How To Maintain A Safe, Yet Engaging, Shopping Experience: The Top 5 Takeaways From HypeHour #4

08.10.2020 Blog , The HypeHour

From mask requirements to 6 feet of separation and hand sanitizing stations galore, health and safety protocols are the “New Normal” in retail environments. So, what does that mean for the industry in the long run? We already know that consumer confidence has plummeted since COVID-19 arrived in the United States, but what can brick-and-mortar retailers do to boost the in-store shopping experience in a safe and responsible way?

During HypeHour #4, that’s exactly what our team of experts discussed: Contactless Shopping Part 2: How To Maintain A Safe, Yet Engaging, Shopping Experience. The HypeHour is a monthly livestream that covers relevant topics, answers difficult questions, and brainstorms creative ideas, and the event on July 29th was no exception; it featured insights, opinions, and a special announcement from BDS!  Meet our buzzworthy panel of bright minds:

  • Andrew Catapano – SVP of Digital Strategy & Marketing at BDSmktg
  • Kelly Campbell – Senior Marketing Manager at BDSmktg
  • Sean Ludick – BDS Board Member & Former Microsoft Executive
  • Zach Drexler – Business Intelligence Manager at BDSmktg
  • John Rodman – Head of Experience Platforms, WW Channel Marketing at Microsoft

You can watch the livestream video above, or you can read the detailed transcription below! Or – if you just want the highlights – here are our top takeaways from HypeHour #4:

1) COVID-19 Has Directly Impacted Consumer Confidence In The United States

COVID-19 and its spikes of infection have directly impacted consumer confidence in the United States and beyond. In March and April of 2020, when coronavirus cases first started to peak, consumer confidence hit an all-time low. Then in June, as brick-and-mortar stores began to open back up to the public, consumer confidence surged again. Now, as states continue to fight the virus, it’s again on the decline. Traditionally and culturally, American citizens are very proud and independent, and they value freedom from strict government regulations. For that reason, many state officials have been reluctant to pass official mask mandates, which has unfortunately contributed to the spread of COVID-19. If retailers want to boost consumer confidence levels, they need to focus on infection prevention protocols, such as required mask rules in physical store locations. Luckily, a number of retailers have already implemented similar policies and won’t let shoppers inside unless they’re properly equipped with a face covering.

2) The Shopper Safety Score From BDS Will Hold Retailers Accountable

To enhance consumer confidence, retailers need to be as transparent as possible when it comes to communicating their health and safety protocols with the public. Many shoppers are still concerned about returning to physical retail environments, which is why online shopping has been on the rise during stay-at-home orders. To make shoppers feel more comfortable, many retailers have implemented new procedures such as routine cleanings, face mask requirements, and contactless payment options. To further boost consumer confidence, BDS recently announced the launch of its new Shopper Safety Score rating system, which will measure the fulfillment of these promises from an objective, third-party perspective, and assign a specific rating to each participating retailer. The Shopper Safety Score program will help retailers identify the helpfulness of their safety precautions, and also assist them in bringing back brick-and-mortar foot traffic. Additionally, the retailers can proudly display their Shopper Safety Score both online and in-store to attract cautious shoppers.

3) Sanitation, Safety Protocols, Social Distancing, And Shopper Convenience Are All Essential

The Shopper Safety Score is developed with unique scoring methodologies based on primary and secondary research to ensure overall objectivity. Because certain policies are more likely to instill greater levels of consumer confidence – i.e. required masks vs. hand sanitizing stations – the methodologies are designed with those considerations in mind. Unlike other scoring systems, the Shopper Safety Score goes a step beyond grading the conceptual elements of a store’s health and safety policies. Instead, it looks at the real-world execution of each promise in a store’s official policy. The scoring criteria is classified and organized into four different categories, which include sanitation, safety protocols, social distancing, and shopper convenience. BDS utilizes a weighted grading system when evaluating each category, because we want to ensure we’re placing the proper amount of emphasis on the specific actions that industry data has indicated will bring back consumer confidence and make shoppers feel safe in retail environments.

4) Major Brands Like Microsoft Are Having To Pivot The Way They Market Products

Microsoft’s RDX, or Retail Demo Experience, is evolving to support the “New Normal” shopping environment. The traditional RDX model allowed retailers to showcase new devices on the sales floor with a rich and engaging video experience, and also let consumers experience electronic devices first-hand, working with sample data in contacts, photos, email and messaging apps. However, with COVID-19, many consumers might not feel comfortable engaging physically with a device that’s been touched by other customers, or even with a retail associate as they pitch them a product or try to upsell another device. For that reason, Microsoft is having to pivot the way it markets product in retail environments. Microsoft is working around the clock to evolve its RDX model to provide customers with a similar experience, but in a socially distant way that makes them feel safe and comfortable. In the words of Microsoft, it’s all about delivering a great experience but in an innovative way.

5) The Physical Brick-And-Mortar Store Can Never Be Fully Replaced

Despite the increasing popularity of online shopping and BOPIS (buy online pickup in store) options, it’s still important to acknowledge the importance of the physical store. According to the numbers – and despite the COVID-19 pandemic – people still want to visit retail locations, and 90% of people who are in the market to buy an electronic device still prefer to evaluate that device against competitors in-store. That said, industry professionals need to keep an eye on that reality and do what it takes to help brick-and-mortar locations continue to provide great in-store experiences and engagement points, while also evolving their digital strategies to meet “New Normal” expectations. In the words of John F. Kennedy, “we choose to do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Although COVID-19 has presented many challenges to the physical store, it can likely never be replaced – even by the very best e-commerce strategy.

