Brandon Rael, Business Transformation Leader, Capgemini Invent joins us to talk about innovation in retail.
- Capgemini Invent is Capgemini Group’s innovation, design, and transformation powerhouse, accelerating ideas into prototypes and scalable real-world solutions that help our clients get the future they want.
- By combining strategy, technology, data science, and creative design expertise with an inventive mindset, we partner with our clients to innovate and transform their business, helping them navigate today while plotting a course for the future
Business Transformation Leader
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[00:00:00] Jeff Roster: hello everybody. And welcome back to this weekend. Innovation today.
[00:00:02] I have a, an old clubhouse friend Brandon Al business transformation leader at cap Gemini invent Brandon. Welcome to the.
[00:00:10] Brandon Real: Thank you so much, Jeff, for having me. It's a pleasure to meet you, Brian as well.
[00:00:13] Brian Sath: Likewise, welcome Brandon.
[00:00:15] Jeff Roster: So Brandon, why don't you start by talking about, we all know cap Gemini, but cap Gemini invent is a term that I a group that I haven't, I've just only started to take a look at.
[00:00:24] So why don't you unpack a little bit about what that is. Tell us about yourself, your background and what you're doing.
[00:00:30] Brandon Real: yeah. First about my background as you mentioned in our clubhouse meetings I have a deep background in retail merchandising, supply chain. I actually was a retailer, so I walked the walk.
[00:00:39] I talked the talk and and I enjoy just solving complex business challenges and enabling through technology events and some transforming businesses and growing revenue, his dreams, and just halfway through my career, I decided to make the pivot over to consulting. And I joined a number of firms where I've focused on business digital and technology transformations and helping to pivot these organizations, especially in the [00:01:00] retail space, to the new ways of shopping in the ways of engaging a customer and especially all the digital.
[00:01:06] Innovations have come up the last five to 10 years, I've really focused on the customer journey, the customer experience and across all the platform, which you can imagine cap Gemini invent is essentially the transformation innovation powerhouse that doesn't compare to the larger firm.
[00:01:19] People know that cap I is at really KA is that really Lauries a significant. Technology implementation partner that's that really works with companies for two or four, five year engagements that really drives process improvements. And then is that integration partner you have, but then, but the innovation side is really that kept my inventing.
[00:01:36] It's a conglomeration of about 10 different firms that were acquired the last three or four years. And I think back in 2018, the firm decided to create this subsidiary that focused on digital transformations. Really accelerating ideas and not just driving innovative ideas, but how do you actually operationalize those?
[00:01:55] How do you make them real? How do you actually make provide significant value to the customer? How do you provide [00:02:00] improvements for the employees and how they do business and how they scale that? We are actually working close partnership with the larger cap, Jim and I team, but in general, We'll do those short term, agile, quick acceleration of value and growth for the customers.
[00:02:14] And our focus is on the long term, sustainable partnerships, especially all the, just all the disruptions that the industry's facing. We're there. And we have the capabilities and teams to address all that.
[00:02:25] Jeff Roster: how long is the typical engagement? Is that something you can talk.
[00:02:28] Brandon Real: I can. So we typically like it in the door expand for more. So our goal is to the, that crawl, walk, run approach to innovation. And really that, that 12 week engagement is our first starting point in relationship with our typical clients to really pinpoint the challenges, the opportunities and the gaps, and then define that longer term roadmap together.
[00:02:47] It's a, it is a matter of having the right experts in the room, the right understanding of the industry and the right understanding of the capabilities that are out there for technology perspective.
[00:02:55] Brian Sath: So in this journey as customers get started Brandon with the, [00:03:00] with early engagement of 12 weeks. Where do they, where do they go from there? So is this initially are these customers mostly customers who don't have an innovation process in place or do they have something in place?
[00:03:12] How does that, how does this
[00:03:13] Brandon Real: play out? It's a combination of those two, so it could be. A more mature organization that actually has a dedicated innovation team that really does, but they only have the foundational framework of funding, those innovative ideas into something, tangible, something real.
[00:03:26] How do you build those to a backlog? How do you actually prioritize those? How do you actually then go ahead and build those from a agile perspective into real work products? They actually will result in a solution. So we've seen those clients on that journey who are, have some material in the space and they need to get some help and an advisor, a partner to guide on that journey, given that framework and foundation you need, there are other organizations that are just delving into it.
