Morning Brew - ☕️ Cryptic

Decoding crypto’s future in retail.
Morning Brew May 13, 2022

Retail Brew


Happy Friday the 13th. For those looking to dress on-theme while still enjoying the warm weather, Hot Topic has you covered.

In today’s edition:

—Jeena Sharma, Katishi Maake



Crypto-balling Francis Scialabba

Off-White and Gucci are into it—Amazon, not so much (yet). Forgive us for sounding a bit cryptic, but we’re talking about paying with crypto.

Retail Brew chatted with three experts to get their takes on the future of the digital currency in retail—here’s why they think companies might be considering crypto.

These interviews have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Hemal Nagarsheth, partner at Kearney: A lot of retailers—this follows for years—they like to meet the consumer where they are…And I think a large part of that is providing choice, right? So consumers want a different way. Then a lot of the forward-thinking retailers do adapt. I think the first wave that we saw was mobile payments. Now, crypto is next in line.

Shane Rodgers, CEO of PDX Global: [A retailer’s] thinking must be: Well, let’s at least capture that market that wants to pay in crypto—make ourselves attractive to them so that they can come spend their crypto here. And we’ll figure out selling on the other side. But I’ve got to think that their strategy involves reselling that crypto as soon as possible because I doubt they’re in the financial speculation game. They’re in the retail game.

Ben Weiss, CEO of CoinFlip: You’re seeing crypto transform from more of an asset and an investment into a utility and a payment. And for retailers—and especially luxury retailers—the fact that they accept crypto makes them stand out as technologically forward, as progressive, as hip, as cool. They’re also setting themselves up for Web3, for the metaverse. A lot of firms are experimenting with NFTs as well. So I think these retailers are seeing that if they don’t embrace cryptocurrency and some of the blockchain technologies, they’re going to be left out.

Click here to keep reading their thoughts on what’s next—and where doubts and deliberations could creep in.—JS



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(W)hole to fill

Allbirds illustration Francis Scialabba

Allbirds is spreading its wings. This week, the company announced its first two wholesale partnerships—Zalando and Public Lands—and more are on the way.

The time has come: The company rode its DTC strategy to unicorn status before going public last November. Now, Allbirds is looking to drive brand awareness and sales growth with wholesale, co-founder and co-CEO Joey Zwillinger told analysts Tuesday.

“Wholesale is something that they probably need at this stage in order to grow their brand and get more awareness,” Sucharita Kodali, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, told Retail Brew. “But they need to also do it in a way that’s not cannibalistic and doesn’t threaten their wellbeing.”

Partnering with Berlin-based Zalando is an easy way for Allbirds to expand its reach in Europe, she said.

  • Allbirds’ Q1 earnings results took a slight hit from international sales rising only 3% due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Covid restrictions in China, the company said.
  • That was offset by a 35% increase in its US business, which was largely driven by 129% YoY increase in physical retail sales—leading to a 26% bump in net revenue to $62.8 million.

“It sounds like that’s their way to get into Europe in a pretty non-carnivorous way—in a way that they’re not ceding [to] a competitor. Notice it’s Zalando, not Amazon,” Kodali noted.

But Public Lands, which is owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods, seems to be more of a head-scratcher at first glance, Kodali said, given the brand only has two stores in the US (in Columbus and Pittsburgh).

The big picture: Although the likes of Nike have made efforts to shift away from wholesale, Kodali noted that most companies need to have some sort of presence in DTC, wholesale, and marketplaces to reach as many customers as possible.

  • “Some of these companies that have stepped back from wholesale, it’s not like they’ve completely dismissed wholesale; they’ve just been much much more selective about which retailers get access to their products,” she said.—KM


  • Crate and Barrel promoted an exec to SVP of the metaverse.
  • Uber is piloting robotic food delivery in greater Los Angeles.
  • Shein recorded 60% sales growth in 2021, sources told Bloomberg, a drop from the 250% boost it saw in 2020.



Connect with the best in the biz: Accelerate, the Global Ecommerce Acceleration Summit, brings together ecommerce executives, brands, and innovators in Salt Lake City, June 15–16 to strategize with specialists, elevate their insights, and network with industry rock stars. Speakers include actress and Hello Bello cofounder Kristen Bell, Pattern CEO David Wright, and tons of groundbreaking ecommerce leaders. Grab your ticket here.


Today’s top retail reads.

Missteps: A breakdown of what’s causing the baby-formula shortage. (The Atlantic)

Fresh as a flagship: Mango is focused on its expansion plans in the US. First up: a new  23,000-square-foot space in New York City. (Footwear News)

REIT the fine print: While retail is on a path to normalcy, malls must still grapple with some pre-pandemic woes. (BisNow)

Candid convos with industry icons: Hosted by Brew cofounder Alex Lieberman, the Imposters podcast delves deep into the personal and mental challenges some of the biggest names in biz have faced while reaching their most resounding achievements. Listen here.


Three of the stories below are real...and one is most definitely not. Can you spot the fake?

  1. Kraft Heinz will experiment with putting its ketchup in a paper-based bottle—in the name of sustainability, naturally.
  2. LaCroix said it would expand its flavor essences into yogurt.
  3. Goop’s virgin alpaca wool-lined luxury disposable diapers—said to go for $10 a plop—turned out to be a PR move.
  4. Hugo Boss Group announced plans to bark up a new tree biz: dog wear.

Keep reading for the answer.


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Nah, LaCroix is sticking to sparkling water. But Molson Coors did come out with a plant-based (and alcohol-free) milk made from barley.


Written by Jeena Sharma and Katishi Maake

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