This is issue no. 202. The last issue had a 🔥52.41% open rate with 2.49% of clicks going to Jill Manoff's article on Athleisure's Next Phase. I've published as a quick way to host an updating list of the 2PML's most subscribed companies. If you recall, a company only becomes visible when 2+ employees use their corporate email addresses to subscribe.

An interesting deck by NPD on the aspirational purchase and how it plays into the future of eCommerce.

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Today's Top Intelligence (12 Reads)
‘No one wants to fund eCommerce Anymore'
Walker & Co. is not failing, though, or at least he’s optimistic that things are just beginning. The company plans to come out with its second brand later this summer — a line that will include 10 new products — and has found success by selling its products a la carte. Bevel used to sell via subscription only, but Walker expects retail sales to make up 50 percent of his business in 2017.

And even though Walker relies on Amazon for lots of those sales, that doesn’t mean he isn’t hyper aware that he’s working side by side with the potential competition.

Read More
AMAZON: New data show a surge in Amazon’s loans to its merchants. But the time it took to grow its seller lending business reflects the measured approach Amazon is taking with the program—and challenges in getting a banking partner.
MEDIA: Gizmodo Media Group, now operating under Univision, has eight media brands, with six comprising the former Gawker Media properties left after that company’s bankruptcy and sale.
DATA: Amazon has been using algorithms to try to sell you extra stuff for years. But the technology to personalise merchandising, much further than recommendations, is advancing rapidly across ecommerce. Companies such as Sentient and Apptus and their AI-powered systems are changing site search functionality, product lists, facets and more, to try to generate more sales.

ECOMMERCE: Lore's announcement followed several months of strategic acquisitions by Walmart. It has added a number of online apparel retailers to its growing Walmart online ecosystem, allowing them to retain their own brand identities and human talent, with the goal of building on existing customer relationships.
BRAND: Do these stumbles spell disaster? The misfortunes and mistakes of a few companies don't reflect a downturn in the market. Morgan Stanley predicts the US activewear market will climb to $83 billion by 2020. Millennial assessments of brand strength corroborates a shift in appraisal. 
BRAND: W magazine has an in-depth story that gets at how athletes and changing play styles affect the sneakers we wear. It’s not as March Madness-specific as the headline would lead you to believe, but it is March Madness-adjacent. Know that Lonzo Ball’s bizzaro shooting style might affect the next hot sneaker the same way Kyrie Irving’s stop-and-go movements inspired the technology, and thus the look, of his signature shoe. 
MEDIA: Getting social media users to actually click through to ecommerce sites is notoriously difficult, especially in fashion and apparel. Instagram is tackling the challenge with “tap to view” tags, which debuted back in November. The feature allowed its nearly 600 million monthly active users to learn more about products from a selection of 20 brands and access e-commerce sites through the in-app browser. 

DNVB: The 69-year-old brand is plowing ahead with new stores and has plans to open some 43 Dick's locations this year—roughly half were former Sports Authority outposts. On a recent conference call, CEO Ed Stack outlined a plan to beef up the company's private brands—labels like Carrie Underwood's Calia brand, sold exclusively at Dick's and now the retailer's third-largest women's brand—and decrease its outside vendors by 20%. The cutbacks will not affect top-performing brands such as Adidas, Under Armour or Nike.

MEDIA: Facebook has been working over the years to make Instagram more appealing to advertisers, launching new formats such as carousel ads, full-screen ads within Instagram Stories, and more, and brands seem to quickly respond. In a study published by RBC Capital Markets, a majority of marketers surveyed indicated that Instagram was the preferred platform of choice over Snapchat.

MEDIA: The report suggests that the amount of fraudulent ad spend will rise to $16.4 billion of the estimated $82 billion digital ad dollars spent globally this year. Experts suggest that the solution relies on regulation of the economic incentives that spur fraud, especially when it comes to bots. "The solution to ad fraud, like may other issues, is economic rather than technical," Kint says. 
ECOMMERCE: Alfa Romeo said it will roll out more car models on Tmall and will use Maserati’s 45 dealerships in China to operate the offline part of its business. Consumers who place deposits online can redeem e-coupons and pick up the cars in physical outlets. Alibaba said it crafted this kind of online-to-offline business model to connect car brands, offline distributors and after-sales service providers and offer a seamless online shopping experience for customers.
NPD: The Retail Evolution

By Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst

The death of retail as we now know it is greatly exaggerated. Retail isn’t dying; it’s evolving. Just like it has done before. There has always been disruption in the retail sector. A major disruption occurred in the late 1800s when Sears introduced the catalog and brought the entire store into the homes of U.S. consumers. This gave Sears the same advantage over brick and mortar stores that ecommerce sites have today. Sears was simply responding to the needs of its customer since 60 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas at the time and didn’t have convenient access to stores. Sears would bring the store right to them.

The same principle of meeting customer needs holds true for the current retail evolution, which is being driven by a confluence of change. Changing consumer attitudes, behaviors, and demographics; ongoing channel and digital disruptions; and increasing competition for consumer mindshare and dollars are forcing a shift in long-held paradigms – continuing the status quo is no longer an option.

Read more here.

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