Morgan Linton

Co-founder and COO at Bold Metrics
Morgan is the co-founder and COO of Bold Metrics, the gold standard for predicting accurate, detailed body measurements. Bold Metrics unlocks human body data to drive commerce solutions for consumers buying sporting or apparel products, and is a category creating conduit for innovative solutions in virtual reality and body relative product design. After completing grad school in Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, Morgan made the unconventional decision to not become an engineer . Instead Morgan went to work for a digital music startup called Sonos. As one of the early hires at Sonos Morgan helped build out the US sales channel and then helped the company scale to Asia, Australia, Latin America, and Canada. Morgan spent close to a decade at Sonos and left to co-found Bold Metrics with the goal of creating a technology that could accurately predict the human body without requiring a measuring tape, selfies, or a physical body scanner. Today Bold Metrics powers a wide range of applications from product design to commerce and innovative new areas like virtual and augmented reality. Morgan sees a world where everything is personalized to the human body, from the seat in our cars, to the chair we sit in, the bike we ride and the clothes we wear, and technology will power this evolution.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2020

    Burger King sets the dining mood with a ‘Whopperish’ aesthetic

    I think this is a great idea and is similar to what Starbucks did in the coffee world. There's no question that people are impacted by the decor of a store or restaurant. Making nicer Burger Kings will likely improve the brand image and could help them compete more with other brands. That being said, this move could be a little late since companies like Shake Shack went big in this arena with well-designed restaurants and a focus on a more high-end brand that is resonating with consumers around the world. Can Burger King really up-level their brand by upgrading their stores? It's hard to know but it does feel like a step in the right direction if they want to compete with some of the new incumbents that are clearly taking marketshare from them.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2020

    What does Target’s Christmas miss mean?

    I don't think Target's holiday numbers were as much of a miss; instead this just reflects the challenges that every major retailer has as competition continues to grow online. As more consumers move to online shopping channels, price sensitivity grows as does shipping time and reliability. Target has done a great job scaling online but it's hard to ignore the leverage Amazon has with Prime. Target is still executing well and posting good numbers, the key will be differentiating themselves to consumers so that a customer would rather buy from Target than anywhere else, and that will take more time and likely increased innovation on their side to truly give them an edge.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2020

    Is ‘re-commerce’ going mainstream?

    I think we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to re-commerce. Consumers are starting to become more aware of how brands deal with returns and approach sustainability. Re-commerce itself as a term now provides a completely different way to talk about something that just a few years ago we would call "used." As consumers continue to push for greater transparency from their favorite brands I think, in response, brands will start to see re-commerce as an increasingly better path. So when it comes to growth I think re-commerce is just getting started which means extending into other areas like gifting and non-fashion categories is very much on the table.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2020

    Does humanizing virtual assistants undermine consumer privacy?

    I do think that as virtual assistants continue to become more personable, people will in turn be more likely to share personal data. That being said, right now there's still a rather thick line between a bot and a person and it's going to take more time for people to truly start to feel like the virtual assistant is a real person. As for retailers and brands being concerned, I think they would actually be excited by the opportunity. If consumers do share more personal data with virtual assistants, this data can be used to better personalize the customer experience which in the end benefits both the customer and the retailer/brand.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    Will store-within-a-store concepts make Hy-Vee’s more attractive destinations?

    I think this is definitely a good move for Hy-Vee but it will take some time for customers to discover and get comfortable with the concept. The big challenge a company like Hy-Vee will have is capturing marketshare from other well-established brands in the beauty space that their shoppers might already know and trust. Ken made a good point, the mix is crucial. I could easily see this offering becoming cluttered with brands and varying prices leading to a "something for everyone" approach that could lead to very few things for an individual person. Like most retailers, Hy-Vee will have to be comfortable taking a "test and learn" approach. While it might not be a runaway success out of the gate, if the are patient and take the time to learn what's working and what isn't then it does have the chance to be a real game changer for their business.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    eBay asks consumers what they want