[00:03:49] They really need to brainstorm how, what innovation means to them and what it needs to operations. They need a lot more support from us from a advisory perspective and actually, or the capability they need to get innovation started. [00:04:00] There are different paths there's and it's very unique for a client for sector.
[00:04:03] We can talk more about later where I see some sectors are a lot more advanced than others in a retail in.
[00:04:09] Brian Sath: Perfect now in terms of an overall adoption perspective as customers are, going through your engagements and getting an understanding of what they want to be doing and what are the priority, how many, what percentage or like how, like at a higher level, just so what is the adoption rate like going forward?
[00:04:26] Do they make it like an ongoing and you. They have a, because that's one of the challenges with innovation, right? Sometimes it becomes a very project based compared to, it becomes a lifetime practice in the
[00:04:35] Brandon Real: company, right? Yeah. I think that strategic mindset shift is taking and just know it from from being a project based methodology, to really looking at, from a product or initiative perspective, what is the business challenge you need to solve?
[00:04:51] What is the customer experience enhancement? We're trying to actually produce. And you think of it in terms of actually building a product or a service or a capability versus a project. [00:05:00] That's what we're trying to do. That's what our main goal is with the clients to work with is to become more projectized to more customer centric and to actually produce things that will add value for the customer to drive business growth and revenue, and actually help enable the workforce be more effective and productive.
[00:05:17] Jeff Roster: So when a client comes to you initially, are they. Are man. I want ask what I mean, I wanna do the analyst thing and figure out exactly what the percent of innovative retailers is still in retail. I used to, we used to talk about it being three to 4% of retailers would be truly innovative or at least cutting edge and leading edge.
[00:05:34] And then, 25% fast followers, 50% mainline. And then the dreaded slow adopter. So when somebody knocks on your door, are they already innovative? Do they want to become innovative?
[00:05:43] Brandon Real: The good question. Jeff, I think they have they've they, if committed to their team, do they committed to their shareholders that they wanna become more innovative.
[00:05:51] They have some ideas how they wanna approach it in some cases, but they don't have that formal structure. They don't have that. But that prioritization that's needed to become more innovative and [00:06:00] most critically they have embedded innovation as part of all the capability units. Whether supply chain perspective through operation perspective, merchandising, certain planning, pricing having innovation as dental operation is doing to fail.
[00:06:12] So you have to incorporate embed innovation and a customer first mentality across the entire organization. Otherwise it's, it doesn't result anything substantial in my mind. So
[00:06:23] Brian Sath: that means Brenda, this probably also will. I think you made a really great point. That means this also needs to be like a very.
[00:06:29] C level driven initiative or a board level driven initiative. Is that what you're currently seeing in the industry? The ones that
[00:06:35] Brandon Real: succeed, the ones that succeed? Yes. As long as that, that top down direction, that executive sponsorship, cuz ultimately it comes down to the people component is people, this process technology, the people component in my mind is most critical and in my experiences where all transformation, innovation initiatives fail is when they don't get people to adopt and evolve and pivot to the changes or embrace it.
[00:06:59] Brian Sath: Totally. Totally [00:07:00] agree. And that's one of the things that Jeff and I covered a lot in our podcast as well, because that's one that, that has been one of the challenges in innovation. So as you are, in this journey, like how are how are leaders like adapting it and are leaders are you seeing scenarios where.
[00:07:15] It starts with an innovation team who actually starts this engagements with you or does it start at the board level? How it, how is it propagating through the company? What is like the general practice you've.
[00:07:25] Brandon Real: In my experience, typically is now an innovation team in the past. I the last several years, it was a board directive initiative and was a more enterprise wide.
[00:07:34] But now we're seeing these smaller, team's more agile teams, such an as an innovation practice. Like you mentioned, grow where now they're coming funding ideas and they work with the cross-functional teams and they're coming up with value added, incremental things they can do to. The customer experience to improve how they operate.
[00:07:50] That, that really, that paradigm shift from that long term transformation, and it was two to three year engagements where there's a substantial investment of time and people and [00:08:00]capabilities, and there's a cost component to it without realizing value. We've seen those actually dissipate and actually evolve into that agile that really clear and concise path to value.
[00:08:09] And it's it's more incremental, give the customer what they want, try to pivot to where the customer behaviors are going and also enable workforce both the store level and the corporate offices to be able to respond and read and react more predictably. So if you can provide incremental value versus longer term engagements that's where we're seeing things go direct.
