Social media apps are rolling out more tools meant to encourage brands to work more closely with influencers. Instagram, for example, announced last week that it is testing a new affiliate tool, which allows influencers to earn a commission from products they recommend that use Instagram’s checkout service, with the commission being set by the brand. It's led to a change in overall influencer strategy.
Digital alcohol delivery surged during lockdowns, with major players like Drizly and Minibar dominating sales within past year. However, smaller, niche platforms also found success in wooing local merchants. One startup that's offering liquor stores an alternative to big marketplaces is City Hive, which allows small businesses to provide white labeled pickup and delivery fulfillment.
Direct-to-consumer floral company Pomp launched on Wednesday, joining the new guard of online-native brands trying to improve the floral industry’s convoluted supply chain, and provide simpler alternatives to industry giants like 1-800 Flowers. The perishable floral industry has struggled with supply chain since its birth. In response, new DTC challengers like Pomp, Farmgirl Flowers, and Urban Stems innovate with owned supply chains, and a smaller, more curated assortment of bouquets.
Tourist destinations like the Maldives and Seychelles are promoting remote-working, featuring ocean views, discounts, strong WiFi and personal assistants to help with work admin.
Online-only, super-fast, super-cheap fashion dominated the pandemic, spurred by TikTok trends. Now, traditional fast fashion retailers will have to keep up. While brick-and-mortar retailers like H&M and Zara are struggling to return to pre-pandemic sales level, online-only fast fashion retailers like Blushmark and Shein are rising in popularity, becoming some of the most downloaded shopping apps in Apple's store. Taking cues from Blushmark and Shein, traditional retailers are reallocating investment to ecommerce, adding features like buy-now-and-pay-later to their sites, and expanding e-commerce to new geographies. Still, digital players have unique advantages of production in an online only model.
Last year, the death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests created a call for brands and retailers to do more to support Black-owned business. The answer, for many, was to create mentorship and grant programs for Black-owned businesses last year, for the first time. A year later, five Black business owners offered their reflections on these programs to Modern Retail.
This week Pattern Brands -- a holding company formed by the former members of branding agency Gin Lane -- announced that it was pivoting away from launching its own brands, and instead would look to acquire a number of smaller brands in the home goods space. It's a move that has been in the works for over a year. Modern Retail obtained a pitch deck that Pattern Brands sent around last summer, laying out its vision for the holding company it hoped to build.
Pattern Brands was one of a few startups that thought it could crack the customer acquisition challenges brands faced by taking a holding company approach. Led by the former team behind branding agency Gin Lane, Pattern Brands would launch multiple brands under one company, all catering to an affluent millennial customer. Now, Pattern Brands is taking a different strategy.
Before the pandemic, there was an explosion in new rental services as even retailers including Bloomingdale’s and Urban Outfitters, Inc. took up the trend. But when the pandemic hit, many of these companies took a hit as users paused their memberships and took up loungewear. Now, fashion rentals are focused on catering to users who have reactivated their accounts in time for summer gatherings.
When it launched at the end of 2019, dairy alternative brand Eclipse was focused on selling wholesale ice cream to service shops. However, when the pandemic hit a few months into its launch, the company's co-founders decided to bet on retail by packaging and shipping product to grocery stores.
With summer approaching and people being inclined to spend more time at the beach than they are online shopping, brands are looking for creative marketing tactics to drum up excitement. And one of the most common tactics startups have started experimenting more with in recent years is partnership marketing. Partnership marketing encompasses everything from product giveaways on Instagram to selling more co-branded items, and they're increasingly becoming a small but critical component of startups' strategies for critical sales moments.
Gig workers have always faced issues related to pay and workload, but many of those came to a head during the pandemic. In retail, the pandemic drove demand for delivery services. Now, as the United States begins to reopen, platforms that facilitate rideshares and deliveries are offering short term incentives to workers amongst workforce shortages, but many don’t think these changes will be enough to support them financially.
As vaccinations ramp up, stores are getting more crowded. As a result, former retail epicenters like Soho are seeing signs of life again, with more stores drawing more lines to get in.
Like other retail startups, furniture rental company Feather has adjusted its growth strategy for the year as it tries to figure out how to best fit into customers' post-pandemic lifestyles. Now, the company is expanding to new markets and launching in new categories. As a rental startup, Feather faces a unique challenge in that its growth trajectory also depends upon its ability to get more people on board with the idea of temporary ownership.
Hodinkee launched in 2008 as a watch-focused blog, but has since grown into a full-fledged e-commerce site. To further its growth, the brand named a new CEO, Toby Bateman at the end of 2020. Bateman spoke with Modern Retail about the company's plans.
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