Interview with Zipline CEO Melissa Wong on the Importance of Frontline Communication in Retail Operations
Interview with Zipline CEO Melissa Wong on the Importance of Frontline Communication in Retail Operations
Welcome to the retail tech podcast. My name is Darius Vasefi, producer and host. I typically interview the movers and shakers in the retail and ecommerce online and offline retail. And this interview is being recorded on clubhouse. And we will take some audience questions after you know, we have some initial discussions. Today I am speaking with Melissa Wong founder and CEO of retail zipline. Did I say that correctly?
Melissa Wong 0:42
That is correct. Awesome.
All right. Fantastic. So, thank you so much for joining me, Melissa. You know, whenever I think about companies that help retail frontline workers, it's something that actually, you know, really touches my mission. Because I think typically, the people that work in the retail stores are the highest expectations from them, and the lowest paid, unfortunately. So. So I'm really happy to see the work that you're doing. So, so let's, let's start talking about maybe yourself a little bit, and then go into when you started the company.
Melissa Wong 1:27
Sure. So there was a really love you giving your passion about helping to make retail better starting kind of like with the ground up. So I actually started in retail. So actually spent, you know, over a decade in retail, at one of you know, the largest specialty brands in North America, focus specifically on oddly store communication and store execution. Right. So, and it was really interesting, because throughout those 10 years, we had a lot of different brand transformations. So we were bringing in a new target customer, we are reinventing the brand. We're trying new product assortments, we were experimenting with new marketing. And I will, I will tell you, one of the things that was always consistent through all of these different brand transformations, and also different CEOs and brand president leaders was that we would be implementing strategies at headquarters, and we'd walk into the stores, it might be the end of quarter, right, so whether it is setting up new marketing that represents, you know, the new brand identity or maybe even selling through over inventory product, and merchandising them in a certain way, maybe, you know, seasonal. consistently, there was feedback that the stores weren't actually doing the thing. And there is when other things that I love about you saying that the stores have the highest expectation on them and the highest pressure and are getting paid the least. I believe that it wasn't from ill intent that the stores weren't getting the things done. It was that there, we weren't setting them up for success, right, we weren't creating the conditions for success. So that stores knew how to better prioritize. And they didn't know how to manage the firehose of information that was coming up at and how to actually execute to what good looks like. So in some after 10 years of hacking together homegrown solutions, looking at you know, what was on the market from a competition standpoint, I kind of I left retail to help. Oops, lost your voice, they're a little bit be able to get the job done better and easier, right and make retail lesson for grind. And really have us in retail focus more on the things that we love, which is bringing the brand experience to life servicing the customer implementing new and innovative way of doing things, but without it being so hard.
Okay. Yeah, that's, that's amazing. You know, when I say highest expectations, it's not just from the ops, people in the company. It's also from consumers. You know, we expect to go to the store and everybody there should be happy, and smiling and laughing and joyful, and we have no idea what their life and their world is like.
Melissa Wong 4:52
Totally. And I think, you know, you're I think you're really bringing home something that we've seen over the past year with COVID right Is that considered are really the one especially if you've been in retail for a while, which you have, it's like, a lot of times consumers are actually the forcing function in bringing innovation to life in retail, right, they're really setting the bar of what their expectations are and how retailers need to deliver. And as we look at, you know, the changing score stores score store landscape, sorry, really see, you know, the the store becoming kind of a bifurcated place. One, it's a place of experience, having authentic brand experiences of learning to your point of the smiling of the connection with the brand, right store employees should be the best ambassadors of the brand. And on the other side, a lot more retailers as a result of COVID are using stores as fulfillment centers. Right. So when you talk about, you know, the retail employee having all of this pressure on them from consumers, it's, you know, essentially trickle down from consumers, they're being asked to do a lot of different things that they haven't been asked to do before like two things versus one, right. And it was hard enough, pre COVID, to do to just focus on customer experience, or just focus on merchandising, or, or receiving inventory. Now you're having to juggle a lot more different roles. And I think there needs to be better technology to enable people to be able to manage all of the things and to be able to do it better.
So do you think that things are changing in general, in retail, where more and more retailers are actually more open to this type of communication, like robots real time almost communication with the frontline?
