Nike Inc. started cleaning up its stats sheet the other day and the first time, the Wholesale Nike Shoes empire declined to report “future orders,” a crucial 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 doing 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 actually a relative highlight. Sales on Nike’s own web store were up 19% inside the recent quarter, while its retail locations notched a 5% gain in same-store sales. 28% of all the sales are direct this coming year, in contrast to 4% five years ago. CEO Mark Parker said the company is obsessed at this time with making shopping more personal. “Retailers who don’t embrace distinction is going to be left behind,” he warned on the conference call Tuesday.
Still, that wasn’t enough to impress investors-at the very least, not yet. The overlooked appeal of bricks-and-mortar retail is just how well retail chains lend themselves to what economists call price segmentation. Shoemakers including Nike can easily target customers by sending the correct shoes off to the right 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, limited 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, this socioeconomic slotting moves just as much merchandise as is possible with minimal fuss, while not tarnishing the larger brand. Making no mistake: Nike does it correctly. On its face, the Swoosh is really a design shop supercharged by the kind 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 every Cheap Jordans From China in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager having a giant spreadsheet, making sure “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too simple to find, ordering up a special design for China, distributing its best-sellers to all the right Di.ck’s Sporting Goods Inc. outlets and dumping plenty of Chuck Taylors at outlet malls.
Nike has become upsetting its 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 stop run around the fundamental economics of price segmentation. The strategy-a bold move, because of the historical manufacturer-to-retail model being discarded-requires an abundance of swagger. But Nike’s numbers reveal that the bet seems to be working, primarily because Nike continues to be sharpening its digital game.
Sought-after sneakers now ship out via Nike’s own ecosystem of apps, including SNKRS, which it launched early this past year. The center of their lineup, meanwhile, sells on Nike.com and then in their own big box stores. With regards to 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 within one hour.
To put it briefly, the company is deemphasizing its ready-made network of retailers to generate an even more precise targeting mechanism. Tuesday Parker said the end goal is to get ahead of the consumer and offer “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the industry. “While altering your approach is rarely easy, Nike has proven before that whenever perform, it’s always tmrzsh the following phase of growth for our company,” he explained.
In principle, Nike can know virtually any customer better-and their willingness to pay-by using its own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The task will be building the mechanism to sort all the data, and in doing so, the customers. In real life, they sort themselves: Our prime-end boutique isn’t right near the cut-rate discount outlet. In the virtual world, it’s not too easy.
For your record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly in front of Nike Inc., with 31% of their sales coming right from consumers; Cheap Nike Shoes From China Free Shipping is slightly behind, with 23% of revenue from retail. At its current pace, Nike will quickly be collecting one in three of its sales dollars right from consumers. Its challenge is going to be being sure that none get too good an arrangement.