    I think that what's really holding retailers back from asking consumers questions to personalize the experience is a fear of doing anything that could hurt conversion rates. There's a general fear that inserting anything between the consumer and their path to purchase will hurt the customer experience. That being said, I think the reality is that the consumer has changed and many retailers are struggling to keep up with that change. Look at a company like Stitch Fix, they ask customers a ton of questions and it results in a much better customer experience. I have to disagree with Stephen's point about retailers discovering that shoppers don't want a personalized experience. Younger shoppers not only want a personalized experience, they expect it. Yes -- weak profiling and bad AI could end up personalizing incorrectly but I think it's fair to assume that eBay probably has a pretty solid data science team behind this effort. The reality is that technology to personalize the customer experience both online and in-store has been around for a long time. Retailers are scared of change, but we've seen what happens to retailers who just keep doing the same thing. eBay isn't jumping on a new trend, they're late to the party here, but better late than never!
  • Posted on: 02/22/2018

    Is an AR demo better than the real thing?

    I think this is a trend that we are going to see growing considerably over time as AR technology continues to progress. It's important to remember that these are still the early days of AR and using a phone or tablet to experience AR doesn't offer the same wow factor as a solution like the Microsoft Hololens or Magic Leap. For AR to really take off I think you'll need to wait for a headset-based AR solution to become more affordable and standardized. Once a shopper can put on a headset and see something appear in front of them that looks exactly like the product they are thinking of purchasing, then AR will be a very effective tool and a likely technology to truly progress the in-store experience. That being said, changes like this take time and I think we're still 3 - 5 years away from having a real viable AR headset solution that will make its way into retail stores. Companies like Amazon have already talked about using AR in smaller format stores and I think they will likely lead the way and help set a new standard, but it will take time, and we aren't there yet. As long as "AR" is thought of as looking at something through a flat phone screen, I just don't think you'll be able to give a shopper a compelling enough experience to make them see this as a viable alternative to experiencing the real product itself.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    Could an Amazon augmented reality store shake up appliance and furniture shopping?

    While I think Amazon is definitely early on the trend, that's usually where true trends start. AR technology has improved dramatically over the last couple of years which means that something that was once more of a novelty is now incredibly viable in consumer applications. I honestly think it will be hard for retailers like Lowe's to stay ahead of Amazon, instead I think retailers should be looking at what Amazon is doing, how they change, and learning from Amazon's own experiences. One thing that is certain is that if Amazon thinks AR has a bright future in-store, then retailers that aren't starting to embrace this change this year will likely get left behind. With any new innovative technology it takes six months to a year to really get things running smoothly, there's a real curve and many retailers are used to looking for something that offers "instant" results. With innovation you rarely get instant results, instead you get gradual improvements over time ... which in the end leads to very meaningful results, just not instant.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    Lowe’s innovates because it has to

    Yes, I think that many major brick and mortar retailers have fallen behind when it comes to innovation, instead focusing a lot on things that will make only small incremental improvements. For many large retailers, finding a way to get consumers excited about coming into the store has become critical to survival. While technologies like RFID provide great data for retailers, they don't provide a better or more innovative experience for consumers. Couple this with the fact that large format stores are hard to navigate and AR offers a very compelling solution for consumers that's both exciting because it's new and innovative, and incredibly useful because it means they can shop a full store without the hassle of searching around something the size of a football stadium.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2017

    What will Walmart do with its newest acquisition, ModCloth?

    I think this is a win for both Walmart and ModCloth and will likely be the missing link ModCloth was looking for to truly scale. ModCloth has done an exceptional job of really connecting with their customers and making clothes that fit their body. Fit has been a huge priority for ModCloth and I think a lot of the ways in which they think about and optimize fit will likely flow into Walmart and their own private label brands. Selling physical goods at scale is exceptionally challenging and it looks like the VC path wasn't going to provide the capital required to really take ModCloth to the next level. When it comes to selling physical goods at scale it's hard to think of a company that has been able to do this better than Walmart. Now all this being said, I'd imagine that ModCloth and Walmart have relatively different cultures. I don't know enough about what it's like to work at either, but I would expect some of the ModCloth employees to leave during this transition. That being said, I've heard that has a very startup-friendly culture so if the ModCloth team worked directly with the team that could be an easy move. One thing I'm very interested to see is if Walmart will continue to build stand-alone ModCloth stores like the one that just opened up in Austin. ModCloth has been pioneering new in-store experiences and like Bonobos is bullish on the opportunity to connect with and inspire new customers in-store. I could see Walmart putting mini ModCloth stores within their own stores or replicating what ModCloth has already done but add a wider footprint. We are at a major turning point in the retail world and while deals like this might seem like they came out of nowhere, I expect them to become the norm as we move into this brave new world of retail.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2017

    Will VR/AR keep consumers out of stores?

