For this weeks Modern Retail Talk, Lumi co-founder and CEO Jesse Genet discussed how she approaches the difficult issue of figuring out how to best package a product. Her company works with brands like Curology and Empathy Wines. The secret to good packaging, she said, involves a lot more than just finding a good-sized box and putting the item in it.
After months of Instagram posts about how "we're all in this together," and turning their factories into production centers for masks, direct-to-consumer brands are finally starting to return to business as usual. That's particularly evident by the number of new startups entering the market. But they playbook they're following is rapidly changing.
Before the coronavirus, opening more brick and mortar stores was a surefire way for DTC brands to acquire customers more profitably. Now, that calculus is changing.
E-commerce platform Elliot raised millions of dollars and hyped itself for month. But when launch day came around, everything went kaput. How did such a highly anticipated startup end up this way?
All retailers that rely heavily on brick-and-mortar stores have had to pivot their business models in recent months, and toy store startup Camp is no exception. But what's unusual about Camp, which has five stores, is that it doesn't rely just on sales of toys in order to drive revenue. Co-founder and CEO Ben Kaufman previously told Modern Retail that only 20% the business comes from toy sales. The company also makes money in-store sponsorships and ticket sales for in-store activities like interactive storytimes and arts and crafts sessions. But since the coronavirus has forced Camp's stores to close for months, Camp has had to figure out ways to move those sponsorship deals online.
Despite experiencing unprecedented sales declines, some retailers are still willing to open their wallets. At least, Lululemon proved it was when the athleisure brand announced last week that it was acquiring Mirror, a connected fitness startup that it had previously acquired, for $500 million. The news was largely celebrated as a "win" for the direct-to-consumer community. But it may also gives some startups a sense of false hope.
For the inaugural episode of our new and improved Modern Retail Talk series -- where we feature a new founder/retail expert every week to discuss a specific issue pertinent to the new reality we're all living in -- Modern Retail (digitally) sat down with co-founder and CEO Matt Alexander about how the company is strategizing its reopening, and what it's learned over the last few month.
At-home fitness has been having a moment particularly over the past few months, and startup Mirror was able to cash in big on it. On Monday, Lululemon announced that it was acquiring the connected fitness company for $500 million. Mirror had raised $72 million to-date, and is projecting over $100 million in revenue this year. "I think this should be considered one of the big wins in the direct-to-consumer space," said Web Smith, founder of e-commerce newsletter and website 2pm Inc.
Direct-to-consumer startup founders have found themselves in a number of unprecedented situations over the past three months -- from having to keep their company afloat while stores were closed to having employees confront them about racism within the company. Many of these same startups have also found themselves in hot water for how they responded to these situations. The issue at hand is simple: customers feel like these companies aren't practicing what they preach.
A cohort of former Everlane employees, the Everlane Ex-Wives Club, released a four-part statement highlighting the company’s alleged toxic workplace. The company, which recently faced criticism over alleged union busting-related layoffs, said this is the first it's hearing of the accusations in the 14 testimonies.
Big brands are increasingly taking a stand and pulling back on Facebook advertising. Many DTCs likely find themselves in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with the move but unable to make such a pledge themselves. Growing brands rely on Facebook and Instagram for growth, and cutting that off could significantly hurt a company's bottom line.
The coffee industry has had to grapple with the future of wholesale since the pandemic hit. However, it's also opened up new revenue streams. The combination of millions of customers working from home along with cafes operating at limited capacity forced roasters and distributors to quickly pivot to DTC.
While the first generation of DTC brands waited years to launch retail stores to build up their online business, newer DTC brands have been much more eager to launch stores within their first couple of years in business. Many of them are now cutting back on the number of stores they had planned to open in the next year or two. But they are also rethinking what it will take to get their customers to come to their stores, and where their customer will be.
Retail customer service lines have remained busy over the past couple of months, fielding questions about shipping delays, how to return items when stores are closed, and inquiries about sizing and material from first-time customers. A number of direct-to-consumers startups say they are seeing an uptick nonetheless and have had to change things up a bit.
Over the past two weeks, there's been a flood of direct-to-consumer startups issuing statements about steps they will take to better support the black community, and build more diverse companies. But venture capitalists have remained largely quiet. "People are scared -- even though they want to do the right thing, they're worried that people are going to inevitably drag them down with, 'well look at your website,'" said one consumer investor.
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.
At the Modern Retail Virtual Forum, we’ll bring together senior retail marketers online to discuss the challenges they’re facing and the solutions they’re seeking in the era of smarter retail.Buy Passes