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An interview with the legendary Jason Goldberg: "We're all entitled to zero sales!"

An interview with the legendary Jason Goldberg: "We're all entitled to zero sales!"

On digital innovation strategy: "And of course the reality is: we're all entitled to zero sales, right? And so we've got to re-earn all those sales." - Jason Goldberg, Chief Commerce Strategy Officer at Publicis

Commerce Famous Podcast, episode 19: Jason Goldberg on his long career and what the future will bring for retail and ecommerce

In this episode of the Commerce Famous Podcast, host Ben Marks is joined by the eminent Jason "Retailgeek" Goldberg, a titan in the commerce realm and the Chief Commerce Strategy Officer at Publicis.

Jason, also celebrated for his insightful contributions on the Jason and Scot Show, delves into his extensive experience in the commerce industry, highlighting his unique perspective on the evolution of retail and digital commerce. From discussing the origins and growth of the Jason and Scott Show to exploring Jason's rich family history in retail and his pivotal role in the early days of ecommerce at Blockbuster, this episode is a treasure trove of industry insights and personal anecdotes.

Ben and Jason navigate through the complexities of modern commerce, touching upon the role of AI, the importance of discovery in ecommerce, and the future of consumer engagement. Whether you're a seasoned professional or new to the industry, this episode offers valuable lessons and thought-provoking discussions on the ever-changing landscape of commerce.

Join us for an episode that not only celebrates the achievements of a leading voice in retail but also provides a glimpse into the future of commerce!

Listen to the episode right here or subscribe to Commerce Famous on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcast player

On the rise and fall of companies: "I work for a big agency where every PowerPoint deck starts with a slide that's a picture of Blockbuster next to a picture of Netflix. And the slide says, don't let this happen to you." - Jason Goldberg, Chief Commerce Strategy Officer at Publicis

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Transcript of Commerce Famous episode 19, an interview with Jason Goldberg

Ben Marks: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Commerce Famous. I'm your host, Ben Marks. With me today is Jason "Retailgeek" Goldberg, currently chief commerce strategy officer at Publicis and also host of the Jason and Scott Show, a podcast that anyone in this industry, if you're not already subscribed to, you really should be. Jason has just decades of experience in commerce and has been party to some of the biggest companies and biggest things that have happened, and you can regularly see him at trade shows and everything else. So, Jason, welcome to the show. Jason Goldberg: Ben, thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to finally make it. Ben Marks: Well, folks, if you just happen to have been living under a commerce rock anywhere in the world and don't know who Jason is, well, he has a podcast you might want to pay attention to, the Jason and Scott show. So a lot of really good analysis. And I know retail is in the name, but the coverage is industry wide. The insights are more than industry deep. I'd actually be kind of curious to hear about the origin story behind the Jason and Scott show. And I think you're pushing around 400 episodes, right? Jason Goldberg: It feels like it. It's only 320 ish. It feels like there's the 80 that Scott messed up that we don't talk about. Ben Marks: I think what I heard the other day that there was something about we were going to be listening to the Jason Bot and Scott bot show. Jason Goldberg: Yes. Scott is very much looking forward to replacing me with a more agreeable co host. Ben Marks: Yes. The LLM that can have the parameters tweaked, that's since, what, 2015, I think. Jason Goldberg: Yeah, it's crazy to say that. Yeah. But it's like eight years. Ben Marks: So in the run up to this show, folks, I was actually going back through some of the old episodes there, and I got to listen to an episode from 2016 with my old boss Mark Lavelle and peer on the strategy team, Peter Sheldon. And I was struck by how much of a time capsule that was. And I suspect if you go back over the episode list, we could find similar time capsules. Is there any moment in your career? So your career spans a lot, and your history actually goes back your generational. Jason Goldberg: Very generous way of saying I'm old. Ben Marks: But yeah, you don't look a day above however old you look. Hundred. Jason Goldberg: Yeah. Ben Marks: Actually, let me back up even further in your bio. You are fourth generation retailer. What's the story there? What