2PM - No. 793: LOOKING FORWARD

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Welcome to No. 793: The most clicked links from last week's only letter are from 2PM and Bloomberg: Frenemies Part 2 and the feature that inspired it. The link now works. If you'd like to join the membership for full access, start here. The next member letters publish on Wednesday and Friday.

The DTC Power List has grown by 100 since the last letter. It now includes 700 companies ordered by weekly growth. 

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Data Sheet (.pdf) / PYMNTS: The COVID-crippled winter of 2021 was a triumphant one for retail.  "In this report, PYMNTS provides an overview of how U.S. consumers spent the final shopping days of the year. We surveyed 3,300 U.S. consumers between December 2 and December 14 about their most recent purchases to learn what 2021’s holiday shopping season can teach us about the retail landscape in 2022."

2PM Analysis: In December, eCommerce boomed in the US. According to a newly released PYMNTS report breaking down the ways people shopped for the holidays post-Thanksgiving, 33% made retail purchases online, excluding cars and gas. It’s a spectacular pivot in customer behavior that will set the tone for the rest of the new year and the remaining years of this decade.

Online retail penetration has lingered to account for a small slice of overall retail purchases, with current rates hovering around 15%. But the recent jump – aided by rising COVID numbers across the country – underscores that this new way of shopping will remain viable in one form or another. Penetration still varies by category. The total 33% figure is 2.5 times higher than digital grocery store sales, with 87% of people still preferring to buy groceries in store. But in that category, the pandemic’s effects are felt: 13% of sales happening online is a major gain in a category that struggled to convert shoppers to digital prior to the pandemic. Leading the way in digital sales is travel services, with 78% of sales happening digitally. That type of eCommerce penetration will have implications for the overall travel industry in the years to come, as it moves to becoming a digital-first category.

Across all categories, this type of pivot will impact strategies looking ahead. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. According to the report, customers still chose to visit stores in December, with 73% of customers reporting some shopping was done that month, up 2% from November. With less time to go before Christmas, customers were heading to stores in search of what was available and in-stock, rather than risk shipping delays. 

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As 2PM wrote in October:

In previous holiday seasons, pricing incentives were the sales hook. This year, retailers won’t need to offer flash sales or free shipping: availability is the hook. Plainly put, if a quality product is available to ship before the holiday season, it will likely be purchased.

The longer-term outcome is truly hybrid retail strategies that move past omnichannel approaches. Customers are shopping across devices and store locations. Inventory will need to be universal. Content and communication will need to be consistent. DTC brands, which have been leading indicators for what’s to take over in mainstream retail, are opening stores at the same pace they are reinforcing their online strategies. Fire on all cylinders: eCommerce is catching up.

2022 online retail predictions

A. eCommerce / Digital Commerce 360: This is a worthwhile breakdown of how 360's editors look at the next year of online retail development. "Digital Commerce 360 editors are looking ahead to see what the new year will bring. While the unprecedented levels of online sales growth of the past few years are unlikely to be repeated, the next few months could surprise us all. Here is what the Digital Commerce 360 editors predict for the year ahead."

Predictions about Amazon's physical retail in 2022

B. Retail Real Estate / Forbes: Here is a great look at how incumbent eCommerce giants are planning to expand into their next phases of physical retail distribution. "Its focus seems to be on its 4-Star stores, which carry an array of top-reviewed products. They are around 4,000 square feet and have various products, including electronics, books, games, and more. The company has also been launching themed pop-ups for years. Right now, in the U.S., it has several Oculus pop-ups and a toy pop-up in New York City. Pop-ups will continue to be vital and may be used to test new retail concepts."

Abercrombie is reinventing itself in DTC fashion

eCommerce / Modern Retail: Two companies, two methods. While American Eagle Outfitters is focused on mastering supply chain and fulfillment, it's contemporary rival Abercrombie is focusing on the front office technology end of innovation. "To continue growth in 2022 and beyond, the company is focused on data analytics and digital sales. This summer, the brand created the new role of chief digital and technology officer, hiring former Equinox executive Samir Desai to fill it."

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Updated For January 1: The list is now up to 700. This week’s biggest moves:  Anker (32 to 23), Parachute (280 to 29), Reformation (132 to 30), Snow (78 to 36), Paula’s Choice debuts at 68, Koala (118 to 77), Hero debuts at 81, Rhone (222 to 82), and MVMT (204 to 95).

How brands can enter the metaverse

Metaverse / Harvard Business Review: Even Harvard is picking up on Nike's MPD. Here is our latest coverage of CryptoKicks if you want a deeper dive. "While Nike is a highly established brand, it is certainly leading the charge at the assertive end of the metaverse spectrum, filing for patents for virtual goods and the opportunity to build virtual retail environments to sell those goods, as reported by CNBC. More recently, they acquired a company called RTFKT that creates virtual sneakers and collectibles for the metaverse."

American Eagle just bought its second supply chain company

Logistics / Quartz: AEO continues to innovate. In "Full Stack Vertical" we wrote: "The AEO pattern of acquisitions breaks a decades long cycle of reducing costs by off-shoring blue collar business functions. Historically, the market punished companies looking to build more robust, fully vertical systems." "American Eagle plans to keep operating AirTerra and Quiet Logistics as independent companies, serving dozens of other clients. Before being bought, Quiet Logistics ran eCommerce fulfillment centers in six US cities for 50 companies, including American Eagle. AirTerra had yet to ship a single package before being bought, but American Eagle plans to expand its business to serve other companies, too."

Shopify CEO says he'd be fine with Amazon launching a direct rival to his company

eCommerce / Business Insider: This was the buried lede: "Six years later, we’ve learned via Bloomberg that Amazon sold its merchant platform (Webstore) to Shopify for $1 million. In exchange for the more than 80,000 merchants who switched their business to Shopify, Amazon Pay was enabled on the Shopify platform. " Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke knows Amazon might be coming for his business, and he's up for the competition. "I think of Amazon as a worthy rival," Lutke told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview published Thursday. "If they knock it out of the park and make it super easy to start new businesses on it, then I'm like, I actually accomplished my mission."

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Authentic Brands Group buys into David Beckham's firm (Bloomberg). If Einstein had the internet (Sotonye). Mercedes taps its Formula 1 team in race against Tesla (Bloomberg). A great interview with the CEO of Flexport (Noahpinion). 

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Year two of the pandemic, 2021 saw what can be best be described as sustained disruption throughout the world of retail. Wave after wave of pandemic variant and ensuing outbreak continued a chaos that we was supposed to be over in 2020. And yet, retail found ways to make its products easier to buy, more experiential to discover, and more available than projected (whether physically or digitally). We’re looking back at the main themes from this past year that will influence the year ahead.

 

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