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Podcast|August 24, 2021

E-Commerce Marketplaces: White Space? Or Black Holes?

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In this episode:

Wendy Liebmann talks with Ping Hao and Burke White, founders of Brand3P, and creators of the Walmart.com marketplace about the current opportunities -- and challenges -- for brands and retailers as e-commerce marketplaces fast become a primary distribution channel.

They discuss:

  • Why marketplaces are growing (Hint: because shoppers are there), and when to consider them as part of your overall distribution strategy
  • Why listing a product is only the beginning
  • Using brand and shopper marketing to create an immersive brand environment just as in any physical retail space
  • How to avoid the “butterfly effect”
  • When to participate on a marketplace, and when it may not be right for you
  • What a comprehensive marketplace strategy looks like

Visit Brand3P website and the Rainbow High example mentioned on the podcast.

Don’t miss upcoming episodes, stay up-to-date by visiting the WSL Shopper Insights Library, or our Podcast page.


Podcast Transcript

Wendy  00:09

Hello, my name is Wendy Liebmann. I'm the CEO and Chief shopper at WSL Strategic Retail and this is Future Shop. This is where I talk to innovators and disruptors in retail about what the future really looks like for all of us. Today, my guests are, I could call them disruptors. My guests are Ping Hao and Burke White. They are the co-founders of Brand3P. They are recognized for their work developing the online marketplace for Walmart in 2015. This is an extraordinary adventure they've been on. Ping who is the CEO of Brand3P. Her expertise is around building affinity networks. I actually met her on a blind business date, which sounds bizarre and revealing. Thank you ShopTalk for bringing us together as we had a meet and greet to learn about each other and each other's companies which led to this conversation. And Burke, welcome, this is great to have you here your experience in connecting products, partners, programs, channels, and the whole value chain of e-commerce marketplaces is really powerful. Ping and Burke when they founded Brand3P in 2019 their focus has been on building a strategic advisory company for global brands and retailers on ecommerce marketplaces. The topic today is where do marketplaces fit in the future of retail? Are they whitespace opportunities or just black holes? So welcome Ping and Burke,

Ping  01:47

Thank you so much, Wendy. It's an absolute delight. This is an area that we are completely committed to and passionate about. Where we see this opportunity of thinking about it from the consumers perspective, we're very pleased to have the opportunity to talk about it in more depth with kind of a strategic framework about how to start going about it.

Wendy  02:08

So when I think about marketplaces, you know, I immediately go to Amazon or eBay, I guess, Alibaba, Etsy, the makers marketplace, and of course, Walmart. How have marketplaces evolved over the last four or five, six years? And how do we need to think about them today? Burke, you want to jump in on that one?

Burke  02:30

I think each marketplace is born of a primary concept. Maybe eBay, for example, where consumers can trade with consumers initially. And how does that build out from there? Amazon, for example, starting with books, so long ago was primarily a first party online book platform. But as you see, over time, as consumers find value in the experience, the question is from a business model is what can you add? That is how these marketplaces expand. And it's not just what can you add from a product assortment point of view, new categories, for example, and so on, it's where can you source those products. And Ping and I use kind of a phrase to best describe a marketplace as it's really where all the retail pipes meet, everything comes together, first party, third party, all different profiles of partners can be there from retailers to maybe some smaller mom and pop profiles. And certainly some of the most profound, powerful brands can show up there too. And they're all there for one primary reason we are there as consumers, we find it convenient to purchase online, we are starting more to trust these platforms, eBay, Amazon, Target, Walmart, and many more behind them as convenient sources of assortment and service and product. And that's just growing by leaps and bounds every year.

Wendy  03:53

From our shopper perspective, that opportunity to do so much more efficiently, is certainly what we hear from shoppers all the time. You know, I'm trying to get things off my list, so I have time for other things. Now, sometimes those other things are shopping. But often it's this time wallet as much as the money wallet. So as you've described this in the evolution that becomes really interesting to sort of understand it in that context. So if I'm a manufacturer, why do I want to be here?

