How does Mark Stamps, Sales Director of the Walmart team for Philips North America think about eCommerce and the transition from bricks to clicks? Get the inside scoop on what this industry leader thinks about dynamic pricing, inventory management, product content, and a customer-first approach to eCommerce.
Plus, get the 411 on Bentonville's greatest eats. Taco truck? Yes, please.
Recording: This is Bricks to Clicks, a podcast presented by Content Analytics and hosted by author, CEO, and entrepreneur David Feinleib.
Dave: Welcome back to another episode of the Bricks to Clicks podcast. I'm Dave Feinleib. My guest today is Mark Stamps, Sales Director of the Walmart team for Philips North America. Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark: Hey, thanks, Dave. Thanks for inviting me.
Dave: Always a pleasure to speak with you. Tell us a little bit about your role at Philips. What do you there?
Mark: Okay, thanks, Dave. So currently I am a sales team leader for Philips, responsible for calling on Walmart and Sam's Club. That includes walmart.com, samsclub.com, jet.com, hayneedle.com. And let me hit refresh here to see if they bought any new ones recently, but, yeah, I'm responsible for making sure that we take care of Walmart and their customers with our product.
Dave: That's great. What are you doing differently with all these Walmart acquisitions? Is there anything that changed in your strategy? How are you thinking about managing across all these different sites?
Mark: Yeah, with the new banners that they've purchased, Walmart is trying to attract a different demographic than who they've attracted for in the past. So it actually does change a little bit on how we go to market because we have to recognize that the users that are currently experiencing Hayneedle or jet.com are different than who is potentially shopping at Sam's Club or walmart.com.
So trying to change your content that you have uploaded on site to be a little bit more specific towards that user base and making sure that you have different pricing models that might attract a different type of clientele. So, if you now have to think about more than just one item at one price, you now have to think of an item at multiple prices, or an item with different messaging. So it definitely is getting more complex as we continue.
Dave: And what does that mean in terms of when you call on the customer? Are you talking to multiple buyers? Is it one buyer? You know, how do you prep for the meetings? What are some of the things you're doing in your work now that Walmart has this broader portfolio of properties?
Mark: Well, it's interesting because they're continuing to evolve in that space. I think as they've thought about their in-game, they wanna have one buyer who buys across all their different channels and banners. So think, though you'll have one buyer who happens to live in San Bruno, California, who might be buying for items that are in Jet, who is based out of Hoboken, New Jersey.
So they wanna get to a point, we have one buyer and they can see across all their banners so that they could leverage the scale of the buy. Same thing with a brick and mortar buyer at Walmart is now responsible for purchasing all items, whether it's sold in the store or online on any other sites. So as we approach them, we have to be able to talk across all those banners because you could have one buyer buying across all of them. But I don't think my approaches changed much, whether I'm calling on five different buyers for the same item across all these banners or one buyer across all the banners. You always put the customer first, whether the customer being Walmart or the customer being the shopper. If you center everything there, then that's how I always continue to approach them.
So you always have to think about their time. They don't have a lot of time as buyers, especially now across multiple banners, so don't flood them with a 100-page presentation that you wanna take them through each line. Always be very concise. Talk about the customer and talk about the category that in which you're buying, not just one item. Talk about what that means to their broader portfolio. So always keep that in mind. I kinda have a little rule book here that I follow that if I have 30 minutes, I always try to say one slide per 5 minutes. So in that case, you'd have six slides. So try to keep it to a minimal so you don't flood them, and always try to drive conciseness, and always expect them to be late and wanna leave early.
Dave: That's great, that's great advice. Hey, you've been successful at understanding both the in-store world, the bricks world, as well as the online world, the e-commerce world. What advice do you have or what can other folks who are navigating this crossover from bricks to clicks learn from your experience?
Mark: Well, I do think, as we talk about that shopper and event experience, I think that approach of being shopper-focused works in both bricks and clicks. So as you think about the stores, how do you want to orchestrate her shopping behaviors, and how do you design your products and messaging on your products and pricing of your products to attract them? That same thing does apply to bricks. The sales fundamentals that I've learned over the years of making sure your distribution, your assortment is there, the pricing is right, and you have the placement and merchandising aspects, right? So do you have it on display and where is it on shelf?
