah potentially


Brian: [00:22:59] ...where you have to have it in the moment. It's cool. It's certainly cool. But, you know, never underestimate the power of anticipation, as well.


Phillip: [00:24:58] Well, you think about other stores that have capitalized heavily on  the in-store design experience. Home Depot definitely does that with, you know, all kinds of things from, you know, garage doors to custom closets to maybe even paint colors to some degree. Lots of companies, that's a good portion of their business model. I was thinking about... We bought just thinking back to having bought a house. And we bought a house a few years ago, and we had a large walk in closet. We didn't know what to do with the space, and we accidentally found ourselves in the Container Store. Turns out there's a whole thing where they 3D model your closet. And they can show you what a custom closet will be like. And I have to wonder, like, that's got to be a bigger part of their professional services business. And part of their larger service offering that is a substantial part of their growth model. That's not just selling Tupperware. From the Container Store. You know what I mean?


Brian: [00:25:53] Right, right. I think this is really true. And then actually you think about technology now that's enabling this in your home... One thing that I wanted to mention on the show was I feel like Amazon's really been pushing their AR functionality. I don't even want to call it an app. It's not an app. It's functionality. It's like you said, you've said many times on this show, AR is not going to be one of those things where it's like, oh, I'm going into AR now. It's just something your phone does now. It's true. Oh, yeah. Let's see what this looks like in the house. I wonder if there'll be more like on the spot collaboration and on the spot service that's not in-person service. It's a home service. Live with an AR stream where you're designing or talking about like how things could look. If I was an interior decorator right now, I would be designing my business around being able to service nationally, regardless of service representative location, and be able to go around and design an entire house using AR and sort of like co-designing with your clients. That would be really cool. But I just thought it was really interesting that Amazon's been starting to finally make a big push in this category as well with Prime Day coming up. I don't know if you've seen any of their ads around this functionality in their app yet, but...


Phillip: [00:27:33] The AR? I saw there was a... I forget. Somebody posted a Twitter link on some of the functionality that you can use for buying like a TV on Prime Day or something, and I know I'd mentioned maybe like six or seven months ago on the show that I accidentally discovered that the Amazon app on my phone that I already had already has AR functionality in it. I had to put a dollar bill up on the wall for reference.


Brian: [00:27:59] Not anymore.


Phillip: [00:27:59] But yeah, that's crazy. Yeah. Becoming more ubiquitous. What I find really interesting is that we're finding more interesting uses of commerce around augmented reality. We're kind of switching gears a little bit here, but we had a story that we didn't get to, I think on the last episode around Adidas. And Adidas using Snapchat's new AR shopping tool.


Brian: [00:28:29] Oh. Yeah. Nike...


Phillip: [00:28:30] I guess there's a few other companies that are sort of deep into it. But, you know, basically it's Snapchat's been heavily sort of experimenting around things like location based stickers, location based AR experiences and shoppable AR coming into store with Snapchat seems to be an interesting play that, you know, Adidas would have around some of their tent pole stores. So I think we're going to see more and more and more of this. And hopefully they find their way into the apps that already exists on our phones where we don't have to download a 7000th app that only does this particular thing. It's already frustrating that I have, you know, seven footwear apps on my phone. I don't want to have to install a separate one.


Brian: [00:29:19] Do you find yourself downloading apps, using them for like a few seconds and then uninstalling them recently? I feel like I've been doing that a lot lately. I don't know.


Phillip: [00:29:27] I feel like I'm doing the opposite of that in that I have more and more and more apps every single day.


Brian: [00:29:32] I feel like maybe I mean, there used to be that study like no one's downloading apps anymore. "What's the average number of appls that download per per month? The answer is zero. It's less than 25%. Blah, blah, blah." I feel like maybe that's picked up again. I don't know.


Phillip: [00:29:51] Yeah, for me it definitely has. So recently I downloaded the Whole Foods app. Thank you, Amazon. It's like my 11th Amazon app that I have.


Brian: [00:30:01] You wanted to discount.


Phillip: [00:30:01] I needed the Prime discount. Right? But I've gotten some other recent ones... We're way off on a tangent, but it's fun. There's another app that I downloaded called Clarity. It's a budgeting app.


Brian: [00:30:19] Oh nice.


