1) TheSkimm is looking for a buyer to fund its media business when it should instead cultivate a loyal community through diversified content.

WHAT HAPPENED: TheSkimm was founded in 2012 as a subscription-only newsletter that featured easily-digestible news stories. The company raised $28.4 million and is on track to generate $30 million in revenue this year. However, user growth has slowed.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • As investors become more reluctant to invest in media companies because of revenue diversification issues and increased competition, TheSkimm needs to go beyond media. Rather than focusing on more paid subscription apps and broad-based advertising, the company should focus on content, information and dialogue around wellness, career and personal growth. Creating a space where readers can interact with each other as well as TheSkimm brand will transform the media company into an essential daily resource and inspire readers to let the brand further into their lives. This strategy would allow The Skimm to grow its following, build a stronger community, and in turn, increase its revenue and worth.
  • TheSkimm needs to build its community by better serving its female audience. While theSkimm originated as a resource for millennial women, this message is not clearly stated on the website. Focusing more on serving women’s daily needs could help the media company build a more valuable following organically. The Wing’s rapid expansion and the success of Girlboss media’s events and networking platforms are proof that there is a hunger for companies centered around female empowerment. TheSkimm currently features information around financial health for millenial women, but expanding to other parts of their lives would initiate a sense of community and a more loyal user base while allowing it to stake out its own place in the consumer landscape.

2) Macy’s and Bloomingdales opened hotel pop-up shops in New York City for the holidays, a move that might capture tourist attention but is a half-baked manifestation of what these partnerships should look like.

WHAT HAPPENED: Macy’s, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales are selling merchandise in hotel lobbies during the holiday season by partnering with The Grand Hyatt and JW Marriott Essex House. The department stores aren’t paying rent and the hotels are not taking a commission on sales during the pop-up period.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Retailers popping up in hotel lobbies don’t promise that travelers will subsequently visit their stores. Since travelers are aware of New York City’s famous flagship department stores, seeing them in their hotel lobby is not the strongest reminder that they should go visit the actual stores—it could actually have the opposite effect. Nordstrom might be an exception with the recent opening of its flagship store on West 57th street as it aims to draw in new visitors. Although these collaborations are low risk for both retailers and hotels, a more strategic tourist acquisition approach—special promotions for hotel guests or free meals at a retailer’s restaurant—would result in higher foot traffic, more sales and less clutter in the lobby.
  • If the goal is to bring the department store to the hotel, focusing on hotel rooms rather than the lobby would be more effective. While mall traffic continues to decline and retailers search for ways to connect with customers in real life, a department store assortment inside of a hotel lobby doesn’t enhance the retailer’s image or promise a more elevated product assortment. A hotel lobby, crammed with various types of merchandise—men and women’s clothing, gourmet chocolate and home decor—from a range of brands, doesn’t entice consumers to browse further. Bringing a department store into the hotel room itself creates a more natural integration, focusing on things travelers often forget, like beauty products or underwear, or offering them activity ideas about how to spend their time. Stores, not hotels, should be the main destination with these partnerships.

WHAT HAPPENED: The Lego Group bought BrickLink, the world’s biggest Lego fan community and marketplace. With more than 10,000 sellers from over 70 countries, customers can purchase lightly-used individual pieces, mini-figures and sets. BrickLink users can also share ideas and display their creations on the platform.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • This acquisition enables Lego to build a direct line of communication with fans and enhance the platform’s technology. BrickLink’s vast user base shows that adult fans of Legos (also known as AFOL) enjoy interacting with other fans. This reality justifies Lego’s need to interact with this important consumer group, which has yet to happen based on its focus on selling through third-party retail. Despite its popularity, BrickLink’s website and usability are sub-par, and with Lego’s support the platform can, further invest in its technology, which would simplify the onboarding process and inspire more adults to participate in the AFOL community.
  • BrickLink allows Lego to venture into resale and brings the company closer to environmental sustainability. Since BrickLink is the most popular resource for Lego collectors and resellers worldwide, Lego could lean on its most loyal sellers to learn more about resale best practices. While Lego confirmed that it would not interfere with any of the current reseller’s operations, the acquisition allows Lego to develop a greater understanding of what does and doesn’t work, and, in turn, reduce its plastic footprint by focusing on new and secondhand sales, not just new ones. Just a few months ago, the toy company expressed an interest in launching a rental business—a parallel move that would help limit the company’s use of plastic and offer a new revenue channel.

4) Yerdle, a full-stack resale platform for brands, is expanding as first-party and third-party resale platforms fight for market share.

WHAT HAPPENED: Yerdle was founded in 2012 as a peer-to-peer reseller company. It pivoted in 2016 to become a full-stack resale platform that would power a brand’s own resale platform. Yerdle operates on a revenue-share model with its brand partners.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Yerdle allows brands to be as involved or uninvolved in the resale process as they desire. Yerdle’s wide-ranging technology incentivizes brands to prioritize their own resale platform versus third-party options, which allows brands to build a resale business while maintaining full ownership of the brand and product positioning, in addition to the customer data. Eileen Fisher has been using Yerdle to double its resale business since 2017 and is projecting resale will outpace first-time purchase revenue in the near future. The brand is launching a basics line based on its resale learnings early next year.
  • Even as first-party resale platforms grow, third-party platforms will continue to be the largest resale channels because of their aggregated approach. Part of The RealReal and Rebag’s success lies in a luxury collector’s desire to buy and sell products themselves and access a wide array of brands. Few shoppers buy and sell just one brand and having an aggregated inventory of many helps drive the flywheel that attracts shoppers to platforms like The RealReal in the first place. But given the resale platform’s recent troubles with authentication, mono-brand resale platforms should be better at authenticating their own products, which could lead to more customers trusting them, in the long run, more than aggregated players.