We hope you enjoyed Hype Hour #4! Did any lesson in particular speak to you?! Let us know in the comments below or on Hype Hive’s social media – we’d love to hear from you! Follow along for more buzzworthy conversations and livestream events!


How To Maintain A Safe, Yet Engaging, Shopping Experience, Video Transcription

Speaker 1:
BDSmktg presents The HypeHour, with your hosts, Andrew Catapano and Kelly Campbell, featuring special guests, Sean Ludick, Zachary Drexler and John Rodman. Today’s topic, Contactless Shopping Part Two, Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Through Safe Yet Engaging and Memorable Shopping Experiences. Let’s get started. Here are your hosts.

Andrew Catapano:
Welcome to The Hive and another edition of The HypeHour. With me is Ms. Kelly Campbell. Kelly, I before I start the show, I brought myself, I’m not sure what shoulder it goes over, but it has been auspicious beginnings. We’ve got a down camera. Kelly almost didn’t make the show. I heard Sean Ludick lost his accent for 10 minutes. I don’t know what’s going on but we’re here. We’re live. And we’re ready to get started. Are we not?

Kelly Campbell:
We are, I know. As they say, it’s showbiz. So we’re in this. We’re live streaming live so anything can happen I guess. But you know what? We roll with it and we are excited to be here so I’m excited to be here.

Andrew Catapano:
Contactless Shopping Part Two: Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Through Safe Yet Engaging Memorable Shopping Experiences. Kelly, who do we have today?

Kelly Campbell:
Yeah, well, we know that shopper safety is here to stay and it’s going to be an important piece to the overall experience going forward. So we have Sean Ludick, BDS board member and former Microsoft executive here back again to chat through what consumers are expecting when it comes to safety and the whole experience in stores. And then we also have Zachary Drexler here today, Business Intelligence Manager for BDS, coming on to talk about the new shopper safety score from BDS, what factors into it, and how retailers can utilize this to really improve the experience overall. So I’m really excited to hear more about that later from him. And then lastly, we have John Rodman, head of experience platforms for the worldwide channel marketing team at Microsoft here today. He’s going to help us frame up what this new contactless experience looks like for the future and answer some of our burning questions around how to still create a great experience for shoppers at retail.

Andrew Catapano:
Kelly, why don’t we go with the ground rules because I’ve got a couple? One, don’t make fun of Zach’s hat. I think he’s one of the best hatted men I’ve ever met. That’s rule number one. I love that hat, and he’s the only guy who’s wearing the hat. So what are the other ground rules, Kelly?

Kelly Campbell:
I know. He’s the only one today wearing a hat. I guess it’s one of those days. But if you did miss Part One of Contactless Shopping, that discussion last month, visit thehypehive.com. There is a recap there for you along with all of the other HypeHours that we’ve done so far. And then just a reminder to comment and join in on the conversation with your questions, and we’ll get to them.

Andrew Catapano:
Well, Kelly, let’s dive straight into it, shall we?

Kelly Campbell:
All right.

Andrew Catapano:
I’m going to see you later in the show. Kelly, you’re going to take on Zach, I’m looking forward to that one on one. And we’re going to see you and Zach later in the show, but I’m going to take on Mr. Ludick to start, correct?

Kelly Campbell:
Sounds good. Got it.

Andrew Catapano:
Fantastic. Okay. Today, we have Sean Ludick. Sean Ludick is a welcome guest to the show, has been here a few times. He’s been here since the beginning. BDS board member, former Microsoft executive on to talk about what is happening with consumer confidence these days. Listen, Sean is not only a global renowned channel marketing veteran, proven track record of building successful go to marketing teams, industry event management and in omnichannel sales, marketing infrastructures, and all-around global expert. Heck of a guy, always on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry. Quite frankly he is the Gupta up to my Cooper. He is the Fauci to my Trump, the Bert to my Ernie. Welcome back to The HypeHour, Mr. Sean Ludick. Come on into The Hive.

Sean Ludick:
Hey, Andrew, how are you?

Andrew Catapano:
I’m fantastic, Sean. It is always a pleasure to see you. Love having you, love the information you have to share. And I know you’re going to jump right into it. You have a nice presentation for us with a ton of good data. And I know people love hearing your insights. You ready to roll?

Sean Ludick:
Ready to roll. Look, thank you, Andrew, very happy to be here and excited to talk a bit about kind of where we see consumer confidence not only here in the United States, but what are some of the lessons that we can learn from other parts of the world, I think is going to be important for us. So let’s get stuck in and let’s move to the first slide which I want to share with you, which is around U.S. retail.

Sean Ludick:
So as you can see here on this chart, let’s focus on the left side. You will see a line chart there, which the blue line represents consumer sentiment and we’re tracking it from July 2019 to July 2020. And then the other line on the chart is the dotted line, which is the U.S. cumulative coronavirus cases trend line. So, no secret we see a massive decline in consumer confidence in March, April timeframe this year of course, when COVID became really relevant and pandemic started to really spread.

Sean Ludick:
So you see the massive spike in the cases. So of course, everything shut down, consumer confidence at an all-time low. And then as you start coming into June, we start reopening, you see the consumer confidence, everybody getting excited and going back into stores, into retail. And then guess what happens? We have another resurgence of it. And of course, you see consumer confidence declining.

