Retail Ramblings Podcast

Episode #2 - Retail Robots

Episode Highlights:

  • Retail winners. This week’s retail winners are Behr Paints and Benefit Cosmetics. We explore how these top retail brands are growing their footprints and setting themselves apart from the competition.
  • Retail losers. We take a look at this week’s retail losers, which include Milwaukee Tools and Estee Edit. We provide commentary around what these well-known retail brands can be doing to bounce back after some disappointing announcements.
  • The retail roadmap. We discuss the latest trends dictating the future of retail.
  • Data dive. We talk about some interesting uses of data, and show how big data can have some unintended consequences.

Listen to Episode 2:

Show Notes

Retail Winners & Losers

We’ll be focusing this section of the podcast on the DIY and Cosmetics verticals.


Winner: Behr paints

  • We all know that expression: about as interesting as watching paint dry
  • Paint isn’t the most exciting category by any means – but Behr Paints is making it cool, which is why I’m choosing them as a winner
  • Behr sells Exterior Paint, Interior Paint and Wood Stains
  • Sold exclusively at Home Depot
  • Doing great things to drive people in store, really proving to be a strong partner
  • How to guides and inspiration galleries
  • App: now you can browse, coordinate and preview colours on your smartphone!
  • Great social pages, over 35k followers on Instagram
  • Behr Paints Website

Loser: Milwaukee Tools

  • Smart technology in Power tools
    • Dewalt – Dewalt Tool Connect
    • Milwaukee – One-key
    • Bosch – Bosch Connectivity Platform
  • Internet and bluetooth connected tools giving real time information on:
    • Location
    • Diagnostics
    • Calibration
    • Function
  • 2015 was the beginning of the innovation with the release of one key by Milwaukee
    • Collaborate in real time
    • 4 faster and more efficiency at work
    • Greater customization
    • More reliability and connectivity


  • IoT platform enabling contractors to enable/understand on site:
    • Location
    • Current usage
    • Inventory
    • Diagnostics
    • Customization
  • Still projecting 600k download apps by the end of the year
  • Originally released in 2015: response to one-key
  • Tepid initial release; late adopter
  • Beginning of June released an iteration on their original DeWalt Tool Connect
  • Haven’t iterated since original release
  • Parity/Move ahead to one-key
  • Technology disrupting traditional industries


Milwaukee Tools

  • One-Key
  • Inventory Management
  • Tool Reporting
  • Tool Control
  • Late 2015/Early 2016
  • No iteration since
  • State of transition
  • Recently replaced presses
  • New robo drills
  • New automation within the plant (upwards of 20 by 2018)
  • Team doubled – onboarding new employees


Winner: Benefit cosmetics

  • If you shop at Sephora, you’ve definitely seen the Benefit cosmetics brow bar
  • Pop up within Sephora where they display products and provide expert services and consultation. Map, fill in, wax
  • Drives foot traffic, educates customers on products
  • Positioned brand as leader and expert in all things eyebrows Makes for an amazing partnership with Sephora – seen as a true partner. Win win
  • Thanks to its success, doing two interesting spin-offs in the UK:

Brow mobile

  • Launched a brow bar on wheels, which toured the UK for three months
  • The Brow Mobile, a 4×4 all-terrain vehicle in Benefit’s signature pink, had Benefit Boutique inside and will be able to visit consumers whether they live in a city, a country lane or a mountain pass. The vehicle will be manned by brow experts who will be able to wax, map, tint, shape and style brows.
  • Consumers will be able to request a personal visit from the BrowMobile via Benefit’s Facebook page
  • Benefit Cosmetics to launch ‘Brow Mobile’ UK tour

Drive through brow bar:

  • In June Benefit Cosmetics is launching a drive thru brow bar just outside the Glastonbury festival, so that you have something much better to do during the inevitable traffic jams on the way in.
  • Giving away free Benefit products and brow waxes, the UK’s first brows and beauty drive-thru will be just outside the festival for two days (Wednesday June 21 and Thursday 22
  • Benefit will have a drive-thru brow bar en-route to Glastonbury

Loser: Estee Edit, part of Estee Lauder

The Retail Roadmap

Robotics in Retail

  • Robotics in retail is increasing in prominence but still early in development
  • Co-existent relationship with staff in store
  • Lowe’s Exosuit
  • 93% of all U.S. retail sales come from physical retail stores
  • automation has eaten up more American jobs than global trade
  • Amazon has 30,000 robots in use in 13 warehouses
  • Automation will take over 7% of jobs in the US by 2025
  • Examples:
    • Cafe X serving 120 coffees an hour in San Francisco called Gordon
    • Lowe’s Robotic Sales Assistant
    • September 2016 Walmart was granted a patent on self driving shopping carts that follow you around
    • Chloe in Best Buy
    • Tally at Target to scour inventory
    • Softbank Pepper customer service representative


  • Response to increasing retail wages, better spent on training
  • Provide a higher level of service – particularly relevant in big box stores
  • Method of differentiation with the advent of omnichannel
  • Inventory management
  • Overall improved store operations
  • 51 % in supply and logistics will give their companies a competitive edge


  • Loss of jobs in retail on the floor, resistance from unions
  • Higher investments in training field staff
  • Better in-store service
  • Loss of personalization
  • The amount of data collected in store (inventory, shopping habits, preferences, searching for)

Data dive

Next Gen Personalization

    • ColourPop is a startup cosmetics brand that prides itself on moving quickly from new product concept to rollout.
    • According to their manager of analytics, ColorPop is all about listening to their audience, whether it’s a first-time visitor, to their ColourPop Fanatics
    • To do that well, they leverage an incredible amount of data to do that
    • What I wanted to focus on is their use of Qubit’s artificial intelligence-based personalization platform
    • This deal also comes at a time when personalization is a concept that just about every retailer and brand is looking to leverage. We talked about it in the last episode.
    • Qubit’s analysis is driven by heuristics, notions about how buyers learn about new products, which products they really like and what sort of trends most influence them to buy.
  • The use of this platform helps ColorPor segment and analyze its customers with goals of better understanding buyer behavior and influences
  • By applying heuristic analysis, brands and retailers can more accurately identify and segment their customers by understanding some of the “mental shortcuts” they take to their purchasing activities
  • For example, if they buy products according to certain rising trends, for example, or if they are heavily influenced by products that appear to be close to selling out.
  • This can help retailers and brands understand who their VIP shoppers are, so that marketing and promotions can be crafted especially for these segments.
  • In the coming weeks, the company is planning to release research on how this kind of analysis could affect how retailers and brands market with product recommendation windows, stay tuned for that.
  • ColourPop looks to Qubit for next-gen personalization guidance