Brands from Lands' End to Hudson's Bay are launching their own seller marketplaces. This suggests that the third-party model first perfected by Amazon is sweeping retail. As e-commerce competition intensifies, a growing number of retail brands are trying to stay competitive by adding more and more to their selection.
Apparel retailers are eagerly looking forward to summer, as they are some of the businesses that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the NPD Group, total apparel sales were down 19% year-over-year in 2020. Now, as more people get vaccinated, apparel retailers are hoping that customers will want to get dressed up again heading into the summer.
After a year of postponed and canceled events, wedding-focused retailers are ready for a demand spike. The pandemic has led many shops to shutter or adapt by offering virtual consultations. However, industry experts note that unlike other categories, bridal dress shopping is still largely reliant on in-person appointments and made-to-order production. These factors are making the return of weddings vital for these businesses' survival.
As retailers grapple with shipping delays and massive e-commerce growth, they're looking for more ways to ease pressure on their fulfillment process. To mitigate this, Gap Inc. is planning to roll out a loyalty program feature that rewards higher-tiered customers with faster delivery times.
On Wednesday, Best Buy announced that it was testing out a new membership program, which would cost customers $199.99 per year. In exchange, they would get free shipping, unlimited service from Geek Squad, and access to exclusive deals. That makes Best Buy the latest retailer that's trying to come up with an answer to Amazon's lucrative Prime membership, by launching a membership service of their own.
Williams-Sonoma-owned homewares brand West Elm announced a program called the West Elm Collective. The company described it as an ambassador program that lets West Elm work with both bigger and smaller online celebrities, giving them their own storefronts to feature select items.
The Shazam for wine had quite a big year. Vivino, an app that lets users search for wines by taking a picture of the label and read customer reviews, raised $155 million last February. The app now has over 50 million users worldwide, and says it facilitated around $250 million in sales last year. Founder and CEO Heini Zachariassen joined the Modern Retail Podcast, and spoke about this newfound growth.
Despite the record number of closures of brick and mortar stores over the past year, some retailers are finding an expansion opportunity. Several brands -- especially in booming categories like athleisure and discount stores -- are taking advantage of real estate deals to increase their footprint. Among them are Gap Inc., Lululemon and Dick's Sporting Goods.
Walmart’s addition of more ad units reflects the increasing priority that the company is placing on selling marketplace ads -- and it underscores the rise of paid search ads across all online marketplaces, which have become essential tools for brand discovery, as well as lucrative sources of extra income for those marketplaces.
Last year, grocers like Kroger reported unprecedented growth in grocery delivery and pickup, driven largely by customers who were too afraid to step inside stores while the coronavirus pandemic is still raging. Now, the company is thinking about how to keep those customers using its e-commerce services, now that they have more options. At its investor day yesterday, Kroger outlined what areas it will be investing in to increase its market share in online grocery.
Sarah Rasmusen, chief customer officer at the apparel brand Lands' End said, "it could not be a better time to be in the elastic waist business." While the company's revenue slightly dipped year-over-year according to its most recent earnings, online sales grew nearly 8% and the company is bullish about its products remaining in demand. Rasmusen joined the Modern Retail Podcast and spoke about how the decades-old company has been navigating the changing tides.
As retail brands look for new ways to collect consumer information outside of social feeds, rewards programs are becoming an appealing method to do so. In recent months, several brands have launched or announced loyalty programs meant to reward repeat customers in exchange for feedback and data.
Right now retail media is defined by an arms race between Amazon and Walmart. However, challengers like Target and CVS are looking to compete with their own offerings.
Even after the introduction of Walmart Fulfillment Services last year, most Walmart sellers continued to opt for third-party fulfillment services, and those that wanted to join WFS often faced long wait times. But a sharp jump in the numbers of sellers enrolled in WFS this month reflects the increasing priority that Walmart is placing on WFS -- and as Walmart expands its marketplace, its fulfillment services are likely to balloon with it.
A year ago, essential retailers ruled the roost. Big-box retailers like Home Depot and Target, hardware stores, grocery stores and drug stores were some of the only places where people in the U.S. could still shop in-person, after the first wave of stay-at-home measures. As a result, they reported unprecedented sales growth through the spring. None of these retailers are expecting to match that same sales growth last year, but they are investing in different initiatives to avoid losing market share.
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