was your family doing? Jason Goldberg: Yeah, immigrants from Russia came to the US, opened a fruit cart selling bananas off a cart on the street, turned into a grocery store, turned into a pawn shop and jewelry store. These are all over multiple generations. And so for a while in the Pacific Northwest, there's a bunch of jewelry stores that people bought their engagement rings from that had my family's name on them. I wasn't very involved in that business, but several of my uncles started at the time a revolutionary new kind of business. You could go into their stores and you could rent a movie that came on a magnetic tape called a vhs tape, and you could watch that movie whenever you wanted. So they were video stores. I'm being sarcastic. Ben Marks: That sounds like a blockbuster idea. Jason Goldberg: It is a blockbuster idea. And they sold it to a guy that had the blockbuster idea named Wayne Heisinger. And my family wisely included me with the transaction. So if you're a football fan and you've seen the like, we did a trade and there's a player to be named later. That was me. I got traded to Wayne Heising and blockbuster back in the very early 90s when we had about ten stores. Ben Marks: So two takeaways there, folks. I think we just found nepotism. I think we just found the origin story of there is money in the banana stand, or banana cart in this case, and then two, I guess. So your family was just trying to get rid of you. Jason Goldberg: Yes. And still to this day, doing that? Yes. Ben Marks: Okay. Jason Goldberg: New generations. Ben Marks: Don't you have a trade show to go visit? Come on. Jason Goldberg: Exactly. You sound exactly like my wife. Yes. Okay. Ben Marks: I might have heard this phrase as well, directed at me. You've been there since really for business, even before online became a thing. So you watched that transition happen. And I think your time at Blockbuster, if I remember correctly, was actually just prior to ecommerce. Jason Goldberg: I was a director of marketing at Blockbuster, and I was the one guy on the management team that had this thing at home called a computer that no one else on the team had. And so when this thing called the World Wide Web became popular, there was this new thing, a browser, which was text based back then. They're like, should we have a website? And we're like, I don't know. Ask Jason. He's the guy with a computer. And so that eventually we said, yes, and tried to sell stuff on it. Female Narrator: Commerce famous is proudly presented by Shopware, the leading open source ecommerce platform for mid market and lower enterprise merchants. More than 50,000 clients already process over $25 billion in annual GMV through Shopware. Find out more about Shopware and the best value in []( Ben Marks: Well, that's part of your origin story, too. I mean, you were a true computer tinkerer back in the day. And folks, again, this is before only a small corner of the relatively small population of people who had computers in their house would have been connected to the web in the first place. But there certainly was plenty of geekery and fun to be had playing around with computers. And you were 14 years old, is that right? Jason Goldberg: This did not come up in the rehearsal, so I'm a little terrified if you're referencing my sordid pass with the FBI. Ben Marks: Wait, you weren't one of Mitnick's friends, were you? Jason Goldberg: No. Ben Marks: Early on. And then in the computer city and Commodore, and back when Commodore was like a new thing. Jason Goldberg: Right. Ben Marks: So you've truly seen the genesis of this all. And it is interesting. For those of you who don't know, there was a time, even after the web came around, where in the early days there was this big question about whether commercial transactions should even be allowed. And it took an agreement among the people who sort of made the web possible. And then I think it was Netscape that released the SSL protocol right back in the late ninety s or early two thousand s that actually enabled secure transactions to take place. And then, of course, the rest is history. Does that match your recollection? Jason Goldberg: Yeah, I hesitate to ever say secure transactions, but more secure, maybe? Ben Marks: More secure. Jason Goldberg: Yeah. Ben Marks: And then fast forward to today. You are, according to basically any article or place that you're listed, one of the top voices in, top voices in retail, top voices in commerce, ecommerce. There's a lot that's happened between the beginning of the web and there. Are there any particularly interesting parts of your journey that you'd like to highlight? Jason Goldberg: Yeah, I think you get the gist again. We launched a website at Blockbuster, and then it was like, should we try to sell a Disney video on it? We tried to do