The rise of e-commerce and headlines about the “retailpocalypse” and “mallpocalypse” have made many wonder what will happen to the future of retail. Phil Raub (LinkedIn | Twitter), the president and co-founder of b8ta, is helping to define that future. b8ta is a new startup that provides retail as a service. He also shares stories from his time with Nest, Nintendo, and Gap.
Phil’s Role with b8ta – (01:20) - Phil’s current role: President and co-founder of b8ta.
- Origins story of b8ta: Wanted to have a place where new brands and products could be discovered.
- “We were finding through the research that we did, that ultimately people were engaging with our brand at retail. PR would give us the headlines, but somebody outside the context of someone that reads TechCrunch didn’t have insight into what Nest was doing. But as soon as you put that on an endcap at Home Depot or Lowe’s, people understood that value proposition.”
- “The problem was, we realized, there were a lot of smaller hardware companies that didn’t have the marketing dollars or the clout of Nest at Google to be able to go out and do that and so what we said was ‘How do you start to democratize that?’ ‘How do you make retail accessible?’”
- b8ta took the online world and reversed it into the retail world.
The Future of Retail – (09:00) - There shouldn’t be such a sharp division between retail and online sales within organizations.
- Retail companies need to work on their metrics. Comp sales are not a great metric of success.
- It’s important to think of stores as profitable billboards.
- Brick and mortar is not dying, it’s changing.
- Online shopping is great, but there are certain things about retail shopping that can never be replaced.
- Example given of great retail: Tesla. - “There was this whole notion of the retailpocalypse. The world was going to end for retail. But that’s not the case.”
- Commodities will shift to online yes, but many purchases will still demand a retail experience.
Combining Human Element with AI – (23:30) - It takes a careful balance. We want to automate a lot.
- Curation is a balance. You want to weed out bad products, but you don’t want to constrain yourselves to products that only you would buy. You want to be able to be positively surprised.
- b8ta has created chat functionality at their stores so that consumers can have human interaction with the actual makers of the things they are buying.
- They try to highlight the stories of founders to connect people with products.
- b8ta can emphasize local products for people who are interested in buying local.
Stories from one of the most powerful brands of all time: Nintendo – (38:15) - Phil used to work for Nintendo. His favorite Nintendo game of all time? Either Tecmo Super Bowl or Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!.
- Mentioned: A Boy and His Blob.
- How would Phil approach video games now? It’s difficult because digital channels like AdWords are becoming so expensive, that radio and television are starting to make a comeback for digital products.
General Marketing Questions – (50:30) - Favorite campaign: Mario Kart Wii. Turned shopping carts into racecars and all manner of fun stunts and ads.
- "Sometimes the beauty of marketing is the individual-driven content that you don’t stop.”
- Worst Campaign: “Bad campaigns are the ones you overthink and use so much data and try to get everyone’s opinions, that it gets watered down. The challenge is getting the voice to be able to stop that.”
Pardot Lightning Round – (56:00) - Favorite recent book: The Billion Dollar Whale - Favorite show: Billions - Most fun app: Slack - Worst advice: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.”
- Most excited for about the future of marketing? “What’s old is new. I used to laugh when people talked about 'word of mouth marketing,' that is what marketing is! I think to me, it’s the whole idea of experiential marketing in an authentic way. You’re going back into stores and engaging with people who can talk about product and are excited about it."
- “The means and the forum may change, but at the end of the day it comes down to the unbridled excitement that people have for things.”
- Advice for a first time CMO: “You have to trust the team. If you go from being a contributor to leading teams, you have to let go and trust the people who you have empowered.”
- Mentioned: Locations page for b8ta stores.
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