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This is issue No. 257. The last issue had a 39.26% open rate with 13.3% of you reading up Harvard Business Review's story on how DNVB's differentiate themselves from heritage brands. Hint, it's all about the brand's approach to reaching and retaining users. 

Brief: Shopify beats estimates, growth concerns analysts [written pre-Snapchat partnership]. And here's an in-depth look at ESPN's D2C media plan by Awful Announcing.

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The Rise of the 21st Century Brand Economy [download] | eCommerce: Here is the 177 page definitive white paper on the direct to consumer economy. Brands characterized by their direct connections to consumer are disrupting the business model of market-leading brands which is leading to a new way of doing business. These direct brands are digitally savvy and fueled by data and will be the growth engine of the new economy.

From Randall Rothenberg's address on a failing "old brand" economy:

So powerful was this form of value creation that brands could afford to go through a laborious form of value-extraction involving multiple third parties - and still make money. We call this “The Indirect Brand Economy.” Brands would first go through advertising agencies, because agencies, beginning in the late 19th Century, owned all the competitive pricing information about media. The agencies then went to another third party, what we today call publishers, because publishers controlled virtually all access to the consumer.
Direct to Consumer Brands Are Exploding | DNVB: Major brands are being cannibalized by the rise of direct-to-consumer newcomers. And while most of these direct brands are small, the impact on incumbents has been "pronounced and severe,"  says IAB President Randall Rothenberg, who presented data about this at the IAB's annual conference in California Monday. 
J. Crew Hires Starbucks Executive to Innovate | Retail: Brotman was most recently the top executive overseeing Starbucks stores but is perhaps best known for the work he did in previous digital-focused roles. As chief digital officer, Brotman oversaw the launch of Starbucks’ popular “mobile order and pay” smartphone feature — which now accounts for 11 percent of total transactions at Starbucks-owned stores.
Farfetch Gears Up For Store of The Future | eCommerce: Farfetch, long tipped for a stock market listing, runs an online marketplace allowing people to buy luxury clothes or accessories from more than 700 brands and boutiques worldwide. After buying London boutique Browns in 2015, Farfetch is also working on technology that allows customers to flag a wish list of items via their phones when they stroll into a store, or even tell assistants that they are not feeling chatty.
WeWork Moves Into Retail  | Retail Real Estate: Starting today, WeWork is joining forces with J.Crew to host a panel discussion series at select WeWork locations in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia. As part of the partnership, these venues will also sell merchandise from J.Crew’s spring collection at pop-up shops that offer discounts to WeWork members. The stores include a philanthropic element, in which a portion of proceeds will support local charities in each respective city.
PepsiCo Invests in eCommerce  | eCommerce: This investment by PepsiCo could go toward developing new digital channels and innovations to give consumers new and exciting ways to buy food and drinks. PepsiCo should also consider determining the best kinds of packaging and presentation to draw impulse purchases online. Since consumers can't feel a beverage's packaging or see it as they would in-store, which is a driver of impulse buys, having specific e-commerce drink models or marketing could pay dividends.
The Top 25 eCommerce Sites | eCommerce: In its annual ranking, researchers at SEMrush named as the site with the most traffic, followed by in second and in third. Russian fashion site came in fourth while was fifth — dropping from third place in last year’s rankings. took the number six spot, and was followed by India’s in seventh and at number eight. Rounding out the top 10 spots were at number nine and in tenth.
Amazon Owns My Echo, I'm Just Feeding It | Data: But if Alexa is in fact a friendly voice assistant you can trust, and which has simulated human-like traits such as taste and opinion, Amazon’s complete control over that taste and opinion seems unsettling to me. Imagine if your best friend had their personality updated, and now they preferred AmazonBasics USB cables to Anker ones?
Why the Facebook's Early Efforts To Kill Snapchat Backfired | Media: The Instagram Stories clone, which didn’t come until mid-2016, was much better — and is also a hit. It has more than 300 million daily users, well over 100 million more users than Snapchat has for its entire app. Snap is now worth almost $25 billion, and it’s certainly possible Snapchat and Spiegel would have ended up in the same place whether Zuckerberg tried to kill it or not. 
Harry's Prepares to Expand | DNVB:  “We’ve built a lot of infrastructure at Harry’s that we think we can leverage into new categories,” Jeff Raider, one of Harry’s founders, said in a telephone interview. “It’s something that we’ve been excited about for a long time, and we’re now at a point in our business where we can act on it.”

How Brooks Brothers Became De Facto | Brand: Brooks Brothers has been the leader of multiple major trends and disruptions within the textile industry. Their invention of the soft-collared button-down polo shirt — which was introduced in the 19th century — has been worn by everyone from Ivy League students to Andy Warhol. This new kind of shirt, at the time, got rid of the need for stiff detachable linen collars.

Prime Members Drive Amazon Apparel Growth | eCommerce: While Target has "lost the most" in terms of shoppers switching some or all of their apparel spending to Amazon, Walmart lost the second most, according to the report. Department stores are also losing to Amazon in the category, with Macy's and J.C. Penney ranking "disproportionately high" in terms of how many apparel shoppers they have lost in part or in full to Amazon Fashion, according to the report.
Goop Hires To Expand Product Categories | Media: Overall, Goop tripled its year-over-year revenue in 2017, and while its multibrand business grew 250 percent during the year, its own brand grew 400 percent and is on track to make up more than 50 percent of the company's e-commerce revenue in 2018. But Lawson said the 50-50 split "is an ideal balance for us" because Goop wants its own products to "fit seamlessly into our multibrand assortment."
2PM Tracks: Snapchat eCommerce

In the United States, eCommerce is dominated by consumer search. Product discovery still lags behind. While Amazon continues their efforts to insource a tried and true discovery mechanism that is currently outsourced to digital publishers (in exchange for affiliate revenue), the hole in the system remains. So, leave it to the embattled media company known for discovery to attempt the leap.

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