[00:08:28] Brian Sath: Perfect. Perfect. So one thing here, Brandon, I think what we've seen in the past, I'm sure you guys have seen this in cap Gemini as well. Like when these innovation initiatives are initially set up and to rolling across the organization that like, like how do they actually set the expectation of what the transformation or the initiative would do, right?
[00:08:48] Because the setting of these KPIs in two year engagement or two year investment in innovation, Yield X, Y, Z, or the innovation team that they hire would yield X, Y, [00:09:00] Z. How do you, do you guys have a framework and something that you help your customers think through this thing?
[00:09:04] Or and how, what are you seeing generally among clients in terms of, because sometimes some folks underset the priorities. And claim victory soon. So others over set the priority and fail. And others have no priority. And then they come back and say figure out what to do.
[00:09:18] What are you seeing? And what is what do you recommend? What are your practices? Yeah.
[00:09:22] Brandon Real: Yeah. Great question, Brian. I think what we are seeing is they'll have an idea holistically where they want to go, or they have a real strategic focus for say their supply chain. We need to digitize the supply chain.
[00:09:33] We need to do workforce enablement at the store level. Then they make, they will drive a certain KPI or where they consider a metric they wanted to go up against, but the challenges were all the. The epic and the features and those products and services that they need to produce to enable that growth, to enable, hit those targets.
[00:09:51] And that's where we come in. As those advisors and experts to accelerate value. We have these accelerated frameworks. We have the EIA innovation framework. We [00:10:00] have also in our practice, we have a mix of folks who are in the industry, but now we have design a design house. We have fraud, we have, innovation teams.
[00:10:08] So we have. A very robust, comprehensive approach to innovation. And the most critical part is how do you prioritize and how do you actually enable innovation come to life? And that's where the rubber hits the road.
[00:10:19] Jeff Roster: You can't set us set that up and leave it. How do you prioritize
[00:10:22] That's the gate. Do you start at the, at the function level, like supply chain or merchandising, do you start at the CEO level or do you start at the C CEO level? Where, how do you do.
[00:10:31] Brandon Real: It's definitely top down. But we actually want to break it out to more more tangible ways of doing things.
[00:10:36] So we'll actually build value streams where we'll have a supply chain team. We'll have a customer service team. We'll have a accounting team, risk and compliance, whatever they may be. And within that those value streams will have these cross-functional folks who say these are the high level ethics you wanna actually.
[00:10:54] Come up with these are the three, three tough goals for the next quarter we wanna achieve. Then how do we do that? [00:11:00] By actually building these 10 features, these 10 things actually will help us achieve those goals, but it cannot happen unless you have the cross-functional team involved. So we're looking at the your VP level, your director level of supply chain, your VP of merchandising, your VPs of of separations.
[00:11:15] And they all work together and collaborate, in a very agile way of these are the three things you could focus on. And these are the 20 things we actually produce tangibly to actually enable these things to come to life. So it, the goal is that you have to continuously improve. So innovation is not a a static experience for these retailers.
[00:11:33] They need to actually incrementally add more in. So you produce one thing, a new feature for the for mobile device or their native apps. You actually have to keep evaluating, assessing how it's going. See how it's performing as through KPIs and then see if there's any any revenue growth or any evidence improvements have come outta that.
[00:11:50] And then you continue to evaluate, and then you go to the whole cycle again, of going through that backlog and that prioritization of innovation imperatives, and then keep that cycle going. So it's not a [00:12:00] static thing. It's not a two to three year roadmap. It's a continuous cycle of innovation and that most successful retailers who are able to pivot and adjust to the marketing conditions.
[00:12:09] Have this cadence in place. But if they don't, certainly capture my event is that trusted partner for them.
[00:12:15] Jeff Roster: So let me ask you a really tough question when you're done. After about six months to a year, is the retailer spending less money or more money on whatever solution you're working on?
[00:12:26] Brandon Real: less because there's a significant cost overhead in running these operations, these where we see innovation teams that are not efficient, they're not prioritizing the work. So once that efficiency kick in, once the teams get into that cycle of that continuous improvement, they come up with those features and there was, and new services capabilities.
