In this episode:
Wendy Liebmann talks to Chris Perry and Oskar Kaszubski of Firstmovr, a Center of Excellence for CPG eCommerce Education & Change Management about how to build and educate companies to constantly adapt to the new digital retail landscape.
- The ever-expanding digital eco-system, and the need for constant learning across all areas of organizations
- The multi-dimensional capabilities now required by CPG employees rather than what was a linear approach
- How companies must keep the shopper at the center of their e-commerce capabilities
- How to overcome the struggle to find insights in a world of so much data
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Watch the video episode:
Hello, everyone. I’m Wendy Liebmann, CEO and chief shopper at WSL Strategic Retail, and this is Future Shop. This is where I talk to innovators disruptors and iconoclasts, about the future of retail.
At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the National Retail Federation, big show in New York City, there was so much discussion of late. It’s been a very busy January and lots of show and tell about the next phase of digital business and all the new technologies emerging. And of course, the latest bright shiny thing ChatGPT, raise your hand if you tried that one. But I was really trying to make sense of all that. You know what’s going on here, as we move further and further into a digitally transformed business ecosystem. Not only how do we make sense of it as in thinking, and how we make sense of it as in terms of money. My guests today to talk about all this are Oskar Kaszubski and Chris Perry from Firstmovr, that they designated as a satellite Center of Excellence for CPG ecommerce education and change management. And I’ll tell you a bit about that in the future. Oskar, the chief growth officer presses the chief learning officer and they are on a mission to empower first movers to win in this disruptive marketplace, between the two of them may have the absolute best experience of working in both big CPGs like Kellogg’s and Kimberly Clark and Reckitt, to startups and digital marketing and E-commerce. And after tell you, if anybody’s going to help educate me on all of this, it’s these two fellas, I first met Chris through the digital underground, which is sort of literally and figuratively, this sort of loosely formed cabal of digital Whiz Kids who I stalk on a regular basis and then through him, Oskar, so after that long introduction, welcome to you both.
Thank you very much, Wendy, we’re really excited to be here.
How why, why now? Firstmovr, I mean, you’ve come from big companies and smaller, I understand the urgency, I need to know more. But how did you start the company? Why did you start the company and what are you focused on at this very moment,
a first mover has to light the way that’s always been true, someone let the path clear the path for the rest of the group to go forward. But what we find is first movers in today’s environment, whether they’re the digital leaders, the media leaders, the E-commerce leaders, the artificial intelligence leaders, whatever it might be somebody wearing many hats have to not only light the way for the next change, which is literally on the heels of the one we’re already trying to activate. But then also somehow, at the same time, with single human beings trying to do a lot of this, bring everybody else along over the change curve. And so what we’ve kind of found is, the first movers need a first mover, somebody that has their back to both either tackle the organization while they go figure out what comes next in their own right or to help them figure out what comes next. And so obviously, that’s a that’s a tall order to swallow. But we’ve really tried to tackle that through both industry education and the democratization of kind of thought leadership, but what we like to call practice leadership, because thoughts are great, but we want to make sure we’re actually going to be able to go do this stuff, custom training and certification for CPGs and shopper agencies and retailers. And then a lot of the work that Oskar leads is the change management capability assessment, benchmarking, strategy, development and implementation. And, you know, he can speak to a lot more of that. But I always like to start with why Simon Sinek would say, Oskar,
I constantly want to be in the future, like, I would have a massive joy if somebody could send me 50 years forward. And I would have to figure out all the new technology that the future world would have. I mean, I would be one of those people that freeze me today, wake me up, you know, in the future, and I’m ready to go, just suck in all of this new great technology, right? But in order to just show that vision, we also have to build the bridge to that vision. And this is why Chris is always such a great partner and the fourth partner because he’s mastery of storytelling of marketing, and basically setting up the ship that the ship can, you know, leave Earth and go to the Mars is so critical for a large organization. When we have a lot of those more like inspiration, future looking leaders, a lot of the times when they come into the organization, it’s hard for them to tell that story. And after a while after like six to 12 months they lose the new car smell. So the new ideas that they actually bring into the organization if they are not grounded, if there is another proper change management, they basically become ineffective.
