Business lost to the pandemic has rebounded for StockX, an online marketplace where people selling and buying items -- sneakers, mainly -- negotiate on a price before StockX provides authentication and shipping. "We've seen an incredible return to activity in the marketplace," StockX CMO Deena Bahri said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "By mid-April we started to see an incredible return back to normal -- and even better than normal -- shopping behaviors."
The professional world may have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, but there is one constant that still powers our workday: coffee. Trade Coffee is focused on how-tos and videos about the brewers that customers support. Next, it's looking to grow on YouTube. "That's where people are consuming content and nerding out, if you will, wanting to go down that rabbit hole. That's the nature of coffee. You get into it a little bit and then you want to keep going further," said the brand's CMO on the latest Modern Retail Podcast episode.
As existing commerce companies adapt to survive a global pandemic, Jimmy Wu actually launched one. His new company Cat Person sells cat food, toys, furniture and treats in a market that Wu sees as skewed toward dog owners. On the most recent episode of the Modern Retail Podcast, Wu talked about the pet food industry, launching a company during a pandemic and the overall DTC boom.
Retail stores are slowly reopening, but The Inside founder Christiane Lemieux still thinks people will want to invest most in the place they're spending most of their time: the home. She joined the Modern Retail Podcast to discuss how she's leading her furniture brand and business lessons she's learned over the years. "What you will be doing is focusing your time and disposable spend on making your home into everything it should be," Lemieux said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Many current retail start-up founders didn't have the chance to learn from the 2008 financial crisis because "they were potentially in high school," according to seed stage investor Hunter Walk. And even for those entrepreneurs who survived the last global downturn, the big takeaways might not apply to current circumstances. "The answers from those entrepreneurs in 2008 may or not be the right answers for companies in 2020. But the questions they asked themselves might be the things that are evergreen. And so asking some of those questions of yourself as a founder who might be going through this the first time -- I think that's where it gets valuable," Walk said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Grove Collaborative, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, still had hand sanitizer in stock. Rather than use that as a customer acquisition tool, he prioritized existing customers for the items available. "We probably left a lot of money on the table by doing that, in the short term," CEO Stuart Landesberg said on the Modern Retail podcast. He discussed how he's approaching growth for his home supplies brand.
Coefficient Capital co-founder Franklin Isacson describes himself as a cautious investor, especially in times of uncertainty like today, or the 2008 financial crisis. He also recognizes that now is a good time to invest. "The new funds that are being deployed over the next 24, 36 months are likely to be very good vintages, much like the '09 and '10 funds were excellent vintages," Isacson said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Lunya founder Ashley Merrill was already hesitant to invest further in physical retail before the pandemic struck. "I could tell I was already starting to get sucked into the brick-and-mortar, 'oh we have to pay a lot for this location because it's in the right place,' Merrill said on the Modern Retail Podcast. Now -- and in the future Merrill imagines -- it's a nonstarter. "The way I look at it now is, I would never sign those leases," she said. "I don't think anyone will ever be able to pay what they were paying before."
If Nick Ling's latest brand launch wasn't so right for this moment, he would have delayed bringing it to market. But Open Spaces, the second brand under the umbrella company Pattern (where Ling is CEO) is all about getting the most out of the place many consumers are stuck in these days: home.
Through this crisis, Burrow CEO Stephen Kuhl is sticking to a piece of advice he got back when the furniture store was just another startup at Y Combinator. The advice we got then was 'just launch your first product. Get it out there into people's hands and you'll get feedback,' Kuhl said on the Modern Retail Podcast. That's what they've done with a virtual design consultation program delivering an "in-store experience" to customers from their homes.
Americans may have more reason than ever to appreciate the comforts of home and the value of making theirs their own. But even a company like Parachute, a luxury linens and home goods company founded in 2014, is feeling the pinch from the downturn in retail. "Our retail is about 25% of our business -- but it's a profitable part of our business," the company's founder Ariel Kaye said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
"We've had weekly Zoom chats with four or five CEOs, talking about how we're managing and how we're handling, what we're hearing and what we're learning, how our businesses are doing and what channels are performing," Kaye said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "That shared information has been so helpful."
If Benjamin Witte talks about his beverage brand Recess as if it were an empire, it's because he's noticed the same ambition among the sector's established giants. "Red Bull is a media company for the action sports community that monetizes through selling cans," Witte said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "We're speaking to creatives, just like Red Bull is speaking to the action sports community, and Gatorade is speaking to athletics."
Rhone CEO Nate Checketts said his company "saw the writing on the wall really quickly" in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. "In some cases it might act as a clearing house to get non-serious players out, and that will present some opportunities," he said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Like any retailer, Rhone is feeling the pinch from forced store closures in the time of coronavirus. But they're being deliberate about how they communicate with customers subscribed to their newsletter.
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