Fast Five | Lessons From Bed Bath, Instacart The VC, & Disney+ Rattles Its Commerce Dark Saber

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This is a podcast episode titled, Fast Five | Lessons From Bed Bath, Instacart The VC, & Disney+ Rattles Its Commerce Dark Saber. The summary for this episode is: <p>Chris and Anne discuss their lessons learned from all the Bed Bath &amp; Beyond turmoil, Instagram and Disney’s completely opposite moves in social commerce, resale events at Dick’s, and Instacart’s latest acquisition spree. Brought to you by&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><strong>Microsoft</strong></a>, the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><strong>A&amp;M Consumer and Retail Group</strong></a>,&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><strong>Takeoff</strong></a>,&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><strong>Sezzle</strong></a>, and&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><strong>Silk</strong></a>.</p>
YouTube comment from Shazam Flash
01:43 MIN
Headline 1: Bed, Bath & Beyond's leadership loss
04:41 MIN
Headline 2: Instagram scaling back its shopping features
03:45 MIN
Headline 3: Disney+ and partner programs
04:12 MIN
Headline 4: Dick's Sporting Goods partnering with Sideline Swap
05:52 MIN
Instacart acquires Eversight and Rosie
05:22 MIN
Lightning Round
03:48 MIN

Anne Mezzenga: Hello, you are listening to the Omni Talk Fast Five, brought to you in partnership with Microsoft, the A&M Consumer and Retail Group, Takeoff, Sezzle and Silk. The Omni Talk Fast Five podcast is the podcast that we hope makes you feel a little smarter, but most importantly, a little happier each week too. Today is September 8th 2022. I'm your host, Anne Mezzenga.

Chris Walton: And I'm Chris Walton.

Anne Mezzenga: And we are here once again to discuss all the top headlines making waves in the world of omnichannel retailing. Chris, did you notice anything about our new intro?

Chris Walton: Anne, I did. I gave a little whoo hoo too.

Anne Mezzenga: The fact that it's new.

Chris Walton: Right. That it's new. And we have a new sponsor, Silk. Yes, Anne, Silk.

Anne Mezzenga: Tell us about Silk.

Chris Walton: I think Silk likes us for our silky sounds of our voice actually, but no, but Silk specializes in cloud database performance and optimization. And I'm also happy to report that I actually will be a featured speaker in their upcoming road shows this fall in places like Dallas and Boston. So if you're in the IT space and want to learn more about attending in either one of those locations, drop me a line via LinkedIn and let's make it happen. But, Anne, I'm pumped. We got a new sponsor again.

Anne Mezzenga: Yes. I'm excited. We also-

Chris Walton: And you got-

Anne Mezzenga: What?

Chris Walton: Well, I was going to... We can't let this go for those watching on video.

Anne Mezzenga: Oh. Because I caught my hair again?

Chris Walton: You got a new do.

Anne Mezzenga: I went full on Robin this time.

Chris Walton: You got your hairs cut, my friend. How you liking it?

Anne Mezzenga: I think it's part of the midlife crisis time.

Chris Walton: You think?

Anne Mezzenga: I was just like, hello, I'm a walk- in and I would like to come out looking like a completely different person. And I accomplished that goal. So-

Chris Walton: We're going to have to finish that conversation later because I've got some questions for you about that already.

Anne Mezzenga: Okay. Well, Chris, let's get to the meat of the Fast Five, yes.

Chris Walton: You want to get to the content? The reason people are here. To hear those things-

Anne Mezzenga: I mean, I'd love to talk about midlife crises and hairstyles but-

Chris Walton: I bet our listeners would actually love if we went into that. So maybe Anne and I'll talk about it offline and then we'll bring you back the tidbits next week.

Anne Mezzenga: Yes. Yes.

Chris Walton: But we don't have a review today, Anne, to read in the beginning but we have a very insightful comment that was left for us on YouTube.

Anne Mezzenga: Ooh, I want to hear about it.

Chris Walton: It comes to us from loyal video follower, Shazam Flash. And Shazam had this to say on Sam's Club instituting a fee for curbside pickup. He or she is one of our most loyal YouTube watchers, honestly.

Anne Mezzenga: Yes. Okay.

Chris Walton: Quote, both Sam's Club and BJ's offer curbside pickup. BJ's curbside pickup is free and Sam's is charging for it. But for that reason alone, 10 times out of 10, I go to BJ's. It's not just the$4, but what incentive do I have to pay Sam's for a service that I can get at BJ's for free.

Anne Mezzenga: Good point.

Chris Walton: Sam's would have to offer me lower prices than BJ's, which they don't. Why would I want to go into the store when I don't have to? Because it's more convenient, profitable for Sam's for me to go into the store. I don't think so. Exclamation point. End quote. Anne, do you agree? What do you think about that? Super insightful.