[00:12:45] There's a lot more efficiencies and scale that comes out of that. And the goal is to actually, we wanna walk away, transmit all our knowledge to them. So we empower them. They have the knowledge, they need the capabilities, they need the frameworks, they need to accelerate innovation. So essentially [00:13:00] their cost will go down of running the operations and their value will go up because they're incrementally.
[00:13:04] Producing these new ideas and the concepts, and actually operationalize them versus going to a Excel spreadsheet for later. Yeah.
[00:13:11] Jeff Roster: That's one of, that's always been one of my bug abouts being the the forecast guy on retail it spend is the idea that success always had to equal increased it, spend.
[00:13:20] And right. When you're dealing with 2 million retailers, 500 tier ones and thousands, tier two, and then millions in tier three through five it's hard to make that case, but I always try to get away from using that as the sole benchmark. If you needed to use that number to justify it, spend awesome, fine.
[00:13:36] Do whatever you want with my, my. But don't always assume that more it spend means a better functioning organization. Just might me just might mean a much more leaky boat. So that's interesting. Interesting. Yeah. At
[00:13:49] Brandon Real: that point Jeff, this we've seen so many inefficiencies is legacy. It debt, all infrastructure.
[00:13:56] We talk about no code low code the, I if you can only [00:14:00] imagine the, some of the challenges and nightmares are seen out there from our architecture perspective. So I think that's another area opportunity is to really clean their architecture up, streamline a way that this retail can actually.
[00:14:14] Deinvest in the oil architecture and reinvest in something actually gonna provide value. And it's provide the intelligence the analytics and the visibility, the data, visibility, the trends, and to be able to track and and forecast properly. Those elements are still out there and there's still plenty of companies, a 20 or 30 year old architecture that's just patched together to, to somehow operate
[00:14:32] Jeff Roster: I'm really proud. You said low code and Brian didn't scream over, overtly over, over the over his mic. So thanks Brian for not doing that all. We got a big smile on his face that I'll tell you for sure. Interesting. And I'll ask you another tough question. Feel free to punt on this.
[00:14:46] And it goes back to my experience, bringing in a WMS system when I was 25 and I made the very stupid mistake of suggesting to a couple of people that, oh, we're gonna, this is gonna be a lot more efficient. And those people actually made money in it being [00:15:00] not efficient. And I learned a very good lesson as a very young warehouse leader.
[00:15:05] Yes. I gotta assume there's people making money with inefficiency. So when you come in and you say, Hey, listen I assume you don't lead with that. But how do you navigate that? Those.
[00:15:15] Brandon Real: You have to look at their processes and you actually have to sit down with them and have a face to face conversation with these leaders and these functional experts.
[00:15:22] Tell me about your day in your life. Tell me what, when do you go about doing this process? How do you actually do it? What tools are used, what's missing? What are you doing offline? You assume we live in this fully integrated cloud work based world where everything's connected seamlessly that isn't the case.
[00:15:37] There are, Excel, unfortunately is the best friend out there of the industry has not gone away. And for a CEO future, it's not, but these full that the really the goal is to get that fully integrated platform where everything's visible, everything's transferable, everything is in a cloud based place, so you can slice and dice the data and that doesn't exist necessarily.
[00:15:55] So we look for those inefficiencies, those gaps we won't actually respect, the work they've done because they've been [00:16:00] successful for decades and people. That this this knowledge that really matters. So what do you, what can you take from their current processes is, and determine what could be enhanced and optimized and what could we do to make it better connected and more efficient.
[00:16:12] There'll be cost savings will also be new ways of doing business of driving new revenues, increased revenues.
[00:16:18] Brian Sath: Yeah. The other thing, I think also, Jeff, what we've actually seen in a lot of these circumstances is that there is so much legacy in there that a lot of. Brands and retailers can't replace legacy that fast, right?
[00:16:31] That's where these upscaling and low code no code type platform comes in. As long as it has the, it is architecturally scalable, right? Which one of the things that we focus at at iterate and interplay, right? To provide an architecturally scalable platform, you can actually create business services that you can create a service.
[00:16:50] Layer that you can build on top of that is also continued to scale as a business, right? Because that's one of the challenges because the, like the rip and replace is not [00:17:00] that easy within enterprises. That's one of the challenges that you and the other thing problems is like a lot of times ideology has a lot of built in priorities.
[00:17:08] They, like in this Amazon style, one way gate projects versus two way gate projects, right? Some of these long projects that take years, like the one way gate projects are hard to convince leaders to go through. So that's why I think this whole, this bridge building is a big part of the business.
