Nike Inc. started cleaning up its stats sheet a week ago and the first time, the sneaker empire declined to report “future orders,” a critical measure of wholesale demand from your galaxy of retailers who sell the famous kicks. Nike, No. 9 in the B2B E-Commerce 300, says the metric doesn’t matter much anymore, because now it’s dedicated to doing business directly with consumers and cutting out the middleman.
Nike sells to retailers through a combination of EDI and e-commerce. While Nike reported its slowest quarterly sales growth since 2010, its performance as a retailer-instead of a wholesaler-had been a relative highlight. Sales on Nike’s own online store were up 19% inside the recent quarter, while its retail locations notched a 5% grow in same-store sales. 28% of all 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 out,” he warned on a conference call Tuesday.
Still, that wasn’t enough to thrill investors-at least, not yet. The overlooked beauty of bricks-and-mortar retail is the way well retail chains lend themselves to what economists call price segmentation. Shoemakers like Nike can certainly target customers by sending the cheap nike shoes free shipping 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, 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 these places as DSW Inc.
If done properly, this socioeconomic slotting moves the maximum amount of merchandise as is possible with minimal fuss, without tarnishing the greater brand. And make no mistake: Nike will it correctly. On its face, the Swoosh is really 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 every sneaker sketching savant in Beaverton, Ore., there’s a mid-level manager using a giant spreadsheet, making sure “Momofuku” Dunks aren’t too easy to find, ordering up cheap nike shoes wholesale for China, distributing its best-sellers for all the correct Di,ck’s Sporting Goods Inc. outlets and dumping lots of Chuck Taylors at outlet malls.
Nike is now 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 play 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 seems to be working, primarily because Nike has become sharpening its digital game.
Sought-after sneakers now ship out via Nike’s own ecosystem of apps, including SNKRS, which it launched early a year ago. The heart of its lineup, meanwhile, sells on Nike.com as well as in its own big box stores. With regards to cheaper, less-popular kicks, they quietly trickle in to the company’s “factory” stores (read: outlet) and onto Amazon.com. Nike even includes a studio in New York that creates cheap nike shoes free shipping in about an hour.
To put it briefly, the business is deemphasizing its ready-made network wemjjs retailers to generate an even more precise targeting mechanism. Tuesday Parker said the conclusion goal is to buy in front of the consumer and offer “the most personal, digitally connected experiences” in the business. “While altering your approach is rarely easy, Nike has proven before that if we do, it’s always ignited the following phase of growth for our company,” he explained.
Theoretically, Nike can know any given customer better-and her or his willingness to pay-by using their own venues and platforms, particularly on its digital properties. The task 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: The top-end boutique isn’t right next to the cut-rate discount outlet. Inside the virtual world, it’s not too easy.
For that record, Under Armour Inc. is slightly ahead of Nike Inc., with 31% of their sales coming right from consumers; Adidas AG is slightly behind, with 23% of revenue from retail. At its current pace, Nike will quickly be collecting one in three of the sales dollars straight from consumers. Its challenge will be ensuring that not one of them get too good a deal.