A boom both in online shopping and sales of home goods have helped give Bed Bath & Beyond new life. The big-box retailer has reported more than 75% growth in e-commerce sales during each of the last three quarters. The company's chief digital officer, Rafeh Masood, spoke with Modern Retail about how the company is seeking to capitalize on its e-commerce growth.
Shopify announced that it would be banning two online stores affiliated with President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Stripe has reportedly stopped processing payments for the Trump campaign. Rarely do political calls for action extend to e-commerce marketplaces or software providers. But recent actions signal that may start to change.
There's two competing narratives right now taking shape in the direct-to-consumer space: one, that venture capital funding is starting to fall out of favor with DTC startups. And two, that it's a great time to raise venture capital funding as a consumer startup, as more investors are finally waking up to the fact that there's a huge opportunity for these companies as more people do more shopping online. But these two concepts aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Some DTC startups are still raising venture capital money, they're just doing so later on. Or, if they take VC funding, they are taking steps to ensure their cash lasts longer.
Since taking over as CEO of Thinx in 2017, Maria Molland has sought to turn the startup -- and subsequently the period underwear category -- from a niche player into something that's at home on the shelves of mass-market retailers. To bring about this change, Molland has started to invest more in traditional advertising, running the company's first TV ad in 2019, as well as expanded its wholesale presence. Of course, like over other startup, the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in Thinx's plans. Still, Thinx is closing 2020 with close to $80 million in revenue, and ended the year profitable.
The architect of JCPenney's most recent turnaround plan has left the company. Last week, JCPenney announced that CEO Jill Soltau was leaving the company effective December 31. During Soltau's two-year tenure, she started to take some steps JCPenney around, by paring down the company's in-store assortment, redesigning some of its private label brands, and had started to experiment with new store formats. But some analysts said she didn't move quickly before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, JCPenney's path forward under its new owners, Simon and Brookfield, is unclear.
Direct-to-consumer startups were among the biggest beneficiaries of more people doing their shopping online in 2020, with some startups like Brooklinen and Prose reporting that their sales more than doubled or tripled this year. Now, going into 2021, DTC startups are out to prove that the sales growth they reported this year isn't just a flash in the pan.
The DTC bubble was supposed to pop in 2020; instead, it became even more inflated. Fears that the pandemic would lead to a dip in consumer spending never panned out for most DTC startups, as the people most likely to be their customers -- young professionals working from home -- subsequently spent more of their money shopping online. Over the course of the year, companies in categories as disparate as hair care and bedding reported that their sales doubled or tripled over the course of the year, even as stores were ordered shut. Now, going into 2021, direct-to-consumer startups are trying to figure out how to best capitalize on the growth they saw this year.
In 2020, retail workers could no longer just be salespeople. They also had to be safety officers, virtual stylists and shepherds of buy online, pickup in-store orders. The job of the employee changed every single month," said David Marcotte. senior vice president of cross-border retail at Kantar Consulting. In 2021, retail workers shouldn't be pulled in as many different directions -- but the lines between roles will likely continue to blur.
In 2020, new-to-market startups started to do away with branding tactics that have historically been popular on Instagram. Pastels and Sans Serif font have been replaced by bright colors and oversized lettering, while startups are centering their social media centering their social media strategy around busting taboos or reaching customers that have historically been overlooked. As the direct-to-consumer startup space has gotten more crowded, startups have found that they need a different proposition than just creating a new e-commerce experience for mattresses or luggage -- and that requires a new branding playbook
Telehealth experienced a boom in 2020, as the pandemic forced people to replace in-person services with online alternatives. That also means it's been an explosive year for telehealth startups like Ro, which is projecting that it will end the year with $230 million in gross revenue, up 55% from the year prior. The scope of Ro's role in health care also changed dramatically this year, as the startup launched its own digital pharmacy and acquired a software startup called Workpath, that assists in deploying nurses for at-home visits. Ro's co-founder and chief growth officer Rob Schutz spoke with Modern Retail to share more details about the company's vision.
With Christmas just days away, retailers are doing everything they can to try to get customers to not add to the online shipping backlog. While, at the same time, still getting customers to buy. For most retailers, that means offering extra incentives for last-minute customers to use same-day fulfillment options like buy online, pickup in-store, or to buy gift cards. But for retailers who don't have buy online, pickup in-store enabled at all of their store locations, they are instead charging extra --upwards of $20 -- for expedited shipping. It could cost them some last-minute shoppers.
The resale industry has been one of the biggest winners in 2020, culminating in resale app Poshmark filing to go public. Poshmark's S-1, which was published on Thursday, reveals that the startup was actually able to turn its first profit of $8.1 million during the first nine months of 2020 -- a rarity among consumer startups looking to go public. But Poshmark still faces a number of challenges ahead in its quest to become a public company. Here's our detailed look into the company's just-released financials.
Shipping delays are getting worse and worse for e-commerce businesses right now, and Etsy shops are no exception. In recent days, Etsy forums have been flooded with sellers looking for advice from one another on how to deal with shipping delays. "USPS delays are killing my plants and killing my business in turn," one seller said on Wednesday, writing that packages were often taking 10-14 days -- and sometimes up to four weeks -- to ship. As third-party sellers on a rapidly growing e-commerce platform, Etsy sellers only have so many options to try to address shipping delays.
Reebok's future as a part of Adidas is now in question, after the German sportswear brand confirmed to media outlets on Monday it "has started to assess strategic alternatives for Reebok, including but not limited to a potential sale of the business." Reebok has lost market share in U.S. sneakers since it was acquired by Adidas, and though Adidas has recently been reinvesting in growing Reebok's profile, a coronavirus-induced sales hit made it harder for Adidas to build the Reebok brand.
Holiday pop-up markets have been a winter staple of malls and city centers for years. But this year, holiday pop-ups look a little different. While some places are still moving forward with in-person events, other companies are instead turning their pop-ups into online marketplaces, either because new pandemic restrictions have made in-person events all but impossible. The challenge is that not all of the businesses who typically sell through holiday markets are equipped yet to sell online, and getting people to discover new small businesses is a tougher task online.
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