[00:17:23] Brandon Real: Absolutely agree. Yeah. It is truly a mindset shift because it organizations are. Naturally tuned to think operationally the tasks they need to run maintaining the systems the infrastructure keeping the business going, which is all crucial, but then there's the innovation side of red house.
[00:17:37] So it's really focused on that value of the components that the customer experience enhancements and how to become more digital, more connected. So it's a, it requires robust. I would call it change management or change enablement. And that's where. We can come in as well as a cap jam our organization with our workforce enabling team and their, to help organizations, pivot and shift.
[00:18:03] Jeff Roster: Agree. Do you have to be leading edge or bleeding edge to be innovative?
[00:18:11] Brandon Real: I think there's an inherent amount of risk bleeding edge leading edge, I think is how risk adverse the organization. That're willing to take those risk or calculate risk. Then certainly you can go there, but if you're not in the industry, that's that's changing day to day, or if you're not in the industry that requires that leading edge innovation and it's a definitely.
[00:18:28] Risk evaluation has to be done there. Can you pilot and our recommendation is to really pilot things and measuring test results. You wanna do a full-fledged program where you're going well, king wide with innovation component, rather you wanna actually pilot district or a region or actually department test measure the results.
[00:18:47] And you could be a little less risk. It could be more risk adverse that way, but also. Be able to scale it up quicker once you might, should actually prove the results.
[00:18:57] Brian Sath: Yeah. What's also interesting, Jeff, there is the [00:19:00] risky question and Brandon, let me know if you agree or you have different comments, is that like the risky equation that applies to a traditional business process also applies to innovation, right?
[00:19:10] Yes. What is like the biggest B bank you can get for the, the bank for the.
[00:19:16] Brandon Real: Exactly. There's that risk award principle, we won't heard about it. So it's as an evaluation, we'll do it firms and we'll actually we'll do that financial modeling to see what, what the cost components are, what the incremental things we need to add.
[00:19:28] And then new solutions, capabilities, and tools and frameworks to add, and what the expected results will be from a revenue perspective that lift that increase of margin increase of. So that's something we'll actually work to ensure that prioritization of these imperatives goes through.
[00:19:42] That is the financials and the, and quantifying things is a way to actually manage risk and mitigate it.
[00:19:50] Jeff Roster: What emerging technologies are you particularly bullish on? Let's say maybe out 18 months.
[00:20:01] Jeff Roster: whole separate conversation we're gonna have for sure.
[00:20:05] But social. Yeah. But social selling. So define that a little bit. What do you mean by social selling? So
[00:20:09] Brandon Real: social selling, I is that connect to consumer. I we live in age where everyone's perpetually connect to advice and we have the goal where the customer's going and we, we highly recommend clients.
[00:20:20] Connect and engage with really authentic content across social media channels. If you wanna actually convert this customer, make that experience seamless and intuitive for the customer, whether they're on Instagram or TikTok, but you have to actually have all these supportive processes and infrastructure in place to make that happen to be mobile first digital first and customer first, but it's all about storytelling.
[00:20:38] It's all about being authentic as a brand. Those technologies are fascinating to me. And from a retail operational perspective, I'm all in as a ex planner and buyer, if I had the tools that are available today, I could think of the wonder wonderful things I could have done as a merchant planner back in the day.
[00:20:55] So AI put it demand analytics, machine learning. Are truly [00:21:00] groundbreaking. If we can start introduce those to the industry, we get ahead of the curve, especially an industry that's been fully disrupted by the supply chain challenges globally by the impacts of the pandemic. By now the inflationary periods.
[00:21:13] Now we are seeing so many retailers, mid-size largely retailers who are overwhelmed the inventory because they overcompensated because they wanna have a contingency stock in place in case. They don't have the inventory. So if they could be a bit more predictive and have more analytics and their disposal, maybe they wouldn't be in this situation.
[00:21:31] They're a predicament they're in that we need to mark things down.
[00:21:34] Jeff Roster: So let's go back to the the metaverse conversation. We got into an interesting discussion, a little slash debate yesterday on clubhouse talking about different cuts on the metaverse. I think I know where you're coming from, but unpack your thinking a little bit. Pros and cons.
[00:21:47] What's real. What's not real. And how should retail executives be thinking about this thing, this blob that we've now packed a lot of things around called the metaverse.
