In this Cloud Chat episode:

Wendy Liebmann, WSL’s CEO and Chief Shopper and Justin Honaman, Head of Worldwide Retail & CPG, GTM & Segment Leader for Food & Beverages for Amazon Web Services, introduce Future Shop’s Cloud Chat – a short, sharp, sometimes provocative take on emerging technology and the implications for the future of retail.

They discuss:

  • Generative AI…of course
  • The need to explore proofs of concepts and piloting…fast
  • New focus on data for legacy brands…good news and not
  • Real opportunities for upstart brands to use new tech…take heed legacy brands
  • Compossible commerce…and more
  • All in 10 minutes or less.

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Watch the video episode:

Wendy 00:09

Hello, everyone. I'm Wendy Liebmann, CEO and Chief Shopper at WSL Strategic Retail and this is Future Shop. Today I'm here with Justin Honaman, head of worldwide retail and consumer goods go to market and.

Wendy 00:23

Everything else at Amazon. For those of you who listen to this podcast, you have heard Justin before who has joined me and talked about all things, cloud, CPG, Amazon, direct to consumer, technology and everything else. Justin and I have decided that as a new feature for Future Shop, whenever we are so inclined, which is probably once a month or so.

Wendy 00:49

The two of us who talk a lot, are going to do a snapshot of maybe five or 10 minutes about what's the latest innovation, or evolution of innovations in the tech space that are that are impacting what we're all doing in CPG, retail or the businesses we're in. So, you know, topics like AI, up or down? Metaverse, here or gone? You know all of these things. So just so you know, that's what we're going to be doing just to keep you on the front edge of all of those things. So Justin, nice to see you again.

Justin H. 01:23

Good to see you, too. We were just together like yesterday. For those who may not be aware we just did an event called the Emerson Industry Day. And it was incredible. And I think great timing for this discussion today. Yeah, it was a great day yesterday.

Again, as Justin said, this is an amazing event that the Emerson Group have been doing now for I think 16 years or something, but the last three or four in COVID days, open to the industry. Wonderful range of speakers aside from Justin.

Wendy 01:56

The programming that I have a finger in. Yeah, we had, you know, Walmart, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, huge group of, you know, retailers and brands talking about everything from the issues that move us at retail. And so it was a great day. But yes, lovely to see you in person. And Lovely to see you again, virtually. So in a snapshot or two. What should we be thinking about here AI, this illusion, Chat whatever the heck is that all about? Any any of those things that we should keep our eye on and track for the next hour like our short and long life together?

Justin H. 02:31

Yeah, it's interesting, since we last talked, and I think when we lasted our session together, we were in the thick of what is generative AI like that was just exploding and continues to explode. I will say that. I will also say though, that the last maybe month or two as I shared yesterday, we've seen a reemergence of other other priorities for retailers, and other priorities for consumer goods brands. In addition to exploring and doing proofs of concept and piloting around generative AI, a new focus on data for legacy brands, and also an interesting focus on some of the new upstart brands out there that are making their way, especially in the consumer goods space, and how they can take advantage quickly as some of the new tech that is arriving to the market. So a lot of interesting movement, both in retail and consumer goods. I would also say that stores are opening and booming again. And at the same time we see ecommerce growing at a slower rate than I'll say it was a couple of years ago, but still accelerating. So those are just a couple of the things that are top of mind.

Wendy 03:43

Yeah, well, you so you sparked my, you know, curiosity, when you said some of the things with legacy brands. By that are you thinking about the implications for generative AI? Are you thinking about other issues that legacy brands need to be thinking about now?

Justin H. 04:00

Yeah, so I was first, first, the implications of how a new entrant can leverage some of the generative AI capabilities that are the low hanging fruit right now. So for example, as we talked about, again, yesterday, using the large language models or generative AI to do things like ecommerce listings, and add words and descriptions and taking images and doing interesting things with them and putting products in different locations. And in the past, you'd pay an agency, hours of work and days of work for that. And now, that's readily available, right? And it will become even more available. So for those flexible digital natives that don't have some of the, I'd say the silos the, you know, the slow to move, slow to act, slow to decide challenges in their business model, they can take advantage of some of the new tech quickly. And at the same time, there's new and emerging ecommerce capabilities and platforms that will enable better personalization and whatnot.

Wendy 04:58

Yeah, what else some of as you as you mentioned those,

Justin H. 05:02

yeah. So this year, we've seen a big focus on moving to more of a composable commerce, architecture, not to get too technical on the audience. But basically, the idea being that if I move to a place where my ecommerce kind of mechanism or my operation can plug and play different capabilities, that's what you would call composable. So I can plug in a new loyalty program, I could plug in a new personalization capability, I could plug in a contact center or capability. And that can be best of breed from a technology perspective versus having to go with a total platform. And so there's just so much more flexibility in the ecommerce, tech space that hasn't existed in the past. And we were talking about that in January at NRF. That got put on a bit of the backburner during all of the excitement around generative AI. And now it's just it's making its way back up the list of priorities and things to consider.

Wendy 05:57

Yeah, and I think the sort of first and last thought, or the first thought for the rest of our lives and these short discussion is that it really does feel like companies need to begin to play to experiment or to individuals, I mean, for myself for yourself. I know, we were talking to our team this morning, and and we were we were laughing because one of them, we were doing we had done one of our podcasts and whoever shared their image for our social media only head to the neck. Genuinely they are and Photoshop to fill in

Justin H. 06:34

the rest. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, the phrase I used yesterday, or I asked the group was, you know, what are you doing today to ensure you're not obsolete tomorrow, and, and one of my colleagues, Michael Connor, who you met who does a lot of the work in Gen AI with, with our team, he said, You know, I think companies are beyond FOMO. They're in FOMO, like fear, some of them are fear of becoming obsolete. And, gosh, we could go through a number of retail and consumer goods examples of where companies have become obsolete. And so the thing with Gen AI is just generative AI is just that there's capabilities that we're just learning about. And so yes, stick your to in, the experiment, just have somebody looking at the stuff someone following, engaging and understanding what the potential value is. And remember, it is not an IT project. It is not an IT project, it is the business that should care.

Wendy 07:24

Yeah. And I will say my last bon mot, for this discussion, thank you, is to say, understand, you know, we have people in our company, who all have different disciplines, on the research side, and the design side, you know, so we've said to everybody, you know, writing, go experiment, tell us what. Because small companies, big companies, let's discover and see what the applications might actually look like. And then we can build a huge investment strategy around it. But let's play on this. Because none of us know enough, whether we're tech people or not. And this is the way to experiment. Right?

Justin H. 08:05

Exactly. Test and learn. And it's difficult. Change is not easy, especially those that kind of like, we love our comfort zone. But yeah, this is something that's easy to try out, easy to test out and say it works or doesn't, or I like 80% of it, and I can make I can make it the 20% better. And that's what's really cool about it, I think and that's what's exciting. And that's what's drawing in the business people and not just technology people.

Wendy 08:28

Yeah, but that's great. So that's our first starting point. Short and sharp conversations about what's going on. And more to come everybody in the in the coming weeks as Justin and I create havoc around technology.


Love it's very good.


Thanks Justin.

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