That does play online, but it manifests itself in a little different way because now you have these virtual shelves that don't ever end. And then how do you not flood them with so many choices and have a paradox of choice, but how do you help that shopper navigate your site and your products to give them as much information that you can, but not too much, so that if they flood it and then they can't comprehend? So I think it is that balance online. So you have a finite environment in-store that you can play with, how do you bring that thought process online knowing that you have infinite options?
Dave: Speaking of pricing, you've got in-store pricing and you've got online pricing. What's going on there? Are you seeing some differences? What should suppliers be thinking about in that area?
Mark: That dynamic pricing is quite a fleeting thought here of how to solve it. Currently, most bricks than clicks have different prices reflected in-store and online. And, especially, with some of the price match guarantees that are out there, a number of top retailers, they'll give you the price if you ask for it, if you happen to see something different online. But as Walmart continues to go down this path and utilize technology, especially around their scan and go options, and knowing that people are on mobile devices in their stores, the propensity of marrying up those price points is even more important.
As people use this, for example, scan and go that Walmart has tested in a few markets, the expectation is you have all that content loaded on their site or on their app as they're shopping. If they scan that item in their store, they're gonna want to see similarities between what the price point the see online and at the stores. So there's gonna be a stronger mandate of trying to be more strict about that price transparency. And as we know in this world of prices changing by the, you know, hour, minute, or even second, it's hard to keep up with that with printed price tags in-store. So I don't have a solution to this yet, but just know it's coming and you should be thinking about how you're going to make sure that your online and in-store environments are a lot more fluid and similar.
Dave: And for those who may not have heard of or be familiar, as familiar with dynamic pricing, tell us a little bit about it. What is it and what are the benefits for the shopper and the challenges for the brands and the retailers?
Mark: Yeah. As a shopper, it's no better time to be shopping than right now. Because as many retailers and large e-commerce retailers, they want to win your dollars, so they know that price is a huge lever, so they want to offer and guarantee, if you will, the lowest price available on specific items. So as the shopper looks, that price can be varying, whether you go to Google, go to Amazon, go to Walmart, and go to any other site, and you start to see that price change because now you have technology. You can constantly go out into the market online to see where the lowest price is and reset your price.
As a manufacturer and as a retailer, you get a lot of pressure from those changing prices to maintain margins, maintain equity of your brand doesn't become so deluded that you're selling things a lot cheaper than expected. So it creates a bit of a challenge of trying to manage pricing over all of these different sites when they all wanna try to win by being the lowest. So dynamic pricing is something that is very tough to manage because they all want to win. So I don't know that there's a solution yet, but I know some the of utilized things, such as minimum advertised prices and ways in order to maintain the integrity of their brands, but that does get very tough across all these different retailers that wanna be the lowest.
Dave: That's great. Now, on the other side of the equation, inventory, supply chain, talk a little bit about out-of-stock, talk about content online. What are some of the other factors that you're thinking about as you, again, navigate from the bricks world to the clicks world?
Mark: Yeah, I would say inventory management is critical in-store, and even more critical online. The expectation that shoppers have when they're shopping online is that you should never be out-of-stock because you can pick it from anywhere. So they recognize you might be out-of-stock on a shelf because the truck hasn't arrived, but there's an expectation when you go online that you're never out-of-stock. And there's an old saying that, you know, being out-of-stock in store is 100% unacceptable, but being out-of-stock online is 200% unacceptable.
The interesting thing about being out-of-stock online is that you're punished for much longer than being out-of-stock in-store. Once you get the product back in-stock in store, the shoppers can continue shopping. So the next person that comes in can buy your product. However, online, you could lose up to 800% of your search rank by being out-of-stock for just 1 day on a retailer's website. So that's critical because people have the expectation of being in stock.
Dave: And when you're looking at search, talk a little about that, you know. How are shoppers shopping? What are they looking at? What should suppliers be thinking about in terms of showing up in the search results and what can they do to, you know, have an impact on that?
Mark: Great question. Most people, I would say 70% or greater, start their search for specific goods online through the search engines, either Google or on certain retailers' sites, but then they all key in what they're looking for versus using the navigational vehicles and filtering. They'll search for their goods and then filter from there. The importance is making sure that you have relevant content on your items so that they are even showing up within a search rank.
