PROFILE
  • Ethan Goodman
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Ethan Goodman

SVP Innovation, The Mars Agency + Co-Founder, SmartAisle
Ethan is a renowned marketing strategist with deep expertise in digital and shopper marketing. He has been named a "Young Influential" by Adweek magazine (2012), a "Who's Who in Shopper Marketing" by Shopper Marketing magazine (2016) and a "Faculty Member" by the Path to Purchase Institute (2017), and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and contributor to industry publications. He is currently Senior Vice President of Innovation & Shopper Experience at The Mars Agency (TMA) - a top shopper marketing agency. In this capacity, he leads a team of strategists, designers and technologists in creating revolutionary shopper experiences for clients using new & emerging technology - like SmartAisle, the world's first voice-powered shopping assistant for brick & mortar retail.
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  • Posted on: 05/01/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Hi Bob - I appreciate your feedback and thoughts. Very helpful. For what it's worth, a few clarifying points: (1) We generate recommendations based on preferences that shoppers communicate to the system. For example, if they indicate they want "something smooth" (v. bold) under $60 that has a "cool story," our algorithm will quickly serve up 1-3 products from our database that best meet those criteria. So, while I can't say for sure that the recommendation is better than a store associate's, it's at least as (or more) impartial. (2) I can't share specifics, but I can say that in our first two pilots we've observed increases in both category sales and customer satisfaction with the in-store shopping experience. Small sample size, but an encouraging start. (3) Our goal is to complement store associates, not replace them -- be it by providing customer assistance when they're unavailable or with another shopper, answering customers' initial/simple questions so they're free to handle more sophisticated queries, or serving as an extension of their product knowledge. Thanks again.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Thanks for your feedback, Steve. I agree there are many cases when there's no substitute for a person-to-person interaction with a knowledgeable store associate. But I've had many experiences where an associate either isn't available (maybe because he/she is helping another customer) or isn't equipped to provide an expert recommendation (for example, because he/she knows a lot about wine but not as much about whiskey). We designed SmartAisle to help bridge the gap in those situations and complement (v. replace) store associates, all in the name of making the in-store shopping experiences as helpful and enjoyable as possible.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Thanks, Ben. We appreciate your support. You've highlighted the exact pain point SmartAisle was designed to address -- finding the right product in categories with large assortments, (relatively) high price points and complex product attributes. Whiskey fit that profile to a T; and the categories you mentioned (wine & beer), plus others like consumer electronics, are on our roadmap.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Oliver. User engagement has been strong so far, but it's still early days and there's of course room for improvement based on what we're learning at BevMo!. Background noise hasn't actually been a significant issue, thanks in large part to the quality of Amazon's and Google's (we support both platforms) speakers & microphones and their native "voice lock" feature. But we're constantly optimizing the platform to make our recommendations/answers better and smarter, and our experience more discrete, intuitive and human.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Thanks, David. I think you're right on -- our tool and other virtual shopping assistants like it are meant to be a complement to/extension of the sales associate (v. a replacement), can oftentimes provide more thorough information and recommendations than its human counterparts, and will absolutely get better and smarter over time.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Georgeanne and Ken -- great dialog here! I agree with both of you, I don't think we'll ever be able to (nor will we want to) replace store associates, and that's not our intention with SmartAisle. Instead, as Ken points out, our goal (and I imagine the goal more broadly for similar in-store technology) is to complement him/her -- i.e., enable the virtual assistant to tackle simple customer queries at the front-end of the sales process, and free the associate to handle more sophisticated customer requests (and other higher-order tasks). We're also working on a training module that can help associates expand their product knowledge during downtime. I'm with Ken that it's inevitable solutions like this will soon be the rule v. the exception at retail, as long as they continue to deliver a superior customer experience for shoppers.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Thanks, Sterling. That's exactly right -- we're focused on categories and use cases where we can solve a shopper and/or retailer problem, add value to the experience and complement (rather than replace) store associates. Our solution won't be appropriate for every category, but we think (and the results bear out so far) that Alc/Bev is particularly well-suited.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Thanks for your comment, Cate. All of the questions/concerns you've raised are completely valid, and candidly are ones we continue to ponder, test and address daily. For example, re: discretion at the shelf, we started with a category like Whiskey where our hypothesis was that the sensitivity of being overheard in aisle would be lower than in a category like sexual health (this has proven to be true so far, based on the quant and qual data we've collected). We also designed the experience so that shoppers can give brief answers in lieu of divulging personal or potentially embarrassing information out loud. Re: background noise, this has been much less problematic that we anticipated. Between the quality of the speakers & microphones and the native "voice lock" feature on the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices (we support both), our ability to filter out background noise and hear shoppers' utterances is actually really good. Still lots of room for improvement, but we're very excited about the future potential.
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