The Top 5 Retail Remix Episodes of 2023

The top five Retail Remix episodes of 2023 reaffirm some of the most trending topics of the year, from retail media to associate engagement.
Photo credit: Christian Horz -

The Retail Remix podcast was developed to feature the founders, executives and practitioners shaping retail’s future. Over three-plus years, I have had the honor of speaking with industry pros who have rich backgrounds in tech, marketing and advertising, operations, finance and so much more.

With every conversation, my goal is simple: to have candid and at times challenging conversations around some of the industry’s hottest topics and trends.

The top five episodes of 2023 reaffirm some of the most trending topics we covered on Retail TouchPoints over the past year, illustrating how rapidly the industry (and the customer experience) have evolved.

Let’s begin the countdown…  

5. Empowering the Modern Associate

Episode title: “How Tractor Supply Uses Technology to Engage and Empower Associates”

Guest: Glenn Allison, VP of Customer-Facing Applications Development at Tractor Supply; Tony Boncore, Global Customer Marketing Principal at Honeywell

About the Episode: Tractor Supply has invested extensively in employee engagement and empowerment. The retailer has built, tested and optimized mobile-based technology to help associates feel equipped, informed and connected to serve customers across all channels.

Why it Matters: In 2023, we saw employee turnover reach record highs. As a result, associate training and engagement came to the forefront. Results from Retail TouchPoints’ 2023 Store Operations Survey revealed that merchants’ top store operations challenges for 2023 were tied to employee hiring and retention (70%), responding to high employee turnover (67%) and employee training and engagement (56%).

To tackle these challenges, 62% of respondents said they received more budget to invest in new in-store technology, while 61% said they received more budget to invest in employee training and engagement strategies. However, retailers’ approaches can vary significantly depending on their goals, product and service offerings, as well as their employees’ behaviors and preferences.

Over the next year, conversations will continue to advance, and we’ll see more brands take cues from Tractor Supply to develop a consistent and scalable process for testing and optimizing new in-store technology to support associates.

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4. The DTC Tipping Point

Episode title: “What Does the Future Hold for Digital-First DTC Brands?”

Guest: Jenny Fleiss, Senior Advisor, Volition Capital

About the Episode: It seems like we couldn’t go a day in the media without seeing a think piece (or hit piece) focused on direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. To fully understand the dynamics shaping the future of DTC, we sat down with Jenny Fleiss, Senior Advisor for Volition Capital. Fleiss is perhaps most known as Co-founder of Rent the Runway, but now she works closely with CPG and DTC brands to help them understand new competitive pressures and find the best ways to refine their marketing and advertising strategies, their product sourcing and supply chains and even their revenue models.

Why it Matters: In today’s highly competitive marketplace, many consumer brands and digitally native DTC brands are fighting to stand out and chart a path to sustainable growth. The financial struggles of brands like Allbirds (and most recently the now-defunct SmileDirectClub) have dominated media headlines, sparking debates around the future of DTC.

However, many industry experts, Fleiss included, have reaffirmed that DTC is simply evolving, creating new realities (and opportunities) for both new entrants and established players. While some DTC brands are strategically entering into brick-and-mortar via branded storefronts, others are doubling down on wholesale. No matter their approach, these brands are staying true to their digital roots by investing significantly in content and community building.

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3. Challenging an Established Category

Episode title: “Why Babylist is Designing Shopping Experiences for the Entire Family”

Guest: Natalie Gordon, Founder and CEO, Babylist

About the Episode: When Natalie Gordon started Babylist, she wanted to provide the knowledge, guidance and support she was seeking when pregnant with her first child. Now, the company is making it easier for parents, caretakers and even entire families to research and purchase high-quality and scientifically proven items that they need. During this episode of Retail Remix, Gordon shared how Babylist has evolved in the age of social media, and how branded and user-generated content in particular have helped build the brand’s community.

Why it Matters: When we first launched this podcast episode, we zeroed in on Babylist’s ecommerce initiatives; specifically, how its robust digital content and community strategy were key drivers of its growth. But after BuyBuy Baby went under, we saw Babylist rise to the occasion and stake its claim in brick-and-mortar.

Not only has the brand invested in virtual showrooms (thanks to partner Obsess), it also has ventured into physical retail, exploring how the traditional shopping experience can be reimagined for today’s highly savvy and digitally inspired consumers.

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2. The Evolution of Retail Media

Episode title: “Bringing Retail Media into Stores”

Guest: Arsen Avakian, Founder, Cooler Screens

About the Episode: As the founder and CEO of Argo Tea, Arsen Avakian faced challenges managing an expansive list of retail partners and all their distinct marketing and advertising offerings. With the rise of retail media, he saw a unique opportunity to bring the robust, data-driven creative of digital advertising to the physical environment. This vision inspired him to start Cooler Screens. 
Why it Matters: We don’t need to explain why retail media is important. Countless analyst firms and consultancies have data backing the growth potential of retail media and how it can influence the customer journey. When Insider Intelligence noted that the store was the next new frontier for retail media’s evolution, we saw retailers like Kroger, Walgreens and, most recently, Hy-Vee make their moves.

However, as the retail media landscape is continuing to evolve, and brands put more pressure on RMNs to provide transparency into data, measurement and attribution, we will see retail media offerings continue to take shape. Additionally, we will see retailers and their RMNs offer distinct opportunities for in-store activation via mobile and in-store technology like digital screens. This will be an area we continue to track, especially considering the debates surrounding certain in-store technologies that are designed to activate brand advertising but can sometimes come off as obstructive and unhelpful.

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1. The Intersection of Value and Values

Episode title: “How Grove Collaborative is Building a Long-Term Value Creation Plan”

Guest: Stuart Landesberg, former CEO, Grove Collaborative

About the Episode: Retail Remix had Landesberg on the show shortly after the brand raised its guidance for fiscal 2022. He shared his vision for long-term growth, emphasizing organizational efficiency, performance-driven marketing and zeroing in on product innovation that reaffirmed Grove Collaborative’s core values.

Why it Matters: Grove Collaborative is one of the DTC darlings that began to flounder once it went public. But that didn’t stop the CPG brand from investing in growth. Retail TouchPoints covered how Grove Collaborative expanded further into retail stores via wholesale partners including Giant Eagle, Kohl’s and Meijer, and how it even launched a health and wellness hub to enable consumers to discover (and shop) other brands that aligned with their values.

Grove Collaborative was a notable example of a brand with a laser-focused mission, and values that evidently reflected the evolving wants, needs and expectations of consumers — especially millennials and Gen Zers. But the brand’s ongoing financial struggles showed that consumer spending did not always reflect their intentions to buy more high-quality, ethically sourced and sustainable products. This conversation provided specific insights and examples of how Landesberg and his team were working to right the ship by prioritizing the fundamentals of retail performance and profitability.

For Further Reading:

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