Hudson's Bay Sends An SOS and Walmart Goes VIP
HUDSON'S BAY SENDS AN SOS
Distress signals are intensifying as Hudson's Bay Company— long an acquirer in the department store space— makes quick, dramatic moves to turn around business while pressure heightens from both its sector and investors.
The department store retailer will be closing its longstanding Lord & Taylor flagship store, after selling it to WeWork with initial plans to downsize. Its decision was framed as an effort to streamline HBC and reposition it as a more omni-channel player.
The company also announced it sold its Gilt brand this week. In March, new HBC CEO Helena Foulkes noted potential driving growth on the company's digital side and in off-price, but addressed company missteps, particularly at Saks' Gilt unit. In other words, Hudson's Bay is unloading it altogether, leaving the flash-sale retailer to transition back into digital-only operations.
AMAZON LAUNCHES A DIGITAL INDIE STOREFRONT
As natural and smaller beauty brands receive increased consumer interest, Amazon's featured luxury beauty shop will expand to include indie retailers. The indie market has rapidly matured into one of the largest categories within beauty, and the e-comm giant plans to take advantage of its popularity by launching a new digital storefront this month.
Brands that will sell in the Indie Beauty Shop must be at least 50 percent independently owned and must not be sold at Ulta, Target or Walmart. Additionally, Amazon is currently developing an Amazon Associated program to act as a support system that will connect indie brands to influencers.
The kickoff will put Amazon at odds with beauty leaders like Ulta and Sephora, and some question the brand ethos that would be lost by working with the company. “There’s no personalization, and I would really hate to lose that,” says indie beauty brand, Etta + Billie, founder Alana Rivera.
MACY'S TAPS INTO ITS EMPLOYEE POOL
Similar to cool-girl Glossier associates, Macy’s is tapping into its staff pool to populate a new influencer program.
Macy’s employees can now apply to become members of the "Style Crew". Those selected will share content featuring Macy’s products on their personal social media accounts. The mid-tier department store has a history of prioritizing social media, and building an army of ambassadors via networks like Instagram will increase brand exposure. Remarkably, 60% of Instagram users say they learn about products and services on the app.
By relying on its own employees, the Macy's will gain a digital boost without the risks of traditional influencer marketing. Win-win.
WALMART GOES VIP
Walmart isn't letting up on efforts to expand beyond its traditional shopper base and enter into uncharted luxury territory. The retailer has launched a subscription based concierge shopping service, similar to those at Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, and Net-A-Porter.
The service - Jetblack - is available via invitation only, and is currently limited to members in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Targeted members are typically mothers, who will have access to the service through standard messaging.
Walmart will offer fast delivery for products ranging from everyday essentials to luxury items. It remains to be seen whether the company will revise Jetblack’s monthly fee of $50, significantly higher than that of more-commonly-used Amazon Prime.
A BRAND WE GREW UP WITH
Along with the rest of the world, we are still in a state of shock from Kate Spade's passing. We couldn't help but reminisce about the impact she placed on our lives as we came of age in fashion.
Best known for its colorful and quirky handbags, Kate Spade took the world by storm with the introduction of nylon and sleek silhouettes. She based her bags on six shapes she felt every working woman needed, calling them her ‘stepping stones’.
We talked to the Daily Beast about her legacy and what made (and makes) the Kate Spade brand so very special.
THIS WEEK'S BRIGHT SPOT
It’s that time of year again! Mary Meeker has unloaded her highly anticipated internet trends report for the annual Code Conference. This year, there were several trends that will have a positive impact in the retail world:
People are increasing the amount of time they spend online. U.S. adults spent 5.9 hours per day on digital media in 2017, up from 5.6 hours the year before. Some 3.3 of those hours were spent on mobile.
E-commerce sales growth is continuing to accelerate. It grew 16 percent in the U.S. in 2017, up from 14 percent in 2016.
Internet leaders like Google and Amazon will offer more artificial intelligence service platforms as AI becomes a bigger part of enterprise spending.
Take advantage of these insights and view the full report!