Nike Inc. started cleaning its stats sheet the other day and the very first time, the Cheap Jordans empire declined to report “future orders,” a critical measure of 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 focused on doing business directly with consumers and cutting out the middleman.
Nike sells to retailers through a mix of EDI and e-commerce. While Nike reported its slowest quarterly sales growth since 2010, its performance as being a retailer-instead of a wholesaler-was a relative highlight. Sales on Nike’s own web store were up 19% in the recent quarter, while its retail locations notched a 5% grow in same-store sales. 28% of sales are direct this coming year, compared with 4% five years ago. CEO Mark Parker said the organization is obsessed right now with making shopping more personal. “Retailers who don’t embrace distinction is going to be left behind,” he warned on the conference call Tuesday.
Still, that wasn’t enough to impress investors-at the very least, not. The overlooked appeal of bricks-and-mortar retail is how well retail chains lend themselves from what economists call price segmentation. Shoemakers such as Nike can easily target customers by sending the right shoes to the correct 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 such places as DSW Inc.
If performed correctly, this socioeconomic slotting moves just as much merchandise as is possible with minimal fuss, whilst not tarnishing the bigger brand. To make no mistake: Nike can it correctly. On its face, the Swoosh is a design shop supercharged by the kind 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 each Nike Shoes Cheap in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager having a giant spreadsheet, ensuring “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too simple to find, ordering up an exclusive design for China, distributing its best-sellers for all the right Di.ck’s Sporting Goods Inc. outlets and dumping plenty of Chuck Taylors at outlet malls.
Nike is currently upsetting its very 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 run around the essential economics of price segmentation. The strategy-a bold move, given the historical manufacturer-to-retail model being discarded-requires no shortage of swagger. But Nike’s numbers reveal that the bet is apparently working, primarily because Nike has been sharpening its digital game.
Sought-after sneakers now ship out via Nike’s own ecosystem of apps, including SNKRS, which it launched early last year. The center of the lineup, meanwhile, sells on Nike.com as well as in its own big box stores. When it comes to 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 New York City that makes customized shoes on-site in approximately an hour.
In a nutshell, the organization is deemphasizing its ready-made network of retailers to generate an even more precise targeting mechanism. Tuesday Parker said the final goal is to obtain ahead of the consumer and offer “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the industry. “While changing your approach is rarely easy, Nike has proven before that when we all do, it’s always tmrzsh another phase of growth for the company,” he explained.
In principle, Nike can know any given customer better-and his or her willingness to cover-by using its very own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The process is going to be building the mechanism to sort each of the data, and in doing so, the customers. In real life, they sort themselves: Our prime-end boutique isn’t right next to the cut-rate discount outlet. In the virtual world, it’s not easy.
For that record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly ahead of Nike Inc., with 31% of their sales coming directly from consumers; Cheap Nike Shoes China is slightly behind, with 23% of revenue from retail. At its current pace, Nike will soon be collecting one in three of their sales dollars directly from consumers. Its challenge is going to be ensuring that none of them get too good an agreement.