Are brands repeating their messages or letting them sink in?

If you follow enough brands on Instagram, it’s clear that most don’t have that much new to say. It was different at launch—a time when their value proposition was unheard of. But especially for brands launching today into crowded product categories,…


PrimeTime: Amazon Go courts airports, Vendors using Fulfillment by Amazon subject to safety-related penalty fees, Amazon fires employees after data leak, Indie brands outperform some mainstream brands on Amazon Europe, Amazon launches Alexa Answers

The latest news on everything Amazon   As it starts delivering on its announcement to open 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021, Amazon is opening its first cashierless location in London and courting airports to open the storefront as a…


The Grinds: Constellation Brands invests in female-run alcohol startups; Cookware startups challenge All-Clad and its ilk, but compete amongst themselves; More businesses go cashless, excluding shoppers; IKEA plans its first Manhattan store built on customer feedback

Constellation Brands will invest in women-run alcohol brands in an effort to grow female representation in the industry. WHAT HAPPENED: With its new program, Focus on Female Founders, Constellation Brands Ventures—manufacturer of Corona and Svedka…


Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the tragedy of the commons

This year’s 96-hour window from Black Friday to Cyber Monday was one of the most aggressive instances of discounting in years. While some brands abstained from the madness (more on this later), most enrolled, aligning their brands with discounting…


The Grinds: The secondary watch industry pushes luxury’s evolution; Quip raises $40 million, but risks becoming the next Harry’s; Product recommendation sites criticize but drive traffic to Amazon; Parachute takes on multi-channel strategy

The secondary watch industry is pushing established players to evolve their approach, echoing developments in the sneaker market. WHAT HAPPENED: Raymond Weil partnered with the second-hand watch retailer TrueFacet to create authentication programs…


Jim Brett, Ron Johnson, Michael Dell and the alchemy of a brand turnaround

Turning around a brand or retailer with a billion or more in sales is no easy task. A company that is public or has private equity backers only makes it harder. But what about the distinct challenges these men (which is a problem in and of itself)…


PrimeTime: Amazon hits new Cyber Monday sales record, deepens ties with Microsoft, partners with celebrities for wish lists, seeks to grow Amazon Pay, prepares for the holiday rush with robots, terminates Amazon Restaurants in the UK, debuts first pop-up in Spain

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon hit new sales records during the Thanksgiving sales holidays. Notably, Cyber Monday was the single biggest shopping day in company history, with electronics performing especially well.…


The Grinds: Nordstrom strives to remain an ideal wholesale partner; Goop and Universal Standard launch a collab; Coca Cola may invest in Dirty Lemon; Kering sheds YNAP, attacking ecomm solo

Nordstrom strengthens its long-standing relationship with Ted Baker and begins selling Outdoor Voices as it attempts to remain an ideal wholesale partner. What happened Nordstrom has partnered with NuORDER, a software that lets brands upload their…


Macy’s should look at staffing as a profit center, not a cost center

As Macy’s looks to course correct after growing to over 175 million square feet of retail space and experiencing several years of falling sales, it’s reassessing its lower-performing stores and trying to reinvigorate it’s higher-performing ones.…


PrimeTime: Amazon will open holiday pop-ups in Europe, launch a new delivery program for the season, mail its first printed toy catalog

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon will open electronic- and toy-centric pop-ups in Europe for the holiday season, deemed “Amazon Loft for Xmas.” The stores will be in operation from November 16 to 26 in Amsterdam, Berlin,…


The Grinds: Facebook opens pop-ups at Macy’s, Masse monetizes moms, Peloton threatens SoulCycle, Wayfair acquires new customers

Facebook opens pop-ups at Macy’s, bringing the shoppability of Instagram offline. What happened Facebook will debut pop-ups at nine Macy’s department stores for the holiday season. In operation until February 2019, the pop-ups will feature more…


What’s the goal of CDG, Comme des Garçons first D2C brand?