Anne Mezzenga: I agree. Actually, you know what? So I'm doing a panel at Grocery Shop coming up, called The Wall Street Perspective. And we are going to be talking about this very, very topic and we're going to be diving into just how big of an impact, who stands to succeed by things like what he or she is talking about here, like offering curbside pickup for free versus charging for it and how that's going to impact a business's bottom line so...

Chris Walton: You're on stage with all the analysts, right?

Anne Mezzenga: I'm very excited.

Chris Walton: It should be fun. It'd be cool. It'd be cool to pick their brains on what drives their modeling.

Anne Mezzenga: I mean, I want to know.

Chris Walton: Totally.

Anne Mezzenga: I feel like this is actually one of the sessions most thrilled for is how do I get these super smart Wall Street analysts to break it down for us?

Chris Walton: That's a great, great point.

Anne Mezzenga: But yes, I would definitely go somewhere that has free curbside pickup. Especially a warehouse club.

Chris Walton: Given the option. A hundred percent.

Anne Mezzenga: Okay, well, please, if you are listening and you want to leave a comment, you can do so on YouTube like we talked about right now. Or leave us a review on Apple Podcast. Heart the podcast if you're on Spotify. If you're on Google or Amazon Music, please, we're talking to you, follow and subscribe so that we can keep making the best content. And we will read it aloud one day for all of the listeners to hear. But, Chris, it's time to get into the Fast Five.

Chris Walton: Yes. No more waiting and no more beating around the proverbial bush. And today's Fast Five is brought to you with the help and support of our good friends at Grocery Shop. Are you a retailer or brand thinking about attending Grocery Shop this year? Believe it or not it's 10 days away. Well, don't-

Anne Mezzenga: I believe it.

Chris Walton: I know, right? I'm feeling it too. I'm feeling the crush. Well, don't even think about attending without using our promo code specifically for Omni Talk listeners. Just go to and enter promo code rbot1950, that's R- B- O- T 1950, for your special discounted rate. In today's Fast Five news, we've got news on Instagram scaling back even more shopping features. Disney Plus going the other direction and getting into in- app commerce. Dick's Sporting Goods offering in- person resale events. Instacart acquiring not one, but two more companies over the past week. But first we take off with what is quite honestly some very sad news out of Bed Bath& Beyond this weekend.

Anne Mezzenga: Chris, according to USA Today, Bed Bath& Beyond CFO, Gustavo Arnal, committed suicide this past Friday. Harriet Edelman, independent chair of the Bed Bath& Beyond Inc board of directors had this to say. Quote, I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to Gustavo's family. Gustavo will be remembered by all he worked with for his leadership, talent and stewardship of our company. I'm proud to have been his colleague and he will be truly missed by all of us at Bed Bath& Beyond, and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. End quote. It should be noted that according to court documents, Arnal, along with GameStop chairman, Ryan Cohen, were both recently named in a lawsuit, accusing them of insider trading and fraud. Chris, what's your take on this really disturbing turn of events this week?

Chris Walton: I mean, first of all it has to be said, my heart absolutely goes out to the family.

Anne Mezzenga: Right.

Chris Walton: And you also have no idea how much anything that had to do with Bed Bath& Beyond is even a part of this.

Anne Mezzenga: Right.

Chris Walton: I mean, I think you have to recognize that. It's all supposition or conjecture at this point. And I had some debates on whether or not to even cover this with some close friends of mine too, and ultimately we decided to do it. But I think it's important to talk about as a story or a headline. Because when I look back at how much drama we've reported about Bed Bath& Beyond over the past few years, ultimately it didn't have to end like this. It didn't have to end this in so many ways. And so by that I mean, my takeaways are looking back at the whole situation. I've basically three takeaways. One, don't fall into the trap of thinking your new CEO is a messiah. You can see the writing on the wall when companies are starting to do that and it just leads to problems down the road. And that clearly happened here. Clearly. And we were saying, watch out for that, watch out for that. There's a lot of context to what he's going to do here versus what he did at Target. Secondly, I think internal governance matters, particularly in terms of what you're paying these unproven executives, like you talked about on a podcast a couple of months ago. Just the millions of dollars these guys were making. But also the odd share buyback that they were making before they were even proving out what the strategy was going to be. And they were no way out of the woods too. And then third, I think the SEC has to step in at some point. The fact that Mr. Cohen could come in guns blaring, which I think was at the beginning of this year if I remember right, or maybe last year, making claims like he did against the board. Doing absolutely nothing to help the stock price, and then still somehow reap a huge profit. That sickens me. Just one, it sickens me, and two, it smells bad because you're a shareholder and you're selling out when you know there is nothing to be had there from the company. So that in essence is my takeaways from the story. I think it's a great microcosm for retail and the industry to look at, to get a lot of lessons from.

