The reckoning was a while in coming. It just wasn't expected to come like this. After all, people on Twitter, that favorite platform of the direct-to-consumer startup community -- and plenty of articles on this site as well -- love to talk about one of a few things: If there's a direct-to-consumer ceiling; the best way to acquire customers, and the inevitable slowdown and burst of the DTC bubble as unprofitable businesses are due to run out of cash, with no investors left to fund them. And thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, that last one seems to have accelerated. "The coronavirus outbreak notwithstanding, there were a lot of issues that were spread out through the rest of the DTC ecosystem going into the first-quarter of this year," said Jeremy Cai, CEO of Italic, which sells luxury bedding and handbags. "I feel like we are settling into a new normal in many ways of being conservative," he said.
Toy stores haven't fared well over the last century. But a new crop of retailer are trying to rethink the entire category — and make it less of a toy store and more of an experience. Will it work?
As “retail apocalypse” rumors continue to fly, teenagers are reviving shopping centers’ foot traffic. Among the draws are a social experience, immediate gratification, a personal branding opportunity and a much-needed break from their mobile phones.
As brands struggle to stay afloat in light of the coronavirus's spread, what the DTC industry will look like is a big question mark. Big brands will likely adopt DTC-like tendencies, and small startups will probably die. The one thing that's for sure is that earlier doomsday predictions have rapidly accelerated.
There's more ways than ever for teens to make money. Some teenagers are foregoing the typical 20 hours per week part-time job in favor of starting their own side hustles, like promoting sponsored content on their Instagram pages or selling secondhand clothes. As a result, businesses that rely on a lot of young employees are having to offer more perks in order to convince teenagers to work for them
When 21-year-old Hunter College student Kenneth Pabon began looking for a fashion internship during his spring 2019 semester, he took a little bit of a different approach to finding his gig. Pabon did not use Hunter College’s career advising office or scour online job boards like LinkedIn, where he does have a profile, or Indeed. Instead, he Instagram direct-messaged two of his favorite fashion influencers, Sophie and Charlotte Bickley, sisters behind the website and social media accounts Yin 2My Yang.
Studies suggest around 80% of Gen-Zers expect to consume fewer animal-related products in the coming year, over 30% intend to be on entirely meat-free diets by 2021 and 44% think being vegan is cooler than smoking. But Gen Z’s culture and attitudes surrounding plant-based products are very different than those of their elders, and what’s resonated with Millennials isn’t going to cut it with a new generation of consumers for whom availability of non-animal-based products is expected.
Alex is a 22-year-old social media manager for a startup. Six months ago, while standing in a crowded No. 3 express train on the way to work, he had a panic attack. “I was staring at my phone, trying to simultaneously respond to a Slack message from my boss but also scrolling through Instagram and texting a friend when I thought I was going to die,” says Alex (who didn’t wish to use his last name because he doesn’t want to be known as “the depressed guy” at work). “I literally thought I was being crushed under what felt like a mountain of work, overwhelmed, and messages were coming at me from everywhere, and I just wanted to die.”
Most adults have probably never heard of Loren Gray. But plenty of teens know all about the TikTok celebrity with 38.4 million followers. What exactly makes a creator like Gray soar in popularity is somewhat of a mystery, but those who “understand trends and become early adopters are more likely to gain more traction,” says Ariadna Jacob, CEO of Influences.
QVC may still be a dominant player in interactive shopping, but new entrants include app providers focusing on livestreaming shopping and social media companies building out their commerce capabilities.
Last January, direct-to-consumer furniture brand Article took a step that's still relatively unusual for a startup: it launched an in-house last-mile delivery program. As an online-only startup that has yet to open a single store, Article viewed building its own in-house delivery operation as a necessary customer service investment. The biggest benefit of launching ADT is that it has allowed Article to reduce delivery times. The company is now able to deliver roughly half of its orders in under a week, compared to 30% in 2018
In 2020, e-commerce startups are facing a greater sense of urgency to turn a profit, and furniture company Wayfair is no exception. Earlier this month, the company announced that it was cutting 550 jobs, or about 3% of its workforce. In an email to Wayfair employees obtained by the Boston Globe, CEO Niraj Shah said that "We find ourselves at a place where we are, from an execution standpoint, investing in too many disparate areas, with an uneven quality and speed of execution."
Many onlookers believe a DTC cooling is on the horizon. With a bunch of less-than-stellar exits from the likes of Casper, Peloton and Harry's, the VC-funding model of branding building seems to be crumbling. This leaves both investors and founders left with the question: Is it worth it to raise money from venture firms? It's becoming a more complicated topic, and one that will have a big impact on a company's choices down the line.
In a new guide for brand and agency marketers, learn the most cutting-edge measurement and attribution techniques preferred by advertisers that have successfully scaled their TV budgets.
Exclusively for Modern Retail+ members: Hear from Colin Darretta, CEO and Founder of Wellpath, on the future of direct to consumer business.Subscribe