During its fourth quarter earnings call, Macy's executives made it clear that they are betting on e-commerce to help the department store chain recover from the pandemic, as they tried to position the company as a "digitally-led" retailer. Digital sales were up 21% year-over-year, and its e-commerce division is now profitable. But Macy's is still trying to figure out how to differentiate its website from those of of other big-box retailers or department stores.
Joann is getting ready to go public, betting that it will be able to ride the crafting boom for a while. The crafting supplies retailer filed its S-1 last week, reporting that its revenue during the first three quarters of 2020 was $1.921 billion, up 24.3% compared to the same period the prior year. Joann was taken off the public markets after being acquired by a private equity firm a decade ago. But now, the company is ready to take another crack at being a publicly-traded company, citing the fact that its acquired eight million new customers during the pandemic.
Walmart is reaching out to sellers, trying to get them to try out its third-party marketplace. These direct reach-outs appear to be rare, limited only to the bigger players on Amazon, but they indicate Walmart’s increased commitment to bringing third-party sellers whose products have already found success on Amazon directly to the Walmart Marketplace.
Almost six months after its official debut, Walmart+ has been one of the retailer's successful coronavirus-era rollouts. With Walmart's growing e-commerce sales over the past year, the membership program may help keep the momentum going. In turn, Walmart's answer to Amazon Prime stands to build on the retailer's online grocery and essentials delivery business long after the pandemic.
After brands and retailers have began the 15% Pledge to add diverse products to their shelves, some companies have rolled out the first assortments in time for Black History Month. Retailers like Gap, Macy's and Lowe's have taken the first steps to carry BIPOC-founded products, alongside initiatives like hiring diverse candidates and incubating Black and other founders of color.
Nearly a year after a proposed spin off of Victoria's Secret was called off, the lingerie brand has been trying quietly to course correct some previous missteps. Most recently, Victoria's Secret announced this week that it would once again start selling swimwear in select stores, after exiting the category in 2016. Retail analysts say that Victoria's Secret's recent moves have been less focused on trying to re-establish itself as the most-talked about brand in lingerie, and rather getting back to the fundamentals of retail.
On this week's episode of the Modern Retail Podcast, Fly By Jing founder Jing Gao spoke about how the company started as a pop-up restaurant concept, her branding and marketing approach as well as what the company's future plans are. "I feel like there's an unspoken understanding between our customers and our brand," she said.
Companies like Walgreens and CVS have managed to keep revenue growing during the pandemic -- but they've also been hurt by falling sales of products in non-essential categories like beauty. Before the pandemic, these companies were trying to reinvent themselves as primary care destinations, by adding more spaces in store and online for health care products and services beyond just refilling prescriptions. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has only made that transformation more urgent.
Aldi is one of the few retailers who still has an ambitious slate of store openings planned for this year. The discount grocer announced last week that it plans to open 100 more stores in the U.S this year, and is set to have the third largest number of grocery stores in the U.S., behind Kroger and Walmart. In addition to opening more stores, Aldi has been making other investments to become more of a household name.
Burger King is the latest quick service restaurant to announce it's launching a customer rewards program. This week, the fast food chain joins rival McDonald's in piloting a loyalty program that encourages repeat purchases and digital orders. Many of these businesses incurred increased losses during the coronavirus outbreak -- and they likely see new digital programming as a way to try and garner more customer engagement.
After an initial slowdown in March due to supply chain constraints, online eyewear brand Zenni Optical says it saw record growth in 2020. With people stuck at home, the company received an influx of new customers trying to avoid going to the eye doctor. And since most were working from home, Zenni's line of blue light blocking lenses grew at an unprecedented clip. According to chief product officer Bai Gan, this past year was "the beginning of a new era" for eyewear brands. He joined the Modern Retail Podcast this week and talked about why.
Although there are a few regional stores now enrolled in the SNAP pilot, most prominently Texas’s H-E-B, the pilot is largely centered around three companies -- Amazon, Walmart and Aldi. And while the USDA claims that the pilot covers “over 90%” of households, only a handful of the small and medium-sized groceries that service much of the U.S. are approved to accept SNAP payments online.
Nearly a year after sales for its connected indoor bikes surged, Peloton is still struggling to fulfill demand in a timely manner. The fitness company, which went public shortly before the pandemic, is heavily investing in owning the supply chain and reducing delivery windows.
2020 was a tough year for casual dress shirt brand Untuckit, but it was able to adapt. While many retailers that catered to workwear completely changed their product lines to mesh better with the pandemic lifestyle, Untuckit opted to wait it out. "The decision was no -- no massive overhaul of our brand ethos was necessary," said Aaron Sanandres, co-founder and CEO. Sanandres joined the Modern Retail Podcast and spoke about all the changes his company experienced.
Chocolate brand Godiva is the latest brand to close its retail shops due to the pandemic. The century-old company, which also operates wholesale and e-commerce channels, will shutter its brick and mortar stores and cafes in March. Like others, the confectionary brand will shift focus to its growing digital presence.
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