Over a decade after it opened its first store, Microsoft is scaling back its retail ambitions. Microsoft’s shuttering is yet another example of tech companies' bad luck with brick and mortar. The stores highlighted a major branding problem for the computing giant: at its core, Microsoft is essentially a wholesales goods company, with a limited history in selling them directly to end consumers.
Despite virus exposure fears, individualized samples aren't always the answer, said Deciem co-founder and CEO Nicola Kilner. Despite launching a successful virtual try-on program, "The Abnormal Beauty Company" will continue allowing customers to test products at home for up to a year.
Despite experiencing unprecedented sales declines, some retailers are still willing to open their wallets. At least, Lululemon proved it was when the athleisure brand announced last week that it was acquiring Mirror, a connected fitness startup that it had previously acquired, for $500 million. The news was largely celebrated as a "win" for the direct-to-consumer community. But it may also gives some startups a sense of false hope.
For the inaugural episode of our new and improved Modern Retail Talk series -- where we feature a new founder/retail expert every week to discuss a specific issue pertinent to the new reality we're all living in -- Modern Retail (digitally) sat down with co-founder and CEO Matt Alexander about how the company is strategizing its reopening, and what it's learned over the last few month.
Other news to know
Lucky Brand is the latest fashion retailer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As part of the bankruptcy filing, the denim brand will close 13 stores, according to Business Insider.
Retail foot traffic is starting to decline again in states like Florida and Texas, where coronavirus cases are rising again, according to retail analytics firm ShopperTrak. For the week ended June 20, retail foot traffic is still down 34% compared to the year prior, according to ShopperTrak. CNBC has details on the full report.
The New York Times has a new report looking at how bankruptcy filings of department stores like JC Penney and Neiman Marcus could accelerate the demise of U.S. malls.
People are stuck at home, making it harder for them to try on clothes. Some services work with retailers to let customers try to visualize what the products would look like on them. But they're imperfect, at best. All the same, smaller companies already on the market are seeing jumps in merchant interest, while bigger players such as Adobe have begun investing resources into developing their own high-tech solutions.
This weekend, beleaguered athleisure brand Outdoor Voices added a familiar face from the direct-to-consumer world to its board. Ashley Merrill, the founder of sleepwear brand Lunya, is joining Outdoor Voices as chairwoman of its board of directors, and also participated in a funding round for the company through her investment platform, NaHCO3. Merrill's addition as chairwoman comes after a few months' worth of public relations headaches for Outdoor Voices.
QR codes have found little success since coming on the scene decades ago. With the onset of the pandemic, the encrypted prints appear to be coming back in fashion as retailers grapple with contactless marketing and payment solutions. Is this the time QR codes finally enter the mainstream?
Aishwarya Iyer started Brightland, an olive oil company, in 2018 with the idea of describing the products like wine and marketing it like a beauty brand. "Beauty leads the way in terms of talking about benefits, packaging -- the shine and glimmer that beauty's able to do, food just isn't able to do that. Maybe there are some standouts!" Iyer said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
"Beauty leads the way in terms of talking about benefits, packaging -- the shine and glimmer that beauty's able to do, food just isn't able to do that. Maybe there are some standouts!" Iyer said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Digital consumer startups that happened to benefit during the pandemic are seeing renewed interest from investors. However, despite a return in fundraising activity, prospects of early stage venture backing remain stagnant. Later-stage consumer startups in hyper-growth mode have able to seek out fresh funding for extending momentum. That hasn't been the case, however, for early stage companies.
At-home fitness has been having a moment particularly over the past few months, and startup Mirror was able to cash in big on it. On Monday, Lululemon announced that it was acquiring the connected fitness company for $500 million. Mirror had raised $72 million to-date, and is projecting over $100 million in revenue this year. "I think this should be considered one of the big wins in the direct-to-consumer space," said Web Smith, founder of e-commerce newsletter and website 2pm Inc.
Increasingly, retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence are providing offline sales data to brands that advertise on their e-commerce sites. As a result, e-commerce advertisers are gaining more insights into how and when online ads lead to in-store sales.
Uber is considering acquiring Postmates, according to news reports. This is likely a move by Uber to get more marketshare. But Postmates presents some interesting possibilities. For one, the courier app has partnered with non-food companies, like Old Navy. Which is to say that Postmates presents an opportunity to grow Uber's delivery presence in directions beyond just food.
Amazon Advertising Strategies Virtual Forum
Jul 20–Jul 22, 2020
The Amazon Advertising Strategies Virtual Forum is a series of presentations, workshops and talks taking place over three mornings that’ll help you navigate and survive our current crisis and the acceleration of e-commerce that has come with it.