This is issue no. 230. The last issue had a 44.28% open rate with 7.98% of you reading up on the beginning of Casper's new product vertical: furniture. 

Is Shopify being challenged by Amazon's latest initiative to curry favor with individual brands? Chime in here.

Did a colleague forward this letter to you? Thank them and subscribe here
Today's Top Intelligence (14 Reads)
The 25 Top DNVB's of 2017
While v-commerce brands may ultimately expand offline through select partnerships or brick and mortar stores, they control their own distribution tightly. The differences between a digitally native vertical brand and an e-commerce brand are profound. In addition to differentiation in the unit economics of the businesses and their growth trajectories, there are subtleties in the ways that v-commerce brands shape their identities to inspire consumers. 
Read The Whitepaper
Retail Real Estate: The move follows similar pivots by pure-play darlings Warby Parker, Bonobos, Casper and Birchbox (not to mention e-commerce stalwart Amazon) to boost sales and brand recognition through physical stores. As e-commerce took retail by storm over the last two decades, many observers declared the end of brick and mortar, but pure-play retailers are discovering that physical stores offer their customers a highly effective way to connect with their brands and their merchandise.

Media: Facebook’s publisher pay wall is likely being based on the company’s Instant Articles feature. Facebook launched Instant Articles in cooperation with some select publishers two years ago, giving them a way to publish their stories directly to Facebook’s platform. The initial pitch was that this would make it easier for Facebook users to consume faster-loading news stories, and thus get publishers access to much bigger audiences.

Brand: It’s now a generation later, and there are a few new brands offering beauty products, personal-care items, cleaning supplies, and food with the same premise as those old generics: Why pay a ton of money for what’s essentially branding and advertising? This time around, though, it’s a very different proposition for both brands — or, rather, non-brands — and consumers alike.

Retail: The influence of athleisure and the active lifestyles driving it have exerted themselves in other ways beyond those documented in the Euromonitor report. Instagram and the broader trend toward social fitness mean women often want to maintain a certain look inside the gym, as well as before and after their workouts, leading to a growing demand for athleisure makeup. 
Retail: Robotics and automation in fashion can make production and labor costs cheaper, bring supply chains closer to home — a move that not only cuts costs and environmental impact, but also helps brands compete on speed — and improve efficiencies in inventory, customer service and e-commerce experience. Jobs, of course, are at stake: Cornerstone Capital Group predicts that over the course of the next 10 years, automation will take 6 to 7.5 million jobs from the retail industry, or 38 percent.

eCommerce: Poshmark — which, according to TechCrunch, is slated to bring in $100 million in revenue this year — is not curated and editorialized like ThredUp. It operates as a consumer-to-consumer platform with a whole social networking aspect, which in turn plays to that whole “younger shoppers’ values” tenet people love to talk about. Younger shoppers, Sun says, “want to hear authentically what their friends love and why they love them.”

Retail Real Estate: What the startup has created is not quite as slick as Amazon Go, however. Jeff Bezos’ US$450 billion giant wants shoppers at its Go stores to be able to walk out without scanning or physically paying – instead, its computer vision and sensor tech will know what you’ve decided to take and will simply bill your Amazon account automatically shortly after you’ve left the shop.

Brand: Enter Theory 2.0, an initiative driven by 28 rising stars, 23 of whom are women, from across the company — merchandising, design, planning, retail, manufacturing production, etcetera — who have been tasked with building its future. A capsule collection, the first visual proof of their efforts will debut on Tuesday, July 18, in six Theory stores and online in US, four stores in Japan, four in China, four in Korea and two in Europe.

Media: But before declaring a new era in media, consider all that Katzenberg has to accomplish to usher this era in: If he can get a few billion dollars from a distributor, then he needs to prevail upon creatives to produce a kind of content that doesn’t currently exist and persuade Madison Avenue to work on customized sponsorships in lieu of traditional spots. 
eCommerce: Julie Bornstein, chief operating officer at Stitch Fix, a clothing subscription service, said that people suffer when a single company monopolizes a market. "It’s a danger to consumers to let Amazon use AWS [Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud business] to price everyone out of the business," she said. (Amazon's margins for web hosting far exceed retail, a position that allows the company to subsidize its e-commerce business.)

Media: When you first join Spark – it’s available through the “Programs & Features” menu option in the app’s navigation – you’re asked to select at least five interests you want to follow. Using this information, Amazon Spark will create a customized feed of products, imagery and ideas that will relate to the sort of things you like to shop for, or learn more about.

Brand: The two companies are fighting for a piece of the fast-growing sports bra market, which analysts say accounts for more than $1 billion in U.S. sales a year. Last year, Lululemon executives said third-quarter bra sales grew more than 20 percent.
eCommerce: Amazon’s grand proclamations, on the other hand, tend to focus on domi­nation, not on providing any sort of abstract benefit to society outside the lowering of prices and the delivery of goods. The company has never put forth a rosy vision of the future of service labor. Amazon warehouse work is hard, often subcontracted and kept out of sight of consumers. According to a 2015 investigation by The Times, even at the corporate office, the work culture is unapologetically ruthless.

Amazon Prime Day Statistical Recap
Click the above graphic for more data. In what will likely go down as a pivotal moment for Amazon's voice commerce battle against hardware newcomers like Google, the devices were of the most incentivized.

In Electronics, historically the best-selling category on Prime Day, Amazon’s collective portfolio of Echo, Echo Dot, Kindle, and Fire tablet devices, accounted for 26% of all eligible deals and 44% of page one deals, according to L2 data.

It's 2 PM [PT] · West 54th Street · New York New York 10019 · USA
Unsubscribe | View in browser