Under Armour is paring down its ambitions in the digital fitness space. Last week, the athletic apparel retailer announced it was doing away with two apps that it had previously acquired in 2015. The company is selling MyFitnessPal, and shutting down Endomondo by the end of the year. When Under Armour these two apps, alongside MapMyFitness several years ago, the company hoped that by owning a variety of digital fitness apps, it could get the tens of millions of people who used these apps to subsequently buy their workout gear from Under Armour. That hasn't panned out.
While online sales are projected to rise over the holidays, many big-box retailers are still preparing for a rush of in-store traffic. So ahead of the holidays, many big-box retailers like Walmart and Target are making some tech upgrades in stores. To ensure customers who do shop in-store can get in and out while coming into contact with as few people as possible, retailers including Target and Walmart are adding more places to checkout through the store, as well as adding contactless payment options. They're also making upgrades to their store fulfillment services by making it easier for customers to adjust curbside or buy online pickup in-store orders within the retailers' app, and giving customers more contactless ways to pick up those items in stores.
One of the dominant moods of 2020 has been paralyzing uncertainty, and it's been particularly prevalent this week as Americans wait for the results of the presidential election. The election isn't the only thing on direct-to-consumer startup executives' minds -- after all, once the election is over, Black Friday is right around the corner. But Election Day also can't be business as usual.
After one year on the job, Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Mark Tritton has solidified a three-year plan that he hopes will turn the faltering home goods chain around. At a virtual investor day presentation, Tritton laid out the steps he and his executive team plan to take to return Bed Bath & Beyond to consistent sales growth, some of which have already been taken during the pandemic.
Now that the threat of a potential TikTok ban has all but subsided, e-commerce startups are ready to give their advertising dollars to TikTok. And TikTok wants to make it easier for them to do so, thanks to a new partnership with Shopify, that will make it easier for Shopify merchants to run new ads on TikTok. The new partnership signifies that TikTok -- and e-commerce advertisers' interest in it -- is here to stay.
Expect to see fewer handbags in Kohl's stores in the future, and more laundry detergent and yoga pants. On Monday, Kohl's announced that it would be testing out a new shop-in-shop called the Wellness Market, which will carry products like vitamins, dish soap, baby wipes from brands including Seventh Generation and the Honest Company. It's part of the new strategic framework Kohl's announced last week, in which the department store chain said its focus going forward is to be the leading retailer for shoppers looking for products to support an active and casual lifestyle.
As more food and beverage sales move online, e-commerce is becoming a bigger part of food startups' strategy. Take Siete Family Foods, which makes grain-free versions of Mexican-American staples, like tortillas and chips. The six-year-old company is now using its website to test out new products before selling them in physical stores. Through a new section of its site called Small Batch, Siete Family Foods plans to launch ten new products within the next year, selling anywhere from roughly 100 to 1,000 units of each. The goal is to gather data on what types of Siete's most loyal customers are most interested in, and use that data to pitch retailers on carrying that product in stores.
There's a new most-talked about acronym in the DTC world these days: SPAC, which stands for special purpose acquisition company. SPACs give startups an alternative way to go public, without going through the traditional IPO. In a SPAC, a group of individuals raise money in order to acquire a company with the purpose of taking it public. At least one direct-to-consumer startup, Hims has already opted to go the SPAC route. But investors caution that SPACs won't entirely replace the traditional IPO process.
This year, as fewer people do their holiday shopping at stores, more toy sales are expected to move online. That means retailers like Walmart and Target also have to shift more of their marketing efforts for toys online, as do top toy brands like Mattel and Hasbro. This was a trend that was already underway before the start of the coronavirus outbreak, but has since been accelerated. According to eMarketer, e-commerce sales of toys are projected to grow 34.9% year-over-year, compared to 1.5.5% the year prior.
Lowe's has been one of the few brick-and-mortar retailers to see a consistent sales increase during the pandemic, after being declared essential in the spring. Now, the company is hoping to use the momentum to get more people to think of Lowe's as a place to buy their holiday gifts. Lowe's executives say that the home improvement retailer's website will be carrying more cookware, toys, and fitness products on its website this year, as they seek to market Lowe's as a gift-giving destination.
Last year, New York' Soho neighborhood was filled to the brim with holiday pop-ups, both from more established retailers and brands like Ugg and Kohl's, as well as up-and-coming startups like East Fork Pottery and Stuart & Lau. But this year, the coronavirus has put a damper on holiday pop-ups. Few retailers are opening pop-ups this year with the goal of getting shoppers to spend hours checking out their winter wonderlands. Rather, they're opening pop-ups in order to ease capacity limits at existing stores, or to test out a new market while they can find a good deal on rent.
Many direct-to-consumer brands have long held off on selling through Amazon. But they can't completely ignore its orbit, as Amazon still sets the conversation in e-commerce. There's a laundry list of DTC brands that have still held off on selling through Amazon -- Glossier, Warby Parker, Allbirds and Away to name a few. But, a few trends emerge among the digitally-native brands that have taken the leap to selling through Amazon.
Ikea is testing out a new way to incentivize customers to come to its stores during the holiday season. The Swedish furniture retailer announced on Tuesday that over Black Friday, it will be hosting an event called Buy Back in 27 countries, where it will encourage customers to bring in old furniture for Ikea to resell. Between November 23 and December 24, customers who bring in furniture previously bought at Ikea will get store credit. Ikea's efforts to build out a resale business -- the company will also be opening a secondhand shop in Sweden next year -- coincide with its efforts to find new customer acquisition channels.
Despite e-commerce’s rise, retailers are still betting that there's one transaction people will prefer to do in person: returns. Last week, Staples announced that it was partnering with Optoro, a returns processing startup. These types of partnerships were already becoming more common before the coronavirus outbreak. But it’s unclear if they’ll actually lead to more sales.
In conversations with a handful of direct-to-consumer startup executives about their holiday marketing plans, the biggest concern cited was figuring out when was the right time to run holiday ads. Both to ensure that customers order far enough in advance so that they get their products by Christmas, and to ensure that they are spending their holiday marketing dollars most efficiently. The executives Modern Retail spoke with said that for the most part, they weren't that concerned about rising digital advertising costs, either because they've been able to further diversify their ad spend away from digital this year, or customer acquisition costs are still lower than they are last year.
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