Nike offers advice on successful marketplace partnerships
Nike last November controversially ended its direct sales relationship with Amazon. Yet at the NRF Big Show, Stuart Hogue, Nike’s VP, marketplace development, discussed how the sneaker giant’s partnership with Zalando should serve as a “blueprint” for others to follow.
What makes Zalando, Europe’s leading online fashion platform, unique is that it worked with brands in developing the marketplace, incorporating storytelling, highlighting presentation and remaining committed to “innovating digital together,” said Mr. Hogue.
With Zalando, Nike has collaborated to “tell great stories around sneakers” with the objective of expanding sneaker culture with women across Europe. The site uses lookbooks to help women style sneakers. At an event last year, Zalando invited women to a boxing event hosted by elite trainers. Zalando’s advanced analytics platform brought women most likely to engage with the experience.
In Berlin this spring, Zalando will start fulfilling online orders from local Nike stores to support same-day delivery and is similarly partnering on click & collect.
Asserting that the platform’s aggregate choices for consumers are similar to Netflix, Uber and Grubhub, Mr. Hogue said retail marketplaces have grown over 30 percent over the last five years, 2.5 times the rate of online growth.
Four priorities Nike has in deciding whether to partner with marketplaces include the site being somewhere consumers are “increasingly going” and its ability to create “new growth” not attainable from Nike’s current distribution.
Third, the marketplace must elevate the consumer experience, “whether it’s a focus on great storytelling, a commitment to celebrating the passion and potential of sport, a focus on fighting friction every single day for consumers, etc.” A priority for Nike is shifting away from “mediocre and undifferentiated retail.”
Finally, the marketplace has to be a guaranteed source of authentic Nike products.
“The last two are very much focused on the strategy of creating unbreakable relationships with our consumers,” said Mr. Hogue. “For many of the marketplaces we are working with, we are focused on creating invitations to our consumers to join Nike membership and, through insights and knowledge, we are collaborating with some of our great marketplace partners to personalize the experience by knowing them better.”
His one recommendation is to establish an aligned set of principles for how the brand will work across marketplaces. Mr. Hogue added, “The next thing that’s even more important is to be disciplined about them; stick to your guns.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s the best piece of advice Stuart Hogue offered for brands selling to and partnering with marketplaces? Do you have any other suggestions you would offer?