Sean Ludick:
And what’s kind of interesting for me on this slide is a couple of things and I say the statement with all positivity because there’s nobody more proud to be American than I am but and I say this statement with a lot of positivity, but freedom often comes at a price. And what I mean by that, and this is how it relates to the confidence chart is that look, traditionally and culturally, Americans are a very proud, independent people and they fiercely protect their freedoms against anyone who they feel maybe impinging on it.

Sean Ludick:
So, you have that together stuck by a lot of division in the country, this discord and government created this convoluted and various response to the pandemic across the United States. So there was a lot of confusion, I think, and a lot of questions that happened. So that didn’t really help with the confidence that we see. But even though, as I said, the reopening of the economy was met with a massive enthusiasm from certain demographics, which of course, gave us the surge that we see.

Sean Ludick:
Now, if you look to the right side of the chart, you see some other interesting statistics shown in the United States. And actually not bad, not bad when you think about the opening of restaurants. We’ve seen actually a percent increase in confidence in people going out to eat. But when you look at going to a shopping mall, it’s literally a percent decline in between June and July. And then other activities, we also have been seeing about a percent decline there from 2019. And that’s things like attending gyms, movies, museums, concerts, that sort of stuff. So I think overall, I think we’re all very aware of where we are in the United States. And it’s actually just an interesting way to show you sort of some of the trends that are happening here.

Sean Ludick:
So if we go to the next slide, and I’d like to just talk to you quickly about the United Kingdom and what we’re seeing in the UK, again keeping to the same chart, no secret, when we see the massive decline happening in March, April was obviously at the onset of this pandemic. You see the rise of the pandemic. And then you see obviously, that decline. But then you saw, let’s say sort of June, early June, July, you see a great spike in confidence. Although the economy reopened there, they were a lot more cautious in their reopening. Even though confidence went up, they were a lot more cautious and sort of very similar to the United States I think.

Sean Ludick:
The UK, the government got things right, but they also got things wrong and I think also created some confusion there and there were some negative impacts there and some misfires basically, only 50% of retail in High Street is open today in the United Kingdom. So that just gives you a bit of insight into what’s going on in the UK as it relates to that.

Sean Ludick:
If we go to the next slide, please. And I want to double click on this one because this one was very interesting for me. Japan, one of my favorite countries in Asia, Japan. Again, you see the massive decline and you see the spike in coronavirus, very similar to the UK and to the U.S. But what was very interesting though, although you see consumer confidence versus the cumulative cases, there may appear to show a steep increase of cases but the number of cases is actually considerably low when adjusted for the population. But look at that spike in confidence. Look at that from April up, you just see this massive spike in consumer confidence. And it really comes down to one thing. Culture norms impact everything in Japan. And the reason why I say that in Japan and if you’ve had the fortunate opportunity to visit Japan, a couple of things that stand out for us.

Sean Ludick:
I think one of the reasons why you see such a speedy mitigation and return to confidence, one because everyone in Japan is used to wearing masks. It’s part of their culture. They walk around with masks on. It’s nothing new. It’s what they do. So that’s just embedded in the culture. They avoid a lot of touching. They kind of avoid shaking hands, a very respectful nation. You don’t see a lot of hugging and stuff like that. And when they get home, they take off their shoes and so they have this natural cultural sense of what they’re doing to be very, I would say conservative in the way they treat and do things. So I think that’s helped a lot in Japan to really start stemming the cases of coronavirus but also really bode a lot of confidence with the Japanese consumer there. So that was a really good one.

Sean Ludick:
If we go to the next slide, please. And this one is for China. And this is an interesting chart as you can again, same sort of January you see the massive spike in coronavirus, obviously the epicenter of the origins of COVID and obviously the decline but look at that. Look at that chart there on the left where you see consumer confidence really spike up in sort of February, March, but then the massive decline and you sort of wonder when you look at the chart, well coronavirus cases seem to be reportedly at a decline, a very slight incline but decline. They seem to have the cases under control.

Sean Ludick:
But consumer confidence continues to drop and sort of as we looked at the research and we’re wondering why there was that sort of trend happening and a couple of things I think, with regards to China when we look at consumers, even though we know that reported by the media that China’s had an incredibly well coordinated and immediate response to pandemic, unbelievable effectiveness in infection rates and actually being one of the most populous countries in the world. They were very disciplined and kind of autocratic in the way that they sort of ensured that the economy kind of shut down or the stay at home orders. They did a very good job with that.

Sean Ludick:
But with the Chinese adults, we’re seeing a lot of concern around or uncertainty around this. China relies a lot on exports and imports. But we see that half of Chinese adults today believe that the coronavirus will negatively impact their jobs and their finances. So therefore, they are spending less because they’re making sure they’re saving their income. So you see a lot of negative impact on confidence, less spending, hence the decline with consumers there.

Sean Ludick:
So if we go to the next slide, I kind of like this slide because it gives us a worldview and go sort of a side by side and I spoke to you about the U.S., China, Japan, United Kingdom and I added two more there, which is Germany and France. It’s kind of a nice worldview all of the trends of consumer confidence and spikes. And I would say if we just look at Germany and France, yeah, I can say very, very similar with regards to the response as well as the confidence levels of all consumers.