[00:22:03] The emerging customers coming up, whether they're gen alpha or gen Z or in the millennials, they have the power and authority of discretionary income. And they're in the gaming world and they're in this environment already. Why I try to engage with them through the metaverse with something authentic and interesting, and that will help drive drive them to actually engage your brand more.
[00:22:22] So if you could do it in a way that's unique and that's gonna really resonate this work with this generation. Certainly that's another sales channel or engagement channel. It may not lead to a purchase, Jeff, but it actually will lead to a good experience or something that's actually drive into, stay with your brand.
[00:22:37] And, we've seen. Nike has delved into it, in that marketplace as well as Gucci, Louis, Baton and others in luxury space. So again these firms are really focused on innovation and customer experience and digital already. So the metaverse set next logical step of that journey, that evolution and go where the customer is go away.
[00:22:56] They're actually engaging. It's not gonna replace the brick and mortar stores. There's still [00:23:00] 85 to 80% of the sales are happening. It's not gonna replace the the native apps. And social selling through social channels certainly is gonna continue with the matter versus the next evolution in my mind.
[00:23:10] I think there's so much potential.
[00:23:13] Jeff Roster: Yeah. I would agree on that. And so as we navigate through some of these conversations, we've had in Ricardo's room, on, on clubhouse and depending on whether somebody's either too hyped about it or not hyped enough, if somebody's too hyped, I guess is a good analyst.
[00:23:26] I wanna go the other way. If somebody's under hyped, then I want, look, there's real technology there. There's. There's without a doubt, real technology, will it all add up into some crazy thing where you and I walked through a virtual store, looking monkeys or something. I don't know that I'm not interested in, do I want to kind of experiment with a kayak, at REI Kind of testing through different rapids.
[00:23:44] Heck yeah, I wanna do that. I don't wanna do that in a heartbeat. And we're already doing that. It's called flight simulation. So we've had, pilots have been doing this for 30 years. I don't know. It's just one of the it's that one technology that I've seen in an awful long time, or it just seems like it's a hot button issue on either side, either oh, it's [00:24:00] all nonsense or it's the greatest thing ever.
[00:24:01] And everything it's somewhere in.
[00:24:04] Brian Sath: Yeah, I think it might end up going through the hype cycle as well. Brand
[00:24:09] Jeff Roster: Brian, everything goes through the hype cycle.
[00:24:11] Brian Sath: Yeah. What I mean is we, like a lot of the little lot of the brands, the big brands are trying this out as marketing campaign, as, like most marketing campaigns end, they have an end date on it.
[00:24:21] And then once they end, if. Campaigns don't actually yield the right benefits. Then the traditional metric and the math that most marketers use, they will measure it by the yardstick and say, Hey, it didn't work well, then it'll go through the value of dissolution for a while. And then the few will catch on.
[00:24:38] And eventually there maybe business cases written saying, if you did well, did really. Yes. And then they may think about like platforms from that point on with. So I think, this is one of those just like everything else I don't think it'll fail. I think it's there to stay, but I think there is also probably a value of dissolution coming pretty soon.
[00:25:02] Brian Sath: of, yeah, exactly. I'd have my card. Uh, could be a hurricane or a storm or a or even just a rain of it doesn't
[00:25:09] Jeff Roster: matter. oh, it's probably all the above. So if Brandon, what would you tell somebody if they came and, I'm sure any, every retail executive has to have bumped into this world word a ton.
[00:25:20] What's your advice? What do you, how do you. , how do you deal with some of the hype and then how do you get, how do you get I want executives to put their hands on technology and experiment it in a controlled experiment, become comfortable with failure. That's my big I'm scream.
[00:25:33] I've been begging for 20 years. Be, accept failure if you do it smartly, but this idea that you can't, you know, and that's. Very personal experience. You, if if you can't fail at a project, then you can't succeed. And I think that's been retail's biggest stumbling block is this fear of failure.
[00:25:49] So what, how do you what's your council for somebody that's trying to understand what they should be doing with it?
[00:25:55] Brandon Real: In my mind, if you keep every single focus, every single initiative on the customer [00:26:00] and your customer experience. You have to do whatever it takes from a strategy, future perspective to keep your customer engaged and satisfied.
