How Ssense is Setting Industry Standards and Birchbox Gets a Lifeline
SSENSE SETS STANDARDS
What is a store without inventory? Blasphemy or a liberating business model free of traditional merchandising constraints? Ssense, an online luxury retailer, is debuting its first brick-and-mortar location around personal styling appointments and ditching the stock.
Customers can request to try on any of the 20,000 items found online 24 hours after booking an appointment. The stockless store is organized into personal styling rooms where requested items can be purchased, sent back, or added to an online wishlist.
In addition to booking appointments, the Ssense store will carry capsule collections exclusive to the retailer, and host in-store events and installations. Inspired by customer behavior, its store model could be the blueprint for multi-brand retailers as the original department store model struggles for relevance.
A MONTH OF ACQUISITIONS
The need for omni-channel retailers to transform brick-and-mortar from a transactional space into experiential shopping for consumers has resulted in some interesting partnerships. As seasoned retailers attempt to keep up with technology and the needs of the next generation of consumers, industry leaders are battling it out for the acquisition of innovative companies.
Who are we talking about? Well, Macy's has acquired Story, a brand that brings interactive experiences, (which include everything from virtual reality meditation to a hot-towel shave station), and brought on its founder as their new brand experience officer. L'Oréal has agreed to buy South Korean makeup and fashion firm Nanda to nourish the growing appetite of millennials in Korea and China for makeup. Meanwhile, Amazon is in a head-to-toe battle with Walmart for a 60 percent stake the Indian e-commerce company, Flipkart.
Whether it be for global expansion, entry into new product categories, or brand revamps, we're interested to see how these acquisitions will pan out.
ADDING THE "HUMAN TOUCH"
There's never been more e-commerce competition and every element of the digital experience needs to be considered and constantly innovated upon.
Target faces this challenge head-on by intermixing digital capabilities and community. The company built a faster network to support digital offerings and developed Cartwheel, an online platform that offers customers access to deals and discounts via social media.
To distinguish itself from competitors, Target adds a "human touch" to its digital processes. "Now, with Shipt, [our] team will be shopping our stores and interacting with the end user to let them know the order's complete." Says CEO Brian Cornell.
BIRCHBOX GETS A BUYER
Birchbox may have been in the beauty subscription box space first, but they've had a tough time of it recently. What happened? Well, theirs is a space that became crowded - with reportedly more than 300 different beauty subscription box companies out there for shoppers to choose from. Moreover, as they tried to become less of a subscription company and more of a standalone beauty retailer - customers weren't biting - as they didn't get the full experience and benefits they do with a mega-beauty retailer like Sephora. And so Birchbox - in its bid to grow and pivot - took on a lot of debt. Rumor had it they were going to have to pay up very soon - or go belly up.
Well this week, they got a lifeline in the form of a majority stake buyout from Viking Global Investors. Will they be able to reinvent themselves, grow customer loyalty, and fend off their beauty competitors?
THIS WEEK'S BRIGHT SPOT
Rihanna is expanding her business empire to include an inclusive lingerie collection dubbed Savage x Fenty. Available May 11th, the line will promote body positivity, as the singer says "savages come in all shapes and sizes."
The collection will carry bra sizes ranging from 32A to 44DDD, and in underwear, shoppers will be able to choose between XS to 3X. We commend Rihanna for addressing the variations of women, especially in the plus size market!