Lunya founder Ashley Merrill was already hesitant to invest further in physical retail before the pandemic struck. "I could tell I was already starting to get sucked into the brick-and-mortar, 'oh we have to pay a lot for this location because it's in the right place,' Merrill said on the Modern Retail Podcast. Now -- and in the future Merrill imagines -- it's a nonstarter. "The way I look at it now is, I would never sign those leases," she said. "I don't think anyone will ever be able to pay what they were paying before."
If Nick Ling's latest brand launch wasn't so right for this moment, he would have delayed bringing it to market. But Open Spaces, the second brand under the umbrella company Pattern (where Ling is CEO) is all about getting the most out of the place many consumers are stuck in these days: home.
Through this crisis, Burrow CEO Stephen Kuhl is sticking to a piece of advice he got back when the furniture store was just another startup at Y Combinator. The advice we got then was 'just launch your first product. Get it out there into people's hands and you'll get feedback,' Kuhl said on the Modern Retail Podcast. That's what they've done with a virtual design consultation program delivering an "in-store experience" to customers from their homes.
Americans may have more reason than ever to appreciate the comforts of home and the value of making theirs their own. But even a company like Parachute, a luxury linens and home goods company founded in 2014, is feeling the pinch from the downturn in retail. "Our retail is about 25% of our business -- but it's a profitable part of our business," the company's founder Ariel Kaye said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
"We've had weekly Zoom chats with four or five CEOs, talking about how we're managing and how we're handling, what we're hearing and what we're learning, how our businesses are doing and what channels are performing," Kaye said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "That shared information has been so helpful."
If Benjamin Witte talks about his beverage brand Recess as if it were an empire, it's because he's noticed the same ambition among the sector's established giants. "Red Bull is a media company for the action sports community that monetizes through selling cans," Witte said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "We're speaking to creatives, just like Red Bull is speaking to the action sports community, and Gatorade is speaking to athletics."
Rhone CEO Nate Checketts said his company "saw the writing on the wall really quickly" in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. "In some cases it might act as a clearing house to get non-serious players out, and that will present some opportunities," he said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Like any retailer, Rhone is feeling the pinch from forced store closures in the time of coronavirus. But they're being deliberate about how they communicate with customers subscribed to their newsletter.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused retail revenue to plummet "almost overnight," Hutchinson said. But he added that the DTC side of the business is strong. "Right now consumers are online, so we pivoted our business and really have been able to make up the ground that we lost to the retail."
China's online retail market is worth perhaps $1.5 trillion, according to McKinsey. The livestreaming app ShopShops is making it extra accessible to stores and boutiques around the world.
Shark Tank investor Matt Higgins remains bullish on the potential of DTC brands to upend traditional consumer companies, and make a profit while doing it. "I think that innovation cycle is never going to end," Higgins said.
What started as a messaging app in 2011 is now a mobile payments giant through which travels a third of China's data traffic. "People use it for everything. For utilities, for gaming, obviously to communicate with their family and friends, and to do business," said Lu.
"When you put numbers and dollars behind it and you're just stepping on that gas, it feels like you've taken your eye off what really matters," Goldman said.
"We really thought the opportunity was to combine healthy and safe needle piercing with really accessibly priced, fun jewelry in an environment that the customer was excited to spend time in," Harman said.
Direct-to-consumer "ended up being the best solution we could come up with," said Sunday founder Coulter Lewis. "That enabled us to do this custom approach."
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