Ping  04:26

You know, brands, marketplaces are so expansive, there's hundreds of millions of products and 10s of 1000s millions of sellers with various profiles today. Brands have this opportunity to reach their current and their future customers in ways that are expanding fast, dynamic, evolving, the marketplaces is an open environment where people can learn what's working and what's not, and to connect with your consumer in this very tech data driven world is an opportunity that brands may not be as familiar with. And so marketplaces offer this opportunity to really drive that connection. And I think that's where we see the future going for sure is, it's more than just listing your products, it's about expanding the value. Not all brands are going to be able to invest and think about it from that perspective, because there's a lot going on in the history of marketplaces that it was more of a side gig, if you will, or let's list our products there. But as it moves into the primary channel, you know, Burke reminds us like during COVID marketplaces have become a necessity. It is a critical channel to the consumer and untapping that is where we think the value lies for brands.

Wendy  05:50

So is it sort of the next evolution of the mall, the days where I would park and walk into the mall and get a lot done in one spot? Or is it really something totally different as we move forward?

Burke  06:02

I'll hop in on that one, yes! Love the description of the mall, I'll take one step back and say there are very powerful brands, and let's stay in the US, for example, if you ask them, Hey, are you on a marketplace? They might say no, they are. If they're supplying a large retailer, let's say Walmart, for example, let's say they're a legacy brand have always been supplying first party to Walmart, their product is on walmart.com and walmart.com nowadays, as we talked about the evolution of a marketplace, is truly a marketplace where first party products and third party products come together to service us as consumers. So a brand might not think they're on a marketplace, but they are. And furthermore, as things progress, sometimes a first party product, let's say at Walmart, for Walmart's strategic reasons gets pushed to third party and the consumer still has access to it. It's just from a different source. So this is where things get quite curious. And then the question back to you, Wendy, great question is, is this kind of a mall? Or where are we headed? And the answer is, well, it depends on the platform and the capabilities of the platform. But we believe heavily, that a brand has an opportunity on a marketplace to gain influence.  In a traditional retail sense, the supplier gives the product to the retailer and relies on the retailer to front and face and present the product to the consumer. But in a marketplace, there are other functionalities to consider, one of which is to kind of create that mall experience you're talking about where a brand could have a more immersive brand focus experience on that marketplace. So yes, there are opportunities to create kind of that mall experience. And this is the fun part. Although marketplaces have been around for quite some time. We're still pretty early in this evolution. And you'll visit different marketplaces, even internationally. And you'll see different experiences. And some of those marketplaces are very much focused on building out those brand experiences that that kind of the mall you're talking about.

Wendy  08:05

And Ping, you and I have spoken about this before in Asia, at least luxury brands, you feel like you're walking into their store. So that opportunity for marketers, particularly in the US to get beyond the listing is that growing faster? It seems like it grew faster in Asia.

Ping  08:22

Yeah, I think the level of social commerce is at a point where it is describably different from, you know, the experience we have in the US. So currently marketplaces, they primarily view brands as a data attribute to a product listing. I'm simplified, but to a large extent, for many brands, depending on where you are and the kind of the totem pole of brand value to the retailer, you have this opportunity of moving beyond that. How do you create that immersive experience where you know, not only can your brand be searched and discovered in the places where consumers are looking for, whether it be search or browse, but that you can tell more of a brand story that align with your swim lane, as Burke says, like, for example, there's a lot of distractions when you look on a product listing, your own product listing your own brands, product listing, other companies are advertising against your product listings, sellers are selling against your products. But to us the product listing is just one touch point to that shopper, there's many others. You know, people are using video and many images and ads and there's a whole ecosystem. And so the question is, how do you use those touch points as jump off points to that broader brand story?

Wendy  09:43

So what's interesting to me and all of that is one of the things we see now How America Shops® research is when we look at people who buy online versus in store, it's both obviously but the brand switching that goes online and it's exactly what you were just talking about, it’s I go on to buy x, but all of a sudden, all these things pop up to tell me, well, there's this one and that one, and I could end up in this black hole. So as a brand, if I'm investing, is it worth it just to do a listing? Do I just have to be there? Or really, if I want to sustain myself do I have to think about it as a media vehicle? How do I have to think about it in the future? Because Burke, you said something that really got me, this is a primary channel, which means if this is a primary channel, I need as a brand marketer to think about, wow, how do I do business at that point of distribution? So long and long question to that is, is it enough to have a listing? Or do I really today have to seriously think about how I build out my whole brand, access, and story in more definitive ways.

