Nike Inc. started cleaning up its stats sheet the other day and for the first time, the sneaker 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 inside 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 mix 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 online store were up 19% inside the recent quarter, while its retail locations notched a 5% gain in same-store sales. 28% of sales are direct this coming year, in comparison with 4% 5 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 thrill investors-a minimum of, 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 cheap nike shoes from china free shipping 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, limited 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 such places as DSW Inc.
If performed correctly, all of this socioeconomic slotting moves the maximum amount of merchandise as possible with minimal fuss, while not tarnishing the bigger brand. And make no mistake: Nike can it correctly. On its face, the Swoosh is really 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 exactly what to ship where. For each sneaker sketching savant in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager using a giant spreadsheet, making certain “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too easy to find, ordering up cheap nike shoes wholesale for China, distributing its best-sellers to all the best 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 working to make an end run around the basic 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 show 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 last year. The heart of its 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 includes a studio in Ny that creates wholesale nike shoes in approximately one hour.
In short, the organization is deemphasizing its ready-made network wemjjs retailers to produce an even more precise targeting mechanism. Tuesday Parker said the final goal is to obtain in front of the consumer and present “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the industry. “While changing your approach is rarely easy, Nike has proven before that whenever we all do, it’s always ignited the next phase of growth for the company,” he explained.
Theoretically, Nike can know any given customer better-and her or his willingness to cover-by utilizing its own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The challenge will be building the mechanism to sort all of the data, and by doing this, the buyers. In the real world, they sort themselves: The top-end boutique isn’t right next to the cut-rate discount outlet. Inside the virtual world, it’s not easy.
For your record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly in front of Nike Inc., with 31% of its sales coming straight from consumers; Adidas AG 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 straight from consumers. Its challenge will likely be making sure that none of them get too good an agreement.