Anne Mezzenga: When this came out this weekend, I don't know, I feel like it just was really, like I said, really jarring news. But I do think that more than anything, and like you said, I've been talking to a couple of friends about this too, and just who are in the trading business, who understand this too. And I think it shows that the SEC like you mentioned, and our legal system, they have to get up to speed. The way that he's communicating, his tweets or whatever about, oh, I'm going to go. We're going to turn this into a meme stock and we're going to do all this stuff. Or I'm going to buy or I'm going to sell, or whatever. The means by which all of this is going down is changing so quickly. And the SEC and our legal system need to figure out a plan to more quickly adapt and regulate how this is all going down and how it's all taking place. Because I think Bed Bath& Beyond is not a unique case here.

Chris Walton: No.

Anne Mezzenga: I mean, we are seeing a lot of other retailers, a lot of other entertainment providers, hospitality sectors, there's a lot of people who are not evolving here, who this kind of thing could happen to. And this is more than just the retailer in trouble. I think this is going to have windfalls with the rest of the economy, the people who work at these retailers, and especially at Bed Bath& Beyond in this case, and people's lives, unfortunately, like with Gustavo. And I really hope that we can start to see some change here.

Chris Walton: I think your point is right. This is not solely an isolated issue with Bed Bath& Beyond, especially on the SEC side of things. And we're not saying that any of this is tied together. We're not. We're saying if there is a connection, and sometimes regardless if there is, something has to be done about this, because it's causing a lot of just issues that could happen down the road, that could be similar to this or could not be. But they're still there. All right. Headline, number two. According to The Information, cool name, man. Sounds like The Weekend. Instagram is planning to drastically scale back its shopping features as it shifts the focus of its eCommerce efforts to those that directly drive advertising, citing an internal memo. For example, staff were apparently notified that Instagram's existing shopping page will eventually disappear. And over the next few months, Instagram will test a simpler and less personalized version of the shopping page known internally as, quote, Tab Lite. That's such a funny name.

Anne Mezzenga: My God.

Chris Walton: I didn't think about the connections there, whatever the heck that means. The test reportedly begins on Tuesday. Anne, what do you make of this? First, cutting back on live stream shopping and now direct shopping too?

Anne Mezzenga: I'm really disappointed about this. And I think the first thing that came to mind is all of the small businesses who have started leveraging this platform, coming out of the pandemic. How do I still sell my products in my stores when people can't come to the stores. And I think they really have spent, at least a lot of the ones that I follow have spent a lot of time becoming fluent in how to do sales through Instagram, and that's become a large part of their business. So I think that that's what really makes me concerned about this departure for Instagram. I understand that a lot of the enterprise retailers that we've seen are moving people back, they're getting away from the walled gardens. And Facebook and Instagram holding all of their customer information. They're bringing people back to their own platforms to give them a better insight into their own customers and how their customers are shopping. But I think that there's still a value to having the shopping available for the SMBs, because they're not going to be able to do what those enterprise retailers are doing. They're not going to be able to bring live shopping to their sites the way that The Gap or Fenty Beauty is able to do this at that scale. But maybe what Instagram is saying there is that it's just not enough. There's not enough revenue to be made there, which I still think is not right. But there's not enough to be made there to really keep this going.

Chris Walton: That's interesting. The point about small business is dead on too. And I question two sites, how much are small businesses using Instagram for shopping versus advertising to draw business to their website ultimately, if you look at the total pie. I think the thing too, this reporting sounds really thin to me. It sounds a lot like the reporting coming out of the Livestream reports that we talked about as well. So to your point, it's hard to believe that Instagram would just go away from commerce. And from my source that I'm talking to, that's actually probably not true. That's not really what's happening here. So it makes me think that's what's happening is it's really a shift in tactics. Nothing more or nothing less than that.

Anne Mezzenga: Sure.

Chris Walton: It's just a shift in how they're doing it. Because it does bring up the point which I think is important. And especially someone that, I was all in on Instagram shopping. I remember saying on a podcast, the way they're trying to do this, I don't ever need to go to another retailer's app if they do this the right way.

Anne Mezzenga: Right.

Chris Walton: I can see everything that's tailored to me and I can buy it right from there, but yet it hasn't hooked me. I've tried to use it a lot. And I think the answer comes back to me, the UX design of it. And it's just not there for me. And so it goes again to why hasn't this taken off in social media in general as a commerce platform? I just think we haven't cracked the code on what that user experience looks like inside of one of these platforms. And so for me, I just take this as, hey, we're repositioning ourselves to still go after it. We're not going away from commerce. Are you freaking nuts? Is my take.

