Nike Inc. started cleaning its stats sheet last week and the very first time, the Wholesale Nike Shoes empire 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 conducting business directly with consumers and removing 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 being a retailer-rather than a wholesaler-was a relative highlight. Sales on Nike’s own web store were up 19% in the recent quarter, while its retail locations notched a 5% gain in same-store sales. 28% of sales are direct this year, in contrast to 4% 5 years ago. CEO Mark Parker said the organization is obsessed at this time with making shopping more personal. “Retailers who don’t embrace distinction is going to be left out,” he warned over a conference call Tuesday.
Still, that wasn’t enough to impress investors-a minimum of, not. The overlooked beauty of bricks-and-mortar retail is just how well retail chains lend themselves to what economists call price segmentation. Shoemakers including Nike can certainly target customers by sending the best shoes to the right kind 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 in these places as DSW Inc.
If performed correctly, all of this socioeconomic slotting moves the maximum amount of merchandise as possible with minimal fuss, whilst not tarnishing the greater brand. Making no mistake: Nike can 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 every Nike Cheap Shoes in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager having a giant spreadsheet, ensuring “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too simple to find, ordering up an exclusive 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 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 trying to make an end play the basic economics of price segmentation. The strategy-a bold move, given the historical manufacturer-to-retail model being discarded-requires no shortage of swagger. But Nike’s numbers show 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 their lineup, meanwhile, sells on Nike.com as well as in its very own big box stores. With regards to cheaper, less-popular kicks, they quietly trickle in to the company’s “factory” stores (read: outlet) and onto Amazon.com. Nike even includes a studio in New York City that creates customized shoes on-site within one hour.
In short, the company 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 in front of the consumer and provide “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the business. “While switching your approach is rarely easy, Nike has proven before that when perform, it’s always tmrzsh another phase of growth for the company,” he explained.
Theoretically, Nike can know any given customer better-and her or his willingness to pay for-by making use of their own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The process is going to be building the mechanism to sort all the data, and by doing this, the buyers. In the real world, they sort themselves: The high-end boutique isn’t right near the cut-rate discount outlet. Inside the virtual world, it’s not too easy.
For that record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly ahead of Nike Inc., with 31% of the sales coming straight from consumers; Cheap Nike Shoes From China Free Shipping is slightly behind, with 23% of revenue from retail. At its current pace, Nike will soon be collecting one out of three of their sales dollars straight from consumers. Its challenge will likely be ensuring that none of them get too good a deal.