Nike Inc. started cleaning its stats sheet last week and for the first time, the Cheap Nike Shoes empire declined to report “future orders,” a vital way of measuring wholesale demand from the galaxy of retailers who sell the famous kicks. Nike, No. 9 within the B2B E-Commerce 300, says the metric doesn’t matter much anymore, because now it’s centered on conducting business directly with consumers and removing the middleman.
Nike sells to retailers through a mixture of EDI and e-commerce. While Nike reported its slowest quarterly sales growth since 2010, its performance being a retailer-instead of a wholesaler-was actually 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 all the sales are direct this year, compared with 4% five-years ago. CEO Mark Parker said the company is obsessed today with making shopping more personal. “Retailers who don’t embrace distinction will likely be left out,” he warned on a conference call Tuesday.
Still, that wasn’t enough to impress investors-at the very least, not even. The overlooked attractiveness of bricks-and-mortar retail is just how well retail chains lend themselves from what economists call price segmentation. Shoemakers like Nike can certainly target customers by sending the correct shoes off to the right type 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 just as much merchandise as possible with minimal fuss, while not tarnishing the larger brand. To make no mistake: Nike will it correctly. On its face, the Swoosh is a design shop supercharged by the type 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 Cheap Jordans From China in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager having a giant spreadsheet, making certain “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too easy to find, ordering up a special design for China, distributing its best-sellers to any or all the right Di.ck’s Sporting Goods Inc. outlets and dumping lots of Chuck Taylors at outlet malls.
Nike is now 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 attempting to make a conclusion play the essential economics of price segmentation. The strategy-a bold move, because of the historical manufacturer-to-retail model being discarded-requires an abundance of swagger. But Nike’s numbers demonstrate that the bet appears to be working, primarily because Nike continues to be sharpening its digital game.
Sought-after sneakers now ship out via Nike’s own ecosystem of apps, including SNKRS, which it launched early this past year. The heart of its lineup, meanwhile, sells on Nike.com and then in its very own big box stores. As for the cheaper, less-popular kicks, they quietly trickle to the company’s “factory” stores (read: outlet) and onto Amazon.com. Nike even has a studio in Ny that creates customized shoes on-site in approximately an hour.
In short, the organization is deemphasizing its ready-made network of retailers to create an even more precise targeting mechanism. Tuesday Parker said the end goal is to obtain in front of the consumer and present “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the market. “While altering your approach is never easy, Nike has proven before that whenever we do, it’s always tmrzsh the next phase of growth for our company,” he explained.
In theory, Nike can know virtually any customer better-and his or her willingness to cover-by utilizing its own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The process will be building the mechanism to sort each of the data, and by doing this, the buyers. In real life, they sort themselves: Our prime-end boutique isn’t right near the cut-rate discount outlet. Within the virtual world, it’s not easy.
For the record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly in front of Nike Inc., with 31% of its sales coming straight from consumers; Cheap Nike Shoes China is slightly behind, with 23% of revenue from retail. At its current pace, Nike will quickly be collecting one in three of its sales dollars directly from consumers. Its challenge will be being sure that not one of them get too good an agreement.