Anne Mezzenga: So they'll just keep on. It's just, like you're saying, it's figuring out how to make this work in a different way or to be more optimized for-

Chris Walton: Right. Which is what Tab Lite signals to me, right. If you're going away from it, you're not doing Tab Lite. You're not testing something new, right. So it's inherent in the story. And so the headline to me is slightly-

Anne Mezzenga: So it's the Diet Coke of social shopping is what we're saying.

Chris Walton: Right. The Diet Coke. Right. That's great.

Anne Mezzenga: All right, Chris, let's move on to headline number three. Disney Plus. However, we have somebody going the opposite direction, against the trend.

Chris Walton: Yes. Yes we do.

Anne Mezzenga: Plans to offer in app commerce by the end of 2022.

Chris Walton: See, it's hard to say, huh?

Anne Mezzenga: According to The Wall Street Journal, Disney is exploring a membership program that could offer discounts or special perks to encourage customers to spend more on its streaming services, theme parks, resorts, and merchandise. It's a move that some internal Disney executives have begun calling, Disney Prime.

Chris Walton: Of course, they are.

Anne Mezzenga: Not Tab Lite, Disney Prime.

Chris Walton: Right. It's not that it's not Disney Plus already, right?

Anne Mezzenga: Yes, exactly. As an early step, Disney is working to enable subscribers to its Disney Plus streaming service to buy merchandise such as t- shirts, themed accessories and children's costumes associated with some of its shows by scanning a QR code on the service that links to the shop, Disney Website, people familiar with the plan said. One example that executives have discussed is a possible merchandise tie- in offering an exclusive toy version of a Darksaber, a weapon from the Star Wars themed series, The Mandalorian, for sale only to Disney Plus subscribers. Chris.

Chris Walton: Yes.

Anne Mezzenga: I know you love this. I'm going to-

Chris Walton: You know I do.

Anne Mezzenga: You posted about it immediately from, I think the car on the way home from Home Delivery World. But-

Chris Walton: I did.

Anne Mezzenga: Why don't you elaborate a little bit on your love for this move.

Chris Walton: For sure. Do you know what a Darksaber is, before I start?

Anne Mezzenga: Don't know, don't care.

Chris Walton: No. Okay. Good. Well, we won't go into that for many listeners because those that do will appreciate why.

Anne Mezzenga: They probably already know. We don't need to cover that.

Chris Walton: They already know. They appreciate why I have to add-

Anne Mezzenga: The rest of us don't care.

Chris Walton: Yes, yes. Right. Yes. Yes. But you should, damn it. All right. No, you're right. I love it. And you mentioned, I wrote about it in Forbes. I wrote about this happening three years ago in Forbes. And we talked about, in that car ride, I think the miles with this are endless. It's endless roads that you can still go down with this. You've got product drops, Nike style, in app, is one. You've got paid cameo style interactions with the stars. Imagine Pedro Pascal from The Mandalorian-

Anne Mezzenga: Don't know who that is.

Chris Walton: You don't know who that is either? That's sad because he was in Narcos, but-

Anne Mezzenga: I'd rather have the Baby Yoda from SNL, Kyle Mooney, do Baby Yoda for us.

Chris Walton: You can have Baby Yoda, SNL, do a little show for your kids. And there's probably a ton of people that would pay a ton of money.

Anne Mezzenga: Oh, not for the kids. Have you heard Baby Yoda?

Chris Walton: I have.

Anne Mezzenga: Kyle Mooney's Baby Yoda.

Chris Walton: Oh, absolutely. Right, no, not that.

Anne Mezzenga: Weekend update. No, I don't think he's saying anything for the kids.

Chris Walton: But all that is there so it's easy money for the taking. And the other part about this too, and you brought this up before the show too, is I think Disney's right not to rush into this. Disney has such a strong hold on content that they should test the waters, dip their toe into it, make sure they're doing it in the right way. And so in essence, I love it, love it, love it. Three loves, Anne.

Anne Mezzenga: Well, I agree.

Chris Walton: You do?

Anne Mezzenga: King Triton's staff in The Little Mermaid, Chris. This thing is gold.

Chris Walton: So King Triton's staff is your Darksaber, that's what you're saying? Okay, algae. I like that. That's good.

Anne Mezzenga: I think that more people in the world listening to this podcast know about King Triton, Ariel's dad from Little Mermaid, than maybe the Darksaber, but I could be wrong. Actually, maybe I'm wrong on that one.

Chris Walton: I have no idea, actually. I have no idea.

Anne Mezzenga: Okay. But exhibit A, I think you have to just look at the success of Disney Plus subscribers in just the last couple of years alone. This is a very good indication that there's people who want more from Disney. They want to engage deeper in the brand, and this is a great way to do this. They're leveraging Disney's flywheel. They can keep, like you said, time can go on. They can keep testing things. They have the budget to play with all kinds of experiences for their fans. And lastly, Walmart Plus, you better be taking notes because this is a company that is leveraging the assets that they have in a smart way.

