Nike Inc. started cleaning its stats sheet a week ago and the very first time, the Wholesale Nike Shoes empire declined to report “future orders,” a vital way of measuring wholesale demand from the galaxy of retailers who sell the famous kicks. Nike, No. 9 within the B2B E-Commerce 300, says the metric doesn’t matter much anymore, because now it’s focused on conducting business directly with consumers and removing the middleman.
Nike sells to retailers through a mix of EDI and e-commerce. While Nike reported its slowest quarterly sales growth since 2010, its performance being a retailer-as opposed to a wholesaler-was a relative highlight. Sales on Nike’s own web store were up 19% within the recent quarter, while its retail locations notched a 5% grow in same-store sales. 28% of all sales are direct this season, in contrast to 4% five-years ago. CEO Mark Parker said the company is obsessed right now with making shopping more personal. “Retailers who don’t embrace distinction is going to be put aside,” he warned on the conference call Tuesday.
Still, that wasn’t enough to impress investors-a minimum of, not even. The overlooked beauty of bricks-and-mortar retail is just how well retail chains lend themselves to what economists call price segmentation. Shoemakers such as Nike can easily target customers by sending the correct shoes to the correct sort of store (think: first-class vs. coach, iPhone X vs. iPhone 8, Banana Republic vs. Old Navy). In Nike’s case, it ships expensive, exclusive edition sneakers to high-end boutiques, routes its stock Jordans to chains like Foot Locker Retail Inc., and dumps its low-end product and off-key colorways such places as DSW Inc.
If done correctly, all of this socioeconomic slotting moves just as much merchandise as is possible with minimal fuss, without tarnishing the bigger brand. To make no mistake: Nike will it correctly. On its face, the Swoosh is really a design shop supercharged by the sort of storytelling its TV commercials, billboards and magazine ads are famous for. But Nike’s real genius isn’t marketing, it’s merchandising: knowing what to ship where. For each Cheap Jordans From China in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager using a giant spreadsheet, making sure “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too simple to find, ordering up a special design for China, distributing its best-sellers for all the right Di.ck’s Sporting Goods Inc. outlets and dumping lots of Chuck Taylors at outlet malls.
Nike is currently upsetting their own well-oiled applecart. In giving traditional retail the stiff arm, which Nike made official in June, the Oregon empire is tearing up that playbook and working to make a conclusion run around the essential economics of price segmentation. The strategy-a bold move, due to the historical manufacturer-to-retail model being discarded-requires no shortage of swagger. But Nike’s numbers reveal that the bet is apparently working, primarily because Nike has become sharpening its digital game.
Sought-after sneakers now ship out via Nike’s own ecosystem of apps, including SNKRS, which it launched early last year. The center of its lineup, meanwhile, sells on Nike.com as well as in its very own big box stores. As for the cheaper, less-popular kicks, they quietly trickle into the company’s “factory” stores (read: outlet) and onto Amazon.com. Nike even features a studio in Ny which makes customized shoes on-site in approximately one hour.
In short, the company is deemphasizing its ready-made network of retailers to produce a much more precise targeting mechanism. Tuesday Parker said the conclusion goal is to obtain in front of the consumer and present “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the business. “While switching your approach is rarely easy, Nike has proven before that whenever perform, it’s always tmrzsh another phase of growth for the company,” he explained.
In principle, Nike can know any given customer better-and his or her willingness to pay for-by using its own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The process will likely be building the mechanism to sort all of the data, and in doing so, the buyers. In the real world, they sort themselves: Our prime-end boutique isn’t right next to the cut-rate discount outlet. Within the virtual world, it’s not too easy.
For your record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly before Nike Inc., with 31% of its sales coming directly from consumers; Cheap Nike Shoes is slightly behind, with 23% of revenue from retail. At its current pace, Nike will soon be collecting one out of three of the sales dollars right from consumers. Its challenge is going to be ensuring that none get too good a deal.