I've seen some manufacturers not even talk about what product they even are selling, but they are more enamored by lots of marketing jargon that never even talk about...for example, laundry detergent, and then a shopper keys in "laundry detergent," those items never show up because there was never any verbiage in that search or on that item that talks about laundry detergent, so they'll never show up. But because so many clicks are coming within the search, it's so imperative to have the right content show up within search.
And also Google, as one of the top search engines, they go through and evaluate all of your content on all of the retailer sites to show...they're trying to anticipate that shopper's needs, so your content is so important to make sure that it's showing up within that search result within Google. So without focusing on your content, then you're not going to fair well within your shopper's search.
Dave: Yeah, that's great. Now, switching gears a little bit over to the kind of the business of e-commerce, when suppliers are thinking about, "Okay, I want more budget, I want more resources, people, capabilities in e-commerce," but, you know, maybe they're in an organization that hasn't yet recognized, you know, what kind of investment or hasn't decided what kind of investment they wanna make in e-commerce, what can people within the organization do to kind of highlight where things are going in the space and how to get the resources that they need?
Mark: Yeah, I would say, first and foremost, you should pick up any industry article, and this is where the growth is. So as you continue to see shoppers migrate and purchasing more online, this is where the growth is. And most often, manufacturers want to invest in growth, so that investment. So you might not be able to get a return on investment year one or year two, but that where is the growth, that's where the clicks are coming. So the earlier that you adapt, the more that you'll be able to have a long term payout, because being second or third to the trough here will leave you very hungry.
The other way, too, is recognizing that it's just not a game of price and game of investment into your pricing within your goods. It's also leveraging that marketing support and leveraging dollars that companies have as they migrate a little out of just TV advertising or advertising on billboards and print advertising, where those are continuing to lose impressions that'll have more and more people are going to the digital assets. So making sure that you're tapping into some of that marketing support, recognizing that the more marketing support you can get for a retailer's website, you're closer to that point of purchase.
So if you wanna advertise a good, don't just advertise, you know, on a random website, that you're gonna actually advertise on your retailer's website and they're even closer to the point of purchase. So being able to leverage that will continue to help fuel that growth on your retailer website. And, I would say, dedicated resources up against your retailers.com are gonna be important because the needs are gonna be much different than what you've historically done. Many manufacturers are great at shipping palettes of goods and streamlining their supply chain through large DCs.
Well, now we're talking about single units and single boxes, and how to getting direct to consumers, and we're investing there because that's where the future shopping is going. So, again, finding solution to that and making them profitable is gonna be imperative, or you're gonna be spending more money in the future trying to catch up.
Dave: That's great. Now, before we wrap up, a couple of important questions for you. First of all, what is your favorite new Philips product that we should hear about?
Mark: Well, I think the new one is. It's called the "Philips Norelco OneBlade." It is a merge between what we used to call wet shave, so the old razors that you, your grandpa, and your dad used to use, and also the new, you know, electric shavers. But this has got merged in between, that allows to have, you know, that little scruff. Not get too close, but also keep you looking not homeless. It looks...I would say, OneBlade, is the new technology that is coming to that to generate new growth in those categories.
Dave: That sounds kind of a hybrid.
Mark: Yeah, it is. It's kind of the hybrid.
Dave: That's great, that's great. All right. And Bentonville, I've been there many times, love to visit. You gotta tell us, when we come to town, where is your favorite place? If there is a favorite, I know it's hard to, but what are some recommendations that you have?
Mark: Well, that's a great question, Dave. There are a lot of great place to eat here, but I think a couple of staples for me are Whole Hog Cafe, which is staying true to the Southern barbecue. Their pulled pork is world renowned, so I think that is a great place to stop. And then downtown Bentonville, right next to the Five and Dime, where Sam Walton started Walmart, there's a new taco truck called Yeyo's that serves up a little Mexican flare, so that's a go-to for us a on Friday afternoon.
Dave: I love it, I love it. Well, I'm hoping to come visit all of you soon, and maybe I'll get to try out the taco truck while I'm there.
Mark: Sounds great. Well, good luck, Dave, and thanks for inviting me today.
Dave: Mark, thanks so much for being on the show.
Mark: Yup. All right, thank you.
Recording: To find out more about Content Analytics or to order a copy of Dave's book, "Bricks to Clicks," visit contentanalyticsinc.com/brickstoclicks.