What can sometimes gets lost in the DTC conversation is the need for an integrated and seamless experience for the customer. They shop where and when they want - and that clearly works both online to bricks and bricks to online. So the only thing better than a great online experience is a consistent online and bricks experience. What should never get lost, however, is the significant advantage for brands executing DTC to control the brand experience for the end-consumer. It is no accident that more brands are reclaiming that right (critical to survival) in the face of indifferent end-user experiences with many bricks partners.
Rod Martin wrote in The Psychology of Humor, "In a study, 94 percent of respondents identified themselves as having an above-average sense of humor." It is a good reminder to be very wary of what consumers say they want, or what they believe motivates them. Whether it is true that impulse purchases are aided or hindered because of e-grocery remains to be seen. What this survey of one will conclude is my household is growing tired of nonsensical substitutions from well-intentioned professional shoppers and we are looking forward to getting back to store visits for ourselves.
I shudder to think that Amazon (if they sneeze, retailers get a cold) might turn anticipation of head-winds due to post-vaccination travel and/or live sports, music, events etc., into a thing. Doing so feels a bit like the stock equivalent of "timing the market," as opposed to execution of fundamentals and elevating the consumer experience.
Gap's challenge would seem to be one of relevance and, by default, sustainability. That said, anything that reduces customer friction (and delays in receiving goods certainly qualifies as friction) has to be good for business.
No surprise that Best Buy is jumping on the "annuity" bandwagon. Amazon Prime has blazed that trail and the concept is now becoming ubiquitous. The success, or lack thereof, will ultimately be determined by the value proposition to their customers and that feels like it ought to be somewhere north of what has thus far been revealed.
Joining the club matters, and it is easier to rationalize premium prices if the club (read brand) feels more exclusive. Would a Porsche 918 Spyder be as aspirational if more people drove them? Would shoppers pay $2500 for a Gucci bag if every other person carried one?
What seems to be changing is the very definition of luxury branding itself - and LVMH is perfectly positioned to traverse that somewhat blurry line with its recent acquisition of Tiffany & Co.
In the 1980s, Tiffany had eight or nine stores in the U.S. and was seen as an exclusive club. You had to live or visit a major city to find a store and the experience was by its very nature exclusive. Today, Tiffany has more than 100 stores throughout the U.S. and its model has evolved to be much more accessible.
While the definition of luxury brands will likely change with the evolution of retail itself, what is less vague is that luxury brands will need to articulate a clear sense of what they want to be lest they risk descent into irrelevance by trying to be all things to all people.
I have loved Phil Wahba's (Fortune Magazine) tweet from a couple of years back that retail isn't dead, only sh***y retail is. I am very optimistic about bricks retail as long as it's not sh***y. Mark is correct, we are over-built in retail malls in the US and the correction may have been accelerated by the pandemic, but we all knew that it was coming and it won't slow anytime soon. That said, it is more Darwin than online. To know that 86% of all sales in a pandemic year came form bricks is testament to the value of a great retail experience. So, the question for retailers is...is it?
Part of the appeal of off-price shopping is the thrill of the find and that executes better in a bricks and mortar store than online. That said, if the goods are branded, that would mitigate some of the challenge. Whether it is viable or not I don't know, but I find the idea of an Amazon "bazaar" in empty parking lots and/or unused big box or department store spaces intriguing.
One of the most fundamental challenges with managers is that the very behaviors that tend to derail them are not teachable. You can tell someone to listen better, but if they lack empathy, it won't work. If they lack resilience, they'll avoid having the tough, but necessary conversations and they won't hire or invest in people who they perceive might threaten their authority. Hire the wiring and teach what's teachable.