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How New Entrants Are Shaping The Future Of Retail | Forbes

Warby Parker, the eyeglass company that evolved a dated shopping experience, has also disrupted a category that has seen little innovation over the past few decades. The company offers quick delivery, lower costs and on-trend products. Warby Parker is now a household name and worth $1.75 billion— proving the quickly won value of disrupting the retail experience.

Then there’s Brandless, a smaller retailer that secured $50 million in funding last year. Brandless sells more than 300 food, clean beauty, non-toxic cleaning, household and office goods. Like Boxed and Warby Parker, these three innovators show us a lot about what matters in the future of retail.

  • Creating a retail democracy – Amazon did something powerful for retailers and distributors – in a brand and label-obsessed market, it democratized the selling of goods for distributors. No one knows who they last purchased from through Amazon. The retailer has given distributors a user-friendly platform to sell their products, leaving distributors the opportunity to do what they do best: compete on price and availability.

Brandless is democratizing retail in a different way – stripping packaged goods down to their core, and focusing on attributes of the products over branding. By eliminating traditional branding, the packaging illuminates only what the core customer finds important – organic, non-GMO, vegan, etc. (and you better believe those attributes are rooted in customer data). Brandless is then able to sell most things at a lower price, eliminating what they call the “brand tax” and giving every product a $3 or less price tag.

  • Building relationships directly with consumers – Warby Parker gives every customer a boutique shopping experience. By cutting out the middleman, the company is able to lower its prices without royalties and offer customers an intimate shopping experience from their living room. It’s likely a unique enough experience that people share it with their friends, or at least ask their opinion on frames. Similarly, Brandless’ model also allows shoppers to skip the big box retailer or e-commerce grocer. With a condensed value chain, the company can offer lower prices and better market directly to consumers—which they both do via social media. Using analytics and digital marketing, Brandless, for example, is able to target consumers directly using social channels. In fact my team’s research found that 23 percent of Brandless shoppers reach its site via social media. By comparison, social media only accounts for 2-4 percent of other sites’ traffic in the category.

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How New Entrants Are Shaping The Future Of Retail.

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