Changing world of Retail

images-1My career started in retail.  Invaluable experience.  My first summer job in college was working at Neiman-Marcus and I carried around a tin box that gave me the ability to take cash, write receipts and process credit cards.  It was far from seamless.

This past week I invested in Sourceasy.  Investing in companies that I understand at a deep level makes sense.  The manufacturing industry still manages in an offline world.  I can just see the variety of patterns hung on a hanger with a bunch of strings attached.   Manufacturing should be seamless.  As creative people are starting their own brands dealing with the operational aspect of the business is a bear.  Being able to hand off that operational piece of your business and get your products back to you as you watch them move through the process through technology is brilliant.

What I learned in the early days of retail was turn, turn, turn.  If a product isn’t moving within a week or two then mark it down and move it out.  Take the loss and fill your floors with merchandise that is moving.  You can’t do that if you don’t have access to companies that can produce new inventories quickly.  That is why places like Zara and H&M succeed because they can react to trends and they are continually putting new merchandise on the floor and online.  Old does not work especially for this generation where we see new all the time.

The other company I an invested in is Makers Row.  Makers Row is a marketplace (with a little more thrown in)  that connects brands with US manufacturers.  They are making manufacturing easy and they are also helping US manufacturing plants be busy again.  In the mid-90’s everything moved to China.  No longer because each area has taken on what they are best at.  The dollar is also not as strong against other currencies anymore which at one time made manufacturing overseas a slam dunk for everything.

Another investment, Parachute Home.  Building a brand around selling directly to the consumer through an online platform around a specific vertical such as the bedroom and bathroom can be done.  Warby Parker did it with glasses and it changed the prices and in turn built a solid loyal base of consumers.  Parachute Home is doing the same thing.  Beautiful products at prices that can not be beat.  They will relaunch their site in again in September with a variety of new products.

True Gault is all about changing our shoes.  Being able to manufacture shoes that are specifically made for your foot is amazing.  Merging technology and fashion to make your feet happy.

Other ecommerce platforms that are just beginning.  Hey Gorgeous for women size 8+.   A supportive community with great style and clothes.  Le Tote where you can get a new box of clothing and jewelry chosen for you by you every month for as low at $19 a month. Unlimited styles that goes into your monthly rented box.  After all your best purchase is your last purchase.  Union Station is where you can rent beautiful bridal gowns in a variety of colors for your perfect wedding.  Number one is they make the process simple and stress-free.  Eventually a place that will be your one stop shop for everything to wear but the brides dress.  20×200 where art is affordable for everyone.  Great pieces that look good next to an original.

Even as I write this post I realize that I am entrenched in the retail/consumer products arena because not only do I get it, I believe in how the internet is changing the way we shop, the communities we make around those purchases, the simplicity of being able to purchase on line, the importance of the rental business and how technology platforms are changing manufacturing.  All and all it is pretty damn exciting.