Nike Inc. started clearing up its stats sheet last week and for the first time, the Wholesale Jordans Shoes declined to report “future orders,” a critical measure of wholesale demand from the galaxy of retailers who sell the famous kicks. Nike, No. 9 in the B2B E-Commerce 300, says the metric doesn’t matter much anymore, because now it’s focused on working directly with consumers and cutting out the middleman.
Nike sells to retailers through a combination of EDI and e-commerce. While Nike reported its slowest quarterly sales growth since 2010, its performance as being a retailer-as opposed to a wholesaler-was a relative highlight. Sales on Nike’s own online 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, compared with 4% five years ago. CEO Mark Parker said the organization is obsessed right now with making shopping more personal. “Retailers who don’t embrace distinction will likely be put aside,” he warned on the conference call Tuesday.
Still, that wasn’t enough to thrill investors-at least, not. The overlooked appeal of bricks-and-mortar retail is just how well retail chains lend themselves as to what economists call price segmentation. Shoemakers like Nike can easily target customers by sending the right 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 performed correctly, all this socioeconomic slotting moves the maximum amount of merchandise as you can with minimal fuss, whilst not tarnishing the larger brand. To make no mistake: Nike does it correctly. On its face, the Swoosh is really a design shop supercharged by the type of storytelling its TV commercials, billboards and magazine ads are famous for. But Nike’s real genius isn’t marketing, it’s merchandising: knowing exactly what to ship where. For each sneaker sketching savant in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager using a giant spreadsheet, making sure “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too readily available, ordering up an exclusive design for China, distributing its best-sellers for all the best D.ick’s Sporting Goods Inc. outlets and dumping plenty of Chuck Taylors at outlet malls.
Nike is now 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 conclusion play the basic economics of price segmentation. The strategy-a bold move, due to the historical manufacturer-to-retail model being discarded-requires an abundance of swagger. But Nike Cheap Shoes numbers demonstrate that the bet seems to be 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 a year ago. The heart of the lineup, meanwhile, sells on Nike.com and then in its very own big box stores. When it comes to cheaper, less-popular kicks, they quietly trickle to the company’s “factory” stores (read: outlet) and onto Amazon.com. Nike even has a studio in Ny that makes customized shoes on-site in approximately an hour.
To put it briefly, the business is deemphasizing its ready-made network of retailers to create a much more precise targeting mechanism. Tuesday Parker said the end goal is to get ahead of the consumer and provide “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the industry. “While changing your approach is never easy, Nike has proven before that if we do, it’s always kpelqt the following phase of growth for your company,” he explained.
In principle, Nike can know any customer better-and their willingness to cover-by using their own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The process will likely be building the mechanism to sort all the data, and in doing so, the shoppers. In the real world, they sort themselves: The high-end boutique isn’t right near the cut-rate discount outlet. In the virtual world, it’s not so easy.
For your record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly in front of Nike Inc., with 31% of their sales coming directly from consumers; Cheap Jordans is slightly behind, with 23% of revenue from retail. At its current pace, Nike will quickly be collecting one out of three of its sales dollars directly from consumers. Its challenge will likely be ensuring that not one of them get too good an arrangement.