    I think the arrival of VR and AR shopping technologies could actually make the store more relevant for consumers. Here's what I'm thinking. We're still years away (say 5 - 10) from mass consumer adoption of VR or AR. This means that many consumers will actually try a VR or AR experience for the first time in-store. Physical stores that add VR or AR experiences to their store so that shoppers can fully immerse themselves in a completely new kind of shopping experience stand to set themselves apart from other retailers and define themselves as true innovators. Imagine wanting to try on ten pairs of pants in combination with five shirts and three sweaters. That could easily take half an hour of taking clothes on and off in a disorganized dressing room. Now imagine doing this in AR or VR, you could do exactly the same thing in a fraction of the time. This would likely lead to shoppers who buy more because they are able to try more, and in a much more innovative way than ever before. I can see technologies like AR and VR playing a major role in the path to purchase both in-store and at home especially over the next 5-10 years where consumer adoption really starts to take off. Many consumers will likely start with an in-store experience and then over time get more comfortable so they can see using the same experience at home bringing them closer to the tactile, in-person shopping experience they've always enjoyed. This also means moving to a world where physical stores can operate with a much smaller footprint since consumers can literally walk around an almost infinitely large store or browse a massive amount of product in an augmented or virtual reality. While this might seem far off we'll start seeing the most innovative retailers embrace AR and/or VR in-store starting this year and 5 - 10 years from now it will be more of a standard than an innovation. At least that's my two cents!
  • Posted on: 03/15/2017

    Will AI transform retail marketing?

    We are just scratching the surface with AI when it comes to retail marketing and retail in general. While many AI technologies have actually been ahead-of-the-curve, it has taken retailers longer (and will take many even longer) to get comfortable with the concept and AI and Machine Learning. The real challenge for retailers has been understanding the importance of the feedback loop coupled with enough time to really learn and improve. AI algorithms don't provide instant results which is what many companies are often looking for. Instead the retailers that are benefitting the most from AI are those who are willing to take the time for the algorithms to improve. Stitch Fix is a great example here and they have 50+ data scientists which has allowed them to progress so much faster than many other brands and retailers. As for how AI will alter retail marketing, I think we're already starting to see the results. In the end there is no way that a person (or group of people) could take in so much data and leverage it to personalize in the way that AI can. The result means significantly better personalization, more relevant emails, product recommendations, etc. Machine learning automation can be incredibly beneficial to tune the algorithms over time and learn when something works and when it doesn't. This feedback loop is a critical component of the ML process, without it you could easily miss out on major improvements, the key is being patient because like I said above, these improvements don't come overnight.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2017

    Has J.C. Penney pulled off ‘one of the greatest financial turnarounds in retail history’?

    I definitely agree, what Marvin and team have done definitely defies "conventional wisdom" and it took making some truly bold moves to make it all happen. That being said, I think it is a combination of moves that will help them continue to defy conventional wisdom in the future and it's more than the five initiatives outlined above. While I do think that J.C. Penney has unlocked something very special in the beauty space with Sephora and has leveraged omnichannel in some very interesting ways, I think that personalization will be a major driving force for them over the next few years. The big question is -- how can J.C. Penney provide consumers with a better experience in the stores they are keeping? When consumers read about stores closing it can be easy for them to think that the stores are going away for good. What will really impress consumers is to walk into a store and have a different and better experience than they had the last time they went there. A move like this could really inspire consumers to see the brand in a new light. With companies like Bonobos and ModCloth opening new stores across the country there is a lot that J.C. Penney can do to learn from these new brick-and-mortar startups to help inject new life into their in-store experience.
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