$1 billion in 85 seconds

$1 billion in the first 85 seconds. Not a bad start to the world’s biggest shopping day. China’s largest company,

Alibaba Group, used televised entertainment featuring Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Mariah Carey to drive awareness. It is reported that Xiaomi Technology, Apple and Dyson products were the top three brands in early sales.

The e-commerce giant is on course to rake in over $25.5 billion in online retail sales today during Singles Day 2018, already ahead of last year, with a few hours to go. That’s more sales than the U.S. Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. And, it’s greater than Macy’s or Kohl’s annual sales volume.

Celebrating “bachelors” and others not in committed relationships, Singles Day occurs annually on November 11th (11/11) or “double eleven,” because the four numerals “1” represent single people.

Singles Day has already generated 1.5 billion transactions, at a peak rate of 350,000 orders per second. Over 90 percent of sales came from mobile devices.

This year’s event may provide insight into consumer sentiment as a slowing Chinese economy and tariff trade war threaten to dampen the world’s second largest economy. Alibaba reduced its revenue forecast by 6% earlier this month. 

Everything That Can Be Invented Has Been Invented

In 1889, Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of US patent office. He is widely quoted as having stated that the patent office would soon shrink in size, and eventually close, because…

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Charles H. Duell*, 1899

The “Eureka” effect is based upon an ancient myth regarding the Greek mathematician Archimedes, who upon discovering how to measure the volume of an irregular object, supposedly leaped out of a public bath, and ran home naked shouting “eureka,” (I found it).

Most of us would agree that there is still much to be invented and discovered. We tend to think these new “inventions” will be more extraordinary, advanced and innovative than those which preceded them. This is not entirely true. Many prior advances were revolutionary and extraordinary. An invention need not be revolutionary, or even unique, to be significant. Finally, many “new” inventions are derivative of their predecessors.

From door locks to light bulbs, shovels to toilets, and the classic mouse-trap, innovation comes in many forms and from many directions, often right under our noses. Sliced bread? Bottled water?

Nothing is so basic, or so great, that it cannot be made better. Continue reading “Everything That Can Be Invented Has Been Invented”

There’s a lot of unknown, out there…

“Last year, Randa created a division devoted to honing its digital offerings, optimize data collection for its direct-to-consumer operations, as well as to assist retail and brand partners.

Randa Digital Labs is responsible for, among other projects, online content for each of its products, provided to retailer partners free-of-charge, establishing a basic standard for content when an online retailer sells a Randa-made product.

“If someone is putting Levi’s belts as a third-party seller and taking horrible photography, RDL assures that adjacent pages are populated with wonderful storytelling and great photography,” David J. Katz, Randa CMO said.

If Randa’s recent bid for Perry Ellis is any indication, the company is aiming to write the rules itself and remain on the prowl for M&A targets that could further elevate its enterprise to beyond just manufacturing.

“There’s an awful lot of unknown out there,” Katz said. “What’s not healthy is trying to hold onto an old model.”

– Excerpt from Business of Fashion

Faded Department Store Brands Search For New Identity Online

“Brands and the licensees that make their clothes are rewriting the rules of retail as they work together to court the modern consumer and compete online.” BY CATHALEEN CHEN,  AUGUST, 2018

What I learned from playing a doctor on TV

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Zach Braff as JD Dorian, “Scrubs” — © ABC/Disney

I’m not a doctor, but I really did play one on TV.

25 years ago, I sold consumer products, mostly luggage, to HSN and QVC. I hired a “guest host” to appear on-air, to work with the network “show host” and to demonstrate our products. One day the guest host was delayed, and I ended up with make-up on my face, a microphone up my shirt and an IFB in my ear. Continue reading “What I learned from playing a doctor on TV”

For legacy companies facing disruption, corporate innovation won’t be enough

Today corporate innovation is all the rage. Large companies host accelerators, launch internal startups, and court potential startup partners in a quest to harness young companies’ innovativeness and energy for themselves.

But large legacy companies shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by neglecting their core business and assuming it has minimal room to grow.

In this article, I will detail how our company, Randa Accessories, grew from 25 to 50 percent market share in several categories and channels by focusing on its core business and adjacent “bridge” categories, and offer some takeaways for other businesses based on that experience. (I will also describe how Randa launched its own successful internal startups — I’m not saying corporate innovation isn’t useful, just that it needs to be one part of a broader strategy to excel.)

First, a little about Randa. You many not know our name, but you know our products. Our products are available under 50 brands, and are sold at over 20,000 points of sale, and millions of digital touch points.

We’re the world’s largest men’s accessories company. We sell ties, and belts, wallets, bags, hats, slippers and luggage.

Randa is completely vertical, business-to-business and direct-to-consumer, with 4,000 employees working from 23 global offices.

Our culture emphasized growth and efficiency and led us to success in revenue, margin, penetration, and market share.

For example, we’re the leading supplier of belts to Nordstrom… and to Walmart, to Kohl’s and to Amazon, and The Hudson’s Bay, Liverpool, Printemps, El Cortes Ingles, David Jones, John Lewis and to Costco.

We spent over $50 million to assure that when a consumer walks into a retail store for pants, they immediately see our belts nearby. Dress shirts? There are our ties…

And then, we hit a wall. 

Continue reading “For legacy companies facing disruption, corporate innovation won’t be enough”

The End of Mass Marketing: Go Small, or Go Home

Once upon a time… business success was based on providing a narrow segment of consumers with a narrow segment of products, uniquely suited to their needs, sourced and advertised locally, and sold at a local store.

Over time, the spread of mass media — TV, national newspapers and magazines — along with the expansion of national retail stores, and the growth of a global and highly efficient supply chain, led to a world of mass marketing, mass production, and massive retailers. The retail world moved from personalized products for localized, niche markets to mass-produced products for mass markets.

Mass marketers thrive on “must-have” items — huge volumes of single styles, sold across many market segments to an audience of consumers eager to have the item they saw advertised in mass media, and which, in turn are produced in great scale and efficiency.

This strategy worked. Until it didn’t.

Continue reading “The End of Mass Marketing: Go Small, or Go Home”

DesignBots and StylistBots, as Good as Humans?

A fashion designer and a stylist work together, and compete with one another, to produce best-selling items.
The stylist ranks the designer’s work while keeping an eye on emerging trends. The designer leverages the stylist’s curation while innovating new creations. Rinse and repeat. It’s the never-ending cycle of fashion. It also sounds a lot like artificial intelligence and machine learning, which use similar cycles for optimization.
Today, A.I. designers, stylists, and planners are hard at work at Stitch Fix, Bombfell, H&M, Gwynnie Bee. Will they be as good, or even better, than their human counterparts?

Amazon & Private Label. It started with a simple battery.

On the surface Amazon‘s move into private label appears to be a deft move.

Analysts predict that nearly half of all online shopping in the United States will be conducted on Amazon’s platform in the next couple of years. That creates a massive opportunity for Amazon to more than double revenue from its in-house brands to $25 billion in the next four years. That’s the equivalent of all of Macy’s revenue last year.

It started with a simple battery.

Continue reading “Amazon & Private Label. It started with a simple battery.”

“We cannot build technology for equality and democracy unless we have and we harness diversity in its creation.”

“Continue to engage with people outside your discipline, your gender, your race. Talk with people who grew up in different places, who believe different things, who live and worship differently than you do. Talk with them, listen to them, get their perspectives… and encourage them to work in and with technology too.” – Sheryl Sandberg, in her Massachusetts Institute of Technology commencement speech.

“Even the newest technology can contain the oldest prejudices and our lack of diversity is at the root of some of the things we fail to see and prevent,” said Sandberg.