that, wasn't very successful, but it was a year before Amazon, and then we eventually, this is a very important point for me. I work for a big agency where every PowerPoint deck starts with a slide that's a picture of blockbuster next to a picture of Netflix. And the slide says, don't let this happen to you. And then they point to me and say, jason used to run marketing for Blockbuster, so I always have to chime in. We did sell Blockbuster for $15,000,000,000.05 years before Netflix was invented. And so when we sold Blockbuster, of which I didn't get very much of that transaction, by the way, it's hopefully obvious by how hard I'm still toiling. Ben Marks: You must really love this. Jason Goldberg: Yeah, exactly. A bunch of other retailers were like, we're having the same question. Right? And two of those retailers were best buy and target. Right. So I was very fortunate to be sort of in the room when they were figuring out their early ecommerce strategies, up to and including being in a meeting at Target on 911 when we heard about the twin Towers going down and sitting next to Jeff Bezos, who had just signed a contract to take over Target's website. Ben Marks: Wow. So while there's a lot to unpack, even there, man could probably do a whole series with you. It's interesting, actually, the point about specifically Target and this idea of, like, blockbuster versus Netflix, because Target's doing some interesting things these days. I'm not sure I'm far from the commerce prognosticator and analyst that you are, but it's certainly new directions for the brand and new muscles in general. And I mistrust the strategy there. I don't know that I bring people on for analysis, but I think you've even recently sort of discussed this a bit. Right? Jason Goldberg: Are we talking about Target Circle, their new paid membership? Ben Marks: Is that Target circle, this dollar brand? I forget the actual brand name because Target was always kind of, to my mind, Target was like the nicer Walmart or this is the kind of the brand space. Jason Goldberg: Affordable luxuries. Ben Marks: Yeah, affordable luxuries. And now they're going after it. And then I think they even have, they're building in this longer return cycle for these items that are priced basically at throwaway prices. For me, it's max of a big brand retailer that is experiencing their growing pains and at least choosing to tackle them instead of sticking their head in the sand. But I guess that also is kind of an indication for where this industry is, especially the businesses that were successful or found success. And then zero interest comes along and everyone gets to indulge these unnatural growth strategies. And now we're back to either paying directly for growth at all costs or feeling the effects of that by proxy. It is an interesting time. Ben Marks: This industry has been full of interesting times, as I said, but it's an interesting time today. What do you think are the most important tasks for? If we could say there are common things that brands should be paying attention to today, brands large and small, what would your advice be? Jason Goldberg: Yeah, well, it's kind of boring, but I always still try to remind folks that we're still probably in day one of the digital disruption of commerce, that commerce is a sort of 8000 year old activity that we all engage in. And since Mr. Jobs pulled that first iPhone out of his pocket and said, and one more thing, we've all been trying to reinvent how commerce works in a digital world. And it feels so much has changed since then that it feels easy to say, oh, we lived through it and this is what it looks like, and now you just need to sign up for a shopware account and you're all good to go. Which is good advice, by the way. Side note. But I still try to remind people that we are in the disruption, that it's still going on and what it's probably going to look like. I have a nine year old son, and how he's probably going to consume goods and discover products and make purchase decisions in his lifetime is probably unimaginable to me. Jason Goldberg: I feel like we're just starting. Ben Marks: Yeah, I'm lucky I have a 30 year old stepson, so otherwise I would not even have any idea what Snapchat is. And I'm 45 and I consider myself pretty in touch with tech and everything, but it's clear to me when I'm around anyone under the age of 30, just how different their reality is. And that's because I think we were among the last generation that remember what it was like before. There was always on connection everywhere. And I guess even one of the things that's very telling there is that the majority of ecommerce experiences, we're still walking down virtual aisles with various spots being merchandised in certain ways, and we are picking things and putting them in a cart, and then we