Melissa Wong 6:52
Absolutely. We see it in our customer conversations, I see kind of, you know, my co founder would describe it best, calling it like the decalcification of retail. Like, if you've been in the industry for a long time, you know, that change is hard. You know that. There's a lot of, you know, I did it this way, in my past, or, you know, we've been at this spread for 10 to 15 years, and I'm resistant to change, or decision by committee. And I think COVID has been a forcing function to have people relook at their businesses. Like even if you just look at some of the retailers that had been discussing, buy online, pick up in store, you know, some of these conversations have been happening for 10 years. And, and no movement, right, and then COVID happens, and then within two weeks, seems happening split up. And you know, whether they feel like necessity, is the mother of invention. I believe that that's, that's true. And I believe that people have to look at their businesses in new ways. They have to look at new operational models. Because I think, you know, what we've seen with COVID is that the customer's expectation for immediacy, also personalization and service. It's increased, right? A lot of people are bought more people are buying online. So retailers truly do need to deliver on the omni channel experience, the seamless customer experience that retailers always said that they've had, but never really truly been able to deliver to, at least within store. So we see this changing tides we see, CEO was like at hyvee. Top, you know, investing in communication, so that they can talk with their store associates, not only around expectations for how customers should be treated or managing culture within the workplace, but also to enable the employees to feel like they're part of this brand and this family that has meaning, right and purpose, and to be able to inspire them to show up to their customers in that way. And I think if you've always been, you know, a recipient of trickle down communication through PDF packets or printed store, you feel so removed from what the brand is trying to do, you feel so disempowered, that when open communication channels happen, and when you're able to get real time updates from the President or you know, the head of marketing around why we're doing certain things, all of a sudden, you have a lot more of an engaged associate team, you have a lot higher retention rates is really important during this labor shortage. And you get better results, like our customers see better execution about 20 to 30%, better than, you know, even some of the other, you know, brands that use some technology for communication and task management.
So, do you think that a part of what is going on right now in this kind of attention He also has to do with GPS with the, with the, with the way that the culture of, you know, inside of retailers is changing where as you know, potentially, you know, perhaps in the, in the past, the management, the executive management thought they knew what they were doing, and they didn't really need a lot of input from the frontline teams. And now, actually, that concept is changing, and they appreciate and value that direct feedback.
Melissa Wong 10:35
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, online, the AV testing online has really, you know, digital one first, as we know, with innovation, right, and they really showed that you can see effectiveness in your decision making based off of, of testing different cohorts. And that's been proven online, that shouldn't better results that's made, you know, believers out of skeptics, and I think that now with the stores turn, you know, there is an ability to AV test in stores now, right? There's an ability to AV test, whether you're a marketing is working or not, and not guess, did the stores actually put up the marketing? Right? is this? Is this truly driving traffic and sales? Or is this truly you know, you know, decreasing, like traffic, we're able to triangulate data points better. And so, in that way, I do think that the culture in retail is, is changing to be more progressive, because online lead the way about the potential, the possibility that data and insights can do to help the business.
Thank you. Yeah, I'm of the same opinion. So it's always good to hear somebody else agrees with me. So what what percentage of retailers? Do you think are using this type of like, direct communication technology is right now?
Melissa Wong 12:12
You know, I, I would have to say, I mean, I think all retailers are using some sorts of communication. Whether it is a PDF packet with hyperlinks, which we typically seeing, like a weekly communication packet, I think we've seen a huge shift to retailers, in recent conversations. So recently, about a year being interested in having more what I would call like dialogue, discussion and debate and a feedback loop up through the organization. I think part of that is also because as you look at COVID. And you look at the local rules and regulations that were happening at each level, there needed to be that kind of like discussion between stores of headquarters because of headquarters didn't necessarily know all. So if you extend that to what's possible from a merchandising perspective, or marketing, or event perspective, I think that there's huge potential. In terms of like the digitization of communication within organizations, we're seeing a big shift to that, of that being a bigger priority, because to be honest, your organization could only move as fast as their communication. So if your communication is lagging, or your execution is lagging, it's actually impeding how quick how quickly your organization can move and compete, and the results that it can achieve.
What's the typical size of the company that you work with? Is it enterprise? Do you work with any small retailers?
