In order to better manage returns over the holidays, all retailers are looking at how they can give customers more cost-effective ways to exchange and send back items. But it's particularly a challenge for direct-to-consumer startups, many of whom at most have a handful of physical stores that customers can return products to.
As Five Below expands, it is straying from the traditional playbook of a discount chain by carrying more expensive products and spending more on brand marketing. So far, it's working. The company reported during its third quarter earnings on Wednesday that net sales were up 20.7% to $377.4 million compared to a year ago.
Since Jill Soltau took over as CEO of JCPenney more than a year ago, there's been no slowdown in announcements touting new executive hires, or store concepts it is piloting, in order to reassure investors that she and her executive team can turn around the beleaguered department store chain. But it's not so much a question of if Soltau can cut losses at JCPenney, but whether she can do it quickly enough.
Large grocery chains like Kroger are feeling competition not only from new players in grocery like Amazon, but also food delivery services like UberEats and Grubhub. In response, Kroger is getting more aggressive about forming partnerships that will allow its customers to more easily buy prepared meals.
In February, Amazon launched Amazon Live, a page for its own QVC-like shopping videos that are livestreamed and produced by Amazon, as well as a new app that would allow brands to create their own live shopping videos. Although Amazon is encouraging more brands to test out Amazon Live, it has yet to become a critical driver of sales during large shopping holidays like Cyber Monday.
This week, PayPal announced that it was acquiring Honey, a browser extension and mobile app that helps users find coupons when checking out on a retailer's site, for $4 billion. It's a pricey purchase, but one that will quickly give PayPal a lot of data on how shoppers search for products, and what ultimately makes them buy. That type of data will be critical for PayPal's ambitions to become more than just a payments processor.
Typically, the path to opening a permanent physical store for older DTC brands like Casper and Glossier looked like this: open a few pop-up stores in the cities where most of your customers are, make sure that they're stacked with highly Instagrammable displays and events, and use those pop-ups as a training ground for opening up your own physical retail stores. But even pop-ups that only run for a few months can be expensive. So, many younger brands are trying to strike partnerships with other DTC brands to display product in their stores for a limited period of time, or partner with companies outside of retail to display product or host events
In 2017, Home Depot unveiled "One Home Depot," which called for the company to invest $5.4 billion over the next three years to improve e-commerce capabilities, add more fulfillment capabilities like buy online, pickup in-store, and to redesign the website for its business-to-business customers, which the company refers to as "Pros." In return, Home Depot expected sales to hit $120 billion by 2020. But, Home Depot is finding that it's taking longer than expected to roll out some of its new capabilities.
Fast, reliable delivery options have become table stakes for today's brick-and-mortar retailers, thanks to Amazon. Now, they're also becoming an important part of these retailers' marketing strategies in the run up to big holiday sales days like Black Friday and Christmas. In the lead up to Black Friday, many retailers are dropping the minimum order value needed for customers to get free shipping altogether, or are giving their most loyal customers access to the fastest delivery and fulfillment options for free.
Under Armour, like many other brands that have relied historically on wholesalers to sell its product, wants to generate more revenue from its own website and stores. But, its direct-to-consumer business has struggled for a couple of reasons. In order to right the ship, Under Armour is looking to open more full-price stores, continue to highlight the technical innovation in its apparel and performance wear, and build a new e-commerce platform.
There's a rising supply of direct-to-consumer brands eager to hand over money to agencies to help them with their Facebook marketing. In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we offer anonymity in exchange for candor, we speak to a former marketer who cycled through several agencies -- ultimately landing at one that focused mostly on direct-to-consumer brands -- before going freelance.
While other retailers like Target and Walmart have consolidated the number of apps they offer in recent years, Nike has centered its app strategy around building a handful of apps to serve specifics audiences. There's Nike's main app, Nike+, to which Nike has added more features in recent years to make it easier to shop in-store. SNKRS targets sneakerheads with limited edition product drops, while Nike Train Club and Nike Run Club are marketed towards fitness fanatics who want an app to help them manage their workouts. In total, Nike has more than 170 million users across its family of apps.
More direct-to-consumer brands are experimenting with partnership marketing, in order to further diversify their marketing spend away from Facebook and Google. Although there are inexpensive ways to test out partnership marketing, it can take a lot of trial and error to figure out which brands are actually effective to partner with.
As livestreaming shopping videos have become increasingly popular in China, they've also become critically important to brands' strategies for the biggest shopping holiday in the country, Alibaba's Singles Day. Overall, the number of merchants who incorporated livestreaming into their Singles Day campaign was up 200% compared to last year, according to Alibaba.
Direct-to-consumer brands like to trumpet the fact that they have more access to customer data than traditional brands. Now, as they grow and add more products, they're also looking to launch loyalty programs that give them better insight into how their customers behave compared to traditional loyalty programs. Mizzen+Main, which sells mens dress shirts and pants, is launching a new loyalty program on Tuesday that it hopes will give the company more insight into when exactly its customers are looking to shop.
At the Modern Retail Virtual Forum, we’ll bring together senior retail marketers online to discuss the challenges they’re facing and the solutions they’re seeking in the era of smarter retail.Buy Passes