are checking out. And what I think you and I know and others in this industry who've been here for a while know is that that will not be the case in the future. So I would expect your son. It's going to be commerce everywhere, and moments are commercialized experiences. Ben Marks: The commerce just flows seamlessly. But it is hard to imagine that future. And then I guess the part of the challenge is the people in the boardrooms and the C suites that have to make these decisions. I think it's hard for them to imagine as well. What do you do there. Do you just have to have children and watch them, or what's the strategy there to figure that out? I mean, I don't know if this is, this is in the scope of what you do at publicist, but it'd be interested to hear that story. Jason Goldberg: Yeah, I mean, my main scope is to talk about big, hairy problems and not propose a very tangible solution. And so this is right in my wheelhouse. But, yeah, I do think we're very fortunate in the commerce space in that there have been some, I think, remarkably prescient and intelligent entrepreneurs in this space that we all get to learn from. And so I'm annoyed how often Jeff Bezos has turned out to be right. But one of the things that he talked about very early on is know no empire has successfully predicted its own. You know, he used to joke that my goal is never for Amazon to live forever. It's just for it to outlive me, which a. I feel like is a pretty smart goal. Jason Goldberg: But I think if you're in a boardroom, that's what you really need to be thinking about. Right. Is there are all these trendy stats about how companies used to be on the Fortune 500 for 80 years and now they're on for less than 20 years, and that the churn and the pace of change is so much harder. I'm lucky I get to do a little bit of work with Walmart and with Doug McMillan, who's an annoyingly successful CEO. Also, I say annoying because he's fond of pointing this out. He is younger than me, which I remember a time in my career when I was the young hotshot. So it kind of sucked to now be older than all the cool kids. He has a picture on his phone of the top ten retailers in the United States of America every decade. Jason Goldberg: And Walmart at or near the top. I guess that would be somewhat controversial if you were to update that picture today, because the math is hard. But I feel like they're totally cognizant of the fact that when he was coming up, Kmart and Sears were the most powerful, not just retailers in the US, the most powerful businesses in the US and before city, which they still exist, by the way, foot locker is Woolworths, which is super funny to me. Ben Marks: I did not know. Jason Goldberg: Yeah, weird inside fact. So if you're in a boardroom today and you just need to know that you have innovators dilemma, you just need to know that everybody always asks this question about all this digital stuff. Is it incremental? Jason, if I open a website and sell something online. Wouldn't I just have gotten that sale offline if I didn't have a website? Or today it's if I buy a retail media ad or know, if I roll out a generative AI search engine, is that going to be incremental sales? And implied in all those questions is that you're entitled to all of your existing sales and you're just trying to get new ones in addition to that. And of course the reality is we're all entitled to zero sales, right? And so we've got to re earn all those sales. And if you kind of take that perspective, my hypothesis is it puts you in a better mindset to start to sort of think about what the future might look like. Ben Marks: I mean, I'm actually pleased. I love that sentiment because it certainly mirrors my career has been spent well when I wasn't an independent developer. After that I've been working in Magento and then Shopware, so on the platform side of the house. And I have the same attitude when it comes to the customers in this space, which is, yeah, you have to earn that business. Yes, you have customers you've acquired and those recurring dollars and euros are so nice, but they have to be earned. And I always love when I can find parallels from one end of the industry to the other. And I guess basically what does that look like? Is that recognize your bias and your hubris and just get past it and figure out what you need to do to earn that sale, that dollar today and tomorrow, compared to what you did before. Jason Goldberg: Yeah. So I don't know. The answer is probably different for every business in every slightly different circumstance. But I think you do have to start. You go back to Clayton Christiansen and innovators dilemma. All these businesses are fortunate to live in a forest of super tall oak trees. And what we have to remind ourselves is there's some acorn sitting in our business right now