Stitch Fix has long maintained that its business model is a blend of art and data science, with its stylists, who represent the artistic side of the company, ultimately deciding which clothes to send to clients. But 11 current and former stylists Modern Retail spoke with said they felt like the artistic side of the company has been devalued, following the announcement earlier this month that Stitch Fix was laying of 1,400 of its California stylists between now and the fall.
As malls prepare to welcome back shoppers, the types of experiences that they are willing to step out of the house for has changed. Rather than spending hours rifling through racks of clothing, some shoppers are turning to curbside pickup. Instead of spending a Saturday at the movie theater, they may stop by a restaurant that's open for outdoor dining. And that means some malls may have to reconfigure their space to make way for new types of attractions.
Direct-to-consumer startup founders have found themselves in a number of unprecedented situations over the past three months -- from having to keep their company afloat while stores were closed to having employees confront them about racism within the company. Many of these same startups have also found themselves in hot water for how they responded to these situations. The issue at hand is simple: customers feel like these companies aren't practicing what they preach.
As the apparel industry struggles to return to its pre-covid level of sales some secondhand clothing startups have been thriving as shoppers become more price conscious. ThredUp released its annual report on the state of secondhand clothing, and said that from mid-March to the end of May, its weekly gross transaction volume has grown 20% compared to the same time period last year. And it's not the only secondhand clothing startup seeing growth.
While the first generation of DTC brands waited years to launch retail stores to build up their online business, newer DTC brands have been much more eager to launch stores within their first couple of years in business. Many of them are now cutting back on the number of stores they had planned to open in the next year or two. But they are also rethinking what it will take to get their customers to come to their stores, and where their customer will be.
Startups with products that have been in-demand during the stay at home orders over the past few months are using the opportunity to introduce their products to a national audience. It's a tricky time for retailers to advertise right now, but for those who are confident in their messaging, there's a better chance that they can get viewers to remember them as other companies pull back.
Retail customer service lines have remained busy over the past couple of months, fielding questions about shipping delays, how to return items when stores are closed, and inquiries about sizing and material from first-time customers. A number of direct-to-consumers startups say they are seeing an uptick nonetheless and have had to change things up a bit.
Retailers are now being called upon to better diversify the products they carry on their shelves. At the end of May, Aurora James, founder of Brooklyn accessory brand Brother Vellies, launched the 15% Pledge, calling on retailers to up the amount of shelf space dedicated to products from Black-owned businesses to 15%. Last week, the movement scored its most significant win to-date, when Sephora announced that it would sign the pledge.
Over the past two weeks, there's been a flood of direct-to-consumer startups issuing statements about steps they will take to better support the black community, and build more diverse companies. But venture capitalists have remained largely quiet. "People are scared -- even though they want to do the right thing, they're worried that people are going to inevitably drag them down with, 'well look at your website,'" said one consumer investor.
Store closures could grow exponentially this year as brick-and-mortar retailers have seen their sales collapse over the last couple of months. Consulting firm Coresight Research released a study this week projecting that the number of permanent store closures in the U.S. could reach 20,000 to 25,000 this year. The question remains: what will happen to all those spaces?
Apparel retailer Gap is having to make some budget cuts as the company is under tremendous financial stress due to the coronavirus. One of the victims is Hill City, its two-year-old men's athletic apparel brand. The company announced last week that it would be winding down Hill City in the coming months. "The financial impacts of covid-19 have required the company to ruthlessly prioritize and reduce operating expenses," a Gap spokesperson said.
As cities start to re-open, some out of home advertisements are starting to come back. Subway advertisements are still out, but DTC startups are taking to take a second look at launching new out of home campaigns in cities with lots of car owners -- as people start driving to more places again -- as well as in places near where people may be spending a lot of time outside.
DTC startups have responded to events of the past week in a couple of ways. The first is by affirming their support for Black Lives Matter on social media, and pledging to fight against systemic injustice. Some brands followed that with pledges to donate to organizations like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Movement for Black Lives Matter. Now, the focus needs to shift to building diverse companies.
Stitch Fix’s decision to lay off the majority of its California-based stylists is something that the company has been discussing for over a year, the company told impacted stylists on Monday. In a recording obtained by Modern Retail, the company explained its reasoning behind the layoffs. Stylists spoke about the ordeal and the lack of transparency.
Dick's Sporting Goods has benefitted some from its product being in high demand. But the company also benefitted from investments it has previously made in its e-commerce business. Case in point, the company said during its first quarter earnings that online sales were up 110% during the quarter, thanks in large part to the rollout of a curbside pickup service in response to store closures.
The Amazon Advertising Strategies Virtual Forum is a series of presentations, workshops and talks taking place over three mornings that’ll help you navigate and survive our current crisis and the acceleration of e-commerce that has come with it.Register Now