Burke  10:50

A listing is a necessity to be participating on a marketplace. So whether that is let's say, Amazon, if you're selling your product to Amazon as a supplier, Amazon lists that product.  If you're, let's say, a private label brand, and you are listing your own items on the platform for sale, a listing a product page listing is step one, you must have it.  But that's effectively just participation. But that alone, unfortunately, due to the growth of these marketplaces is not enough. And the reason it's not enough is there are too many like products nowadays that compete with your listing, we must remember what a marketplace is great at is disassembling your brand catalog. A brand focused and differentiated from other brands out there has an assembly of product that represents its value as a brand. And when you load those items up on a marketplace, they all go to their little areas within the marketplace never really to be seen again together. That's by design. And so when a consumer, we, go looking for an item, we search, we browse, those competitive items all come together, I don't care what we're talking about a new binder for your child to go to school, all those binders are competing at once. And what we find is, of course, you have to have a listing and it should be a good one a binder, for example. But how do you get that brand value back together. And that's where we find that a longer term strategic investment that has a higher level of brand commitment is how you differentiate your product from the competitor out there. And although you do have to compete in kind of the larger swimming pool of products out there, it's sure nice to get the consumer back to your little kiddie pool of your product, let them look around, they understand your brand better, they can discover your assortment. And they're actually in a more, let's say a comforting environment for consumption. And you've removed also the competition from the kind of that Butterfly Effect you're talking about other brands that pop up in front and allow the consumer to switch easily.

Wendy  13:02

So hold that thought, before I continue my conversation with ping and Burke from Brand3P. I just wanted you to know that in our latest How America Shops® research, we've actually studied the differences in brand switching. When shoppers use e-commerce sites versus physical stores. The big news there is shoppers switch four times as often online, as they do in store, it all depends on the category. And we studied more than 40 categories. But it's really important for you to understand that in this new ecommerce omni channel world. So for more on this, go to our website, wslstrategicretail.com where you'll find details of the study and of course, lots more. Now back to my fascinating chat with Ping and Burke. So when I think about it, Ping, I think about some of the work that you've done. I'm so taken with Rainbow High. So this for the rest of you listening is you know, in the toy category, and we'll do a link to that so people can actually see what it looks like. But can you just talk about that experience?

Ping  14:12

So what Burke just talked about was like, you know, what is digital packaging look like? How are listings evolving. And people spend so much energy in the physical box or the physical presentation in the store. That's just as important to do that online. And then when you take it up another level to what Burke was talking about. We've coined this term of the brand celebration store. And this experience on Amazon, Walmart and Target and other marketplaces is the direction that we see is absolutely critical to the future to drive and bring that brand relationship across a reassembly of that value and it results in repeat buy. So what we did with one of our clients was really kind of take it to that next level adding the consumer layer to that experience, the doll becomes not the doll by particular manufacturer becomes the doll comes to life through the brand's eyes. And what's really outstanding here is really working, you know, with the CMO and the designer, it's like, what's the inspiration, it appeals to both moms and children and collectors, and depending on your audience, that's the exciting part of the consumer layer as you can define the audience you're trying to reach if you can reach hundreds of millions of consumers, which audience matters and by defining and narrowing that down, we were able to create this fashion boutique because that's the level of detail and depth and commitment this manufacturer has, this brand has, and then how do you bring that to life? We believe we're at this, if you will, a tipping point of how to get there fast. And it all starts with which customers do you want to reach? How do you want to reach them? And what do you want to tell them, you don't want to tell them you just have a product to sell, you want to tell them much, much more.

Wendy  16:01

So it feels like this is a big transition for what I knew the early marketplaces which were, I need a new faucet, perfect example, go on put Kohler in. And it comes up however it comes up. And then I decide whether I'm going to buy it from you. Are you are you are you and then sort of I'm done. This sounds like we are now at this new phase. But it sounds like old consumer marketing, not just new in this new channel. So am I being naive here?