that needs water. Right. Jason Goldberg: And it's always going to make more sense to put water on all those beautiful oak trees that we already have. But 100 years from now, that new acorn is going to be more valuable and more powerful than likely any of these current oak trees we're enjoying. And so there's something about planting some new trees, right? Or there's the funnel parable. The best time to plant a tree is 20. Ben Marks: Yeah, 20 years ago. So you can enjoy the shade. Jason Goldberg: Best time is right now. Ben Marks: I guess maybe the good thing here is that the pace of change makes it such that if you are willing to, even if you've been stuck. If you're willing to come at things from the outside or just from a different perspective, there's almost an expectation or permission to disrupt a flow. Right? And then we see nothing but a series of shifts in this industry, not unlike. Well, what is it? Our president, Jason Nyas, another Jason in this business. I don't know if you had all. Jason Goldberg: The good Jason's, that's the way to become commerce. Famous is just name yourself after other famous people. Ben Marks: Other famous people. I don't know too many other Ben's in commerce. Yeah, but Jason had a point. Not long moments after Chach ept came out. This is an industrial revolution, right? This is like, okay, internal combustion has come out. This is small bits being able to do an enormous amount of work that transforms what work even looks like and what business is possible. And I would say the web was another moment where we have that. And so we're on this cadence where we have these moments that change everything happening at least every couple of decades, if not more frequently. Ben Marks: So there's always something new coming along. Now, as you look through to the end of this decade, as we get into 2030, what do you see the landscape looking like in five years? Would you even want to hazard a prediction? Jason Goldberg: Yeah, I feel like it's a useful exercise to hypothesize what it might look like and just be aware that it's almost certainly wrong. Right. And so, yeah, I'm sure the world in 2030 will be wildly different, I could possibly imagine. But until then, I'm going to paint some cool pictures of what I think it looks like, and hopefully all the people that I show them to will be dead by 2030 and will never know that I was wrong. Ben Marks: The receipts are there, by the way, because I believe you had an article back in 2011. Now, I don't think you were necessarily saying that the e would be dropped from ecommerce, but it is interesting to put that out there and to think about that, because I've been party to these discussions myself. I mean, at first it was like, how should we actually, what's the convention there? Is it little e, big c? Is there a hyphen? But it does seem that we still talk about, quote, ecommerce. And just the scope of what ecommerce means has maybe sort of taken over commerce as a concept. I don't know of any industry, any industry where we've seen the kind of changes like we've seen in ecommerce. Everything has changed along with the web. But it seems like, you brought up, that there's still plenty of room headroom for ecommerce to grow. And even with the massive pull forward of growth that we had during COVID and that's fallen off. Ben Marks: But it looks like we've just regressed to the same rate of increase. Jason Goldberg: Another controversial hypothesis. Ben Marks: I had a feeling you'd have a thought on this, so I'd throw that out there because that's just at a high level. Those were the stats that I was seeing, but I have a feeling you have a perspective on that. Jason Goldberg: Yeah, the labels thing is really tricky. Yes. When you get super old, one of the fun things, a game that my coworkers play with me now, is we'll be in a room with a client, and the client will throw out some pithy e commerce saying that they heard somewhere, and then a team at Pubicus will go do the research on the old Jason Goldberg quotes and find out if I was the one that originally said that. And occasionally it was. Now there will be these funny people finding my old podcasts from or blog posts from the 2000s talking about some of this stuff, because a lot of these themes go over and over again. So we used to have this long conversation with clients, used to be retail, and then it was multichannel, and then it was cross channel, and then it's omnichannel, and now it's everywhere. Commerce or whatever. I'll be honest, I now have given up. Jason Goldberg: I don't care what anyone calls anything. And so you rightly pointed out, like, hey, we talk about our podcast being about retail, and you're like, oh, gosh. To my audience, they may not be aware. That includes ecommerce. It's like, yeah, I mean, like, people selling stuff