RETAIL BLOODBATH: But if any chain could handle these shifts in shopper behavior, it should have been Macy's. It invested early in e-commerce, well before Amazon had meaningfully plowed into selling apparel. Customers had strong emotional ties to the brand. And Macy's brought in more cash each year than any of its peers. It also had a vast array of real-estate and other assets to tap to bankroll a transformation.
ECOMMERCE: Lütke’s goal is a lofty one: to make commerce easier for everybody. Just as WordPress made it easy for anyone to set up a blog or content website, Shopify lets anyone set up and run a digital store immediately, without needing any technical prowess. With subscriptions starting at $29 per month, Shopify helps merchants decide on a store and domain name, what to sell, and which design template to choose.
ECOMMERCE: A good case in point might be LVMH, a global luxury goods company formed out of the merger of Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy and boasting brands across multiple sectors, from wines and spirits through fashion and leather goods, to watches, jewelry, perfumes and cosmetics.
LOGISTICS: The Amazon Logistics site focuses on Chinese customers, who are sellers on its site as well as other businesses. The site says it offers end-to-end one-stop ocean freight services. As for airfreight, “we currently are developing this service and plan to quickly introduce it to a large number of our sellers,” the site says.
LOGISTICS: Offering fulfillment is a natural extension of FedEx’s business. It has the warehouses, planes, trucks, and software in place. Perhaps more importantly, FedEx sees Amazon encroaching on its core business and it needs to protect itself.
MEDIA: Look said digital media is doing a good job in instilling confidence in consumers, which he said makes him positive about the company's outlook. "Obviously there are government policy factor, economic factor influencing the consumers but I think…the smartphones and digital media are enabling consumers to feel very confident about what they buy and they have such a lot of exposure to the market that this keeps them going," he said.
BRAND: Starting next season, Adidas will get rid of the CCM name on NHL apparel, replacing it with Adidas, a source said. Presently, legendary hockey name CCM is the official licensee for NHL throwback jerseys, and many team sweatshirts and T-shirts. A quick walk through Manhattan’s NHL store shows about one-third of its apparel presently has the CCM name.
MEDIA: The two companies are in the midst of heated battle for social network supremacy that's caused Facebook to attempt multiple clones of Snapchat's core features, most notably with Instagram Stories.
RETAIL: "We have rapidly grown our online sales to $33.0 million in fiscal 2016, which represented 11.4% of our consolidated revenue," it said in the filing. "We have subsequently launched new online storefronts in the United Kingdom and France and plan to continue introducing online stores in new markets."I t also indicated that it wants to expand beyond its popular jacket products.
MEDIA: Andrew Arnold, senior director of marketplace quality at The Trade Desk, said that in December his firm added Breitbart to its list of brand unsafe websites because the website violated the DSP’s hate-speech policies. Clients don’t automatically exclude sites from the brand unsafe list by default, but The Trade Desk recommends that they do, and nearly 90 percent of clients opt to use the list, Arnold said.
One look at Cotton Bureau's "Wall of Fame" and you'll understand what sets them apart from the rest. While the shirts' designs are varied, the common theme of superior design is shared throughout the collection. The platform is completely custom-built (in-house) with no support from: Shopify, Demandware, Magento, or Big Commerce.
And that's just the surface level. I've never seen a company of their scale accomplish so much with a $500k seed round (via Indie.vc). Chalk it up to their midwest roots and cofounders who are both creative and technical. Here, you have a perfect storm competing in a tough eCommerce niche.
I first met Nathan Peretic, Jay Fanelli, and Michelle Sharp at their new Pittsburgh headquarters. Launched in 2013, they've been operating in 800 sq. ft. until, well, this month. They have re-designed a former 5,000 sq. ft. warehouse space to usher in Cotton Bureau's growth phase. Their pride is both palpable and deserving. The building's energy was infectious and the paint hadn't dried. With 18 employees (only eight who are full-time), they've already eclipsed their 2016 and Q1 2017. When I last spoke to their soft-spoken CEO, he casually told me that they sold 24,000+ shirts in January and they aren't slowing down.
Their high profile partners include: the no. 3 Podcast on iTunes (Pod Save America), Vox Media, Serious Eats, BuzzFeed, Propublica, Tapbots, and a certain @RogueNASA team.
Michelle Sharp on Cotton Bureau's IP factory:
Designers and communities submit their t-shirt ideas, and Cotton Bureau evaluates them to see if they're right for the site. If they make the cut—and only about 15% of submissions do—Cotton Bureau puts them on the site for a time-limited pre-order sale. Once the sale ends, we print all the shirts they need—in near-exact quantities—and ship them out. All shirts are printed in Pittsburgh. Cotton Bureau ships all shirts ourselves, and handles all the customer service (returns, refunds, exchanges, lost packages, etc.) forever.
With the platform that they've built for themselves (and the ability to grow on cash flow), their next step is what should be most exciting for the 2PML audience. They're preparing to start producing their own American-made tee shirt blanks, themselves. Not only would this initiative begin to supply Cotton Bureau's rabid fans, it could evolve into a business of its own.
Over the course of 2017, 2PML will feature a series on Cotton Bureau's evolution from web design studio to eCommerce company to an increasingly equitable brand, representative of activism and ingenuity. They are durable enough to continue thriving in our ever-changing digital ecosystem, with 90-99% less funding than their competitors. Midwest founders are so resourceful.