You know what’s interesting about that, to me, I just spent the last few days with some of our team with one of our retail clients. And this was a whole new retail media organization. And I want to talk to you about retail need you as we go along. And this was a team, a new team of 40, people still hiring some from the established organization, some from the outside, and the new, totally new head of this organization, coming from another retailer, brought them together to sort of immerse them in the map, where we’re going, what we’re trying to do. And then we immerse them in retail innovation in the market to see what’s emerging through the lens of the shopper, because I don’t know how to ground the future unless it’s what will benefit the shopper, and not just how do I monetize retail media and the various touch points. But what struck me in the conversation, over the two days was very much what you just said, Here’s somebody who’s come in from the outside is forming a totally new organization in a very established company Corporation. And I think recognizing, actually, I know, he was recognizing that you have to help this whole organization, think about the change, while on the other side, you’re moving to the future. So that seems to me, like just something that you too, are living every day.
We don’t have all the answers either. But being in an educator role forces you to constantly relearn, so that you can help the next person learned even better. And so unfortunately, not all leaders or practitioners get to practice relearning all the time, because they’re supposed to be doing, you do learn when you do, but sometimes you have to have somebody helping you kind of air cover over top actually forcing the learning.
It just seems to me the complexity of what we’re all trying to do here. I mean, it’s not that retail from our perspective wasn’t complicated before. It’s not that big CPG brands or small brands, didn’t have a complex and changing approach to business, that it wasn’t quite so fast moving or fast changing the consumer as shopper was not so quick to change because they didn’t have access to so many things. They were dependent on the big companies to say, here’s a new brand has a new product, it’s on the shelf and this retailer, now the marketplace has changed so much the tools and technologies have changed. So the complexity of clarifying that, and bringing the learning to life seems to me hugely, even more critical now than maybe it even was five or 10 years ago. And I will tell you what struck me and I’m going to show you a really photocopy excuse me an old world photocopy. So this is something that in our seditious digital underground thing and out well, if Chris and Oskar lead us will share a link to this. But what these two fellows are really good at is taking new sort of complex ecosystems and telling simplified stories, not simple but simplified stories. Where do you begin in this conversation, when you bring a group of companies together, or a company together? And how do I focus here?
We put that diagram together. And if you get a chance to look, it’s a free resource we put out, it was just to help make sense of what we’re helping brands on every day. And we’re working with a lot of these different solution providers and insights providers in North America edition of what we call our trilliant value scape for digital tech capabilities, we had to layer now a multi dimensional set of capabilities on top of what was a more established predictable, more linear way to market and wait to get insights back from that market to keep going back and forth. It was kind of a ping pong game versus now it’s a pinball game all over the place and multiple 3D. And we were trying to lay this out, we laid out the different flows of what in this digital world needs to get from point A to point B to point C, and a very quickly became this kind of trilliant diamond shape, which is really why we named it that way. We wanted to tackle to help companies and the solution providers help each other.
Okay, so now, what’s step one? What’s step two? And what are the biggest mistakes people are making and all of this
we are fundamentally a practitioners and storytellers. So we are not doing this assessment from a technology point of view, right? We are just looking for and state business in terms of what the change management this needs to drive. So that’s why we put kind of shopper in the center, because for us, it’s a little bit like very similar to what Steve Jobs was saying that people might not know what they want in the future, we might have to design that future for them. Because if I would tell you that, you know, in 20 years, we might have androids walking and doing our shopping that concept would be completely foreign to you unless again, like me, you watch a lot of science fiction, right? If I will tell you that the best idea that we might have in the next five years is to put ChatGPT plus text to shop that Walmart has so you actually have an assistant that you can have a conversation on a lot of people would not be ready for it yet, if you think about it as E-commerce is actually very simple ecommerce and digital commerce has been always about convenience. So we are making things more convenient to people, it’s really about shortening the time between desire and delight, right. But what we haven’t done as an industry, we haven’t really thought about few things. Number one is we haven’t thought about how much decisions people have to make every day, and how much distraction people have every day, right, because we are bombarded by the data. But we are constantly like struggling to find relevant insights. And we can be basically swayed by any content. And then you know, we have a big issue with echo chamber, because the all those algorithms are basically serving us similar content. So we are like being packed into a little bit of a hole that it’s hard for us to get out, right. And that’s why it’s kind of important to start actually valuing people’s time. Like how can we actually use the technology to crawl back some of that time? How can we create shopping experiences that are more relevant to us, right, as people, we have to actually start thinking about people and who they are and start building a profile to basically when they walk in to the store, that they see the relevant items first, and then they can actually spend time on discovery of new products and brands that might be possible.
