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Post-Pandemic Makeout Vibes. Make it stop.

PLUS: Saks gets a divorce from its own eCom.
March 5, 2021

Bundling and unbundling. This is the way. Saks is unbundling its eCom in a $500M deal with VC firm Insight Partners, taking a minority position in the digital commerce arm, valuing it at $2B. Unsurprisingly, Phillip and Brian have competing POV on this one.

Brian’s take: Bad.

This is bad for the brand, and splits the modern customer journey up between two different(ly aligned?) companies. Maybe it’s a lack of understanding about the role of digital and physical together? The fact is customers do want to interact with physical and digital in-store together and separately. This split might allow one part of the customer journey to modernize, leaving the other behind, resulting in separate systems that are not integrated deeply.

A stat that I heard at the NRF Chapter One event in January, is that 50 percent of existing Saks customers interact with digital in some way in-store. This split positions the two halves of the business to compete with each other in a way that they don’t today.

Phillip’s take: Good.

My recent visit to Saks was to purchase some (wait for it) candles. Don’t worry, they were for a belated Christmas gift. The Dyptique counter was almost completely sold-through due to two recent changes: 1) the Nordstrom across the street just closed and 2) as the recent influx of shoppers to the Worth Avenue store here in Palm Beach took buyers by surprise and left much of the store depleted in on-hand stock; and what was left was shipped from store from overflow of eCom-centric demand. I wound up purchasing during my visit, but most of my purchase had to be shipped from another store, and happened entirely via the eCom site on a sales associate’s iPad.

Luxury will continue to change and grow, and become more digital. Saks has been dependent on its aging eCom for too long, and dependent on third-party delivery partners like Shoprunner to acquire digital customers.

This split, if done correctly, will bolster making each experience better in its own right, instead of frustrating interdependence, which is the current situation.

Where Shoprunner pioneered the “luxury online store with 2-Day Prime-style shipping” model, Instacart is shortening that window to same-day, in a rare implementation of a 4-sided marketplace. It’s more than a delivery app, and luxury brands are signing up in droves with the addition of Sephora to its retailer portfolio. 

Hear more about how Instacart is dragging retailers into its marketplace by partnering with retailers via its ad network on the latest episode of our podcast.

With our forces combined… Square announced plans to acquire a majority stake in Tidal. While many scratched their heads about the deal, the move gives the struggling music streaming platform another shot at capitalizing on the frustration many artists openly share about incumbent Spotify and their pay-per-stream rates. 

From Phillip:

Don't miss the Cash App tie-in here. Square = Square Cash. Square has been going hard in the rap/hip hop scene to make square cash a thing. Read Dan Runcie's seminal piece on How Hip-Hop Helped Cash App Grow Faster

Square Cash's brand awareness was an influencer strategy. Tidal = hip hop/Jay is the DTC avenue to make that even more prolific. Square also enables SMB. Most artists are single-op SMB. This is the DTC/Media economy. Brilliant move.

Maximalism-spotting. Adidas collabed with Estonian rapper, Tommy Cash, to create really really really long sneakers, with enough room inside to store a $5 footlong.

Bad week for the Monarchy. In an effort to bring attention to a scholarship program targeted at bringing more women into the world of culinary arts, the U.K. account tweeted… this. Because performative marketing pretty much never works.

Maybe it would be better to stick with pictures of your burgers covered in mold?

Being cooped-up seems to have made marketers randy. Tumescent vibes abound in the newest wave of marketing campaigns from Suit Supply and Diesel, with the former going all-in on a post-pandemic poly campaign.

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