Last week Comme des Garçons launched CDGCDGCDG.com, the ecommerce site for its first direct-to-consumer-only label CDG. (When the brand was first announced, it was called CDGCDGCDG, now shortened to CDG.) Comme built itself as an 17-label brand…


The Grinds: Dollar Shave Club debuts fragrance, Dollar stores look to urban markets for expansion, Influencers become investors, Glossier opens flagship

Dollar Shave Club debuts fragrance in an attempt to differentiate from other digital-first men’s health brands. What happened Dollar Shave Club, the direct-to-consumer subscription razor brand founded in 2011, is expanding to a new category:…


PrimeTime: Amazon shoppers receive free shipping, Kohl’s collaborates with Amazon, Most Amazon Go stores close during the weekend, CVS and Uber create Prime-like memberships, HQ2 will allegedly be split in Arlington, Virigina and Queens, New York

The latest news on everything Amazon   All U.S. Amazon shoppers will receive free shipping for the holiday season, regardless of Prime membership. (Non-Prime members typically must spend $25 to get free shipping.) The company also…


Will the internet push consumer product margins to zero?

The internet opened the ecommerce floodgates, offering consumers exponentially more options. But with increased competition, retailers are attempting to gain market share in the short term by reducing prices—as their margins race toward zero.


PrimeTime: Amazon’s private-label apparel brands grow, but don’t sell, “Online Stores” business decelerates; Amazon launches new benefits for Business Prime, debuts two private-label home goods brands; Walmart opens tech-driven store to compete with Amazon

The latest news on everything Amazon   Apparel brands account for 88% of Amazon’s private labels, but only 1% of private-label sales, according to a report by Jungle Scout, an Amazon Product Finder and Research Tool. Largely womenswear,…


The Grinds: Sweetgreen aims for $1 billion valuation; Shopify courts larger vendors; Banana Republic launches Cos Bar shop-in-shop; End Clothing, The Line invent the new department store

Sweetgreen aims to become a $1 billion salad empire, but will have to scale sustainably to maintain its image. What happened Sweetgreen, the fast-casual salad chain founded in 2007, has grown to approximately 90 locations across California,…


Rent The Runway and the gift and curse of returns

Returns have always been a gift and a curse for ecommerce. To onlookers, they signify the shortcomings of the online shopping experience for consumers: the inability to try things on, to see items as they are in real life. Ecommerce can also…


PrimeTime: Amazon expands brick-and-mortar footprint, erases Instacart branding at Whole Foods, receives criticism for its Vine program

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon now operates approximately 629 brick-and-mortar stores, which includes Amazon Books, Amazon Go, Whole Foods and Treasure Trucks. The Whole Foods acquisition alone added 480 retail locations to…


The Grinds: Pinterest strives to make pins more shoppable, Sunday Riley receives criticism for fake reviews, RSE Ventures is creating an empire, Patagonia gets political

Pinterest strives to make pins more shoppable, and its advertising business more profitable. What happened Pinterest users that click on a home- or style-related pin—that is, an image with a description and link to the original online source, the…


Amazon, Stripe, Spring and the fallacy of the universal shopping cart

Companies and overzealous entrepreneurs have tried to create the “universal shopping cart” since the beginning of ecommerce. But none of them has ever been realized to the degree promised. It turns out that managing the front-end relationship with…


PrimeTime: Amazon grows its private-label and exclusive offering, will have to pay higher USPS prices, patented new Alexa technology; Twitch live sportscasting increases viewer engagement, Amazon Fashion will launch pop-up, Amazon Air debuts new CA location

The latest news on everything Amazon   As Amazon continues to grow its private-label and exclusive brand offering, it is finding success in the diaper and health categories. Sales have tripled since Amazon launched the exclusive diaper…


The Grinds: Harry’s debuts women’s razor brand, Shopify embraces customer service—for vendors, Walmart acquires Bare Necessities, Sephora extends the Museum of Ice Cream’s lifeline

Harry’s debuts women’s razor brand, Flamingo, in the quest to diversify its holding company and cater to female customers. What happened Harry’s, the direct-to-consumer subscription disposable razor brand that launched in 2011, debuted a women’s…


