Issue No. 242: Openings and Closings

Here is a contrasting look at the retail properties that will be expanding and contracting over the next year.
Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 11.19.18 PM.png
Via Forbes

One of the things you’ll see on the chart above is that the list of stores opening this year is dominated by discount and convenience stores. (You might not recognize some of the names. Couche-Tard is the corporate owner of Circle K stores, and Aldi and Lidl are large European grocery chains that are expanding in the US.)

The data highlight changing lifestyles and tastes. Fashion is less important in physical retail stores. It’s being shopped for more and more online and it’s becoming less of a focus for younger consumers who are more willing to spend money on experiences than on fashion products.

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 177: …that should inspire every brand.

Continuing On…

The plan is to continue by further improving its writing, design, function, and curation. While I won’t use the word “startup” to describe this project, I do hope that 2PM Links can be the authority on these matters and if the team must grow to achieve that, it will.

I began 2PM Links to grow as a student of commerce and the interconnectivity of data, media, and brand. Each day, I devoted hours to it. However, I look back on early writings with a bit of pause. My views on certain industries, companies, and initiatives were often determined without inspection. And that is a benefit of this letter. What you will take away from reading this letter is an evolved view of an ecosystem that fosters growth for companies. You will have an even better understanding of media, data interpretation, brand management, and commerce are the foundational pillars of many companies that thrive today. Fluidity is our modern law and the ecosystem is readjusted often enough to promote a need for collective effort.

The interconnectivity of our professions is what drives each of them along. And the plan for is to continue highlighting all that each industry offers, without opinion or sensationalism. I hope that you’ll stick around after no. 180.

Web Smith / @web

P.S. 2PM Links is well-read these days but here is the unheralded announcement of it on day one, just nine months ago on 👉🏽 Product Hunt. 😂

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 172B: The Boost

Graphic of The Week: Adidas v Nike v Under Armour


The first link of the day points to a recent article by Daniel Roberts, of Yahoo Finance, who does a wonderful job of explaining the influence and execution behind Adidas’ resurgence. Matt Powell of the NPD Group, who is fervently against the Kanye theory is cited several times in the article but he provides a meaning full perspective – as always.

As it relates to the macroeconomy of shoe wear and athleisure, here is another insightful bit from Matt:

E-commerce, which is already a force in the industry, will continue to rise. According to NPD research, one-in-four athletic shoes were sold online last year. Over time I expect that contribution to rise to two-in-five. The physical limitations of brick-and-mortar stores will continue to drive this growth.

Retailers will quickly figure out that ‘buy online, pick up in store’ will be another way to leverage e-commerce to help save physical stores. Retailers will use this additional store visit to create add-on sales. (Read more at this link)

Additionally, since today’s email was so late, it allowed me to include a link to commentary on Nike’s earnings call which led to a 3+ % stock jump today. Despite Yahoo’s praise of Adidas, the German brand is nowhere near out of the woods. Just today, I visited a specialty running store and saw, for the first time, the Nike International collection. This is Nike’s attempt at high fashion athleisure – a space that Adidas was primed to rule within. There are several forces at play here: changes in eCommerce behavior, shifts in athleisure appeal, the shift from the athletic shoe to the lifestyle shoes, and frankly, the commoditization / normalization of synthetic fibers in clothing. Every athletic brand wants to be a fashion label and every fashion label wants an athleisure arm. 

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 152: The Mainstreaming of Editorial eCommerce

Last Word: The Mainstreaming of editorial eCommerce

Or, how The New York Times can profit on The Wirecutter M&A in just a year. Affiliate commerce is nothing new but The Wirecutter’s outsized influence is a wakeup call to media sites who’ve depended on ad revenue for the last ten years of the internet. The Wirecutter drove nearly $150M in eCommmerce sales, netting $15M in revenue for the small, independently owned company. To understand why the NYT acquired the property and its potential, you’d have to understand the basic eCommerce mechanics behind it.

Here are a few facts and figures: (source: SimilarWeb Pro)

  1. drove 116.16M visits to their site in the last year.
  2. Amazon Links accounted for 59.26% of their outgoing traffic.
  3. That’s ~ 31,408,800 clicks to Amazon in the last year.
  4. 27.05% of all visitors clicked through to
  5. For every click to Amazon, The Wirecutter netted almost $.50 (that’s like printing money just by ginning up visitors).
  6. The typical Amazon margin falls between 5-15%.
  7. Their top advertisers in the last six months: Microsoft, Dell, Nike.
  8. The site’s 10M+ visitors per month drives $150M in eCommerce revenue per year.