Sean Ludick:
And if I think about Germany, one thing about Germany, they weren’t one of the first countries to get the virus. So they had some time to really study what was going on around the world, and actually bold plans to get ready for the pandemic. And on top of that, Germany has one of the most robust public health systems in the world and they use a lot of data to really help them do that. And the German public themselves were very disciplined themselves about self quarantining without being told to stay at home, which helped that. So they’re seeing good positive increase in confidence and stability in viruses.

Sean Ludick:
And with France, very similar to Germany, same sort of thing, France also, but they had a very strict lockdown for two months. And they deployed a ton of these mobile testing centers, and I think that really helped consumers there feel a lot more safe and confident about the country’s response to the virus.

Sean Ludick:
So this was just a nice world overview of how people are feeling around the world, what are the confidence levels about returning to retail and what can we learn from this? So if we go to the next and final slide, please, I kind of just wanted to summarize, what can we take away from all of this here and I try to keep it very simple, into three simple facts.

Sean Ludick:
The first one is as Americans in the United States, I think we have to be ready and we see a great response from retailers today where a lot of them are actually mandating the fact that we need to wear masks, such a simple thing. And if you look at some of the statistics in May, only 63% of the public felt comfortable wearing a mask whereas when you look at July 2020, 72% of people now in favor of wearing masks. I think this is such an important way to help mitigate but also drive confidence levels up so people can come back into the store and start shopping again, which is what we want.

Sean Ludick:
The second one, which I’d like to impress on everybody is this authenticity, this be authentic. And consumers want to see brands being authentic, not cookie cutter, and when I say cookie cutter, I don’t mean that in any disrespect. If I look at the airline industry for example, and I’m sure most of you have had the same thing, I have traveled in multiple airlines and I’ve received emails from a lot of their CEOs, I’m sure all their consumers have received emails from the CEOs to say, “Hey, this is our response. And this is what we’re going to do to make sure you’re safe.” but they seem to be all the same. They don’t seem to be very authentic in their approach.

Sean Ludick:
So I think what people are looking for, especially different demographics are looking for more authenticity about this, about what are we going to do as a brand? Not only to make sure that everybody’s safe coming into store, but are we putting part of our sales into research? Are we doing something different? Are we driving more ability to go and get safety equipment for hospitals? I don’t know. These are just ideas. Authenticity is important.

Sean Ludick:
Then the last one, which I think Zach is going to talk a lot about, is being safe. And I love all the promises I’m seeing from retailers today and laying out and being very open and transparent about what they’re doing to ensure that when shopping in their stores, they’re going to be very safe, that we have to continue to drive and we have to be very diligent on that. And I know BDS is working on some amazing things like a shopper safety score, which will help not only the retailer feel confident that their promise is being met, but also help the consumer feel very confident and excited about coming back to retail.

Sean Ludick:
So, Andrew, that’s a summary of what I have. And that’s sort of my final slide and yeah, I’m being very cautiously optimistic about the future. I’m definitely seeing some really good signals. I’m confident that things will get back on track. And if we just follow these three simple things, I think things will go well.

Andrew Catapano:

Well, Sean, insightful as always, I really do appreciate it. You brought up something in Japan, they don’t do a lot of hugging. I got to be honest with you, a 300 pound Italian dad growing up with a Jewish mom, that would have been trouble in my house. That’s all we did. So we would have been the hotspot, unfortunately. Question, so again I mean, hopefully not a curve ball. But I do want to ask you, you’ve laid out, wear masks, authentic, be safe. I got to ask, do you think retailers are doing enough? Let’s put on the mind of a customer right now. Is it taking too long for these things to happen? Do you think we’re right on time? Are we not going fast enough? Is this the normal speed of things? And if not, why did it take so long? Or do you think retailers are right on track and we’re adapting where are we supposed to? I mean, if you’re putting on a customer hat, are we ready?

Sean Ludick:
Yeah. I mean, so a couple of things. There’s no such thing as normal. I don’t think anybody could have thought or planned for this. And do I think our retail partners are doing that? Absolutely. I think they are doing a fantastic job. I’m just loving what I’m seeing, the focus and the dedication from retailers to make sure that the shopping experience is going to be safe. I couldn’t be more confident and more excited about what retailers are doing. I think they’re doing an outstanding job. No one understands what, this could have happened to us. So I think we are doing the right thing. I think retailers are doing the right thing. I think just continue to drive that mask policy, that authenticity and just make sure that they commit to the promise of making the experience safe. I think we’re on the right track.

Andrew Catapano:
Commit to the promise. That’s the slogan. I love it. And actually as a branding expert, that’s fantastically wrapped up, Sean. Commit to the promise. Sean, thank you for your time, insightful as always, and I look forward to having you on a future episode.

Sean Ludick:
Thank you, Andrew, have a good show. Take care.

Andrew Catapano:
Thank you.

Kelly Campbell:
Awesome. Wow, such amazing insights as we saw consumer confidence from Sean is a little bit wavering more than ever before, but not only here, in some other countries around the world, depending on where you are. So how do we really get consumers to feel confident in visiting stores in person again? I actually think that question is perfect for our next guest, Zach Drexler, who is the business intelligence manager at BDS. From data modeling, visualization, reporting development, if you want to talk numbers, he is your guy. One of the many instrumental solutions that he has created for BDS is a new rating system that Shawn actually mentioned a little bit but it’s one that retailers can use to evaluate their own shopper safety going forward, but I’ll let him talk more about what that is. So let’s bring Zach on board to talk a little bit about what the shopper safety score is. Thanks for joining me, Zach.

Zachary Drexler:
Absolutely. Good to see you, Kelly.