Revolve says it’s the anti-Amazon, but runs on the same fuel

Revolve, the digital retailer founded in 2003, recently filed to go public. Some would be surprised to know that the company has been around for 15 years, but still seems relevant today. The retailer’s S-1 filing reveals a large amount of…


PrimeTime: Amazon turbo-charges its private-label empire, terminates Instant Pickup, will bring 4-Star to Berkeley, will launch a free, ad-supported TV service; Stitch Fix saw stock price dip since Amazon Scout launched

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon is turbo-charging its private-label empire, launching new brands and debuting an accelerator program for third-party sellers to sell exclusively on Amazon. The company’s private-label business…


The Grinds: Walgreens partners with Birchbox, Grocery stores rethink their blueprints, Rotarity merges the rental model with streetwear, Netflix purchases studio

Walgreens refreshes its beauty aisle with Birchbox partnership, but it’s not the only mass retailer to embrace cosmetics. What happened Walgreens is launching a pilot partnership program with the online subscription beauty service Birchbox both…


Kylie Cosmetics and the industry’s quest to decipher its growth

In Part II of our ongoing series on Kylie Cosmetics, we wrote about the recent announcement that the brand would start selling in Ulta this holiday season. We concluded that while the move is clearly beneficial for Ulta, it exposes the potential…


The Grinds: Macy’s and Revolve institutionalize influencer marketing, Re:Store merges affordable retail space with coworking, SoulCycle goes live, Ulta partners with men’s grooming brand Oars + Alps

Macy’s and Revolve graduate their influencer marketing strategies into more institutionalized forms. What happened Influencer marketing continues to blossom—in 2018, 84% of advertisers noted that influencers were included in their marketing…


PrimeTime: Amazon 4-star opens, AmazonBasics introduces private-label mattress, Amazon drives and takes advantage of growing smart speaker market, Amazon-native beauty brands are top performers

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon has expanded its brick-and-mortar footprint once again with Amazon 4-star, a physical store in New York City that features top-selling, new or trending products on its site. The store…


Direct-to-consumer ageism and the power of execution

Heritage brands have always held the same promise: We’ve done this for a long time and therefore you should trust our brand and the products we release under it. As the brands continued to push this rhetoric, consumers substantiated it. Many iconic…


PrimeTime: Snapchat debuts visual product search in partnership with Amazon; Amazon launches 70 new products, debuts visual-centric shopping service, gains speed in its advertising business, plans to expand Amazon Go, launches exclusive diaper brand

The latest news on everything Amazon   Snapchat debuted a new visual product search feature that allows users to photograph an item or scan a barcode and scroll through similar items via Amazon. Each product includes an image, its name,…


The Grinds: Brands diversify ad spend; Nordstrom launches influencer-driven, private-label brand; Gap will debut men’s activewear brand; Bumble goes into beauty

Billboards, stickers and other non-traditional ads grow in popularity as more brands diversify. What happened “Out of home” advertising—billboards, ads on public transportation and in other public venues like sports stadiums—now comprise 7% of…


Reviewing Rimowa’s Revitalization

The origins of Rimowa, the luxury luggage brand, trace back to 1889 when the company was called Görtz & Morszeck after its two founders. The name Rimowa came about at the turn of the century and has held ever since. The brand debuted its signature…


The Grinds: Loyalty programs get experiential, Stripe goes offline, Dirty Lemon opens checkout-free store, L Brands shutters Henri Bendel

Loyalty programs, once discount-centric, are evolving to reflect the experience economy. What happened The vast majority of brands and retailers offer membership in one shape or another, but the benefits have remained rather thin, often composed of…


PrimeTime: Amazon debuts Storefronts, French retailer Monoprix offers Prime delivery, Merch by Amazon revs up fast fashion, Amazon plans to launch more Alexa devices

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon debuted Storefronts, a section of its site that will feature products from approximately 20,000 small- and medium-sized businesses, shoppable via 25 product verticals. The page displays videos…


Kylie Cosmetics’ shift to Ulta and the online-only growth ceiling

There’s no mystery as to why Ulta wants to sell Kylie’s products. She created one of the fastest growing beauty brands with very wide appeal and exposure, and her products sit at an accessible price point, aligning with Ulta’s audience. The deal…