Chris Walton: Yes. Ooh, good extension. Good argument, extension.

Anne Mezzenga: And it's extending a reason for me to continue to have a Disney Plus or Disney Prime membership, whatever you want to call it.

Chris Walton: You're right. And the other part too is they already have their own product storefront. They have a Disney Store online already. So on Facebook, they already understand how to do commerce in this space to some degree. It's easy to pipe into that over time. This is going to happen if they get it right.

Anne Mezzenga: Totally.

Chris Walton: If they think about it the right way it's going to happen. All right. Fourth headline. Dick's Sporting Goods is partnering with an online sporting goods marketplace called Sideline Swap, to trade gift cards for used sports gear. According to Change Storage, the two companies will offer a series of 50 new trade- in events in seven states through the end of 2022. At the trade- in events, customers can exchange their used sports gear and receive Dick's gift cards to use towards their next purchase. Customers also have the option to donate all or a portion of their trade- in value to select local sports organizations, and items that do not qualify for trade- in can be donated or recycled. The companies have previously held 10 trade- in events at four Dick's locations with plans to expand their partnership to additional markets in 2023. And the soccer mom in you, I just know absolutely loves this. Am I right?

Anne Mezzenga: I do. I love it. So we just went to the Dick's House of Sport. We're going to be putting out a video on that soon. But I think that, especially in those places where Dick's is focused on being part of the community, getting people into the store, this is a great way to do this. It's at House of Sport and Public Land, their outdoor concept as well. But I think that what I like most about this, is this is cyclical. This is something that happens every season with every sport with every family. You have to go get the new gear and this establishes a muscle memory I think, in the minds of Dick's Sporting Goods customers that we just go to Dick's now to bring our gear back, get our new gear and that can all happen simultaneously at these events. Also, Dick's doesn't have to hold any of this inventory, which I'm hit or miss on. I mean, some of it to me it's like there could be some advantages still of the ski swap model where you go there, you walk away that day with something used. That's worked very well for a lot of other organizations, it works really well for Facebook Marketplace. But I think that there's room to grow into that and see with these 50 events, what kind of turnout are you getting?

Chris Walton: It's true, you can still row into that. What do people want?

Anne Mezzenga: What do people want? What sells? But I love that this is an option here for families, for 50 families. I think it's going to be a great addition to the Dick's Sporting Goods world. But what do you think? Are you as big on this as I am?

Chris Walton: I love it. I love it. If we had one, I'd probably go. I think-

Anne Mezzenga: I know it's not going to be here yet.

Chris Walton: Especially on our timeline, which is tough. But to me, I think first of all, from just a conceptual standpoint, there's no bigger waste of money than sporting goods for children. It's just an absolute waste.

Anne Mezzenga: Right. Or inhibitor from starting sports. A lot of sports some kids can't even play because the equipment is too expensive.

Chris Walton: Right. Right. Absolutely. And it's a brilliant merchandising idea too, because it plays into two things. It gets you to the location, which we always talk about, is what is your why? Why am I going to the location? It gives me a reason to go to Dick's, to associate something with Dick's, which hopefully gives me money for the trade- in. And I go and I spend my money at Dick's. The other thing about this, from my time at Target, I used to run back to college at Target. And that's what this is built around. It's built around seasonal events which is why it's good merchandising. There are seasonal events in people's lives, getting kids into sports is one of them, that you can build events around. And so we used to bus kids in to college campuses. I can remember we bused people into Boulder, Fort Collins, Superior, Colorado, and you can plan around that. And the volume in those days was immense. It went up three or four times. And that's huge. You can do a whole week in a day. So in theory you could create and program this same thing across all the Dick's throughout the country, which, Anne, brings me to our next question, which is the A&M CRG, put you on the spot question of the week. Are you ready?

Anne Mezzenga: Yeah.

Chris Walton: All right. Okay. So here it is from A&M CRG. We like the creativity of this program from Dick's, partnering with an already existing secondhand marketplace provider and flowing future purchases back to Dick's in the form of gift cards. What other retailer or sector could benefit from this type of arrangement? That's a good question, huh?

Anne Mezzenga: Well, I think your example of back to college is actually a good one. There's tons of opportunities on college campuses or in stores.

Chris Walton: Used to be what Bed Bath& Beyond was best at.

Anne Mezzenga: Right. How do you leverage resale? I'm a huge resale person. So I say, anything that you can buy on Facebook Marketplace, anything that people are buying, which the top three things I think are furniture, kids clothes and toys, and sporting equipment. Any of those areas, you should definitely be doing this. So, I mean, I think Ikea could do something like this. Restoration Hardware, West Elm. Those are some of the things that you always see selling like hot cakes on Facebook Marketplace, kids, outdoors, sneakers. I think anything that, really, I mean there's no limit, I guess.

Chris Walton: No.

