The weighted blanket brand Bearaby is one brand that's benefitted from the collective stress and lack of sleep among consumers. It has become a bestseller in its category and recently expanded a long term partnership with West Elm. Founder Kathrin Hamm talked to Modern Retail about increasingly tweaking the supply chain and why having a beautiful Instagram feed isn't enough to sustain a company.
While parent company J.Crew streamlines operation after filing for bankruptcy protection this summer, Madewell is further building on its loyal following with a revamped rewards program. Chief marketing officer Derek Yarbrough spoke with Modern Retail about the points-based rollout, shoppers' loyalty and bridging the gap between stores and e-commerce during Covid-19.
For years, speciality coffee has been dominated by young, millennial-friendly brands. Now, established roasters who've relied on wholesale distribution for decades are entering the DTC coffee space. Case in point: 44-year-old coffee and tea maker America’s Best Beverage, which just launched Cloudburst Coffee, a line of DTC cold brew. CEO Hovik Azadkhanian says the company has experience and the resources to compete with the likes of Blue Bottle and La Colombe.
Alibaba's long play to become an e-commerce player in the U.S. is well on its way, as reflected by its latest quarterly earnings. Despite a global pandemic and being caught amid political tensions, the Chinese retailer is quickly gaining market share among competitors like Amazon and Walmart.
As it turns out, even meal kit enthusiasts are getting tired of the prep and clean up aspect of boxed ingredients. That's why the latest offerings by delivery services like Sun Basket and Home Chef are now including semi-prepared dishes that can be assembled and consumed within minutes. This modified model, a shift away from the simple novelty of pre-measured ingredients, has been a bet in recent years by the likes of smart oven manufacturer Tovala.
Once known for their ubiquitous yet irrelevant presence, quick response (QR) codes have made a comeback during the pandemic. The scannable tech's ease of use is now being applied to digital restaurant menus and checkout payment systems. But it's not just local businesses that are helping QR codes' popularity resurge, but also big companies like Instagram, CVS and Walmart that are investing in building their own.
It's difficult to raise money for your startup -- and even more difficult if you're a person of color. Modern Retail spoke to multiple founders and VCs, and they described the venture capital world as insular, overly cautious and easily dismissive of big markets that cater to diverse segments they don't personally relate to. Several eventually threw in the towel on fundraising, choosing instead to bootstrap their ventures.
National distribution has always been a tough cookie to crack for scrappy, independent CPG brands. Without the distribution methods and supply chain of big brands like Coke and Pepsi, beverage startups have had a hard time scaling beyond health food stores and DTC sales. But the coronavirus has changed the playing field.
Young, digitally-native brands are rushing to figure out what to do with their existing real estate leases. But one brand going against the grain and expanding brick and mortar is menswear brand O.N.S. Modern Retail spoke to founder Brian Chung about why he believes its strategy will help it avoid being the typical money-losing DTC store.
The office lunch run may forever have been changed by the coronavirus, but that doesn't mean services catering to those employees are going away. In fact, meal-subsidizing platforms like MealPal, Fooda and Ritual are finding a growing market among manual labor and service workers, an unexpected segment for the category.
From competing with giant retailers for customer loyalty to improving the supply chain, sectors across the DTC world have been transformed by the pandemic. Five direct to consumer brand founders give their takes about the changes they anticipate when the world eventually emerges from the ongoing crisis.
For years, DTCs relied on monthly subscriptions for reliable revenue. But given the current climate and economic uncertainty, relying on those recurring fees may no longer be an option. Some brands, like at-cost goods seller Italic, are going back to the drawing board by truly "cutting out the middleman." However, access to these no-markup products comes at a cost of an annual membership.
As the pandemic continues, non-essentials focused on health and wellness are enjoying an upswing while riding the uncertainty wave. The already-booming CBD industry, which took off about two years ago and was already teetering on saturation, has extended its momentum thanks to the current wellness-focused consumer behaviors.
Blue Apron recorded its first profitable quarter since going public three years ago. However, the meal kit service's luck is likely to end here, as mounting struggle to retain customers and the costs of attracting new ones continue. For its third quarter outlook, the company plans to ramp up marketing dollars again, in hopes of attracting new customers, and that likely will come at the cost of current profits.
In a way, pre-sales and waitlists are counterculture to today’s “fast delivery” windows, but they can also be a vital tool in building a customer base during uncertain times. For new brands like direct-to-consumer A/C maker July, pre-orders gave them two benefits: the opportunity to make connections and manage the uncertainties, said co-founder
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