PrimeTime: Amazon launched Amazon Advertising, plans to open Amazon Go in New York; J.Crew will sell J.Crew Mercantile on Amazon, Amazon’s smaller vendors are beginning to divert products to other ecommerce platforms

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon launched Amazon Advertising, replacing Amazon Marketing Services, though the products and services offered remain the same. The rebrand emerges at a time when Amazon’s advertising business is…


The Grinds: Starbucks attempts to win over Italy, Ritual fails to live up to transparency claims, Mattel launches film division, Instagram may launch a separate shopping app

Starbucks attempts to win over Italy, opening a roastery in Milan. What happened Thirty-five years ago—long before becoming Starbucks’ CEO—Howard Schultz, then a marketing director for the brand, visited Milan and returned transfixed by the idea of…


“The product speaks for itself”

The idea of a product speaking for itself—and The Row following this creed—falls apart upon closer inspection. The purest form of letting “clothes speak for themselves” would be to just put the clothes on a rack on the street in Soho and let them…


The Grinds: FAO Schwarz makes a comeback, Hims takes on Hers, Zalando builds a brand with a music festival, Tiffany & Co. banks on flagship

FAO Schwarz will make its comeback in Rockefeller Center as toy retailers scrape up Toys R Us’ debris. What happened FAO Schwarz closed its Manhattan flagship back in 2015. This November, it’s returning with a 20,000 square foot location in…


Untangling the complexities of Farfetch’s business

This week Farfetch, the luxury platform that connects customers, brands and retailers around the world, filed its initial form to go public. The company is one of the few fashion/luxury technology companies to reach a large scale—second only to…


PrimeTime: Amazon plans to launch TiVo competitor, offer music streaming via Alexa, make voice shopping easier, debuted its first vans for its Delivery Service Program, may acquire Landmark Theaters

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon has plans to create a TiVo competitor, which will record live streamed video that can be played on smartphones. The device will connect to Amazon’s Fire TVs and would store video locally. At…


The Grinds: Escape rooms blossom, PepsiCo acquires SodaStream, “Game of Thrones” fans take Croatia, Taubman Centers invests in mall of the future

Escape rooms blossom, but need to evolve beyond a fad to stay alive. What happened Escape rooms—curated sets where visitors are trapped and must solve puzzles to chart their “escape”—grew from about 24 locations in the U.S. in 2014 to more than…


PrimeTime: Prime members gain curbside Whole Foods pickup; Alexa-enabled shopping hasn’t caught on; Walmart facilitates easier ecommerce returns; Amazon looks to expand sports content, experiments with video ads on mobile

The latest news on everything Amazon   Prime members now have access to curbside pickup at Whole Foods. To utilize the service, Prime members can shop Whole Foods on the Prime Now app or site and retrieve their order as early as an hour…


The Grinds: JCPenney banks on babies; Malls house digitally-native brands, coworking offices; Casper plans for 200 stores; VF ditches denim

JCPenney banks on babies, but seizing Toys R Us’ market share continues to ignore the company’s endemic problems. What happened JCPenney is opening 500 baby shops in its department stores, sweeping up market share from the liquidation of Toys R Us…


Nike, Disney and the shift to a direct-to-consumer business

While the emergency of direct-to-consumer brands has been well—if not overly—chronicled, people have paid less attention to wholesale-driven businesses shifting to direct-to-consumer. These changes are occurring across many industries, but consumer…


PrimeTime: Amazon is uniting its advertising business on a single platform, extends back-to-school season; Kroger debuts a new grocery delivery service

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon is uniting its advertising business on a single platform, regardless of whether advertisers seek to sell their products directly to Amazon or directly to shoppers as third-party sellers. The…


The Grinds: Walmart is incubating an Everlane-like private label, CVS embraces K-beauty, Equinox turns to employees for brand promotion, Van Leeuwen raises minority investment

Walmart is incubating an Everlane-like private-label brand—should Everlane worry? What happened Walmart’s new brand is allegedly inspired by Everlane—the minimalist “essentials” brand for women’s apparel and accessories—but will aim to reel in…