Melissa Wong 13:53
Yeah, so this should interest you actually. So so we have we arranged the gamut from digital natives. So for example, away, the luggage company, I think they have around 711 stores, the real real right? Casper, Warby Parker, our value proposition to these digital natives is essentially like being able to AV test in real life. And also, from a cultural perspective and people perspective, when you start out in front and you open the first store or second store or third store, you're investing a lot in the people and the processes. And then how do you templatized and scale that growth and that tribal knowledge. Once you start growing from the third store, to the 10th store, to the 20th to the 30th to the hundreds to to hundreds, you need to put those foundational pieces in place to ensure that scaling and growth I think allbirds is a great example of that. We're doing a store tour with them in their flagship New York store this week. On the other end of spectrum we support brands like yapping, right globally internationally like Lululemon and same thing, O'Reilly. So up to the, you know, 10s of 1000s of stores. And, and what we're able to do for them is ensure consistent execution across the fleet, or consistent execution between cohorts. So, for example, gap Inc said with us at NRF, I think two years ago, three years ago, when NRF was in person, you know, with zip line, they went from about 25, to 30% story execution. So stores actually doing the thing they're being asked to do to over 90%. Next, the execution. And I see that in calls that I'm getting from, like, senior legal counsels, from fortune 500 companies saying like, you know, you never want to get a call from legal. And, you know, I call this legal person back, and they're like, actually, we love zip line, it's helping us keep our doors open, it's helping us mitigate risk. It's helping us prevent this spread of covid, between, you know, locations. And that has to do, even though that has to have to do with optimization of a marketing campaign. In terms of segmentation, I think I think you can think of the way of like, the kind of like, the need to localize information and segment stores in a certain way think you can think of that kind of similarly. So that's what we bring to a retailer. In the enterprise, you know, with the largest store footprint.
Okay. Yeah, I was just thinking actually, about the legal issues and that communication. And, you know, keeping people informed in real time, is probably going to be a really key thing for companies.
Melissa Wong 16:55
Yeah. I mean, absolutely. And it's, you know, it's not just about the execution, like I see, I see ron ron talks about, like, the importance of like, culture or rights and, and too, especially now, as we look at the labor, labor shortage, you need to, the best way that you can represent the brand is to have people really feel what the brand is about, and to experience it. And you have to give people the communication and the quick coaching, and we have to tell them, what good looks like and how they're making a difference in the brain strategies, right? How you're making a difference in the greater good, that's just critical to a brand success. And as we look at, you know, younger shoppers that are more mission driven in, in their in distributing their share of wallet or, you know, sure hearts, they're going to go to the brands that represent that in the best way. And the employee base is the one that's going to represent the best three dimensional, it's authentic, it's experiential. Websites really can only go so far and being you know, designed well.
Yeah, that's a really good point. And something that I'm also working on right into myself in in the company that we have, is that bringing them mission to the to the employees, not just for customers? And that's, I think it can definitely help build a more cohesive, and, you know, more effective team. So totally, totally, definitely agree with that. Now, you, you raised a new round of funding this year, correct in was it like a few months ago?
Yes, we closed I think, at the beginning of the year, time,
Melissa Wong 19:01
Hopefully, it's not just me. But yeah, earlier this year, we closed around with fifth wall, who has a thesis around the built world. Right. And, you know, one of the reasons that we went with wall is because we are reimagining what's possible in the built world. And we're doing it through the employees, right, we're giving them and we're, we're enabling brands, to, you know, execute their strategies through their people in a way that's meaningful for people and in a way that they're, they're able to see better results.
Yeah, I've heard a fifth wall. They are probably one of the newer investors in the space but they've definitely you know, May, you know, come into the news and I'm not like really that familiar with them. Yet I should probably be because we're also looking You're not raising money, but not not from that. I mean, we're looking at a pre seed right now. So they're probably too far down the road for us. But I'm, I'm really interested to hear of your thoughts about the funding environment. And, you know, I guess, the dynamics these days for retail tech companies, is it you feel like it's getting easier? Is it harder? Or what what are your thoughts?