For example, you know, launching maybe something similar which Apple is launching this year, which is, you know, those AR glasses where you can actually walk in in the store, and all the items that are relevant to you there are highlighted first before the discovery, right? The same thing on ecommerce, you know, Jeff Bezos actually did a lot of great things for E-commerce. But this whole notion of Amazon of being of store of everything, it’s a little bit problematic, because we are just bombarded with millions and millions of items that, again, some of them might not be relevant to us, most of them will not be relevant to us, right. So we actually have to fulfill the last thing, which is, you know, the kind of the last thing of digital commerce that we haven’t been able to conquer, which is personalization. And how can we actually strike the balance between showing only relevant items right for you, but avoiding that echo chamber that you note and gonna end up in only the items, and you will stop, actually, you know, experiencing items from other categories, because the algorithm will deem it not relevant to you. So we have to sort out this future. But that’s why it’s fascinating. That’s why we always keep the shopper first to trying to figure out is like, what is the next step? What’s really exciting about the last few weeks, that a lot of people are laughing when I say that, but I honestly think that Chad GTP in a way, it’s our second COVID moment, and we’re gonna see a massive acceleration of digital, it AI, you know, in the coming months, and the reason for it is because people realize that, you know, last year, all of the tech stocks were getting beat up. And suddenly people realize that the future without tech not necessarily exist. But I truly believe that people actually don’t see it yet. We are on the cusp of another iPhone moment where we can actually use the technology to help us where our actually artificial assistants like you know, Google assistant or Siri etc, or Samsung Bixby can be actually useful to you. And you can have a regular conversations with them. And they can be actually helpful when it comes into day to day tasks.
Yeah, and I think that whole issue around time and understanding the inherent value to you know, our bias is all shoppers, you know, it’s that how do we build that Inside Out of all the data that we have, right? And that essence of time becomes just the most powerful value proposition even as it connects to how much money I can save? Or can I get to work on my other work or Matt, help my family and on so many issues? So I do see where your vision of that 20 years ahead? 30 years ahead? Is there it feels like it’s right, it is at the moment beyond saying and again, not say it, Alexa, she’ll turn on in a minute, right? Or as old as Siri or Google or whoever to your point. But taking it from the novelty of turn on the music or put it on the shopping list, things like their of their value proposition. So I think that your immediacy of vision is very powerful in all of that. But within that context, how do we now you’re going in Chris, you said you’re going into a client’s a mutual finance training session sales meeting next week? How do we have to think about that within the structure of establishing an organization and educating an organization? I mean, there’s that pull people through and they say, I get it. So now I have to get all the basics right? Or does that distract them and senior management say, Oh, we must be doing this bright, shiny thing?
That’s a great question. So I’ll come right back to education because I think this ties to like, Honestly this trilliant Diamond and the capabilities are one key pace of change that we actually have another piece of work we recently put out was our change management kind of framework. And we call it sheared, there kind of eight factors of successful change from a practitioners view, not some, I’m not knocking it but not an academic consulting framework that looks good. But I can’t figure out how to activate there eight real factors that you can qualitatively quantitatively with tools, you know, just verbally discuss somewhat assess an organization and how well they’ve actually pivoted for change. One of those is capabilities, which honestly that trilliant value scape, obviously, falls into that enables strategies enables resources, optimizes the investment may be used by headcount and the focus leadership structure. But one of the way I see those two things fall together, and where the education piece comes in is, education is a huge part of change management. In general, the funny thing about it, or the ironic thing is, it’s only as useful as the people who are learning are held accountable to use it, what we always say is, we can bring you an end to end program, it’ll be robust, it can leverage assessments to determine where people start, it can be multitier, there can be incentives and badges and the quality of the content will be amazing. They’ll be tuned to new custom, all that.
And then you get to the end. And then they’re like, what, I love that training. Was it in my performance review? No. Did it get me promoted? Maybe not? Is it in my actual KPIs? I get bonused on it indirectly, but not officially, right. And so I don’t want to say this is simple. But some of the, what we put in the trillion in the middle are the shopper insights, the sales and share and those leading metrics, the digital shelf metrics, among many, because those give you the pieces of like, what are the things that lead to the things I want? What helps the insights help me be even smarter about that, and then those help direct me on which better capabilities I actually need. And then what I need to be trained on education is only as strong as the enablement of that education. And so and that’s something we try to push so that when we do education or advisory, it can stick and actually be applied beyond the training itself.
Yeah, it’s interesting. Again, you say that, because just because it’s in my head of the work we’ve done this week ourselves is, and again, we have a very strong bias, you know, we always say is the shopper in the room, you know, if you follow the shopper, you’ll see the future in very pragmatic ways. And so one of the things we often do in our work is, yes, we’ve got all this data and insights, and we bring it into the science and art, you know, all of that. But we find until you can get the executives to actually remember that they in their own lives are actually also shoppers, and getting away from the desk, out of the door, that it’s so easy to your point for them to forget what they really need to do in the end to sell one more thing, one more thing in the basket, all of their new fabulous products, bells and whistles. What struck me, we usually give people a homework assignment upfront, which is usually driven by some kind of shopper centric experience. And for this group, we did that we said, Okay, you’re now on the, you know, retail media, huge, new, fabulous organization, it’s not enough just to monetize all these things, they got to be worth it, you know, worth it as in relevant to the shopper. It’s much of what you were saying, Oskar, you know, we gave them that example. And we said, Go off and think about something you’ve bought recently, whatever, and come back and tell us about that process.
