This week, diversity and inclusion took center stage in the retail industry.

On the one hand, fashion startup Cuyana raised $30 Million in one of the largest rounds for a female-founded fashion startup.

From the other hand, Target took its Black History Month celebrations one step forward this year. The company, that had a public campaign tied to Black History Month since 2006, released a new collection last week featuring prominent African Americans, all of which are curated or designed by Target employees.

Times are changing, and so is the retail industry. While there’s a way to go, minorities that had lower representation in retail in the past are now standing in the forefront of the industry- from successful startups to new political collections.

But that’s not all. Here is a quick recap of some of the other retail stories that happened this week:

Employees take lead on Target’s expanded Black History Month collection

Looking to get in the spirit of Black History Month?

Four years ago, a group of Target employees convinced the retailer to try a test during Black History Month and launch black-themed merchandise.

It worked. Shoppers wanted more.

This year, Target decided to make an even bigger bet on the idea, by tripling the number of stores carrying its Black History Month collection compared with 2018, and increasing the number of items in stores.

Its new collection of tees, for example, was designed, developed, and curated by Target team members, and features the names of influential African Americans throughout history: Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, and Frederick Douglass.

The collection joins Target’s support of organizations that help African American students in higher education, including HBCU, the Atlanta National Black MBA chapter, and UNCF. Target’s move has been getting support on social media- from mom-blogs embracing the kids tee collection to political activists.

Who said retailers can’t benefit from taking a political stand?

Image Source: startribune

Cuyana raises $30 Million in one of the largest rounds for a female-founded fashion startup

This week,  leather accessories startup Cuyana announced it raised $30 Million, making it one of the largest rounds raised by a female-founded fashion retail company.

The news comes as the 6 years old DTC brand announced that it was also now profitable as it expanded from an online-only business into physical retail as well.

similarly to beauty brand Glossier, Cuyana focused on building a community of small but loyal customers. The company was able to deliver strong year-over-year growth with a nimble supply chain and omnichannel business.

Other female-founded clothing startups that have raised capital recently include Dia&Co and For Days.

Image Source: Forbes

Amazon plans to launch a new Middle East marketplace, two years after buying Souq for $580 million

Amazon is launching a new marketplace targeting Middle Eastern countries Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The company is directing sellers to focus on Amazon’s main site instead of Souq.com, the Middle East’s biggest online marketplace it bought for $580 million in 2017.

Now, Amazon is downplaying its UAE brand and preparing to launch its own platform in the region, in attempt to unify its brand and back-end system and help more U.S. based sellers expand their sales in the region.

It is not clear whether Amazon plans to close Souq or is attempting to funnel traffic and sales to its main website, as it website still includes listing dozens of job openings for Souq, with most of the positions in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman, Jordan.

Image Source: Innovation Village

Nike opens a pop-up store based on its SNKRS app

Are mobile-enabled stores the next big thing for retailers?

Nike opened a SNKRS pop-up store in Atlanta to serve the brand’s SNKRS mobile app users, proving once again that digital is not necessarily anti-physical.

The store offers a vending machine with SNKRS-related items, that shoppers can use by scanning a pass in their SNKRS app.

The new SNKRS store is the next step in Nike’s strategy of encouraging customers to use its apps in physical retail locations, following its House of Innovation flagship store in NY. The concept space, that focuses on customization for Nike loyalists, greatly relies on the retailer’s NikePlus app.

Whether other brands decide to follow through, there’s no doubt the SNKRS app plays an important component in Nike’s growth engine, and a key path to keep sneakerheads engaged with the brand.

Image Source: Retail Dive

J.C. Penney pulls the plug on previous CEO’s home appliance strategy

 The 110-year old retailer is trying to reinvent itself again.

The company announced it will exit the home appliance business after bringing it back just three years ago.

Why is the company going back to basics?

The company has not been profitable since 2010, and analysts are projecting that losses will continue for the coming few years.

Home appliances were a pet project of former CEO Marvin Ellison, who had previously run Home Depot and left to manage Lowe’s last year.

The idea was simple – home appliances are a low-margin business that requires high sales volume to make up for low profits. But things didn’t work out as planned: appliances were not a good fit for Penny, that never identified itself as a home equipment company.

Meanwhile, JCPenney’s stock fell 2% Wednesday. It has recovered this year after falling below $1 for the first time in the company’s existence in December.

For what it’s worth- things aren’t looking good for Its competitor Sears, that filed for bankruptcy last month.

Image Source: StarTribune 

Summary

In recent years, we’ve seen a growing number of digitally-native retailers such as Warby Parker, Casper and even Amazon opening physical stores – in an attempt to manifest their online success via face-to-face customer engagement.

Meanwhile, brands like NIKE continue to reinvent brick-and-mortar, with their latest pop-up SNKRS Atlanta, a physical manifestation of a mobile app.

From DTC brands opening up permanent stores to mobile-enables stores, this week made one thing clear: the next generation of physical retail is already here.

 

Featured Image Source: Retail Dive

Inbal Perlman

Inbal is the community and hub manager of the Re:Tech hub, a co-workingspace for retail and e-commerce startups based in the heart of Tel Aviv. The Hub offers its members industry focused events, access to global partners and various opportunities in the global and local retail tech ecosystem.

If you are in retail and would like to learn what new technologies can help push your business forward, get in touch.