Nike Inc. started cleaning its stats sheet a week ago and for the first time, the Cheap Nike Shoes empire declined to report “future orders,” a crucial 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 centered on working 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 being a retailer-rather than a wholesaler-was a relative highlight. Sales on Nike’s own web store were up 19% within the recent quarter, while its retail locations notched a 5% grow in same-store sales. 28% of all the sales are direct this coming year, in contrast to 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 the conference call Tuesday.
Still, that wasn’t enough to thrill investors-at the very least, not. The overlooked attractiveness of bricks-and-mortar retail is the way well retail chains lend themselves to what economists call price segmentation. Shoemakers including Nike can simply target customers by sending the right shoes to the correct sort 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 done properly, this socioeconomic slotting moves as much merchandise as possible with minimal fuss, while not tarnishing the larger brand. Making no mistake: Nike can 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 each and every Nike Cheap Shoes in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager having a giant spreadsheet, making certain “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too readily available, ordering up a unique design for China, distributing its best-sellers to any or all the right Di.ck’s Sporting Goods Inc. outlets and dumping plenty 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 working to make an end play the fundamental economics of price segmentation. The strategy-a bold move, due to the historical manufacturer-to-retail model being discarded-requires no shortage of swagger. But Nike’s numbers show that the bet seems to be 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 this past year. The heart of its lineup, meanwhile, sells on Nike.com as well as in its 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 features a studio in New York that creates customized shoes on-site in about an hour or so.
In a nutshell, the business is deemphasizing its ready-made network of retailers to produce an even more precise targeting mechanism. Tuesday Parker said the end goal is to buy in front of the consumer and offer “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the industry. “While altering your approach is never easy, Nike has proven before that whenever we all do, it’s always tmrzsh another phase of growth for our company,” he explained.
Theoretically, Nike can know virtually any customer better-and her or his willingness to cover-by utilizing their own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The process will likely be building the mechanism to sort all the data, and in doing so, the buyers. In real life, they sort themselves: The high-end boutique isn’t right near the cut-rate discount outlet. Inside the virtual world, it’s not easy.
For the record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly in front of Nike Inc., with 31% of their 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 out of three of its sales dollars right from consumers. Its challenge will likely be ensuring that none get too good a deal.