Anne Mezzenga: I mean, that's really it. And like A& M says, you're bringing people in, you're giving them credit to spend in that store. Whether you're using a resale platform or not, you should figure out how you're going to capture, whether it's being the place where this is taking place or some of that revenue from the resale of your items.

Chris Walton: You're right. And I mean, the ones that have been done, like you said, we've seen car seat returns. We're seeing the sporting goods one now. We've seen the back to college event. To me it all goes back to the mindset of what mind are you in at what time of the year, right? So for me, wardrobe clean- outs, probably twice a year, right. The place I would say, malls. Malls have huge parking lots. Why aren't they doing big-

Anne Mezzenga: Swaps and stuff.

Chris Walton: Swaps. Resale swaps with ThredUp or someone like that, coordinating that or helping with that. Or you could even do high end malls with The RealReel or something like that. And the other one too, for me, was toys. The toys clean out. Every parent does that and you need a place to donate them. So it gets you, one, it reminds you, hey, you need to do this. And two, it gives you an easy place to do it, I think. And you could do that at a mall. You could do that at a toy retailer or Target, Walmart, whatever. And it probably makes them feel good too, because you probably are donating it in that situation as well.

Anne Mezzenga: Okay, Chris. Well, let's move on to headline number five. Instacart has gone on an acquisition spending spree over the last week.

Chris Walton: Woo. What a shock.

Anne Mezzenga: It has acquired not one, but two companies in just a six day span, Chris. This first company it acquired, Eversight, is a pricing and promotions AI platform founded by Dave Moran, who some of you may recognize because we've featured him on our Spotlight Series not too long ago.

Chris Walton: Yes we did.

Anne Mezzenga: The second company is called Rosie, which offers independent grocers, branded eCommerce websites and mobile app capabilities. Chris.

Chris Walton: Yes, Anne.

Anne Mezzenga: What the heck is going on at Instacart?

Chris Walton: I don't know. I mean, basically Instacart's a VC at this point. That's the best way I can put it. Instacart is a VC at this point. You add Smart Cart Caper into the mix, right, the smart cart company they acquired, and that's three companies, all of which are retail startups that have really zero connection to one another, if you get down to how retail actually works. So for example, doing GIG, dig, GIG-

Anne Mezzenga: GIG delivery.

Chris Walton: Doing GIG delivery. Man, I'm having trouble with the alliteration today, which is usually not my problem. It's usually my forte. Doing GIG delivery, for example, does not make you better at pricing analytics or checkout free shopping. You exercising that muscle for the past 10 or 15 years does not help you in any way in those arenas. I want people to understand that. I could get on board with an eCommerce platform for grocers being synergistic to what Instacart has traditionally done. But there are so many players in that space. I'd never even heard of Rosie. And why, if I'm a grocer trying to wean myself off Instacart, as many people are, which I think you already talked about at one point in this conversation or in sessions past, why would I go with Instacart? Why would I do this to form my own eCommerce browser, my own eCommerce experience? There's tons of players out there. And to top it all off, we had 1010data on our podcast this week, sharing the latest data on Instacart. We can't share it with you, but let me just tell you we're going to put the pod out next week. You're going to want to listen to it because the story does not appear to be great, is what I would say. And it's just a further indication of why this seems like just a massive grasping of straws. And Instacart is just basic trying to act like a VC and hope it works.

Anne Mezzenga: I don't understand. I don't even understand if I'm a retailer or grocer right now, how I'm supposed to be thinking about Instacart.

Chris Walton: I don't either.

Anne Mezzenga: I still feel like they have so much internal cohesion to happen, that for me as a retailer, how is going to Instacart, paying them on top of what I would already be doing inside my own internal organization, hiring a pricing and planning and analytics company. Hiring the check out free technology person. I mean, couldn't I get a better deal of myself, negotiating directly with these people instead of going to Instacart for what I hope will be somebody who's got their stuff together and can offer me this full range of offerings. I don't understand why as a grocer, I need Instacart as my super app. And if I trust them to be a super app right now.

Chris Walton: And the super app is a good analogy. And who knows if they're actually going in that direction. But to your point, Eversight is a good company. We spotlighted them. But it might just work on its own as a concept, but it has absolutely, and this is what's important, it has absolutely nothing to do in a lot of ways with GIG delivery. It's just better pricing analytics for retailers. Which fine, if you want to become a pricing analytics shop, Instacart, go ahead and do that. But I just don't get the underlying premise of all these acquisitions.

Anne Mezzenga: But isn't it going to take time to build this?

Chris Walton: Yes. Yes.

Anne Mezzenga: That's why I talk about the super app. How can you confidently go into any retailer right now and be like, here's our suite of offerings.

Chris Walton: There's so many connection points too.