Ping  16:27

No, you're spot on. And that is these are tried and true practices, methodology strategies. We're just bringing it into the environment of marketplace. So we find Burke, would you agree, the more the brands are involved in understanding which retailers are important to them in the ecommerce growth space, the better the result is, the more effective they're able to reach the consumer, if they just throw their products up there or let it evolve up there, they lose that brand touch. That's missing. And so we try to bring that back in. And we find that they are so excited because it really is a much bigger story.

Burke  17:11

It's putting retail back into, let's say e-tail at least it rhymes, right? It's going back to the proven ways of retail that have always been consumer experience. And you know, discovery, and surprise, all the fun stuff that we can remember, pre ecommerce I believe we all can in this meeting here is wow, that specialty retail experience was incredibly well merchandised and stocked appropriately. And the people helping you through that experience were knowledgeable, and wow. And that's why you purchase something. And price? Yeah, but not necessarily reduction of price, the value was the experience, the product was quality, and you paid accordingly. If you fast forward to the let's say the earlier days of marketplace, a lot of that was driven on price reduction and savings. But I think what we're seeing is kind of this this rebirth of retail, or at least the possibility of it on marketplace, where you can still have access to the vast consumer base, where you can still grow as far as multiple platforms and products syndication and so on. But you can still rebuild, you have the opportunity to begin to rebuild of your brand and to grow that experience back. So the consumer says, aha, retail, again, through a convenient platform that I trust, because I had to use it through COVID. And we are I think on the you know, the sharper edge of that message saying it can be done. We've proven it and data backs that consumers when they do have access to that experience they say yes, please. And thank you.

Wendy  18:51

That's really interesting to me, because what you made me think of when you're describing that is how so much of traditional retail and by that I mean pre the sort of explosion of e commerce with the advent of e-commerce and all the places people could buy. So much became commoditized. And we see it in our shopper data. People can buy anything anywhere, anytime, you know, all of those things, and e-commerce sort of ratcheted that up or drove so much of that. But we lost the touch the feel the smell of the experience, whether it was in luxury, or whether it was in mass, we sort of lost that experience. What you're describing now, is that this new, I'm gonna put marketplace aside, but this new primary channel that you've defined, is this place where we can bring that experience back to shoppers. So it's not just an item and price item and price.

Burke  19:44

Yeah, in fact, what you're describing we're seeing as a bit of a renaissance in retail and as it relates to these incredibly powerful marketplaces, which probably should mention that all marketplaces are not created equal. They're different. They're different in size, they're different in focus or functionality. And so as we are discussing marketplace, as a general term, it's still incredibly important for a brand to understand which marketplaces might be right for them. And there's a chance that some of those marketplaces either are incorrect, or not quite ready at the moment,

Wendy  20:23

that's a conversation we hear a lot in things like high end beauty and brands that say, No, no, no, I don't want to go to Amazon period. Because some point, I've got the stuff in the marketplaces, Amazon Marketplace already, and did a fall off the back of a truck. What is it doing to my brand image? Is it new? Is it fresh, can it be returned, all of those things? And so you see a lot of that pushback. So how do I if I'm, you know, CPG company and think about right marketplace? Wrong marketplace? I mean, what do I think about here?

Burke  20:54

Yeah, a lot of that starts with what we refer to as awareness from a consumer view, because a lot of those decisions, unfortunately, are made at a very high level, and just kind of a gut reaction of, I don't know that we're ready for marketplace x, or I don't know that our consumer base is aligned there. Before you make that decision, it's very important that you walk the digital aisles of that marketplace through a consumer lens and get the truth, what is there? Are your competitors there? Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, maybe you're already there in some capacity, it would be great to know that. And so starting with that awareness, then gives you the opportunity to make a more informed decision. And then on top of that, I want to make sure that everyone is not just binary in their decision. It's not a light switch. It doesn't have to be Yes, everything and no nothing. There is a middle ground in the form of an assortment strategy, where you'd say, Oh, interesting, you know, our brand encompasses this assortment. But yet, if we went to market on this marketplace, with a subset of that assortment, from a strategic approach, born from awareness, you have a different option there, there's some middle ground there to begin the journey, because it doesn't happen overnight. A brand moves into a marketplace, there's a learning curve from a digital functional point of view, there's your learning curve from consumer, and you have to invest in that and see if that's the right strategy for you. But again, assortment strategy is a big component of that decision.

