This is issue no. 212. The last issue had a 45.64% open rate with 6.2% of you going to this article on concept stores for forward-thinking brands. If you're brand uses Magento, the "High Risk" Zero-Day probably left you with a bit of temporary anxiety. Bold Commerce has one solution. Today in brand activism, Cotton Bureau says the game is rigged.

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Today's Top Intelligence (14 Reads)
Walmart and Amazon Emerge as Fashion's Duopoly
It’s still unclear whether or not Amazon and Walmart/ will be able to court the high-fashion and trendier brands they currently lack, however. Two communications directors — one at a luxury fashion house, the other at an up-and-coming contemporary brand — would only speak anonymously on the matter, but they both denied it as a possibility. “It would totally deplete our luxury reputation,” said one. Others were simply unwilling to comment, and companies like LVMH have been vocal about not wanting to sell on the platform.

Duopoly Explained
ECOMMERCE: The deal would mark at least the fourth e-commerce acquisition by Walmart digital chief Marc Lore since Walmart acquired his company seven months ago. Those include women’s online retailer ModCloth, outdoor gear seller MooseJaw and online shoe site ShoeBuy. Lore also bought online furniture retailer Hayneedle while was still independent.

OMNICHANNEL: While Alibaba works to integrate technology into the Intime Retail locations for the purposes of enhancing the consumer experience, this will be the first time the New Retail concept has been executed on a large scale. Whether or not this move is a success, the retail world will likely be watching and waiting with bated breath.

ECOMMERCE: The shoe seller was a formidable contender when Amazon bought it in 2009. Popular brands like Nike and Merrell feared the internet giant was a "dangerous discounter" and refused to sell to it, according to Bloomberg's Brad Stone. Plus, Amazon's website hadn't yet been built to handle selling shoes, deterring customers.

ADTECH: To defeat anti ad blockers, the researchers say they've borrowed techniques from rootkits, which are often used for malware but can be adapted to "hide their existence and activities" from ad-blocking detectors. This is done because browser extensions are given a higher "privilege" than advertisements and ad blocker detectors. 

ECOMMERCE: Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa met as MBA students at the University of Pennsylvania and cooked up the idea for Warby Parker, an eyeglasses retailer that would undercut the sale of glasses by hundreds of dollars and sell them online rather than in physical stores.
OMNICHANNEL: Retailers need to serve customers how, when and where they shop. The question is: how big is that potential group of customers.  By 2020, there will be over a billion global consumers driving over a trillion dollars in digital spend.  Not only does that mean cross-border retail has become a technology imperative, but so too has delivering through the channels that most appeal to each specific global shopper.

PRIVATE LABEL: Amazon has a long way to go in order to compete with established private-labels offered by Macy’s and Nordstrom. Slice Intelligence looked at private label brand sales and found that Nordstrom’s Halogen generated 11 times the revenue of Lark & Ro in the months since January 2016. Sales of the majority of Macy’s brands have surpassed those of Amazon’s Lark & Ro with Alfani netting over nine times the revenue of Amazon’s signature brand.

DNVB: In the past year, Target has partnered with two subscription-based online brands — Harry’s and Bevel — brokering exclusive deals to be the only mass retailer to carry their products. “It’s been really working so far — knock on wood,” said John Butcher, Target’s senior vice president of beauty merchandising.
RETAIL: Sales of personal luxury goods, such as designer apparel and handbags, fell 1% last year, the first decline since 2009, according to Bain & Co. The slowdown contrasts with 4% growth in the global luxury market, which reached $1.16 trillion when including expenditures on pricey cars, travel, restaurants and such.

ECOMMERCE: One reason for the success of some retail operations are property owners who can “pivot to meet market demands,” said DJ Busch, managing director at Green Street Advisors. “Those are the ones that can weather the changes in the marketplace.” This often means more emphasis on dining and entertainment. For failing malls, Mr. Busch said, it could mean sacrificing mall space for office or residential development.

MEDIA: Facebook says that the stagnant traffic is a product of a growing marketplace, and attributes it to increasing competition — there are more posts than ever to read, while readers’ time remains finite. Simo told me the company is building a tool that will show publishers how their articles would have performed if posted as traditional links rather than Instant Articles. (Spoiler: badly.) Were it not for Instant Articles, the company says, publisher traffic would likely have declined even more.

OMNICHANNEL: Since its acquisition by Bed Bath & Beyond last year, One King’s Lane has moved swiftly from its flash-sales model to position itself as a resource for interior decor advice as well as product sales. The acquisition of the furniture site could help protect Bed Bath & Beyond against Amazon because One King’s Lane’s younger shoppers tend to shop less at Amazon than many other shoppers, according to research last year from NPD Group’s data service Checkout Tracking, which measures consumer buying behavior.

CAPSTONE: The cachet of new, smaller brands allows them to open stores even as we over-index in retail square footage per American. A different operating model that's not burdened by legacy infrastructure helps. But they're unlikely to be $500M brands, let alone $1B ones. This is all the better for Walmart to buy them up, but is the future of retail (let alone fashion, as this Glossy headline stated) really a Walmart/Amazon duopoly? Scary thought for retailers and consumers alike.

Part Anecdotal, Part Data-Driven
Summer of 2016, I was sitting in the conference room of Cambridge's Founder Collective when I was first asked the question: what opportunity aren't we seeing? I explained that we will need to solve a retail infrastructure problem in exurban areas of American cities. If we don't plan on putting millions of square feet of suburban retail space to work, communities will suffer and so will residential property values, tax revenues, school funding, and on, and on. For veteran readers of 2PM, this past weekend's economic banter was a long time coming. 

The intent of 2PM is to help this community of readers do their jobs better by highlighting or analyzing the best information. Observing, measuring, or commenting on market-shifts that can influence how you do your job. Whether that role is in online publishing, commerce, or brand, or data science - there's something for most folks to latch onto.

Between issues 1 and 180, I occasionally spent time pointing to articles, excerpts, charts, or trusted opinions on what seemed to be markers for a likelihood of a fast retail collapse. This loss spans retail jobs, retail storefronts, and the entire suburban commercial developments that depend on a healthy ecosystem of service workers, commerce, and consumers. We were overdue for a drastic market correction but this one seemed to have caught many experts off guard. On a positive note, this is how great opportunities present themselves.

This past weekend two older Twitter threads of mine began to make the rounds:

First thread (January 17, 2017): The U.S. has lost 20,000+ retail jobs in the last month. Still not a hot button political issue.

Second thread (January 4, 2017): Everyone writes about eCommerce altering retail but no one writes about how it will change suburban areas w/ concentrated retail employment.

I invite you to follow the above links as they provide commentary by much smarter folks. Chatter on the matter is at critical mass, though I don't agree with some of it. If you're interested in why I disagree with the sociopolitical angle by Krugman, just reply to this email. I'd love to discuss.

- @web
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