Anne Mezzenga: You don't even know how those things come together in the kitchen. You're just putting out a menu that keeps adding stuff and more stuff and more stuff. And I don't know, I just don't understand.

Chris Walton: There's so many questions this raises to me, Anne, and this is our last story. And we've got some time, the show's running pretty quick. I don't understand the board's approving all this, number one. We're just going to spend all this money in advance of the IPO, which at this point, I'm wondering if it's even going to happen this year because I just don't get these moves. It doesn't make sense.

Anne Mezzenga: It brings me back to the first story, Chris, that we were talking about today which is, who are the people internally that are asking questions about what's going on?

Chris Walton: Right.

Anne Mezzenga: If you're at Instacart, is anybody raising their hand? What's the plan here? Where's this going? Especially if you're leading teams that are now supposed to be all of a sudden creating this big suite of offerings, where is my priority of just managing how the products get from retailer to end consumer? Where does that fall on the spectrum? Isn't that what we were, Instacart, to begin with? I don't know. I just feel so much frustration for those employees of Instacart, trying to figure out where they belong in the world.

Chris Walton: You're buying these companies when instead you could actually in theory, be giving some of that money back or giving that money back to the initial shareholders or something. But I don't know. It's just so damn unfathomable to me. And if I was a startup, I'd be calling Instacart right and left, being like, hey, you want to acquire me? Because fair play to Eversight and Rosie, they probably got a good valuation, I'm guessing. Because Instacart seems desperate in this.

Anne Mezzenga: It's weird. I don't know. I don't know. I got to move on.

Chris Walton: Let's keep going.

Anne Mezzenga: We're going to the Lightning Round, Chris. I have a great first question for you.

Chris Walton: All right. Hit me.

Anne Mezzenga: Unilever announced that they'd start selling their ice cream directly to consumers also via Instacart this week.

Chris Walton: Right? Which is a cool move actually.

Anne Mezzenga: Yes. I agree. If you were called, a la Jimmy Fallon or the Grateful Dead to create your own flavor of ice cream, what ingredients would it include?

Chris Walton: I missed that Jimmy Fallon has his own ice cream by the way. God, let me think about that for a sec. I would go with, off the top of my head, vodka gut punch, Anne. I don't know why, but that's what's coming through my head.

Anne Mezzenga: What? Vodka and ice cream?

Chris Walton: Oh yeah. Vodka milkshakes. You never had one of those?

Anne Mezzenga: That's not feeling like...

Chris Walton: Oh, yes. So tasty. So tasty.

Anne Mezzenga: Okay. So what's a vodka gut punch.

Chris Walton: I don't know, Anne. Use your imagination. That's the point. A little chocolate, a little vodka taste. Maybe it's actually got vodka in it because I'm getting creative and innovative here.

Anne Mezzenga: My God.

Chris Walton: And there's no bounds on this. I'm thinking outside the ice cream box.

Anne Mezzenga: I don't know. I don't think you're going to get high scores. You're not going to be the number one selling ice cream on Instacart I don't think, but-

Chris Walton: And it's a punch in the gut. All right. Starbucks named a new CO this week. If you could tell him one thing you'd want changed at your Starbucks experience, what would it be?

Anne Mezzenga: I want half caff drip coffee.

Chris Walton: Ooh, that's a good one.

Anne Mezzenga: I'm a big half caff person, as you know.

Chris Walton: You are a half caffer.

Anne Mezzenga: I had to dial back on the caffeine, love coffee, but I really want to just go in and have half decaf pike, half regular roast pike.

Chris Walton: That's a really good call. I wonder what prevents that or if they could do that? If that was even a possibility?

Anne Mezzenga: Because they don't have the same roast for dark and light or for decaf and regular.

Chris Walton: Right, right, right, right.

Anne Mezzenga: Which is a shame.

Chris Walton: You're a half caffer. I'm a caffer. I guess.

Anne Mezzenga: But I could have two cups of coffee to your one cup of coffee.

Chris Walton: You can. You can.

Anne Mezzenga: Anyway, Chris, Walmart unveiled an all in one app called Me At Walmart this past week and gave employees their own Samsung phones. If you could have an all in one app to handle a collection of tasks in your day, what would be the first task you'd put it on?

Chris Walton: Ooh, I love that question. And I hope she's listening, Anne, because I've got an answer for this. An app that collates and organizes all the texts from Mrs. Omni Talk that I get every day about random changes to her work schedule.

Anne Mezzenga: Oh my God.

Chris Walton: Let me just tell you, Anne, marital coordination still eludes me. It just absolutely baffles me and Mrs. Omni Talk on a daily basis.

Anne Mezzenga: I think just a general prioritization list. Something that could prioritize the text in general between any partners, I think would be brilliant. Where do you rank this among all the lists of the to- dos today?