The New York Times is in an enviable position. Unlike many in media, they have quite the leverage when it comes to B2B eCommerce. Without bolstering Wirecutter’s traffic at all, they have a nearly $135M delta to work with. That’s the difference between (1) Amazon’s top line revenue driven by The Wirecutter’s influence and (2) the commissions that Wirecutter earned for that influence. The New York Times can leverage their relative power to innovate within the editorial eCommerce space. That toaster that the Wirecutter will choose as the top pick for Christmas 2016? Why not just source the products themselves? Cutting out, i.e. The Washington Post’s benefactor. How so?

  1. Build a native eCommerce cart through Shopify and ditch their current, custom built eCommerce site.
  2. Easily integrate Amazon checkout at the cart, allowing customers to one-click pay for products no differently than they would had they done so through
  3. Source products directly from the vendor, cutting Amazon out as the middle man, while achieving margins far greater than 15%. Wholesale margins are up to 60% of MSRP.

Let’s say that the NYT built a small team to source the products featured in upcoming product reviews. This small division could be worth $65-82M in annual revenue, generating a 210+% return on investment ($30M) in just a single year.

Ben Thompson, via

Just as important, though, is that lovely business model: The Wirecutter is still small, on pace to generate ~ $15 million in revenue this year, but that’s a number that could jump substantially with the sort of exposure the New York Times could provide, particularly when pairing The Wirecutter recommendations with regular New York Times content. Lam previously noted on The Recode Media podcast (that link is time-stamped to the relevant portion) that previous experiments with The New York Times along these lines resulted in some of the highest traffic the New York Times has seen — and, presumably, some of the best revenue The Wirecutter has seen as well. Now the New York Times will reap the benefits, as well as the chance to adapt The Wirecutter’s approach to even more verticals. Given that newspaper advertising revenue is plummeting, said growth will come not a moment too soon.

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 120: an update

Last Word: an update

First: thank you. I began curating the Two PM Links letter to study and discuss the growing kinship between vertical brands, eCommerce, media, and the data that propels us forward. What could be better than one letter with everything that you need to know, each business day? On top of that, a letter that isn’t trying to sell or persuade. Each business day of the week, I cover a range of topics that often have influences on another, with the express intent to serve the eCommerce and media communities. So far, there’s been a focus on everything from the macroeconomics of eCommerce to Snapchat’s next step in the race to own augmented reality. But in a way that appeals to people who market / sell things or invest in those who do.

So far, 40-47% subscribers are opening the letters. Of that group, 24-32% click to another destination. Often times, a destination will receive enough traffic for that site’s host to reach out and ask me about 2PML.

Admittedly, brand and design have taken a back seat to functionality and information. Even so, I hope to improve the letter by adding a simple archive search, a permanent forum for readers, and improved navigation. Thank you for reading, each day, and feel free to email me with your thoughts.

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 81: The Lure Module (Top Ten), 20M More, and Stop It Wal-Mart.

Last word: The Lure Module and Online Advertising

If you live in a metropolitan area, you are surrounded by PokéStops, places where gamers can add items like pokéballs and Pokémon eggs. This means that the apps’ users are stopping by establishments like bars, restaurants, and food trucks to gain access to in-game enhancements. In short, it’s been a boon for local business. It’s what Foursquare hoped to incentivize, what Groupon could have only dreamt of achieving. At bottom, you will find a simple economic model used by savvy business owners. Here is 2PML’s list of the top five technical platforms that will see an impact from Pokémon Go, this week:

    1. Foursquare will reflect increased foot traffic that will correspond with businesses that have used the lure module to increase in store activity. This is the case for businesses like Chipotle, Jeni’s Ice Creams, and Starbucks.
    2. Fitbit will see a spike in days where users walked over 10,000 steps.
    3. Apple Watch will detect an aggregate increase in average heart rate.
    4. Snapchat will see a spike in its “Add Nearby” function for adding friends.
    5. Uber / Lyft will see an uptick in travel to places where lures have been placed.

Here is how the lure modules are placed. While this seems extraordinarily abstract (and maybe nonsensical) to some, it is one of the first examples of an app increasing legitimate and primed online to offline demand generation. Brick and mortar businesses are seeing 30-40 new customers per hour at a cost of $1.17. There’s no greater advertising ROI on the market.


See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 61: Tesla to sell at Nordstrom, The Ledbetter Index, and Apple Pay for Shopify

A last word: the Lin-Manuel effect


Shortly after Hamilton’s 11 Tony Awards, data from Stubhub was exported into Excel to quantify how much of an effect that Lin-Manuel, the show’s creator and its star, had on the marketability of the performance’s eCommerce presence. Here is a definitive look into just how drastic the differential is. In short, you are looking at the accelerating arc of Hamilton’s fade.

See more of the issue here.