Wendy  22:24

I just think about this from the sort of traditional retail days of when the Walmarts or Targets of this world expanded. And people said, well, I you know, I don't know what the dollar stores expanded. And everybody was like, oh, I don't think so. Or even at the clubs, you know, the Cotscos and the Sam's. Well, we it's a very high end audience. We want our product there. But oh, I don't know, what will our regular retailers think and it feels like when you talk about this, we always say follow the shopper to see the future. So Ping, you know, that notion of is the shopper there? Will it serve their needs? And how do I build an experience? Is that part of the way I should think about this?

Ping  23:01

Yeah, no, absolutely. I think that's the beginning, what you'll find is, as you pull back each layer, it becomes richer and richer. The story and the capability now that the brand has is to actually build some muscle around understanding what retail is to you. Certainly DTC and building that direct consumer relationship. We're not suggesting that market replaces anything, it's additive. It's complimentary, right? It expands your knowledge, internal and external of your position and your visibility. There are new skills required to kind of think through these tried and true questions of channel strategy, assortment strategy, product, and how that comes together. So I would say there are some new skills like the retailers because of the endless aisle, they can't retail everything on an endless aisle,

Wendy  23:54

Even though it's endless.

Ping  23:58

Even though it's endless. And so they're focused on their promotions, their marketing calendar, their initiatives, strategic initiatives, and the brand has more responsibility than ever to walk the digital aisles that are relevant to them to their consumers who they want to reach. And so you know, the way that I look at it is, the way that we look at it is that marketplace is more than just a sales platform more than just a marketing platform. But it's a communication platform to your current and future consumers. What message do you want to send, to whom, not everything to everyone? Right? It becomes this question of how does a marketplace fit into the brand ecosystem, not what everyone always talks about, which is how does your brand fit into our marketplace, but the exact opposite. And once you put yourself into that strategic frame, like wow, I know how this fits into my overall strategy it starts to come together and it comes together very quickly.  I mean, our clients are seeing a lot of like, immediate, like, Wow, I didn't know that channel contributed that much opportunity. We didn't have to spend that all on advertising. We actually just spent that on very basic questions of organically how do we want our consumers to find us. And so that we think is kind of the area that where there's going to be a lot of development and discussion, where tech supports the art of the brand. That is where we want to focus our time. Because by telling that story, I say this a lot, I believe the last mile to the consumer is the brand when they open up that box. And they're either joyful, or they're like, darn, I gotta figure out how to return it. And I hate returning things.

Wendy  25:44

It's very exciting, because it's both a media platform, a sales platform, a positioning platform for a brand. And that what you both said, you know, the, you have to be comfortable that your brand fits in this channel, as in any other, right? I hear the conversations to some companies, it's like, oh, you know, this isn't for us? How will we protect our brand, as opposed to saying, we're going to a new channel is this right? are we reaching out consumers, our shoppers in this place? And what is the story we need to tell? Let me just capture one other thing here that you've alluded to, but the profitability the return on investment, I know you're doing a lot of analytic work and financial work to showcase the success of some of the businesses you're supporting. What are you saying there? How should people understand this opportunity?

Ping  26:33

Let me just start with opening it by saying that consumers don't shop just by search buttons, okay, least shop in many different ways across platform. And, you know, through search and browse and clicking in all sorts of different things. And, you know, there's a lot of opportunity on the table where if you look at it, whether you're familiar with a particular category or not, there are ways to walk these aisles, like through, people don't often know through the filters on the side of the left hand side, there's all sorts of windows and aisles to go down. And there's a lot of money there, Wendy, a lot.

Wendy  27:18

So give me an example of what you mean by the filter.