Chris Walton: Right. That'd be good. You just keep on scrolling. I don't know. You see, there's probably tools out there that you could do that, it's just about investing them for the benefit of you and your spouse and getting you both to figure out how to use them in the same way. All right, Anne, the season five teaser trailer for Yellowstone came out this last week.

Anne Mezzenga: It did?

Chris Walton: It's lame, actually. I watched it.

Anne Mezzenga: I missed it.

Chris Walton: Pound for pound, who is hotter on that show? Rip or Beth?

Anne Mezzenga: Neither. Casey, obviously.

Chris Walton: Really? Oh, but that's not the question. Beth or Rip?

Anne Mezzenga: Well, I guess Beth, but I don't know.

Chris Walton: Beth. For sure, Beth. A hundred percent, Beth. A hundred percent.

Anne Mezzenga: Rip is not my kind of cowboy.

Chris Walton: He's not your cowboy? Casey's your cowboy. He's a good-

Anne Mezzenga: I like him as a character, but if somebody's going to-

Chris Walton: So Casey or Beth, to say show's off the rails?

Anne Mezzenga: Casey, obviously

Chris Walton: Really? Oh no way. I'd still go with Beth. I'd still go with Beth.

Anne Mezzenga: Oh my God. For sure, Casey.

Chris Walton: All right, Kevin Costner or Casey?

Anne Mezzenga: Ooh. I'm still going to go with Casey.

Chris Walton: You're going to go, Casey?

Anne Mezzenga: But Kevin Costner looks good in that show.

Chris Walton: Kevin Costner, he was a hotty back in the day. Hotty bow body, back in the day.

Anne Mezzenga: Field of Dreams. Oh, man.

Chris Walton: Field of Dreams. Bull Durham. No Way Out, in the Navy whites. Anyway. All right. That wraps us up. Happy birthday today to Gat and Madazaro, Pink, and my little sister's favorite boy toy growing up, Mr. JTT, Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

Anne Mezzenga: Oh man. How old is he? Do you remember?

Chris Walton: I think he's 41, Anne.

Anne Mezzenga: Okay. That sounds about right. Sounds about right.

Chris Walton: It seems about right, right. And remember, if you can only read or listen to one retail blog in the business, make it Omni Talk. Our Fast Five podcast is the quickest, fastest rundown of all the week's top news. And our twice weekly newsletter tells you the top five things you need to know each day and also features special content exclusive to us and just for you. And we try really hard to make it all fit within the preview pane of your inbox. You can sign up today at www. omnitalk. blog. Thanks as always for listening in. Please remember to like and leave us a review, wherever you happen to listen to your podcast or on YouTube. Remember to also use our promo code, rbot1950 to register for Grocery Shop. That's R- B- O- T 1950.

Anne Mezzenga: Not too late. Go do it now.

Chris Walton: It's not too late. You got about seven or eight days.

Anne Mezzenga: And.

Chris Walton: And on behalf of all of us at Omni Talk, as always to close out this crazy hell of a show, Anne. Be careful out there.

Anne Mezzenga: The Omni Talk Fast Five is a Microsoft sponsored podcast. Microsoft Cloud for retail connects your customers, your people and your data across the shopper journey, delivering personalized experiences and operational excellence. And is also brought to you an association with the A& M Consumer and Retail Group. The A& M Consumer and Retail Group is a management consulting firm that tackles the most complex challenges and advances its clients, people and communities toward their maximum potential. CRG brings the experience, tools and operator- like pragmatism to help retailers and consumer products companies be on the right side of disruption. And Takeoff. Takeoff is transforming grocery by empowering grocers to thrive online. The key is micro fulfillment, small robotic fulfillment centers that can be leveraged at a hyper local scale. Takeoff also offers a robust software suite so grocers can seamlessly integrate the robotic solution into their existing businesses. To learn more, visit takeoff. com. And Sezzle. Sezzle's an innovative buy now pay later solution that allows shoppers to split purchases into four interest free payments over six weeks. To learn more, visit sezzle. com. And finally, Silk. The Silk Cloud DB virtualization platform is a virtualization layer between your workloads and the cloud. It helps you scale your cloud without scaling your costs. Visit silk. us to learn more.


In today’s Omni Talk Retail Fast Five Podcast, sponsored by Microsoft, the A&M Consumer and Retail GroupTakeoffSezzle, and Silk, Chris Walton and Anne Mezzenga discuss:

  • All their lessons learned from the many months of turmoil at Bed Bath & Beyond
  • The reports of Instagram moving away from social commerce
  • Disney+ going the other direction and getting into in-app commerce by the end of 2022
  • The big push into resale events by Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • And Instacart’s utterly perplexing acquisition spree that saw it acquire two companies in the span of just six days.

There’s all that, plus a new hairstyle for Anne, the one thing we wish Starbucks had but doesn’t, and the vagaries of marital scheduling coordination.

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