Issue No. 230: The Top 25 DNVB’s of 2017



Click the above graphic for more data. In what will likely go down as a pivotal moment for Amazon’s voice commerce battle against hardware newcomers like Google, the devices were of the most incentivized.

In Electronics, historically the best-selling category on Prime Day, Amazon’s collective portfolio of Echo, Echo Dot, Kindle, and Fire tablet devices, accounted for 26% of all eligible deals and 44% of page one deals, according to L2 data.

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 225: eCommerce and middle America


A last word: Amazon v. Alibaba

The differences between Alibaba and Amazon are numerous but there is one glaring difference. eCommerce in America is increasingly marketed as a solution for the middle-to-upper class. In China, eCommerce has made progress opening channels to rural and poorer citizens. Here, it is a novelty and growth is more difficult. In China, eCommerce is an economy open to all (mostly out of logistical necessity).

At last survey, eCommerce has a 30%+ adoption rate in China vs. 12%+ in the United States.

Why the difference? eCommerce is a relative luxury in America and the cost of fulfillment is to blame. With the (1) proliferation of “free” shipping, (2) the skyrocketing costs of warehousing, (3) and the slim margins of many major eCommerce players, adoption is reduced to a smaller slice of the American population than our Chinese counterparts.

In short: in America, we only market to people that can best support our rising logistics costs.

It is through this lens that you should view Amazon and Walmart’s recent developments. While we’ve all read the strategic differences between Amazon’s acquisition strategy and Walmart’s, one similarity is that both are moving upmarket. Solid Yarn Spun Tees and Kombucha Tea anyone?

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Issue No. 222: 🗣Hi, SiriAlexaGoogle.

Say hello to the HomePod by AppleOf all of today’s WWDC advancements, this is the most interesting to me. Voice Commerce and audio advertising are both on the rise. As such, it should be interesting to see how Apple competes with Google’s “Home” (the superior ad business) and Amazon’s “Echo” (the superior commerce business). For a device like this, entertainment may not be enough to make it an essential home tool. Advantage, Amazon?

Graphic of the week


This about more than athletic shoes. In many ways, this race between the three largest American athletic brands will signify how all brands must evolve to compete in a rapidly changing market. If you missed out, read the latest by Yahoo’s Daniel Roberts with great quotes by 2PM reader and seasoned retail analyst, Matt Powell.


Issue No. 217B: Blank


One step closer to becoming a DNVB. Last covered in Issue No. 203, Cotton Bureau is one-step closer to filling a void left behind by American Apparel’s bankruptcy. They’ve begun manufacturing a new type of tee for all shapes and sizes. It’s called “Blank” and it has the potential to solve a gaping sourcing issue in a major fashion segment.

Led by Michelle SharpCotton Bureau is inching closer to launching their Kickstarter and they are welcoming apparel testers and participants in their upcoming video shoot with the team at Sandwich.

Started from the bottom, now we’re…somewhere in the middle.

If you’re interested in helping the Cotton Bureau team’s launch into manufacturing, let me know. I am huge fan of their growing, Pittsburgh-based team and the more that you learn about them, the more you’ll say the same.
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Issue No. 205: That’s one way to get clicks.


That’s a lot of selling up there. And apparently, it works.

Goop’s Elise Loehnen would be a very interesting coffee meeting. Prior to serving as the VP of marketing & creative services for Shopzilla, she was editor at the following publications: Lucky Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, and Seek. She has been the Head of Content at Goop for three years. She seems to have made  quite the profitable jump from pure journalism to lifestyle content (albeit with a strict editorial policy).

The most well-positioned sellers (large or niche) are the ones where its consumers are focused and eager to buy. The more unapologetically focused the brand is on its demographic, the more effective the pitch. Take it from Los Angeles’ Eckhaus Latta, who’s never seen more attention than they have today (very NSFW).

As a media group, Goop isn’t far behind Eckhaus on the unapologetic appeal curve. And it seems to be working wonders for its audience.

So here are the fundamentals of the Goop operation:

  • The editorial site is hosted on WordPress
  • The eCommerce operation is cloud-based (Shopify)
  • Ads are optimized by Dynamic Yield.

The group achieves 1.2M monthly uniques and does a rumored $4M per year in higher margin eCommerce and another $2M in lower margin affiliate sales. In short, the site is built to sustain on a niche following:

When you’re a Goop-ert (what Goop newsletter devotees call themselves, I would think), your days are likely filled with a packed schedule of facial and vaginal steaming, several hours of vegetable chopping and zoodling, followed by an evening of sipping alkaline water out of a wine glass while cradling a jade egg in your perineum. It’s an exhausting life, but a full one, and yet still—something’s off. According to Goop, that something isn’t caused by the crushing sameness of everyday wealth; it’s actually due to to a vitamin deficiency.

Joanna Rothkopf, Managing Editor of Jezebel
Paltrow and her team seem to be getting closer to making the Goop product a cashflow positive community. They are breaking the rules of commerce and journalism and making new ones in real time. The Goop-ert’s aren’t mad about it.

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 119: Spotify v. Apple

Apple’s Weapon in The Battle Against Spotify is Hip Hop


In my original tweet here, I cite a few points on the on-going saga between Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify. Tidal has been rumored to be an M&A target and I’ve made a few assumptions as to why. In the battle of hip hop exclusives, it’s between Tidal and Apple Music. Spotify, who does a great job of unearthing indie records and musicians, doesn’t compete for the hip hop audience. Tidal, who took a different approach to the streaming wars, owns the rights to much of RocNation’s rights (Jay Z, Rihanna, etc) and G.O.O.D. Music’s rights (Kanye West and signees). Apple has grown to adopt this model and a Tidal M&A will complete the cycle.

And like I mentioned in yesterday’s letter, Spotify is suffering the cost of paying labels. Profitability is nowhere to be found.

Apple on the other hand, is buying the rights to music and exclusive releases. In essence, rather than reselling a vendor’s product for a 7% margin, they’ve acquired the brands and reaped much higher (and sustainable) margins. Apple’s model of negotiating with artists for exclusive rights is one step closer to Apple owning the machine. Universal and Sony could one day go the way of record stores.

I don’t expect much from music press but this one article tips the hat. If this Kanye West signee gave Apple Music an exclusive, Apple’s all but finalized the acquisition of Jay Z’s Tidal. Rdio’s former employees are probably salty about that.

See more of the issue here.