Melissa Wong 20:28
Have this interesting question. So I will put, you know, I think, I mean, to be to be really candid, I think there's always been skepticism, you know, I mean, you've been in retail long enough, people have always said that brick and mortar is dying, right? for years. And then it came back more, you know, stronger. So like the OnePlus founder was like, I'm never gonna open a store. And then people that are digital natives find out that the most predictable way to scale your revenue, is actually opening a storefront, particularly because it reduces cost in terms of returns, and there's online Halo that surrounds the store, from a revenue perspective. So it's, you know, we repeatedly see people beginning to open brick and mortar, I was just talking actually with an investor earlier this morning, around what he's been seeing in the space. And he's like, Yes, absolutely. All of these new digital natives are, are beginning to invest in opening store footprints, because that's how they're going to scale their revenue. I think that the perception of retail, through COVID was not the strongest. So I think it was harder for retail tech, to get investments unless COVID was a tailwind for them. For us, you know, communication, I think we had really great customers that love us. And we've had really great results. So it was it was easier. But I think retail in general, from a fundraising perspective is sometimes harder than the hottest thing in the valley. Maybe, maybe it's not like the you know, most popular thing to say, but it's definitely what I've personally experienced.
Yeah, I think that that definitely, you know, makes resonates well with me. I mean, I completely agree with you, if I, if I had $1 for every time some analysts or newspaper or some reporter said that retail is dead and shopping malls are dead. I would not need funding right now. So you know, and this, this actually is a side topic, but I'm reading a really interesting book right now. It's called skin in the game. I don't know if you've read it. It's by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, one of my favorite authors. And he talks about this specific thing that, you know, people say a lot of things without having the skin in the game. So, anyway, but I mean, for for, for an industry that's dead. I think we're doing pretty good. And we are actually growing. Yeah.
Melissa Wong 23:16
Yeah. I mean, I actually think it's kind of like the industry secret is that there will be a very strong presence for store footprints. Because to get to customers, doors faster, right. Like you see, dark stores, you see a lot of like, hybrid operational models happening. You see gopath pop up ordering. Above Mo, I think there's gonna be a retail Renaissance where the location is used as a completely hybrid, building, right, and multipurpose, and the retailers that figure out how to ensure that their store teams are able to deliver on multiple things. I think those are the retailers that are going to win, right? Yeah, I think it's just we haven't had this much. You know, we've had operational complexity before within retail. But this is really like, the time, I guess, time to shine, to figure it out. Because you can't just throw more payroll at it, you actually have to invest in better technology to get the result that you want. So yeah, I mean, I would add one other points, too, if there are others that are listening to this conversation and our fundraising for retail. Like one of the things that work the best for us, too, is just making we've always really leaned on really happy customers, right? We want them to be successful. We've invested in their success. And what I've learned through the fundraising process is that if you are maniacal on ensuring our customer success, like your success follows, so there's not Anyone out there that's, that's fundraising. That's kind of the tip I would give focus more on your customers than on like the valley, or the fundraising process.
That is such such an important and you know, valuable point. Now, just one, one clarification, when you say customers, who do you specifically me?
Melissa Wong 25:21
So for us, our customers are, I mean, like brands that we support, right? So it goes for us. It's like, we have specialty retail, we have grocery we have convenience store, like Kwik Trip and Speedway like. So. Oddly, this will make you laugh, maybe we we actually have like a cement company also, because they came to us and said, like, we have the same problems as retail. There's too much communication and too many different places are, you know, contractors in the field, they don't have a line of sight into what their priorities are what's happening. Right. And, and they can't keep track of all the things they need to do. Can you help us like, we we all you know, I don't like Well, not really retail. But actually, what's interesting is that they've turned out to, it's turned that, you know, they were like, Okay, well, we'll try and see, can't promise anything, and it's actually worked out really well. So and that way think, you know, it's a little bit, you know, cumin occation. And I guess you I would say like work optimization is a lot more flexible than then, you know, I really originally thought when I when I when I left it with the company.
Okay, so I think maybe so I'll say the question one. So that was very important. But what I was thinking is, do you mean the management of the retail companies or the actual frontline staff? Who is your, your, who you think of as the top customer?