And what really worked for you anywhere, people talking about everything from going to Disney, and all the touch points of Virtual Engagement. You know, from there, whether it’s an Apple Watch, or a Disney band, or whatever, and all the personalization, you talked about Oskar to, you know, somebody talking about going buying electronics at the local whatever store. And so to your point, that feels like that’s almost the beginning. And what you’re saying is that if it’s not relevant to the work they’re going to do, it’s just training for training and the complexity of what we’re doing. Anyways. So crazy. So Oskar, as you think about the future here, and who’s getting it right. Are there companies? I don’t know if you want to name names, but are there companies we should look to and say, These people are getting it right?
So there are a few things that are happening, which and that’s my lecture actually suggestion for you. I honestly think a lot of the people can understand the singular experience that they are having. So if you ask them to buy something on Amazon, right, then we’ll go through this exercise and tell you all about the experience. But I think we also have to augment this by saying that in E-commerce if you start with one order, once you actually progress through, you know all the stages, you will figure out where to buy from where you might be placing 150 to 160 orders per year. Right and a lot of those executives sometimes miss that notion because they are not shoppers. It’s usually their spouse that is helping with shop or they have some sort of a help But basically, we also have to do this at scale, this is not about a singular experience that they are having this is not about, for example, using gopath, to deliver beer after 10pm. Right? This is all about really understanding that this is going to become that part of your life going forward. Yes, you can still walk to the store by when you walk to the store, a lot of the times you can actually reach for your phone. And even if an item is not a top seller in the store, online, you might actually be doing research about this top item on your phone, because there might be still digital shelf assets for it ratings and reviews, right? So I think, fundamentally, we really got to kind of look at from a change management perspective, what really needs to happen, and how do we need to kind of continuously to educate them to tell them that this is not one and dusted, right?
Because that’s what we see, when we actually doing a lot of those advisory and we actually talking to executive, they are thinking that change is actually going to take the next three months and they are done. While we know that we have to kind of build new muscle, this is like almost like you’re trying to reinvent your life and trying to eat healthier, or maybe in a workout, maybe, you know, go to the gym, etc. Like you fundamentally you are changing your lifestyle. And you have to embed this within your organization, you have to encourage and the beginning is always tough. You know, everybody says it takes 21 days to make a habit, et cetera. But you have to kind of embrace this and get people to experiment with other ways of actually, for example, shopping, you know how consumers are actually shopping, right? Where I think we’re going to have a massive issue in the future in the next five to 10 years, I would even say five years is that the future is going to be very technology centric, and it will require us to have much higher digital fluency, versus what we actually were asked to do the last 10 years, because to be honest, probably the biggest change that we’ve seen in the last 1015 years where we suddenly had to jump from dumb phones to smartphones, right? You had to pick up those new skills. Before that, you know, if you actually look at the 80s and 90s, when a lot of the workplaces were introducing computers, we have to go from paper to a computer. So now we are going to be asked to actually, you know, use like how do you actually use Word or Excel that it’s infused with AI. And yes, you can do it the old way, but not necessarily going to be as effective as someone that can actually use AI to enhance their productivity using those tools, the same thing can happen with VR with AR, you know, anything that’s going to come in into the future or even you know, when we actually get into robotics, so we’re going to have to adapt a little bit quicker. And where we always recommend it to the executive is you have to really understand this that we live in a little bit of a paradigm. You know, I question that all the time, right? On one hand, we have all this wonderful technology, but we are still working 40 hours per week or even more, you know, Elon Musk wants people work 60 hours per week right
now, like 40 hours a week, personally, oh, you know, just get over yourself.
So the thing what it is, is like we actually know benefiting from that technology, because the CPGs in a lot of the times they are trying to shrink down. Because if you actually look at that average CPGs you know, they’ve been in the high of their hiring maybe 10-15 years ago, you know, when I was at Mandalay Bay, you know, we’re there, we’re always talking about this golden eagle up front of the East Hanover building and helicopters landing on the roof, those times that over right, those times no longer exist.