Phillip: [00:30:19] So I'm giving up all of my financial data. I realize this. Don't @ me, bro, but giving up my financial information to some random company who I didn't know. And what they did is they they like scrape through all your transactions, they show you all the recurring transactions that you have across all your bank accounts. So they actually show you, "This is how much you're spending every month on a bunch of stuff you might not be using anymore." I'm like, we still have ABC Mouse? Oh, my gosh. We should probably cancel that. But it's interesting because I am finding that I'm installing way more apps and maybe that's because I'm aging into a demographic that I have 100 apps on my phone.


Brian: [00:30:58] Or maybe we went through a period where app development sort of stagnated and now newer technologies or business partnerships or things have allowed us to finally start finding new uses or new ways of using apps. I feel like that's kind of true.


Phillip: [00:31:13] Yeah.


Brian: [00:31:15] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:31:16] Potentially, yeah. Yeah. Shoppable Instagram to me, if Instagram has AR, which it does because it very much face filters and stuff like that, but if it did true augmented reality, shoppable Instagram using that as a... Like if I could use that in Starbucks as my payment app, I would 100 percent do that. I would totally do that. I might use it for a million other things, too. So Instagram as a platform and not a social network.


Brian: [00:31:40] Yeah. Totally.


Phillip: [00:31:40] Super compelling.


Brian: [00:31:42] Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, most people already have Instagram downloaded, but there's just other things that have just popped up where it's like, oh, yeah, I decided I've got to actually install this. I don't know. It's interesting. It's starting to happen more. And I think it's because of new technology or new business partnerships.


Phillip: [00:32:02] Speaking of Starbucks, since I mentioned Starbucks...


Brian: [00:32:06] More apps than you could shake a straw at... {laughter}


Phillip: [00:32:12] {laughter} That's so good. We're killing it with the segues today. Starbucks is eliminating straws globally by 2020, giving every adult a sippy cup instead. The way that they introduce this to us, too. I'm really sad. I got really used to the sippy cups with the nitro cold brew and now I'm like, oh, I kind of like the sippy cup. So they've sort of incepted me to want the sippy cup before they got rid of the straw, which is interesting. But they apparently this is a big deal for them. The green straw is iconic. I'm interested because I didn't see it in the press release. Everyone's talking about it. But do you think that this potentially heads toward... I mean, definitely this... So... OK. If you're not aware of the actual story, the story is that cold beverages account for more than 50% of Starbucks beverage mix in the US, which is 37% from five years ago. So congratulations on creating a brand new, re-creating and reinvigorating, you know, another year round seasonality for coffee consumption. Outside of just the frappuccino, they have all kinds of other cold drinks now, which is really interesting and a little bit of innovation there. I could go on and on and on, but that means that along with it, they definitely are helping to contribute even more to those plastic cup and plastic green straw being part of the... Their green commitment basically is telling them they need to find a way to scale back. So they're cutting out the straws by 2020. What's really crazy about that is if they're going to sippy cups, can I still request a straw? And if so, is it gonna be a paper straw? And if so, do I have to pay for it? That's the question I need to have answered.


Brian: [00:34:17] Well in Seattle, you won't even be able to request a straw because they banned plastic straws. Paper is fine.


Phillip: [00:34:24] Would you take a paper straw?


Brian: [00:34:25] I used a paper recently, and honestly, it wasn't that bad. It was fine. I don't know why some people complain about them. I thought it was just fine.


Phillip: [00:34:33] Oh, my word. Yeah. And it's interesting, the other trend is that you sort of carry your own straw around. Plastic or like those recyclable totes that everyone has three thousand of when you only ever need one. Metal straws are a big thing.


Brian: [00:34:52] I don't see that happening, man. No metal straws, reusable straws... Not a chance. I'm not going to carry a straw around. I can tell you that right now. Maybe some people would. I mean, it's just kind of gross, like, you know. Would you put it in? You'd put it in something? You have like your straw carrying case. Maybe there's a telescopic straw that you that you whip out.


Phillip: [00:35:19] Yeah, it's like those canes that was sort of like unfold that like you can whip out and like it goes "clack, clack, clack, clack, clack..." There are straws that do that. I find them really interesting.


Brian: [00:35:33] I think the biggest question that I have is what's going to produce more backwash? Straw or a sippy cup?


Phillip: [00:35:42] Show title. {laughter} I find it incredible because the timing is sort of conspicuous. Like not even three months ago, Dunkin Donuts was bragging that they're getting rid of Styrofoam by 2020. So the timing of Starbucks getting rid of plastic straws seems to be quite conspicuous. Both of those are kind of iconic. The green straw for Starbucks or the Dunkin Styrofoam Cup. Those are those are big changes. If you're a brand, that's kind of a big deal.


