In the aggregate, onlookers can draw out broad themes for how a company like Amazon sees itself, based on its investment history. And in Amazon’s case, though those signals are murky, they point to a few of the company’s areas of interest -- including an increased focus on fulfillment and delivery, plus growing fascinations with customer service, sleep and smart home devices. Here, we map out a few potential patterns in Amazon’s investments from the past five years.
As e-commerce has grown into a bigger industry, brands now have more ways to build their online stores than ever before. One type of e-commerce architecture that's being talked about more is headless commerce. At its most basic level, headless commerce means that the architecture for the front-end of the website from the back-end, which gives companies more control over how their website looks and runs.
One of the most frequently touted advantages of going direct-to-consumer is the ability to collect more data on customers. And one of the most straightforward ways companies can do that is by getting customers to fill out a quiz. But as executives at brands like ThirdLove and Clare told Modern Retail, there's more to creating a successful quiz than just following a Buzzfeed-like template.
This week's DTC briefing delves into what's fueling a new crop of new sites that are trying to be both a marketplace and a reviews site for direct-to-consumer brands. At least early on, these sites are better designed to help brands tell their stories, rather than to help customers figure out, for example, which DTC swimsuit brand to buy. And, a Q&A with Win Brands Group co-founder and CEO Kyle Widrick.
In the past two years, Amazon has rolled out a suite of fashion-tech features, all in the hopes of finding new ways to draw in fashion customers. The pace of innovation is furious, with new features popping up nearly every month -- yet while some of those features have already disappeared and might amount to throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks, they have, in the aggregate, grown Amazon's fashion clout. Here's a look at some of Amazon's high-profile fashion launches over the past year and a half.
As the number of purchases made online grows, so has the number of startups selling businesses on their checkout experience like Bolt and Fast. Meanwhile, established companies like Shopify and Apple are trying to push greater adoption of their own digital wallet. All are trying to convince direct-to-consumer startups and other e-commerce brands that if they use their incrementally better checkout system, it will result in huge increases in conversion rates and average order values -- but the reality is that only a few will become the go-to checkout options for most consumers.
There's a fierce competition brewing amongst the major social media companies to win over the advertising budgets of e-commerce companies. Facebook, Google, TikTok, Pinterest and Snapchat are always testing out new advertising formats, but within the past couple of years, these companies have increasingly focused on testing out new ad formats and features designed with e-commerce companies in mind. Modern Retail has laid out all the different ways that these companies are trying to win over more e-commerce brands.
Within the past month, a number of new SPACs focused on the consumer sector have emerged. Some consumer investors are looking at SPACs as a way for them to get more involved with later-stage companies, and if their SPAC does well, it could give them a competitive advantage over other venture firms. But as more SPACs launch, they'll be more competition to win over the best candidates poised to go public.
An Apple iPhone update is about to upend the advertising strategies of e-commerce companies. The update has the greatest implications for app developers, but it also will significantly impact e-commerce companies who spend most of their advertising money on Facebook and other mobile ads. Here's what every e-commerce company needs to know about the iOS14 update, and how to prepare for it.
Last year, many direct-to-consumer startups saw record sales -- but they also struggled to produce and ship enough product to keep up with customer demand. If the first few weeks of 2021 are any indication, those issues are likely to continue well into the new year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, startups have been scrambling to find ways to speed up production, mostly by adding more suppliers and placing orders for products further in advance. A year later, and the problems persist.
The direct-to-consumer startup boom has also fueled the rise of a number of secondary industries — for example, buy now pay later services. Affirm just went public this week and if its Wall Street debut is any indication, it’s got some staying power. Affirm disclosed in its S-1 that it generates nearly 30% of its revenue from just one company: Peloton, one of the darlings in the DTC space. But the relationship between buy now pay later services and DTC startups runs deeper than that.
There's two competing narratives right now taking shape in the direct-to-consumer space: one, that venture capital funding is starting to fall out of favor with DTC startups. And two, that it's a great time to raise venture capital funding as a consumer startup, as more investors are finally waking up to the fact that there's a huge opportunity for these companies as more people do more shopping online. But these two concepts aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Some DTC startups are still raising venture capital money, they're just doing so later on. Or, if they take VC funding, they are taking steps to ensure their cash lasts longer.
The resale industry has been one of the biggest winners in 2020, culminating in resale app Poshmark filing to go public. Poshmark's S-1, which was published on Thursday, reveals that the startup was actually able to turn its first profit of $8.1 million during the first nine months of 2020 -- a rarity among consumer startups looking to go public. But Poshmark still faces a number of challenges ahead in its quest to become a public company. Here's our detailed look into the company's just-released financials.
Thanks to record e-commerce sales, it's been a good year for direct-to-consumer founders. Except, maybe, for founders of direct-to-consumer razor startups. Months after the FTC blocked Edgewell's proposed acquisition of Harry's, the FTC announced that it would be suing to block another proposed acquisition in the razor category: P&G's intended acquisition of women's razor startup Billie, which was announced in February. Founders and investors that Modern Retail spoke with pointed to the fact that the razor industry is highly consolidated, and even two blocked acquisitions in this category would not spell trouble for other DTC startups looking to sell to a CPG conglomerate.
In a pitch deck obtained by Modern Retail, the national pharmacy showcased it vast retail footprint and first-party data. Walgreens is the latest retailer to trying to update its digital program. Over the last few months, it has been launching new digitally-focused services, including an updated app and loyalty program. But it faces headwinds a number of headwinds. Namely, convincing large brands to invest in a niche and nascent media network that's yet to be proven out.
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