Burke  27:21

So when most people use that, let's just use Amazon for the example. You go to Amazon, you have a product in mind, and you're thinking most people just search unbranded, best product description. And Amazon kind of helps you along with what we call hot keying, the if you kind of look at your search, it gives you some extensions. And you're like, yeah, yeah, I'm looking for you know, men's wool socks click, and off you go. And you consider the assortment and you make a purchase. That's commonly called spearfishing. There's a lot of competition in that, because that's what a lot of people do. But what Ping is describing is the many ways that consumers can search for products starting with a search, adding a filter may be on the left hand side, that is maybe price related or logistics shipping related, or color related, and on and on and on. And that changes the experience entirely. So put another way, if all three of us went shopping for a particular item on Amazon, and it was a specific item, we would probably use different paths to that item, a search here a click there. And when we got to the final, let's say search results, we would be looking at a different catalog to consider right. And we might not even find the thing you're looking for. And ironically, it's in the platform somewhere. So as Ping is saying a lot of different doorways and paths to that purchase exist on marketplaces. And that's why it's so complex to kind of figure out how it works. And that's what we do is we look at the at the prioritized paths to purchase we call digital aisles. And then we take a closer look at you know, what was there? What was on the way who's there and how they get there. And that dramatically changes the ROI for a brand when it comes to the consumer experience.

Wendy  29:12

Yeah, cause that's where you end up with the black hole if you're not careful, right. And so the ability to from a shopper experience, improve the quality of that sounds like it also improves the financial quality of that, from a brand standpoint,

Ping  29:27

it's worthwhile to do that because what happens is you may be a brand leader, physical but in digital, you're nowhere to be found in the aisles that consumers are looking. It is a stark difference whether it be for healthcare, or home or toys, we see it all over the place. And so I think really the language that people used and the ways they walked down these aisles are defining and brands need to be there. CPG companies specifically have this opportunity if someone's looking for a hypoallergenic product, a mom or a dad, bathing their kid for the first time, don't know what they're doing, but going to go in and try, they need to figure out that what are the best hypoallergenic products available for them to use, if you are the number one brand, you need to be there, and they may not be. And so I think it's exactly kind of this coming together of shopper and consumer that I think we are at the precipice for but the revenue is there. And we think that this is a new area, beyond the concept of digital shelf, to this concept of digital aisle. Lego does a fantastic job at understanding across multiple retailers, marketplaces, physical and online, about the value of their product, what they mean, what they stand for. They are, you know, a good example to look at that we look at as a model for really embracing the marketplace as a channel versus just won't mention some other big names, but versus just participating.

Wendy  31:07

So as you think about this, you've both said, as we think about marketplaces as this primary channel for the future, you both indicated that we're sort of at a precipice, this moment in time. Has COVID driven some of this because people are more immersed in e-commerce, or is this just the timeline of a new channel developing?

Ping  31:29

I mean, I would see both there are deep analytics in the industry, you know, that have been around for a really long time.  People are measuring, what percentage of your revenue is ecommerce based? And where do you rank in conjunction with your peers? Are you underperforming or over performing? So we believe that there's this important future plan. What percentage of my revenue is going to come from e commerce? Is it 50% 60% 70%? Where am I today? And what is that growth alpha factor? It's going to be marketplace and that's what we believe, that is something that we see happening, accelerated by COVID. But absolutely, here to stay.

Wendy  32:13

What are the three things that we should do if we're thinking about building out a business on marketplace?