But you don’t have one of those? Oh, no,
exactly, we don’t, right. So think about it. It’s like we live in this paradigm where we actually have an influx of technology that is making us more effective, but at the same time, because the large corporations are actually lowering their staffing, and they are asking more people to do more. It’s like it’s a little bit of a crazy cycle. But there is not really a time to say the digital fluency is going to be absolutely critical in the future, that you actually would benefit if your people would spend more time on learning new skills versus just trying to, you know, be in that constant hamster wheel and doing all of those things, you know, et cetera, right. So like we have to almost kind of open up people’s mind is that we have to have a little bit of a different approach that the future is going to ask a lot from us mentally to be able to adapt, there is going to be organization that will embrace AI, there will be organizations that will embrace learning, and those organizations will be much better suited to winning the future versus the ones that think, oh, you know, we can just cut costs and you know, you stack and it’s all good. It’s okay, right? That’s an interesting kind of the way of the world is being kind of developed and how are we going to reconcile this? It’s going to be absolutely critical for our success.
Yeah, I think what’s so interesting about what you both said here, as we come to the end, is that I’ve always stand We don’t have enough time, we always talk about insights, right? What does it mean? What’s the next? You know, how are we getting to Mars or, you know, whatever it is. And so we still spend so much time looking at data and more data and more data and whether we’re using AI, whatever we’re using, and it seems to me as our clients and the audience’s that we work with, that they’re not helping people in terms of saying, Okay, here’s the data. And here’s the way to look at it. And here’s the way to manipulate it. But then what does it all mean? I am stunned at the level of people that we work with at the level, who have no training in terms of developing an insight that becomes really powerful in driving the business. So I really embrace what you’ve been saying there, because to take those digital tools, and all that expertise that that can enable, and then educating people to think in this new ecosystem, whatever we want to call it, that becomes so rather than be afraid that kids are going to steal their papers, write new papers, not be writing new papers, but rather enable that. So there’s some of the things that I think about for the future, what will theoretically and practically free us up to do, so that we can think differently about what comes next.
It isn’t simple. And it probably doesn’t even seem like that much of a mind blowing experience to hear. But we are what we measure. So if we measure the right things, even the new right things that you’re not measured on now, even if you have no idea how to do them, and you don’t have the right money in the right places, or the right headcount, or the right talent, or the right capability partners, you will go get them. Because you will have to because otherwise, you failed. And you will want to fail because we’re not allowed to fail, obviously, long term. So sales and share is the outcome of a great strategy and leading metrics against that very specific strategy. So if I want to grow by building baskets, then I’m going to pull very specific levers to influence whatever data I can get that would tell me that I was successful in building baskets versus repeat rate, or get new shoppers. And so we try to make like instead of just saying, let’s talk about e-commerce, and which obviously then could be just this blind growth opportunity, we really try to train them on a How does it work?
Now that makes sense of the trillion piece, which says, How do I absorb this? How do I deliver the shiny diamond with the sharper in the in the lens? Again, our bias? And then what part can I really think about as a work goal? How can I deliver against this piece? And then how do all the pieces together fit to deliver that? As I say, I was totally intrigued by taking something very complex and thinking about how do I educate, make sense of and turn this into money within an organization and all these organizations that are really working very hard to try to figure out what this new world will look like. So thank you both. For this, this was a beginning of what I know will be a continuing conversation underground with our digital troops and above ground and in the ether, as we move forward on this.
Clearly, Chris and Oskar are hugely passionate about the sort of education of companies in terms of how do you create a structure and an organization and a continuing process, to understand this new board, what I call an ecosystem, you know, for us, and you’ve heard me say this 1000 times it’s all about is the shopper in the center of it. And in fact, that’s the only way I believe you can begin. And I think all our work our data and insights, our inspiration, grounding our clients, in the sharper at the beginning, is the only ways that to keep people focused. I think what Chris said, which is interesting, as you make your way through this complexity is little bites, what do I need to do? What’s the key objective I can work on whether it’s trips or basket or level of engagement or some other growth metric, and then work around that, and then water all the digital tools and processes and the analytics, and the technologies I can use to get that what totally information I can use to actually get there. And then I’ve got some success. And then I believe in you and you and you and you and build these teams to create really relevant output that adds value ultimately, to the shopper. Yes, you’ve got it and then to the organization at large, but WSL it’s always if I follow the shopper, I will see the future and if I satisfied their needs in simple uncomplicated ways, if I save them time, as Oskar said, How do I do that? What do I need to do it? And what basic and fancy thing, tools, thinking intelligence, artificial or human will help us get there so a lot of conversation here a lot of things resolved to think about in all of this but stay tuned. See you in the future.