Kelly Campbell:
No, it’s great to have you on. Very excited. I’m sure everybody’s dying to know a little bit more about what this rating system is, what goes into it. Can you tell us a little bit more about what the shopper safety score is and sort of how it came to be?

Zachary Drexler:
Absolutely, I’d love to. So as you all know, there’s a lot of shoppers who are still concerned about returning to locations and making the purchase in the physical store itself. Sean touched on some interesting information regarding consumer confidence and the declining trends we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks. So with the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of retailers have taken new measures and they’ve implemented new protocols such as more routine cleaning, requiring the usage of face mask, having contactless check out, all of these being put into place to create a safe shopping environment.

Zachary Drexler:
This messaging becomes so important that many of these retailers are advertising this information on their storefronts and on their websites. This is a promise to the customers on what to expect when they go into these locations and be able to shop safely.

Zachary Drexler:
If you take a look at this slide, you’ll see such an example of a well-known retailer. Now, BDS is happy to announce that we’ve created a new industry norm to measure the fulfillment of these promises, which is what we’re calling the shopper safety score. For all the retailers on today’s call, what BDS is actually offering you is this third-party perception to give you the ability to demonstrate that you’re committing to your promise. As retail partner, we understand the importance of keeping your customers safe and we understand that the implementation of new protocols, especially across the nation, isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. So we’ve built the shopper safety score to help retailers identify the state of their safety executions, and assist them to bring those customers back into those locations. This, of course, is proprietary information so it’s not made available to the general public or other retailers, but it can be proudly displayed on a storefront with an official physical decal or demonstrated online.

Kelly Campbell:
Awesome. I mean that sounds really impressive. And I know if we’re talking about the best way to re-instill consumer confidence, this could be a little bit of the ticket. This could have all the buzz. But I think all of us are wondering what goes into developing a scoring system like this? What does it entail? Are there things that are weighed more heavily than others? Can you shed a little light on sort of what goes into it?

Zachary Drexler:
Absolutely. Let’s talk nerdy, so what’s the science behind the score? So we use insight data driven collection methods and our scoring methodologies that we’ve designed based on primary and secondary research that we’ve conducted. So we don’t operate arbitrarily. We have done our homework and we realize that there’s certain policies that are going to instill more consumer confidence at higher levels than others. So we’ve designed our methodologies with these considerations, because we want to optimize the data that we pull out of these insights. And during our execution, we take a sample of locations, and we select these to optimize statistical validity and reduce variance. Each location is treated as observation scored independently, and then by conducting statistical analysis on top of that sample, we can determine a score for the overall retailer.

Kelly Campbell:
Nice. I mean, that’s amazing. So there’s a few different components that obviously go into it. And compared to some of the other maybe scoring systems that we’ve seen pop up here and there, how is the shopper safety score different? I mean how might this give retailers a complete competitive edge when it comes to consumer safety needs and expectations, knowing that that’s probably going to be a huge component of the experience going forward for shoppers?

Zachary Drexler:
That’s an excellent question. And I have seen those scores they’re referring to. I’ve seen them all around the web. What’s interesting about those is they grade the conceptual elements of the policy. That is they’ll assign an A or a B or a C, depending on the number of policies or what specific policies the retailer is promising. These are often sourced from the website, and Target and Best Buy and all these retail chains, they’ll receive a grade based on what they’re promising.

Zachary Drexler:
Conversely, our score looks at the real-world execution of these promises. Rather than grading the promise itself, we determine our score based on the actual execution of the specified elements of that promise outlined in that official policy. And this criteria is classified and organized into four different classification types, which are sanitation and safety protocols, social distancing and added convenience. We use weighted grading when we evaluate each one of these classifications, because we want to ensure that we’re placing the proper amount of emphasis on the actions that the data itself has indicated will bring customers back into locations and make them feel more safe. And we also track additional criteria that’s not necessarily contained within the scope of the original promise, but we are seeing that executed in the industry as a total. So this doesn’t count into the score. But it does make for some interesting insights when we’re digging deeper into the data.

Kelly Campbell:
That actually is interesting, because we got a few questions from the audience, which I think aligns with a little bit of what we’re talking about here with those extra sort of outlier pieces. How will the shopper safety score account for different safety procedures for different retailers going forward? And is that something that they would see that’s more of like that outlier thing for right now or is that going to eventually get rolled in?

Zachary Drexler:
No, absolutely. So again, we’re grading the core promise for each individual retailer. It’s based on their criteria. We’re not holding them to something that might be necessarily outside their scope. But we do track that for that additional insight. You can see that within another retail chain, they have a practice that’s not being executed in another retailer, but we’re seeing success. And we can see some correlation between performance indicators such as improved sales or foot traffic, we can make that known that this is now a new practice that has proven efficiencies. It could be a new consideration of that retailer’s policy promise.

Kelly Campbell:
Got it. Oh, that makes total sense. So let’s say for example, what would a retailer see on there and what does that visual look like for them and when they’re evaluating their strategies going forward? What does that look like?

Zachary Drexler:
Absolutely. Well, in the next slide, we’ll see how we summarize our studies. We have the shopper safety scorecard. And this is an example of an actual score for a retailer today. As we mentioned, the scoring under each classification considers only that criteria that’s specified in that policy. So it’s indicated by that circular shape around the score. Now, these criteria is going to roll up underneath that classification score underneath those four classifications, which we will score individually, so we can see an indicator where they perform amongst those certain types of actions.