Brian: [00:36:14] Yeah definitely. I think this goes to show is it's time for brands to like make big changes that even affect their brand if it means improving their environmental impact or bringing their company into the 21st century. There are a lot of companies out there that cling to things from the past because they feel like they'll hurt their brand or they won't be as recognizable if they leave those things behind. I think this is a great, really positive example of companies that are saying, you know what, it's not worth it. It's not worth it to us or to the world to continue with us.


Phillip: [00:37:01] I remember hearing a talk a few years ago about the great garbage problem that we have in our oceans and how so much plastic is polluting the oceans and how it's become sort of like its own landmass. And I forget who gave the talk. I believe it was a Magento Imagine conference a few years ago out of some of that awareness, there is a company that Adidas is heavily invested in. I don't know that it's a non-profit or not for profit, but there there's a company called Parley for the Oceans, which is specifically going toward trying to find a re-use for some of the harvested plastic that comes out of marine plastic pollution. And Adidas has found an interesting way to create an even more expensive running shoe using that recycled plastic that's 95% made from that recycled material. There could be an interesting way of... Yeah, there's definitely a social good message here. There's definitely an eco message here. But I also think that there are other interesting uses of business and technology, especially around textiles that could come out of some of this, you know, that could give new life and create new jobs in new areas and spur some innovation. So, yeah, I'm kind of bullish on this. I think it's really cool.


Brian: [00:38:33] It is really cool.


Phillip: [00:38:33] But you're not going to have an expandable straw. You're not gonna carry one around. I might.


Brian: [00:38:38] Well Phillip will.


Phillip: [00:38:46] Anything else about that?


Brian: [00:38:46] Actually, there's two different... I think it's interesting. There's actually two different things here, and I just kind of want to separate them. One is sort of new products based off of ways of being more environmentally friendly. And the other one is revolutionizing existing offerings. And I think both are important. I think there's gonna be opportunities for both going forward. And you're gonna need to look for both. It's not just, "Oh, yeah. We're getting rid of straws." It's, "Oh, yeah. Look, we've created a new product because there's new ways of building things that make sense." And maybe they cost a little bit more. But people are willing to pay a premium for something that is better for this world. So that's two different categories, I think. Similar, but...


Phillip: [00:39:38] Yeah. That's been the case for some time, too, right? We'll self-select to spend a little more if we feel like there's a greater social good that comes out of it. Pretty awesome. I know I will anyway. Interesting timing. So by 2023 we won't have any more styrofoam coffee cups or plastic straws, or by 2023 Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' answer to SpaceX, will be colonizing the moon. Which one of those sounds more realistic to you?


Brian: [00:40:18] Oh, my gosh. This is related...


Phillip: [00:40:25] What does more harm to the environment? Plastic straws or the massive burning of fossil fuels in solid rocket boosters for us to be able to escape Earth's gravity, so that Jeff Bezos can show Elon Musk that he has, you know, a bigger rocket, if you will.


Brian: [00:40:46] Is this just the space wars for a private economy? Like governments aren't as...


Phillip: [00:40:50] Yeah it's privatization of space. Yes. Yeah.


Brian: [00:40:52] It's just the 1980s all over again. But it's between private companies.


Phillip: [00:40:57] 60s. Yeah.


Brian: [00:40:58] It's like the 60s. That's true.


Phillip: [00:40:59] The 60s space race but for Lex Luthor types. {laughter}


Brian: [00:41:07] Right.


Phillip: [00:41:09] That's the show title. I don't have anything more to say about that other than, you know what's interesting is that Elon was talking about mining an asteroid recently and...


Brian: [00:41:24] Can we just stop talking about Elon... Sorry, I cut you off right there.


Phillip: [00:41:27] Okay. Alright. What about the Model 3 is starting to ship?


Brian: [00:41:32] No. I'm talking about it.


Phillip: [00:41:33] What about him trying to rescue Thai soccer team?


Brian: [00:41:37] No.


Phillip: [00:41:37] Okay. So none of these stories you want to talk about.


Brian: [00:41:39] No. I don't really want to talk about Elon Musk any more. I don't know. It just seems like he's doing things all the time that are crazy. And it just never...