for money, right? Which I don't care where they do it, the labels are almost an unwinnable game. Ben Marks: Well, for me, there's a couple more points there, too. Right? So, you know, one, I think it'd be unfortunate if you didn't want to put something down, put something in writing, prognosticate, because you might be proved wrong. Right. I mean, that would be unfortunate. That'd be just a loss of creative thinking. And we've got some friends. I've got friends, Philip Jackson and Brian Lang over at future commerce. Really? I grew up with them in the magento ecosystem, and I love what they're doing in this space. Ben Marks: And probably some of the things that they're pulling out, what they're doing is truly beautiful. But I love the idea that they're putting it out there and they're putting points, posts around which people can agree and disagree, and we'll see. It'll be interesting to look back. The other thing is, I feel like you guys almost, could almost have a cards against humanity with the things that you've said over the years. But again, it's hard fought, well earned. But I guess maybe at a certain point you don't necessarily need to be right. You just need to be out there. Jason Goldberg: We talked about commerce famous. The most commerce famous person of the talking heads is my friend Scott Galloway. Right. And I would hypothesize that he's done a lot since then to expand his famousness. But he became famous for a prediction that Amazon would buy whole foods. Right. Which turned out to be quite prescient and people revere him for it. He already had a successful career, by the way, but he built another career on top of that. Jason Goldberg: And the fun fact, he predicted Amazon would buy Whole Foods right after he predicted Amazon would buy Macy's and Amazon would buy a Kia. And a bunch of people that historians may note, Amazon did not know he was wrong a bunch. People don't tend to remember the wrongs and they super admire the right. And he doesn't claim, like, I'm always right. He would say, hey, I feel like it's a real helpful exercise to think about who Amazon might buy or what. Ben Marks: Might mean, even if those would have been perfectly reasonable, rational decisions. Yeah. Business corporations are not always known for doing this thing. In fact, look at what's happening with Macy's right now. They might have really liked it if Amazon definitely. Jason Goldberg: When I want to make fun of Scott, I bust out. I have a great video of Scott Galway before the Amazon Whole Foods thing predicting that the future of retail is not Amazon because of all these intrinsic problems Amazon had at the time. The future of retail is Macy's. That's sort of today sort of a humorous quote because he delivers it with. Ben Marks: Great, you know, again, that's the importance of pointing things out. Know, maybe at the time, I'm sure his analysis was not ill considered. Jason Goldberg: No, it wasn't. Wasn't flawed. And again, some of his things turned out to be wrong in a very long time horizon. My things that are wrong are often apparent, like seconds after I said. Ben Marks: I too know this burning feeling emanating up from my collar. Jason Goldberg: Yes. Ben Marks: So when you're out there, what's your favorite thing? Trade shows. I've been to hundreds. You've been to more, I'm sure. Jason Goldberg: Yeah, I have actually. All of my badges. Ben Marks: Yeah. Jason Goldberg: I need to do something cool with them. But I have thousands of badges. Ben Marks: We just moved into a very small house, and my wife has said, yeah, that box of badges from your previous employer, that needs to take a picture, send them away, and I've already restarted my next collection over here. Now I get juice. I really enjoy spending time with these people. And the real secret for me is spending time around all these people makes me a lot smarter because they're all a lot smarter than I am. And I get to listen to them and understand what I don't understand. What do you do to get the most value out of a trade show? That's maybe something that. And honestly, folks, I'm sorry, that question is just for me. That's not for you all. Jason Goldberg: Yeah, honestly, I do think it's tricky. In my case, you have to do things that are not my natural inclination. I do think in the long run, by far the most valuable thing we get out of any of these in person events is the relationships and networks that we build, the opinions we get from others on the spot that we get to use, like that week. But more relevantly, in the long horizon, the Rolodex we build of people we can ask when we have hard questions in the future. And so you go to the long days of these trade shows, there are all these have to have do things. You have to go to your company events, you have to go walk the exhibit hall because you're going