Zachary Drexler:
Those are then weighted and calculated to bring us to the final shopper safety score. And you’ll notice there are some fields in the grid that don’t have that circular shape. These are that additional criteria. So we can see where retailer is pacing in terms of those executions, where their average is at. And if we’re seeing that it has an effect, a positive effect on the field, this would be an open discussion about we really want to focus on implementing these, we could see some positive return. So again, they do not factor into the score itself, but it makes for very interesting insights when we’re doing the analysis.

Kelly Campbell:
And sorry, one question that came up from the audience Zach actually, I don’t mean to interrupt but that does kind of align. One of the questions was, will the shopper safety score adjust to new regulations as they come out? Is that something that would then show up in that scorecard as well potentially, or be an option to have available at some point?

Zachary Drexler:
Absolutely. And that’s why we’ve chosen to record that external, sort of that beyond the scope of the normal practices. So we can look back and see if that is determined to be like an actual part of criteria of the gold standard. We’ll have that scored for that retailer.

Kelly Campbell:
Got it. Cool. Awesome. And then I know you have some extra analysis that goes into it. Can you tell us a little bit more about diving into that?

Zachary Drexler:
Absolutely. So the underlying data set itself because we’re taking a sample of the field and we’re seeing these scores individually as different observations, there’s more potential for analysis than just beyond the score itself. So as a partner, we can help distill all of that information into powerful insights that assist with these new strategies. For example, by observing the distribution of scores across a heat map as the one depicted here, we can identify that performance landscape and understand where the successes are, where the challenges are, and where there’s opportunities to improve.

Zachary Drexler:
So by pinpointing these hotspots, we can understand which locations are fulfilling the promise most efficiently. There’s probably some very good knowledge there from the store management, the store employees that can help facilitate that communication and shed light on those best practices and help those locations that are facing a little bit more challenges fulfilling that promise.

Zachary Drexler:
We can also utilize for correlation between the shopper safety score and as I previously mentioned, against other performance indicators such as sales or foot traffic. I know that in the circumstances we find ourselves, I’m sure many of us would be interested in seeing which stores are having the fastest and most stable return of foot traffic into those locations after they’re reopening from their closures.

Kelly Campbell:
Oh yeah, for sure. I would be personally interested to see that. I mean I just feel like I read the book on shopper safety a little bit getting a debrief from a professor. What I do love though is how easy the score is to understand even though there’s a lot of pieces, and it’s complex of everything that goes into it. I also love that it’s telling me what’s happening in the real world and giving me that true, authentic lay of the land in my stores. And so for all of those who are maybe just looking for a really easy next step to figuring out how they can get ahold of their score, what can they do? Is there anything that they could take as a next step?

Zachary Drexler:
Yep. If they’re interested in participating or like to learn more about the score, we have additional information on our website. So I would say please don’t hesitate to go to bdsmktg.com/shoppersafetyscore and inquire today. We’ll also provide some additional details after this livestream.

Kelly Campbell:
Awesome. I know, before we jump to the next section of the stream, I do want to bring up one of our audience questions. We’ve had actually a few comes through. And do you envision a method to view retailer safety scores online prior to store visits? Is there a way for people to sort of envision what the safety would look like going into the store, kind of getting a baseline so that maybe even they could sort of see what might be missing or have some visual cues? Is there anything that we can talk to about that?

Zachary Drexler:
Well, absolutely. This information is intended for the retailers’ insights. So although it’s not made to the general public or publicized to retailers, that store itself can indicate digitally on their website or within the storefront itself of their shopper safety score.

Kelly Campbell:
Awesome. Well, yeah, and definitely for anybody else who has tons of questions about the shopper safety score, feel free to reach out to BDS and Zach can probably answer them for you. So thanks so much, Zach for joining us. Also, I forgot to mention that hat and it was super cool. So thank you for wearing the hat. Love it. But yeah, thank you so much for coming on board. That was really insightful and hopefully the shopper safety score improves the shopping experience overall for everybody.

Zachary Drexler:
Thanks, Kelly.

Kelly Campbell:
So we’re actually going to go back to Andrew. Thanks, Zach.

Zachary Drexler:
Thank you.

Andrew Catapano:
Hi, Andrew, back in The Hive. Fantastic information from Zach. I actually, do we have, can we put Kelly back in just for one second because I want to ask her something quickly. I don’t know that we can. I’m really getting John going here back in the booth. But so Kelly, interesting question you just asked at the end, audience question. As the leader of digital at BDS, I’ve been doing marketing digital strategy for most of my natural life, allowing people to see their shopper safety score before they go in store, an idea did hit me to attach it to your locations listing in your Google Maps profile.

Andrew Catapano:
So if you’re doing research on a specific store and you’re looking for the address, obviously we’re all familiar with the Google Maps locator. In the image selector inside of that, you could absolutely post your shopper score inside of your Google Maps listing. And that could be a one to one integration with that platform. So actually, very interesting, that got my brain working. We do that research, but great, I’m sorry I didn’t ask him how long it took to grow that beard. If you look at that is the picture of Zack. Go look at that picture after the show and tell me how long it takes to grow that beard. I don’t know when that picture was taken. But Kelly, thank you, outstanding job.

