July 2020 Monthly News Roundup

We are pleased to share with you our roundup for July 2020. This month we highlight the rise of video shopping platforms and creative methods of rebuilding the feeling of safety and serendipity of pre-pandemic shopping. 



As U.S states continue to balance the phased-reopening process with the fight against the COVID-19 virus, retailers and businesses continue to assess how to prepare for the longer-term implications and remediate the shorter-term set backs. 


Within the public and private markets, activity continued to be stable in July across various sectors as several companies fell into a position to benefit from changes in consumer behavior. In early July, the Silicon Valley data start-up which specializes in big data analytics, Palantir Technologies, filed an IPO. With a valuation of $20B, this recent IPO set the company up as one of the largest listings since Uber filed to go public last year. Jamf, the Minnesota founded business that helps companies manage their Apple equipment, also filed to go public this month. Although new offerings had slowed down in the previous months because of the instability caused by the pandemic, these new listings highlight the public market investors' hunger for new technology offerings and are more examples of technology companies worth more than $1B going public during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


M&A strengthened in July with real estate, brand management, and PE firms submitting bids for struggling brands. Authentic Brands Group and Sycamore Partners were among the parties considering buying Ascena Retail Group Inc., the parent company to bankrupt Ann Taylor. Similarly, Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group submitted a $305M bid for Brooks Brothers. In the food delivery industry, the most significant move this month was Uber's acquisition of Postmates. After Uber's June attempt of acquiring GrubHub fell flat, it successfully acquired Postmates in a $2.6B all-stock transaction. This new partnership plans to marry Uber's Rides and Eats platform with Postmates' delivery business. In an effort to expand into the world of audio production, The New York Times acquired Serial Productions for $25M, the podcasting company behind the popular 'Serial' podcast series. Notable raises this month include: e-grocery company Missfresh ($495M), animal-free dairy protein-maker Perfect Day ($300M), acquirer of Amazon third-party private-label businesses Thrasio ($260M), 'Fortnite' maker Epic Games ($250M), digital elective care and telemedicine provider Ro ($200M), Insurtech unicorn Hippo ($150M), cloud contact center Talkdesk ($143M ), identity platform Auth0 ($120M), prescription delivery platform Medly Pharmacy ($100M), at-home care model Heal ($100M), money transfer company Remitly ($85M), virtual care provider Doctor On Demand ($75M), virtual gym Tempo ($60M), non-invasive 'Neuroscience as a Service' technology company Kernel ($53M), fertility company Kindbody ($32M), Goldman Sachs - backed startup Bond ($32M), advanced connected rower company Ergatta ($5M), home-buying experience company Nomad Homes ($4M), live-streaming shopping app company Popshop Live ($3M), and gear rental platform for outdoor adventures Arrive Outdoors ($4.75M). 


The Rise of Video Shopping Platforms 


This month, many companies capitalized on consumers' recent shifts towards more digitized shopping habits by bringing consumers squarely into the realm of e-commerce via video shopping. Most recently, Google's internal R&D division, Area 120, launched Shoploop, a video shopping platform designed to provide a single place for consumers to explore, research, and buy. At the moment, product videos are under 90 seconds long and are from trusted content creators and influencers in the beauty industry. Similarly, Amazon also gave live streamers a new way to earn commissions on purchase of products showcased in their streams. This month, Amazon added live streaming to its Amazon Influencer Program to help influencers earn additional money by sharing their favorite products with their fans. In another move to show support to content creators, Tik Tok unveiled a $200M fund to help its top U.S content creators supplement their earnings. As consumers maintain the digitized shopping habits that they've picked up over the course of the pandemic, they will not only look for digital purchasing options, but will also seek more streamlined and interactive methods to shop.


Creative Methods of Rebuilding the Feeling of Safety and Serendipity of Pre-Pandemic Shopping


As U.S states balance re-openings and the continued battle against the virus, many businesses turn to different methods to reassure consumers and rebuild the feeling of safety. Neiman Marcus launched "Your Neiman's", a virtual hub designed to help customers make appointments for in-store shopping or curbside pickup, work with a stylist via video, or learn about fashion through virtual events. These luxury services and experiences have allowed those who remain wary of indoor shopping to continue engaging in Neiman Marcus' offerings. Similarly, the immersive retail startup Showfields launched  a contactless in-store app called Magic Wand to help consumers feel more comfortable shopping during the pandemic. The app augments in-store experiences by serving as a virtual adviser for customers who use their phone to scan a product and checkout without having to interact with any store associates. For cosmetic brands who have long relied on in-store sales, the pandemic safety measures have prevented consumers from sampling products, a step that has always been vital to the cosmetic buying experience. This month, two of the industries biggest names, L'Oreal and Estee Lauder, implemented virtual beauty tools that allow consumers to try on over 100 shades of products. As in-store testers become less prevalent, many beauty brands will have to turn to apps and increased online presences to not only keep consumers engaged but also to help consumers experience products safely. 


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.