Even as retailers are given the go-ahead to reopen, concerns over inconsistent foot traffic is yet another factor in deciding to do so. As regions experience a second wave, a return to normal activity levels is becoming further out of reach. For brands faced with the decision of when to reopen stores, this means taking into account the pros and cons of getting immediate business through the door now when it may be more prudent to wait.
As part of Nike's plan to increase the percentage of its sales that come from its direct-to-consumer, the company has been opening a slew of new stores in order over the past couple of years to boost sales. Now, the company is unveiling a new retail format that it hopes will make its stores a more regular destination for shoppers. Called Nike Rise, they serve as a hub for local sports enthusiasts, by hosting new in-store events as well as through the addition of new app features.
Walmart is reportedly planning to launch a new membership program this month. Called Walmart+, it will reportedly cost $98 a year and offer fast home delivery and other perks. Those other perks -- as well as the price tag -- are where Walmart is trying to differentiate itself from Amazon. But the question still remains whether or not it will be enough to compete with the 800-pound gorilla.
Before the pandemic, the zero (or low) sugar beverage brand Sanzo had all the scrappy upstart charm and aesthetic of a DTC brand. But, it still sold mostly through wholesale -- 70 to 80%, in founder Sandro Roco's estimate. That's changed. "Since the pandemic, it's completely inverted, and even more extremely so," Roco said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "During this pandemic, if you're looking at CPG sales and specifically sparkling water, a lot more folks are willing to order sparkling water to their home than many other CPG categories." That's changed. "Since the pandemic, it's completely inverted, and even more extremely so," Roco said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "During this pandemic, if you're looking at CPG sales and specifically sparkling water, a lot more folks are willing to order sparkling water to their home than many other CPG categories."
Over a decade after it opened its first store, Microsoft is scaling back its retail ambitions. Microsoft’s shuttering is yet another example of tech companies' bad luck with brick and mortar. The stores highlighted a major branding problem for the computing giant: at its core, Microsoft is essentially a wholesales goods company, with a limited history in selling them directly to end consumers.
People are stuck at home, making it harder for them to try on clothes. Some services work with retailers to let customers try to visualize what the products would look like on them. But they're imperfect, at best. All the same, smaller companies already on the market are seeing jumps in merchant interest, while bigger players such as Adobe have begun investing resources into developing their own high-tech solutions.
Aishwarya Iyer started Brightland, an olive oil company, in 2018 with the idea of describing the products like wine and marketing it like a beauty brand. "Beauty leads the way in terms of talking about benefits, packaging -- the shine and glimmer that beauty's able to do, food just isn't able to do that. Maybe there are some standouts!" Iyer said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "Beauty leads the way in terms of talking about benefits, packaging -- the shine and glimmer that beauty's able to do, food just isn't able to do that. Maybe there are some standouts!" Iyer said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Digital consumer startups that happened to benefit during the pandemic are seeing renewed interest from investors. However, despite a return in fundraising activity, prospects of early stage venture backing remain stagnant. Later-stage consumer startups in hyper-growth mode have able to seek out fresh funding for extending momentum. That hasn't been the case, however, for early stage companies.
To help restaurants get back on their feet, a host of US states have permitted restricted reopening, making use of outdoor space. While it may be easy for some, it's impossible for others. And while such limited reopenings are a good start, they won’t suffice to keep many eateries afloat. The big problem boils down to the economics; if restaurants can only serve a small percentage of their customers, they quite simply won't be able to make ends meet.
As malls prepare to welcome back shoppers, the types of experiences that they are willing to step out of the house for has changed. Rather than spending hours rifling through racks of clothing, some shoppers are turning to curbside pickup. Instead of spending a Saturday at the movie theater, they may stop by a restaurant that's open for outdoor dining. And that means some malls may have to reconfigure their space to make way for new types of attractions.
Business lost to the pandemic has rebounded for StockX, an online marketplace where people selling and buying items -- sneakers, mainly -- negotiate on a price before StockX provides authentication and shipping. "We've seen an incredible return to activity in the marketplace," StockX CMO Deena Bahri said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "By mid-April we started to see an incredible return back to normal -- and even better than normal -- shopping behaviors."
A number of grocery and food-related companies are trying to raise money while the results are in their favor. Instacart, for example, raised $225 million and Albertsons is preparing for an IPO. It makes sense that these companies are looking for this cash now -- they've shown impressive growth in an otherwise uncertain economy.
As Gap takes another legal hit from landlords, the physical retail world and commercial real estate worlds may continue to face mounting tension before new terms are set. While some retailers face lawsuits, others are trying to ink agreements to temporarily pause rent, with the understanding things will pick back up in the future. Some players are also renegotiating leases to encompass future unprecedented crises. Put together, it points to future commercial real estate contracts having a new look.
Restaurants may be slowly reopening, but vending machines are in the midst of a renaissance. Before, automat-style choices were futuristic oddities. Now, a number of companies are pitting their growth on building machines that can serve food. Social distancing is still in full effect, so perhaps these machines will be the future of food service.
Before the pandemic, the used car sales app Carvana targeted a generation of socially awkward app-users, many of whom were finally aging into buying their first car. Enter coronavirus, and a social distancing-ready purchasing system suddenly made sense for every generation of Americans -- including those well acquainted with the patter of a used car salesman. The question remains whether or not this car buying model will last.
Advertisers, from DTCs scrapping for share in a crackling at-home beauty market to seasoned retailers leaning into the quarantined consumer’s e-commerce surge, what’s changing about your campaign KPIs? How are you using data to make choices and effectively budget across channels? What’s working, what’s broken and how will you fix it? Take this survey and get the full results plus a $5 Starbucks gift card.
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