Kelly Campbell:
Yeah, no, I think just to add to that, I think that is why we’re here is these are supposed to spark really great ideas. So hopefully coming out of this, everybody can sort of think about what does that look like for me? What does that aspect of the experience look like? So if it’s shopper safety, and that’s something that you’re going to hang your hat on, very important to figure out how you’re going to do that, from digital to in store to in person, all kinds of stuff. So hopefully that sparked a few ideas for some other viewers as well.

Andrew Catapano:
I know it did for me. Kelly, thank you again. I appreciate it. We’ll see you at the end of the show.

Kelly Campbell:
Awesome.

Andrew Catapano:
All right. Paper’s a little out of order, but we’re going to get through it. So we have the encore to our show. And for our final guest today, a 25 year veteran of Microsoft consumer product marketing, Mr. John Rodman played an integral part in the retail launch of every Xbox console, including the original, the OG, back in November of 2001, the Xbox Live online service and Xbox’s first party sports franchises, NFL Fever, NBA Inside Drive, NHL Rivals, MLB Inside Pitch. John started his career at Microsoft as an advertising manager, launching Microsoft Office 95 and the packaging design lead for Microsoft Office 97.

Andrew Catapano:
Man, I feel like I’m hitting a time capsule. All this stuff is blowing me away. John seemed destined to life on Microsoft having spent the previous five years prior to landing in Redmond, working on the Microsoft account at Ogilvy and Mather advertising in LA. I am proud to buzz in to The Hive Mr. John Rodman. John, welcome to The Hive and thank you for being our guest here today.

John Rodman:
Thank you, Andrew. Delighted and honored to be here, a part of a great lineup of guests and conversations. So thank you.

Andrew Catapano:
Fantastic. We are going to get right into it, John, because I know people want to hear you talk way more than they want to hear me talk. All right, the first thing is John, let’s just tee it up. 25 years at Microsoft, retail channel marketing senior manager, what is the 3PP? What is it that John does? What do you do on a day to day basis, John, and why are we listening? And we’re going to be listening very closely. Why? Tell me what it is that you do for the guests at all.

John Rodman:
Sure, Andrew. My team is the retail experiences platform team. And what we do is we develop the platforms and the solutions that allow our third-party retailers to deploy our demo and interactive experiences, our LMS solutions like Expert Zone, as well as our field labor enablement and measurement tools like the RAP tool. So again, my team builds those platforms and then works with a third party ecosystem to deploy those solutions.

Andrew Catapano:
All right. Well, John, I’m going to call you Darryl Strawberry, because we’re going to start with a curve ball, man. We’re going to get right into it. We know that things have changed because of COVID-19. I got to ask, I’m going to ask it right at the point. How has that changed the retail experience approach from Microsoft? What are you guys doing different? What are you guys doing the same?

John Rodman:
Well, as Sean mentioned at the top of the show, consumers are obviously being way more careful now, more deliberate, thoughtful, planful whether they’re just going to the grocery store for a quick item or spending the whole weekend running errands. And so this is the new normal. I think Sean again touched on that, and we’re embracing that here at Microsoft. And the way we’re doing it is to kind of take that vision that Satya Nadella had when he became CEO about creating a mobile first, digital first strategy, and then infusing that into everything we’re doing, helping our partners execute a safe retail environment for their customers to be able to continue shopping and learning more about the products that we’re selling with them.

John Rodman:
There’s two parts to this though. We’ve got to empower our customers to be able to continue to evaluate, compare, discover all the devices and solutions in the Windows consumer channel ecosystem. But we also have to help our partners create those environments and create that consumer confidence that allows the customer to continue shopping the way they have in the past, at least in terms of being able to make informed purchase decisions.

Andrew Catapano:
Well, then that’s the segue, John. So at the end of the day, develop it. We all know we need to be safe. We all listen to Sean. We all listened to Zach. And then we know safety is there. But sometimes we got this safety protocol that infringes on the experience protocol. So how do we bridge that gap and where do we go? Where do we see the future of third party retailer being safe, keeping the distance, keeping the mask, but not handicapping or truncating the experience that’s going to be so important to driving that brand conversion?

John Rodman:
Yeah, so we know that everyone has their own comfort zone. Some people just want to stay in their homes and shop remotely, using either their laptops or their mobile devices. Others, as they kind of move through the purchase journey and through the funnel, and they get into the store, they may actually be more comfortable being around other customers, being around a retail pro or an associate, and maybe even actually walking up and touching that device. So what we’re doing at Microsoft is again taking that digital first e-commerce approach, and providing not only our customers with that scalable kind of safe journey to continue shopping, but doing it in a way that meets their comfort levels.

John Rodman:
If they’re okay going into the store and talking with an associate or engaging with a device, then we’re going to provide a rich set of demo experiences and engagements in the store that will still allow them to maintain safe distancing and maintain the hygiene that’s so important to them and quite frankly, equally as important to our partners and their associates. One of the things that we’ve done already is to deploy these PPE kits to our field teams so that when they’re going into the stores and helping our partners say roll over a merchandising set for new selling season is that they’re able to wear the mask, keep their hands sanitized. We provide ultraviolet sanitizers for their phones.

John Rodman:
So we’ve got to kind of make sure the customer feels safe and confident that we’re there with them every step of the way. We’ve got to make sure the retail partner understands that we’re going to help create these environments that are going to allow them to offer the safe selling environments in their stores, but also making sure that when we’re engaging with either the partner or the customer, that we’re being safe and practicing the right hygiene and practices to keep everybody healthy.