to write some pov about what's going on in the exhibit hall. And then the end of the day, there's an inclination to go take a nap or go to that marketing event. Right. Jason Goldberg: In reality, ten years from now, none of the stuff you did at your meetings, none of the stuff you did walking around the trade show hall is going to be very useful. But those friendships that you made at that networking event are likely to be a super important part of your career. And so I feel like it's making time for people that you don't necessarily see the advantage in making time for. And building relationships is the way to go. Ben Marks: Yeah. As I've gone on in my career, and embarrassingly, I've been on the community side of the business for a very long time. That was why Magento brought me on. It was funny. Several years into it, I reached out to my budy Roy Rubin, who's the co founder. Jason Goldberg: I saw the first guest. That was legit. That was when commerce famous was legit before you started. Ben Marks: And now I got to sully myself with a barrel with all these randos. Jason Goldberg: I think you're going to have to get like Bob Chultson. Ben Marks: But it was funny. I reached out to him. I was just at a small 20 person event in Germany, I said, and something clicked for me, and I just sent him a Whatsapp. That was like, hey, man, it's really all about your network, isn't it? And I think he was pretty dumbfounded, like, yeah, no shit, man. Of course it's all about your network. Where do you find your next job? Where do you find or the opportunity at your current job? It is, in fact, that network. I really like that point, and it helps me as I get ready to go back to Vegas for shop talk and a couple other events. Now, if I may. Ben Marks: So, I mean, I have the fortune of working for. I mean, I really like the mission. I like our corner of the industry, and I don't need you to qualify it, but I do think it is important for those of us. And I have friendships. I try and maintain friendships across multiple platforms. Right. Because I do have this idea that we all are doing interesting things, but we're all working. Basically. Ben Marks: Like you said earlier, people have been sort of figuring out how to trade and buy and sell stuff to each other for almost 10,000 years. We find nuanced ways to do it, and that has to be accommodated. But the activities are the same. So I really like to have these relationships. I wonder if there is anything or if there are any things that you think should be top of mind for those of us in the platform space. So that would be me at Shopware, my friends at bigcommerce. Shopify. Well, Shopify is kind of in a league of its own as they become what they're becoming, which is certainly impressive. Ben Marks: But friends at commerce tools, we're all solving different problems in different ways, in different verticals and at different sizes. But I do see enough common themes that I wonder if there is any advice for us. Jason Goldberg: Yeah, well, I guess there's two that are fairly obvious that you guys talk about all the time, but I do just like to elevate them. I feel like we've started to get good at taking the friction out of buying stuff, right? I think we're still going to take more out, but it is starting to get pretty darn easy to order toilet paper when you're almost out. What it's really hard to do is find new cool stuff that you didn't know you wanted, but you have to have, right? So in this whole discovery space, there's a great quote ecommerce solved buying, but broke shopping. We still have a lot of work to do in terms of creating discovery. And if I had to guess what discovery in ecommerce looks like, it looks a lot more like TikTok than it does anything that anyone's doing on big, you know, et cetera, today. And so that is a super interesting one to me. Ben Marks: So that's interesting. And I've dropped the name before. Andrea Hernandez, she's a honduran lady. She saw what was happening in the snack space, and so she created this thing called snack shot. But really, if you pay any attention to her at all, seriously, even if you don't care about snacks, if you don't work in snacks, if you don't eat snacks, everyone cares about snacks. I'm just trying to be polite. Jason Goldberg: My nine year old, most of all. Ben Marks: It'S her analysis that just reveals a profound understanding of sort of the psyche of the buyer and what people want and what they need. And a few years ago, we were sponsors of her, this nascent thing that she was building, because it was so cool to have someone just thinking novelly in the space. And she came up with this concept of, like, curation as a service. Curation is a thing. And I think what you're describing with TikTok is exactly that. It is both algorithmically and self selected. Advisement and