Melissa Wong 26:57
So we that's I mean, that's an interesting question. And for us, the reason that I pause is that we actually think of the full stuff as our customer, right? So one of our VC says that we have empathetic design, right. And that's because we understand what store employees are doing, and what they're facing, we design in a way that we know helps support interrupt, interruption driven work, right, which retails definitely as we have a way to reach out to the district managers, the regional directors and vice presidents, and give them information in a way that's super easy to digest. Because we know that they're always driving around on the road, we know that their email primary, and they need to see bright spots and opportunities in the stores they've managed, whether it's you know, 10 to 15 stores as a DM or 250 stores. As its own Vice President, we make it easy for it. And the way that we set up an implement. So I think like supporters that we had, maybe we're one of the, you know, smooth rollout that they've seen. And then from a straw ops perspective, we're we've actually gotten a lot of people promoted, because they're able to the stores are actually doing the things and the strategies that they're implementing. So I guess while like a pause, when you asked, like, who is our customer, because because it came from the ego, the retail ecosystem, I understand the pain points of all of the different constituents, that drive and aligned organization, and we really focus on meeting each user where they're at. So, you know, store ops is typically like what you would consider a buyer. But we we believe that effectiveness. Why retail supply works is because we're not just focused on one primary audience within the retail stock, but we're really enabling everyone's jobs within the org, and we're making it easier for everyone.
Yeah, that's, that's some, you know, kind of a like, almost like a philosophical question for myself, as I think about who are our customers? And I think for you, as you as you describe more, it seems like, you know, no matter how helpful, the you know, and useful and user friendly, the the tool is for the managers, if it's not good for the users, the final users, it's not going to be successful.
Melissa Wong 29:33
Yeah, you have to I'm in retail. You have to have a tool that's intuitive and easy to use and that people like using you can't force someone to use technology, right? If that's just not sustainable, but turnover is high. people's jobs are hard. You want to make using technology be like relief. Like someone finally gets me Riley. Like this helps me do my job. Better, you don't get that level of a reaction from a user, that means that you have work to do. I mean, we always have work to do. Right. But, I mean, that's what the end goal that you should want to achieve at every level of the organization.
Yeah, that's a very interesting point. So I'm gonna do a quick reset. And then, you know, if, if anybody has questions, please raise your hand. So I am speaking with Melissa Wong, CEO of retail zip line. And this is a part of the retail Tech Club, which you can see at the top of the above the room name, if you want to get notified about other rooms that we do. I typically do at least one interview a week. And it's all about retail movers and shakers in retail. So always looking to find new cool technologies and tech, you know, and learn more about what's going on. So. So, so I was really interested, when you mentioned, this A B testing for the frontline staff, again, you know, I'm going back in our conversation. And AV testing, of course, is a big part of growing, growing, you know, companies, you know, online, can you maybe go back in into that topic, and maybe give me some examples of how that's actually done?
Melissa Wong 31:31
Yeah, so I mean, you know, a lot of times, within retail, especially, you're transforming your brand, you're trying to see what's working or not working, you'll invest in a marketing campaign, I'm actually this used to happen all the time. In my old life, like, there'd be a summer, you know, as a promo on winter jackets, and we're like, the balloon sides are working, like, let's, you know, work with the production, and let's like redesign it, you know, it's like you're, you know, actually all be more specific. So it's like, you know, in the holiday, you plan for this promo, and caught the marketing signage, there's a feeling like, the marketing isn't working, you know, the medium or small square designs aren't designed well enough, or the messaging isn't clear enough. And so you get, you know, everyone hustles are scrambling, you get new signs, and you send it out to stores, you told them to put it up immediately. And then the sales go down, right? You're like, okay, you know, you assume it's because the marketing didn't work, right. But a lot of times a week on does, stores are just trying to keep their heads above the water and trying to figure out, you know, what they need to do every day, and a lot of times stores don't actually put up the site. Right, and I it's not because of ill intent, or, you know, they don't want to do it a lot of times, it's because there's too much information in too many different places, and they just like don't know, there's no good way to organize their work. So with zip line, you can send the message out, you can show a good looks like for me dear rich, right? We track we remind people on the days that they need to put up, you know, things if the marketing is, is is late and isn't received, you can put a note and say, like didn't receive the marketing, we can also actually see all of the comments and maybe it's, you know, a result of a distribution error from like one of the printing press, and then you're able to triangulate, if a store did a thing with the result that you're trying to achieve. And you know, to give you some perspective, the industry average for store execution is only 29% that means if you send something out, only 29% of your stores are actually doing the thing and like you don't even know which store does or not. So this way you know in terms of AV testing in real life, you're actually able to see better cause and effect you can actually take a pilot group and test marketing you know that they put it up you know that the receipt of inventory, you know that they change the visual merchandising displays and you can see maybe they linger there longer like you know, combine it with other data streams, maybe they they stayed in that merchandising area longer maybe there's higher sell through for add on items. Or maybe it doesn't work at all maybe it's actually a unit or maybe there's the trade on in the fitting room longer that there are a lot of different pieces that you can connect but the first one is actually knowing like did the store actually do the thing first?
