August 2020 Monthly News Roundup
By TRAUB On September 08, 2020
We are pleased to share with you our roundup for August 2020. This month we highlight shift to virtual storefronts in hopes of increasing convenience and renewed health and wellness offerings.
What’s next for retailers as we head into Fall and Winter? This month, we gain a truer understanding of consumers' current mindset and how that effects their purchase preferences and decisions moving in the coming months.
The public and private markets were strong in August with multiple industry heavy weights filing IPOs. In the tech and software industries, project management software startup, Asana, prepared a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange and Sumo Logic, a cloud management software startup, filed for a $100M IPO. The San Francisco-based hospitality giant, Airbnb took the first steps to file preliminary IPO paperwork. This comes as travel booking stocks Expedia and Booking Holdings bounced 60% and Expedia 118% back from losses sustained earlier in the pandemic. The online marketplace for secondhand clothing, ThreadUp, is also said to be gearing up to go public early next year and could raise $200M to $300M.
Within M&A, another big move in the apparel industry is Simon Property Group and Authentic Brands Venture's win of Brooks Brothers in a $325M bid. As part of the agreement, Simon Property Group and Authentic Brands Group have formed Sparc Group, a 50-50 joint venture committed to keeping at least 125 Brooks Brothers stores open. Notable investments this month included: Fortnite-maker Epic Games ($1.78B), Warby Parker ($245M), revenue intelligence start-up Gong ($200M), fin-tech company Robinhood ($200M), visual collaboration tool MURAL ($118M), mental health care benefits provider Lyra Health ($110M), artificial intelligence and machine-learning platform Dataiku ($100M), music licensing startup Songtradr ($30M), urban furniture rental Feather ($30M), office of the future ROOM ($12.5M), and top brands and online retailers connector MikMak ($10M).
Shift to Virtual Storefronts to Increase Convenience
Since the start of the pandemic, the availability and location from which products are purchased have become two of the most important factors in order to convert sales. Amazon is currently in talks with Simon Property Group to take over space previously occupied by Sears or J.C Penney and turn them into online fulfillment centers. Two ex-Googlers are also focusing on increasing convenience for consumers by bringing pantry boxes into apartments, offices, dorms, and gyms. The concept, named Bodega, is primed for the post-COVID era as it allows consumers to shop for non-perishable items without a person manning the 'store'. The food delivery service, DoorDash, is also launching convenience stores, called DashMart, to sell household items and other goods. These stores will act as micro-fulfillment centers and carry around 2000 items for DoorDash employees to pack and delivery. This move to virtual storefronts is as a result of DoorDash's initial response to the pandemic when the brand partnered with 1,800 convenience stores throughout the U.S in order to better serve consumers. Venture capitalists are also investing heavily in virtual convenience stores and solutions for everyday needs as GoPuff receives $1B to build the ultimate online convenience store. These developments further solidifies the importance of local experiences and the need for consumers to shop in closer neighborhoods amid the pandemic.
Renewed Health and Wellness Offerings
Over the span on the pandemic, consumer interest in health, wellness, and fitness has never been higher and the pandemic has boosted sales in categories, such as at-home fitness subscriptions, self-care, and supplements. The wellness category is likely to remain a top priority across industries as consumers remain hungry for more personalized remote exercise options and offerings that focus on health benefits. Coty Inc.'s newly appointed CEO, Sue Nabi, vows to refocus the company on beauty products that not only deliver results better than others, but also are sustainable and 'clean'. Leaders across industries are experimenting with different ways to enhance both physical and emotional wellness in their products. This month, Amazon introduced Halo, a new membership program which utilizes deep neural network-based monitor health and wellness. Similarly, the innovative neuroscience wellness technology company, Feelmore Labs, introduced Cove, another wearable device that reduces stress and improves sleep by applying vibrations behind the ears that helps regulates anxiety. In the U.K, women's activewear retailer Sweaty Betty is preparing for a sale that could be about $524M in transaction.
If you don't already, follow us on Instagram @theretailsafari as we highlight some of our favorite brands and concepts and take you with us on our retail safaris in NYC and beyond. We wish everyone health and safety during these trying times.