Burke  32:19

When the topic of marketplace comes up? It dovetails to your previous question about COVID. And COVID was a it was a time machine, right? It just sped things up. We were already on the trend that marketplaces are real. They're not going away. I remember back in the early days of Amazon, like is this gonna last? It's not going away. So Fact number one is marketplaces are real, we as consumers are there. From a brand perspective, I would say, your current and your future customers are on major marketplaces, fact one. Fact two, you have to have a marketplace strategy. Your strategy could be like, we're not going to a marketplace, or we don't want to use our brand on marketplace x. That's fine. But the only way you can really have a marketplace strategy is to have awareness as to what's going on in the marketplace. So walking the digital aisles of the marketplace, as you are considering is incredibly important, because it maps back to your strategy. And a strategy, again, is not binary. It's not yep, we're doing every marketplace tomorrow with everything we've got. It has to be strategic product assortment, and so on. And the final bit would be that marketplaces are on a timeline, they are maturing, they're growing, they're changing, as is your business. So the answer today could be no, we're not ready for a marketplace. And that can change in the not too distant future. So I would say that the final bit is know when you're ready to go to marketplace. Do you have the awareness and data to make the decision? Yes. Okay. Is this marketplace the right one for you? Yes. Okay. And then when you do go to marketplace, make sure you're investing in a longer term strategy, not looking at a simple ROI of did this product sell only this product? Look at a bigger brand strategy of our footprint there. What does that consumer experience look like? Are we growing? Are we trending correctly with visits to our brand celebration store? Are we seeing organic sales increase all those trends? Those would be the three points I would make.

Wendy  34:21

And then I'll ask the last question, how do I need to think about it in conjunction to my retail my physical retail space?

Ping  34:29

So in the world of e-commerce and I think your question is much bigger and broader than that, but very often, especially since we're spending a lot more time in front on our phones and by shopping e-commerce is the omni channel starts in digital. It's interesting when we look at the experience that consumers have terms of shopping for particular products, through different channels through one omni channel like say Walmart, the products that you actually see BOPIS, you know, buy online, pick up in store, buy online curbside, by online shipped to home. There's multiple channels in omni channel, obviously. And then there's multiple channels on a marketplace as Burke alluded to, they're all different. If I want the same kind of customer experience, regardless of whatever channel I buy, let me make sure that I'm there. And I think that would be kind of like, how do you integrate and bring it all together? It was a real shocker for us, Wendy, when we realized that I can't have the same product selection, not anywhere close not even have the top 10 products that the brand is familiar with in these multiple channels. Why is that? It's because it's not trickle down. It's got to be thought of, in a holistic manner, these 10 products, I need these define my consumer, these are the top best selling as just as a simple example. Why are they not in all these channels? At the same time? Why can't my consumer get it in any way that they want? And I think we've got a bit of a ways to go on that.

Wendy  36:03

That's the perfect way to end this. If you look at it through the shopper lens, if you think about a shopper led strategy, and what do I need, whether I'm in a physical store, whether I'm ordering online, picking up at the curb, if I don't think about the whole shopper, and only think about this moment in time, then I'm not serving her or him. And I don't understand what they need, when and how

Ping  36:28

it's simple. You look and you're like what happened, I wanted to buy this product. Now I'll have to buy it in this method. That's absurd. And so like, the ability to be able to have that view is critical that awareness, where are you at in omni channel? How does it tie from A to Z of how my consumers are expecting it? Right?

Wendy  36:47

You've won my heart yet again, because follow the shopper to see the future. I can't thank you both enough for this, you have unraveled some of the things that I've had on my mind. And I know some of our listeners have had on theirs. You've simplified it. So thank you for the great three takeaways. And thank you for sharing the journey of marketplaces with me.  So here's the thing. What Ping and Burke said is that ecommerce marketplaces are fast becoming a primary shopping channel, and in fact, a whitespace opportunity for growth. That's really accelerated due to the pandemic. But it was there beforehand. What we have to recognize now is that shoppers are there. That means we need to think about this channel, a primary channel as Burke said in new and different ways. First of all, we need to think about a marketplace strategy, just as you would any other channel to go or not go, now or later. But with the same level of strategic thinking that any new distribution opportunity requires, the kinds of things you would do if you were considering any new channel.  Is the channel right for my brand? Are my target shoppers, there are my competitors there. What's the right assortment? What's the pricing? What's the experience? Have I actually walked down the aisle, the digital aisle, as I would the physical aisle to assess this? Or am I just guessing with my gut and making a gut level decision? This is like any other retail strategy opportunity. And you need to think about it that way. The shoppers expect more and more integrated omni channel experience, it actually behooves you to investigate and assess what's right for you and your brand, as in any other growth opportunity. So as my dear mother would say, Don't turn your nose up before you've tasted it. Growth opportunities are actually hard to find these days. And this is a potential one for all of us. So that's the thing. See you in the future.

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