[00:26:08] The customer loyalty right now is the most challenging aspect of the relationship. How do you retain these customers? It's gonna require boldness is gonna require element of risk. Is it required innovation? If you are not willing to take a chance or strategic risk to actually drive that engagement and keep that customer coming back for more.
[00:26:26] They you're doing to be oppositely and that retain the retention cycle is the most challenging aspect right now. Cuz the customers will find, there are ways of losing customers that worked didn't exist before they have a bad experience on the social channel. They have a bad experience in your e-commerce engineer, your mobile app or in general something worked the way they expected from a private perspective.
[00:26:46] So you cannot afford as a retailer not to take those calculated risk. And driving innovation imperative forward, and you have to be willing to take a loss. And we've seen obviously the big guys like Amazon target Walmart innovation [00:27:00] first, and you'll see them. Some of initiatives never came to fruition.
[00:27:03] Some of that actually failed didn't resonate with the customer. They have the capacity and the capital investment to do that. But every single retail has to have a similar mentality of its. Always day one right now, because the customer's changing so dynamically and so aggressively, you can afford to be stagnant.
[00:27:20] You have to actually take these risk to even be relevant or to be vital moving forward. You can assume everything's gonna be stacked the way it was and that your low customers will stay with you.
[00:27:31] Jeff Roster: Hey, as you, as a retailer, looks around their organization. If they listen to this podcast and they go and look around their organization, what are a couple of telltale signs that they need to do something different?
[00:27:43] Brandon Real: Biggest sign I seeing I'm seeing is really within the organization. There isn't an awareness of innovation. There isn't awareness, these new ideas that they're enveloped and absorbed in running the business the way they did the last 10 to 15, 20 years. that they're really risk averse or they're not willing [00:28:00] to on these new challenges or innovation isn't embedded within all the functions.
[00:28:04] We talked about, like supply chain or merchandising or operations or eCommerce. We need these groups to work together and then, and break the silos down, actually collaborate and come up with new ways together. New ways of doing business, new ways to engage with the customers and new ways of actually driving innovative ideas to reality.
[00:28:21] This has to be a crucial imperative for retailers, who are facing price compressions, increased costs, their global supply chain, disruptions, gas prices, you name it. And so they cannot afford to to avoid, innovation and the criticality of it.
[00:28:38] Jeff Roster: Yeah. And add a labor strike at the port of Los Angeles, which is on our future.
[00:28:43] I think. Hey, as we wrap up, I like to ask every one of our guest two questions.
[00:28:47] What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
[00:28:49] Brandon Real: Never stop learning. Never stop people to take risk and and take calculated risk as you're you don't have you have that. You have that runway to take calculated risk to actually do [00:29:00] what an innovation uh, leader has to do, take risk and actually see where it goes and just continue to pivot as professionals.
[00:29:05] If the one thing doesn't work out, you have the chance to actually. Change your approach and try something else, and then via lifelong learner, but also know the power, your network and really. Find ways to help each other, get through things together, be more collaborative and be more open to new ideas.
[00:29:21] And I think learning is the most crucial part for a young professional is to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible and to apply those learnings, but we'd be willing to take on new ideas.
[00:29:32] Jeff Roster: And finally, what skills do you that you use now? Do you wish you would've paid more attention to back either in college or at the early part of your.
[00:29:38] Brandon Real: I think the softer skills, I think we were so focused on running the businesses and doing the everyday work, but the softer skills are 90%. What we do is actually engaging with clients, engaging with leaders and had the approach I have today, or the understanding of the depth and breadth of knowledge of how to deal with people.
[00:29:54] We can become more, more effective, as as professionals, I think. There were some rough patches. We've all [00:30:00] gone through that, in early part of our careers. And I think if I had that savviness and that understanding that the people component is the most crucial part, I think it would've been nice to have that knowledge back then.
[00:30:10] Jeff Roster: For sure. That's probably a good place to put a pin in it, Brandon. Hey, thanks so much for this conversation. I definitely gonna be following up either in clubhouse or maybe getting you on the pot again, as you get more experience working with retailers. Cause I think you're at the center of what has to happen, this whole transformation, this whole push towards innovation.
[00:30:27] And I definitely wanna, I wanna learn a lot more from you and your experiences. Thanks for jumping on the show today.
[00:30:33] Brandon Real: My pleasure. Thank you, Jeff. And thank look forward to the next podcast.
[00:30:37] Brian Sath: Thank you, Brandon, take care.