Andrew Catapano:
John, obviously you’ve got your finger on the pulse. You know how to bridge that gap in between safety and experience. And I’m going to ask you because I think the producer said you would have a little prepared. I think it’s awesome. And I want to know more about it. What can you tell me about the RDX, the Retail Demo Experience? How this is evolving to support this new shopping environment? And how is it going to play into the Microsoft for the experience overall?

John Rodman:
Yeah, so just kind of from a foundational level, so everyone on the livestream can get a grasp of what RDX is. It’s the demo experience you have when you walk into a retail store, and you walk up to a Windows 10 modern device, and you have a chance to learn more about the benefits of the operating system, learn more about the benefits of Microsoft 365. Of course, the OEM partner has a great story to tell there as well, and then the retailer, they may have value add or attach programs that they want to merchandise with the sale of that device as well.

John Rodman:
So RDX creates this great platform for all that storytelling to come to life and present itself to the customer when they’re front and center with a device. So now we think okay, we need to evolve that though, right? As I said before, we can’t have customers or sorry, we can’t assume that every customer is going to want to come into the store and engage physically with a device or stand next to a retail pro and have them pitch them or try to upsell them on the device.

John Rodman:
So we’re working around the clock to evolve RDX to this new normal and provide the partners and our customers with these handheld engagements so they can continue to learn about Windows. They can continue to evaluate and discover and compare the devices that they might be considering, whether I’m going to buy this laptop or I’m going to buy this two in one or I’m going to buy this all in one. They can’t lose that kind of, I say tactile, but not in the literal sense, ability to do the things that they would do when they go into a store to evaluate a device.

John Rodman:
So we’re bringing all that information, bringing all that interactive engagement, kind of lifting it off the device, if you will, and presenting it to our customers and our store associates in a way that they can continue their shopping without having to actually feel like they’re perhaps maybe coming into contact with a device or perhaps being too close to another customer or an associate in a way that might make them feel uncomfortable. So yeah, again, it’s just about delivering that great experience but doing it in a safe and responsible way.

Andrew Catapano:
So, I’m watching it and if people could see me on the live stream, the first time I’ve seen it, I get to see it in this little thing. I’m a little bit jealous that people get to see it full screen. That’s really cool, John, and I think it’s amazing obviously what you’ve done in your time at Microsoft and what Microsoft is doing, obviously a leader in experiences, a leader in brand loyalty and it’s awesome to watch.

Andrew Catapano:
John, I am so thankful you were able to come here today. I know it’s a lot to get big companies to have a voice sometimes as we never know what Andrew is going to ask or going to say. So I can’t appreciate you more coming here and giving your insights. I can’t even get through all the audience questions that are happening. They’re rolling so fast, and I know we’re out of time. But can I ask you final thought, whatever your thoughts are and I know that from John, your 25 years experience, I don’t care, consumer side I don’t care or retailer side, what do you want our audience to leave with about the future of retail, future of experience future of shopping? Give me your final thought, john, because I am going to be hanging on it. You got a lot of experience. I love listening to you talk.

John Rodman:
Thank you, Andrew. Yeah, I think in closing, I would just ask everyone watching to remember and acknowledge the importance of the physical store. I remember five, six, seven years ago, there was this kind of debate about showrooming and what would become of the physical store as a result of the explosion of digital shopping. And we’ve seen the data, people still want to go in store. 90% of people who buy a device still at some point will go into that store to do some form of evaluation. And so we have to keep our eye on that reality and help our brick and mortar partners who obviously have been evolving their digital strategies rapidly as well to meet the new normal, but we have to help them continue to provide that great in store experience and those great moments and those great engagement points and those interactions with their associates and their brands that can only really happen in a store. And so as much as we’re mobile first and as much as we are just driven by e-commerce, we are all in on the physical shopping experience and our partners’ commitment to their brick and mortar business.

Andrew Catapano:

Outstanding final thoughts, John, and I think that it was JFK who said we do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. This may not be easy, but these are the cards we’re dealt. And you’re exactly right, the physical store, while it may have to adapt to the experience, it can’t be amended by something else. We’re just going to have to figure out how to make it work and how to adapt to the customer experience, hard as it may be. But I am excited to see all the great things that Microsoft is doing. And I’m privileged, we’re privileged to have you here on the show to share it with us. Thank you so much, and hopefully you’ll come back.

John Rodman:
I’d love to. Thank you again.

Andrew Catapano:
Thank you, John. Okay, is Ms. Campbell coming back? We’re going to do a wrap up. I think we got three minutes and we’re going to get. No, Ms. Campbell is not coming back. My salt didn’t work. My horn will work. Technical difficulties all day long. Okay. In the last three minutes we have, I won’t even give it a final thought that we haven’t already shared. So I think at the end of the day, between the physical store, between the digital experience, between all these elements working together to embrace this new normal, we do things because they are hard, not because they are easy.

Andrew Catapano:
And I ask all of us to stay the course. In the words of Mr. Sean Ludick, honor your commitment to your customers. And on the other side of this, our brand experiences are going to be even more amazing than before. So, great conversations from Mr. Ludick, great thoughts and conversations with Mr. Zach, lovely hat, lovely beard, and of course anchored by the great thoughts by Mr. John. All right. It’s been a privilege to have you here on this episode of The HypeHour. We look forward to seeing you on another show. My name is Andrew Catapano. Sorry about, to Ms. Kelly Campbell, much better looking at her than me on the end of the show. But at the end of the day, this is what you get. It’s been a pleasure having you in The Hive. We’ll see you at the next episode.