Okay, that's great. Well, I invited my good friend Ron. Up. I don't know if you know Ron, but he's the best Yeah,
Ron Thurston 35:00
we go way back.
Okay. Okay, awesome. So I'm the newcomer in the room done. That's fine. So great friends. Awesome. Awesome. So yeah, I mean, Ron, this is also something that you are pretty passionate about. And you know, so I definitely wanted to get your thoughts about using technology for, you know, store making, you know, people happier working in stores.
Ron Thurston 35:29
You know, I think you derrius. And I was really happy to see Melissa featured here because we are experiencing in retail, that a time when the employee experience should be its absolute best. This is an employee market that can choose to work for whatever brand they choose to work for however long, they want to end this kind of idea of creating the best in class, possible employee experience from the minute that they apply for the job, potentially, this kind of new concepts around how we interview, how we hire, how we onboard. They're all technology base. And with this idea, though, that it's incredibly human centric. And then that experience of hiring, onboarding, and then their, their work in any retail brand has to be fully supported with all the data, all the information that they need, in the easiest possible format, which in most cases is their mobile phone. And like, I think we just have to recognize all of us that work in this industry that it will be always human centric, but tech enabled in everything that we do. And we have to find the best possible solutions and technology and as a customer of what Melissa does and sip line through leading intermix, I know the power of it, and what she had said around, you know, this is not just for store and sales associates, you know, as the vice president of stores I used to fly in, like, every day, what's going to stores? Who's reading it, who's not? What are they executing? How are you managing content going
Unknown Speaker 37:19
Ron Thurston 37:19
I was using it all field leadership that headquarters teams store operations, and then everyone in stores, and when we are aligned, or if I can record a quick video message that would say, the morning if the last Saturday of the month, I hope you have a fantastic day and send it through the pipeline, and know that the entire field would see that that is the best possible solution to that employee morale, that then improves retention and solve
that we're having today in the industry and will continue to have. So I'm such a proponent of
awesome. That's, you know, I think it's actually really interesting that you were a customer, also. So that's even more, even more, you know, interesting for me, I didn't know that. So
Ron Thurston 38:20
yeah, all all of gapping uses retails offline and for all kinds of different purposes and strategies as the as the smallest part of gapping, or prior gapping. I probably used it more intently within a more personal way. But as you scale into an Old Navy size brand, it becomes even more important, like that alignment between hundreds of stores and 1000s of people is really critical to great execution, exactly what Melissa was describing earlier.
Melissa Wong 38:58
That's great. Thank you so much. So I'm so I'm really interested to hear from both of you. What do you think is after this? So we have taken the you know, the stores right now we're really adding a lot of technology in the stores, and you know, improving communication. What do you think is the next major, I guess, paradigm shift in how stores operate? And how we use like human beings even in the store? It probably is a tough question, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. Ron, do you want me to go first? You want to go first? You go ahead. I mean, I think you know, I mean, this is, I guess more from a tech perspective than like, you know more with a tech lens and retail lens. But I think there's now the opportunity to enable people to be their best selves. And I think in a retail environment, it can be hard because sometimes you're only as good as your manager. Right. And sometimes the managers aren't great, and you don't necessarily get a choice. But I think with better data, you know, similar to how Instagram, you know, I have a daughter and it just like relentlessly target to me with, you know, clothes and things that I didn't even know existed for my daughter, I think that there is a way for technology to look at cohorts of store teams, managers, individuals, based off of or based off of their capability and enable them to do just a little bit better, right? Whether it is speaking, or being more educated about the brand, whether it's making smarter, you know, merchandising decisions, I think that technology has, will enable retailers to optimize the ability and increase kind of like the business acumen and, and brand, connection, employee by employee and meet them where they're at.
Ron Thurston 41:13
Yeah, I fully agree with you, Melissa on it. And it's kind of again, you'd be you become an employer of choice, when you have all of the resources and technology available to the teams. And while you may say, some of the tasks can be completed in a more automated way, or different ways to use technology have changed what it looks like to work in retail today. And, and that is very much true. But that conversation of that you have standing in front of the customer and that level of engagement, that you are fully informed from, like product knowledge or promotion, or whatever is important to your brand. And then you can articulate that live in person to a customer in the store. That is an exceptional experience that will get a great NPS score that builds your business that probably results in a conversion that probably results in the client acquisition live in the moment, that probably becomes Omni, there's so much benefit to highly engaged and informed store teams. And I think we we can ignore the fact that it still has to be highly human all the time.