Phillip: [00:41:48] Because he understands the Trump media cycle model now. This is how you dominate public consciousness for good or for bad, like you want to be in front of people all the time.


Brian: [00:41:56] That's true. Right. That's why I don't want to talk about him anymore. This is that kind of thing, like podcasts, like ours, talking about Trump, helped propel him... Doesn't matter how we talk about him.


Phillip: [00:42:06] Yeah. That's true.


Brian: [00:42:08] So I just don't want to talk about him anymore.


Phillip: [00:42:09] Right. You just don't care about Elon. I will say this, though, since I don't know that we've ever actually said the word Trump on this show. What I think is fascinating is... Or I love this idea. I would vote for literally any candidate whose platform is "There will be days at a time where you will forget that I even exist." If they could run on that platform. I would vote for that person. Because honestly, there have been times in American government where I forgot that we even had a president. But that doesn't exist anymore. It's always in our consciousness. And that's how Elon Musk feels recently to me as well.


Brian: [00:42:54] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:42:54] He's always in front of us with every single crisis. And now he's, you know, going to provide clean water to everyone in Flint. It's like every week there's something. Okay. Anyway, we've got now...


Brian: [00:43:04] Now you've done the very thing that we shouldn't have done. Great job.


Phillip: [00:43:07] Sorry.


Brian: [00:43:11] You know, this kind of leads into something else that I want to talk about. And it sort of it gets back to your whole Magic Leap never coming thing, which is it's interesting we talk about, all the time we talk about the future. I mean, that's in the title of our show. Future Commerce. It's just I don't know. I feel like the future hasn't been delivering as quickly as we all hoped it would. And I think that's true consistently. And so it'll be interesting to see what the next few years bring. I think that a lot of this stuff we've been talking about for the next two years are actually going to constitute the technology that commerce uses for the next five years. And I think maybe we talked about this a little bit before already, but I think we've kind of hit a sweet spot where there's too much to take advantage of, such that the advancement of technology won't happen because we need to capitalize on the technology that's here already, at least within retail and commerce. And so we're going to be talking about similar things, similar partnerships, maybe iterations of stuff that we've already been talking about, but nothing too much further beyond it for a while longer. Our show will probably become, you know, the "Future Iterations of Things That We've Already Been Talking About For a Long Time Commerce."


Phillip: [00:44:48] Yeah, it's already happened. It's already happened. Yeah. I think I'm on the record a year ago saying that social commerce is not a thing.


Brian: [00:44:58] It's not that I think it's a thing. It's just something that's happening. Social commerce as a concept has been around for a long time. And it's gonna continue to exist in its form for a while longer. It's not that it's not a thing. It's just it is what it is already.


Phillip: [00:45:20] Wow, OK. I mean, that's kind of where... The evolution of our show will continue. And it has like if you look, if you go back and you are new to the show, you go back and you listen two years ago, we were talking about vastly different things. But with the same sort of analysis and outlook in our future, as far as we can see into the future through this lens. But I think that it's very, very, very interesting where we are in 2018. One thing hasn't changed is that consumers want to experience. I don't think people just want to buy and to have. I think now we're being challenged to have deeper meaning and deeper story and more engaging experiences with products and brands. And that's the challenge. And I think will always be the challenge as far as I can see.


Brian: [00:46:17] Yeah one hundred percent agree. Even at the low end there's still a story, and I think that that's going to be, that is sort of the upcoming thing that I think Amazon's going to focus on now as well is having those lower end brands tell that story. I think that's enough for today, though. We'll talk more about the latter.


Phillip: [00:46:47] Ok. So thank you for listening to Future Commerce. Like we said at the top of the show, we want you to give us feedback about today's topics. And maybe you could do that. Maybe it's easy for you to do that. If you're sitting front of a computer right now, go over to FutureCommerce.fm Or whip out your smartphone. Make sure you like and subscribe to us everywhere where you get podcasts. Spotify. We're on I Heart Radio. We're also on Google podcasts, the new Google podcast platform. You can listen from any smart speaker device with the phrase "Play Future Commerce podcast." And while you're there, while you're on those podcasting platforms, leave us a review. Give us a five star. We'd greatly appreciate it. All right, Brian, what is it that we say that I always mess up?


Brian: [00:47:33] {laughter} Retail tech is moving fast.


Phillip: [00:47:34] And Future Commerce is moving faster. Talk soon. Bye.


Recent episodes

LATEST PODCASTS