JCPenney was once an e-commerce leader. Then the department store made a series of strategic missteps. During its most recent quarterly earnings report, the company posted $3.4 billion in sales, an 8% decrease from the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, the company owes $4 billion in debt. Now, it's filing for bankruptcy. How did JCPenney get here? Looking at its failed digital strategy helps illuminate some bigger systemic problems.
Branch Basics normally signs up about 900 new customers a week. In March and April, that number sometimes jumped to 1,400. But Branch Basics isn't the only subscription startup that saw a bump in new subscribers over the past month or two. This uptick in new customers for subscription services correlates with stay-at-home orders being issued across the U.S.
King Arthur's flour has been flying off the shelves -- both in grocery stores and digitally. The company has seen record website traffic and its DTC sales have doubled. To deal with this influx, the centuries-old flour brand has had to quickly adapt. Modern Retail spoke with its vp of marketing about how King Arthur's digital strategy has shifted and what the future of flour sales will look like.
As retailers prepare to reopen their stores in select states, many of them are offering curbside pick-up services for the first time in order to cater to shoppers who are hesitant about entering stores. While curbside pickup has some of the same appeal as buy online pickup in-store, it's a bit more logistically complicated to pull off.
As the coronavirus upends consumer behavior, it presents a double-edged sword for Shopify, which powers the e-commerce sites of more than 1 million merchants. As more shopping takes place online while stores are closed, the digitally-native companies that run on Shopify could be well positioned to capture a large portion of this spending. But first, Shopify needs to make sure that these e-commerce companies, many of whom also have stores, survive the enormous hit to their offline sales.
Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra said Posh Stories, its version of the short video format, is expected to replicate the success that social shopping has achieved in markets like China.
With many businesses closed, CPG brands are seeming sales plummet. Indeed, Coke just reported that it saw a 25% sales volume drop earlier this month. As a result, many bigger brands are likely trying to rethink their digital strategies -- and are looking to adopt more direct-to-consumer programs.
Amazon's decision in March to temporarily stop accepting shipments of non-essential goods to its warehouses left many sellers in limbo. That presents a new opportunity for other marketplaces like eBay, Walmart, Target and Google to woo over dissatisfied sellers. Earlier this week, Google announced that it would be now making it free for merchants to sell their products on Google Shopping. Previously, merchants were charged on a cost-per-click basis.
Growing coalitions between brands via community and content is one bet for them to survive. During the pandemic, they're "banding together to weather the storm."
All grocery stores are seeing a huge surge in sales right now. But for small and independent grocery store chains, who have struggled to remain competitive against increased investments in grocery by Walmart and Amazon, the chance to get their stores in front of new customers is proving to be an especially important lifeline. Mercato, a grocery delivery platform that focuses on small grocers and speciality food stores, said that it has seen a 5,000% spike in orders over the past month, and has been signing up anywhere from 30 to 50 new grocery stores for its platform each day. As such, that provides an opportunity for smaller grocery stores to win over shoppers who previously flocked to big-box chains, if they can provide a better experience for first-time shoppers.
Some online brands are seeing sales spike, others are plummeting. They are all dealing with myriad other issues putting pressure on the overall business. Some startups are trying out new digital campaigns to try and account for the vast behavior shifts -- all while staying cognizant of the bizarre times we're all in. It's a difficult tightrope to walk, but showcases brand new marketing terrain.
Right now, many brands and retailers are shying away from experimenting with new marketing channels, desperate to cut costs wherever possible while sales are down. But Levi's decided to move forward this month with a pre-planned test of running shoppable ads on TikTok, as it sees the platform as being an increasingly valuable way to connect with customers now, when many people are stuck inside and glued to apps like TikTok.
As more people experience financial difficulties and become in need of interest-free finances, alternative e-commerce payment methods are seeing bigger interest than ever in America.
For retailers, running heavy promotions during store shutdowns is proving to be tricky. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, large retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom, along with chains like the Gap, are aggressively pushing seasonal sales to make room for spring merchandise. With virtually all brick and mortar sales down, anywhere from up to 80% to 100% of expected revenue effectively disappearing for large brands, offering discounts is one of the most effective ways to stay afloat right now, said senior retail analyst at Fit Small Business Meaghan Brophy.
As bot-driven fraud eats into budgets, marketers are placing a heightened focus on identifying the characteristics that account for authentic audience humanity.
Exclusively for Modern Retail+ members: Hear from Connie Matisse, Co-founder and CMO and Alex Matisse, Co-founder and CEO at East Fork Ceramics, on how to maintain brand loyalty during a time of tumult.Subscribe