Yeah, I think that's that idea of data. And the the better utilization of data, it really actually makes, you know, I wasn't like I was maybe thinking about something more drastic. But as I think about it, you can actually make the retail experience 10x better with better usage of data.
Unknown Speaker 43:00
yeah. So that's, that's a really good point. Another probably crazy idea is that, would it be possible that, you know, anytime in the future, the tools that retailers use in this store, be actually like a recruiting, you know, benefit, like, you know, saying, you know, come work for me, we use zip line, and you can talk directly to the CEO, where else can you get that? That would be really interesting, I think for me.
Melissa Wong 43:35
So TOMS shoes as a customer of ours, and this is like pre COVID. But that's actually that's one of the things that Elliott said, He's like, people come in, and they, and they're, you know, they see the tools that we get to use to work, and it makes it easier for them. And it's made hiring. It's been a competitive advantage for hiring. We believe that to actually about to embark on this study around that. But yeah, I mean, if you have a choice who wants to work with like, you know, spend 15 hours paper shuffling and getting, you know, paper cuts buried underneath this mountain of like chaos. If your employer invests in technology to make your job easier? It's, I mean, I would, it's like a no brainer, especially if we're getting paid the same amount. Right. So
yeah, I think that Yeah, sorry, go ahead wrong.
Ron Thurston 44:26
No, I agree. I, I think we every brand has to find those recruiting opportunities that that every hiring manager can speak to. And I think great candidates would say, hey, what technology Do you have, that makes sure I can be my best at work? Oh, these are the tools that we use. So I actually think we have to educate the candidate to ask, but we also have to offer it up of here's how this will impact your your experience as a brand as an employee and can talk about What we use? And it's a to answer your question there is I think it's a huge recruiting
channel. Yeah, I
Ron Thurston 45:09
think it could be as become more tech enabled to all of it is kind of moving us in the same direction.
Yeah, definitely, I think if if we need to get better, both, like you said, in educating the staff, as well as, you know, as retailers to promote this, and actually use it, to show how it actually can make your life easier working here. So that's an interesting point. So I'm going to, let's see hope. Okay, I guess we had somebody that wanted to ask a question, but he left. So Well, I know, Melissa, you're, you're extremely busy. And Ron as well. So I, I don't want to take up too much of your time. It's, it's, you know, this is this is such an important topic. And that, as I said, I feel like really passionate about the experience of, you know, frontline workers in the store. So I'm really happy to see that you are devoting your life to it. At this for the time being. You know, this is really, really, really great to hear. And thank you for really sharing your time with me. Any final thoughts? As far as? What What do you want the audience to know about zipline? Or are you Are you hiring I'm sure you're always hiring
are definitely hiring people with a passion for helping right from engineers changing people's lives, to customer success. So, you know, please do visit us. You know, Ron, it's great, like, you know, sharing this podcast with you. So thank you for joining. And, Derek, thanks
Unknown Speaker 47:00
for having me.
Ron Thurston 47:03
Thank you for inviting me in. Yeah, I really, like passionate about this idea of the employee experience, whether that's kind of internal of how we take pride in working in retail, to the tools that are provided to those because they go hand in hand. You know, if you're going to be proud to work in this industry, you also have to be proud to work for that. For the companies that are providing the right resources and tools to be your best at work. I can think of they go together. And I love what Melissa does. And I think it's part of these components of best in class retail. So thank you various and so nice to see you.
actually want one more quick question. Are you are you going to be at the NRF? Are you planning to be there?
Yes, we are. So we'll definitely be there. We'd love to have you stop by there'll be there will be a person so it'll be it'll be great to see people again.
I know. I know. I'm taking the, you know, a poll of like, who is actually going to be at the NRF. So that's good to hear. And Ron, of course I'm sure it's in his neighborhood. So awesome stage. If someone can make that happen. I'm sure you will be. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Melissa and Ron, and everybody that listened. I hope you have a wonderful evening or morning wherever you are. Thank you so much. Bye bye.