Everything you need to know about tech, retail, and marketing
I t was another huge Black Friday / Cyber Monday, with sales of over $17bn! Yet significantly, physical retail saw a 9% drop in footfall versus last year. Full report here. The swing to online contributed to Walmart, J. Crew, and Lululemon all having site outages. There were some notable campaigns too: Amazon had a QVC-style livestream on their site, with presenters highlighting products, whilst Walmart had a pre-event with dancers, a comedy skit with friends, and Santa Claus! Here are some notable email newsletters. (Walmart’s overarching eCommerce successes did not extend to Jet.com, which saw a decline of 39% on Cyber Monday compared to 2017.) The deals ran and ran this year, throwing-up the possibility of over-reliance on the period, all whilst more tales emerge about the human cost incurred and the juxtaposition that USPS continues to hemorrhage money despite volume increasing.
Movers and Shakers
One of the most protracted and tedious courtships has come to an end with Amazon choosing both New York and Virginia to accommodate ‘HQ2’. Dissent has rained-down, from those decrying the tax breaks that the company receives, to fears over infrastructure and property prices, to arguments that the con, not contest would always come down to proximity to Jeff Bezos’s private real estate! Next, Amazon’s partnership with money transfer company Western Union means that people can pay for goods in cash. Walmart added underwear company Bare Necessities to its growing roster. It follows their approach of targeting high growth businesses with strong leadership — the market is expected to be worth $60bn by 2024 and CEO Noah Wrubel will now run Walmart’s entire intimates business. (Could Glossier follow?)
Small But Important
- A terrible month for Victoria’s Secret! The head of PR controversially claimed they would never include a transgender model in their runway shows “Because the show is a fantasy”. He later retracted the statement (but the damage was done). Then CEO Jan Singer stepped-down after only two years. John Mehas will join from Tory Burch to try and turn around ailing fortunes. Raising brand perception will be key.
- Nike have opened an astonishing store on New York’s 5th Avenue, where almost everything can be customised and their are two paths to purchase, one with associates and another solely via the app.
- 7-Eleven meanwhile is testing scan and go, allowing customers to pay via an app instead of the cashier (Walmart shuttered a similar services earlier this year.) However, if there is nothing unique about the experience — as with Nike — what is the benefit?
- News has emerged that Under Armour will no longer reimburse corporate visits to strip clubs because of #MeToo. Even more bizarre, Lands End customers raged after copies of GQ — featuring a scantily-clad Emily Ratajkowski — were added to their packages.
- Retailers are increasingly looking to a direct to consumer model, as wholesale is proving too tough. (H&M announced that they would close Cheap Monday because of challenges.) Indeed, Kering announced that it will bring all eCommerce in-house and scrap third-party relationships by 2020. (DTC brands have also managed to avoid Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals too!)
- J. Crew will shutter their entry-level ‘Mercantile’ line, incidentally the only label sold on Amazon. The move undoes some of CEO James Brett’s work, who left his role this month!
- Anthropologie has apologised after it emerged that they copied designs from an Australian ceramicist. ‘Stealing’ ideas has been a huge problem in fashion for many years.
- Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, has called for Facebook to be broken-up, citing potential abuse of power and a stifling of innovation. Also, whilst the company admitted that a top executive hired a PR firm to attack George Soros, CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied any knowledge, yet concurrently the UK Parliament seized internal documents that reveal questionable activities that he did know about. Further afield, the company has been heavily criticised for its role in exacerbating troubles in Myanmar. Despite being backed, expect Sheryl Sandberg to walk the plank soon.
- 20,000 Google employees staged a mass walk out after The New York Times reported that three executives accused of misconduct has been protected.
- YouTube creators with more than 10k followers can now record limited-time Snapchat-style live ‘Stories’. Instagram meanwhile is rolling out ‘Close Friends’, an option for users to establish small groups to share content privately. Meanwhile, Snapchat’s partnership with Shopify lets brands sell up exclusive product inside the app!
- Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne will sell the company to focus on Blockchain, stating: “I don’t care whether [personal venture] tZero is losing $2 million a month … We think we’ve got cold fusion on the blockchain side.”
- Starwood Hotels revealed that 500m guests’ details had been stolen in a data breach.
- Beleaguered retailer Sears won approval for a further $350m loan to stay open throughout the Holidays. The financing came from private equity firm — yet ironically, Vice and CNN believe these entities are killing the sector.
- Coca-Cola wiped all of their social media accounts over Veteran’s Day weekend, bringing them back on World Kindness Day with a fresh approach to social media.
- And finally! Payless duped a host of influencers into buying vastly marked-up products when they opened a fake ‘Paylessi’ store! The stunt highlighted the fact that many of these “experts” cannot tell the difference in products. What a shoeing