discovery. That's an interesting point. Ben Marks: Do you think that also, one of the interesting things I've heard recently, and maybe it might have been Rick Watson's podcast, but if you are, maybe you guys, I don't know who was talking about 800 million skus at Amazon. And when I need to buy a commodity, I hit Amazon, right? But if I'm trying to find a solution generically, I'm thinking search engine, and there may be a Gen X, there may be a generational difference here, but Google, everyone's got this kind of bad feeling in their gut about Google's direction these days. And it looks like AI is the next level, the next step of search engine that could be brought in for product recommendation, product discovery. Now, our friends in the intelligent search space have been dealing with big data and trying to do analysis on that. I'm thinking of, like, the clay booths and others, but it seems like this is now going to become like this just orthogonal thing across the whole industry, or thing running orthogonally across the whole industry. Would you put those two things in the same bucket? Jason Goldberg: Kind of. But I guess AI to me, is a perfect example of innovators dilemma. I would just say AI is tricky because it simultaneously is the latest overhyped buzzy fad thing that everybody's trying to tattoo on their products, and the most important true disruptive thing that's going to change all of our world. I think both of those are true. And so it's hard. You go to a trade show and the hot dog vendor is going to be an AI hot dog vendor, and you're going to throw your garbage away in an AI trash can, which know just people trying to jump on the buz. But there's also going to know the next Jeff Bezos is going to be at that trade show in some crappy booth with some seemingly silly sounding idea about how AI is going to change how people shop. To me, we all go to our old paradigms, right? So, hey, you've got this cool new LLM capability in generative AI. Jason Goldberg: Let's upgrade the search engine, right? Let's upgrade all the text boxes. And that's a worthy thing to do. There's a lot of benefit we could potentially get from that. That's probably not how llms most disrupt commerce. Ben Marks: Right? Jason Goldberg: And so I'm the least interested in the LLM version of search engine, right? I'm a lot more interested in what does commerce look like in a world in which all these llms turn into agents, right? It's not. Oh, shoot, I need to go shopping. I'm going to go on a website and do an LLM search for toilet paper. Right? The old search probably works pretty well for that. What's going to happen instead is I'm going to say to my agent that runs my life, never run out of toilet paper. And that's the prompt. And then where it gets it, when it gets it, how it gets it is likely to be wildly different. Right? And if you think about that agent, it's probably going to run a reverse auction for whatever toilet paper meets its criteria, and it probably knows well in advance when it needs more. Jason Goldberg: We have retail stores because it was super convenient for you to go get all the goods at the same place. But the AI agent probably doesn't care about that, right? So does that put a fork in wholesalers and you're going to get all your stuff direct from the source? I don't know, but I feel like those kinds of disruptions from AI are a lot more interesting than the search engine. Ben Marks: So truly, would it be fair to say that you see a future where we are truly proxied through these agents? Right? Jason Goldberg: Yeah. Huawei is a very scary movie to watch. Ben Marks: Well, you know what? I think that is actually a high. I truly could let this go on for a while, but I think you and I both have work we need to do. But I got to say, man, this is what an absolute pleasure for me. It's good to know that I have a long career ahead of me of prognosticating and then being proved at least ribbed over it down the road. And I look forward to never running out of toilet paper. Jason Goldberg: Don't we all. Ben Marks: Well, Jason retail geek Goldberg, it's been an absolute pleasure to have you on the commerce famous podcast. I reserve full rights to come back and ask you for a follow up episode. Ten or 20 years, and we'll see. Jason Goldberg: How, when I've actually become commerce famous. I'm going to do it. I'm going to do a victory lap. Ben Marks: It's right there for you, buddy. If someone walks up to you and hands you like a gilded toilet paper trophy, you'll know you've made it. All right, my friend. Well, I'll see you in Vegas in a couple of weeks. But until then, I look forward to the next episode of the Jason and Scot show. Jason Goldberg: Thank you very much. Until next time, happy commercing, everyone. Cheers.

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