Unconventional partnerships have transformed the retail industry, disrupting traditional business models and creating new opportunities for growth and success. From Shopify and TikTok to Target and Ulta Beauty, companies are joining forces to offer innovative shopping experiences for customers. Here’s a look into how some of these partnerships stand today.
In 2021, the duo unveiled TikTok Shopping, bringing Shopify product discovery and shopping tabs to TikTok.
The collaboration between Shopify and TikTok allowed Shopify users who also had TikTok For Business accounts to add shopping tabs to their TikTok profiles. This enabled them to synchronize their product listings into a mini storefront that linked to their online stores during the checkout process. Initially, the partnership was in the pilot phase in the United States and the United Kingdom. However, it was later made available to selected Canadian Shopify merchants, with plans for a wider release.
“Creators are paving the way for a new kind of entrepreneurship where content, community and commerce are key,” said Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify, in a joint announcement. “By enabling new in-app shopping experiences and product discovery on TikTok for the first time, Shopify is powering the creator economy on one of the fastest-growing social and entertainment platforms in the world.”
See also: Shopify Launches TikTok In-App Shopping
Amid concerns that the U.S. government may impose a ban on TikTok, the short video platform is reportedly having trouble attracting American merchants to its shopping service. According to a report by The Information on Monday (April 10), American merchants are showing more interest in expanding their physical stores rather than focusing on online operations.
In contrast, overseas sellers are optimistic about tapping into the world’s second-largest eCommerce market. However, TikTok has currently restricted foreign merchants from accessing its shopping service in the United States.
Read more: TikTok Ban Threat Scares Off US Merchants
In 2021, Target and Ulta announced their shop-in-shops collaboration with more than 100 Target stores throughout the country and online to start and then to 800 Target stores nationwide over time. Urban Decay, MAC Cosmetics, Drybar, and Clinique were among the brands featured in the Ulta Beauty at Target collection.
During Target’s fourth-quarter earnings call, executives said sales from Ulta Beauty at Target had increased by over four times compared to the previous year. In addition, Target sold more than 170 million Starbucks beverages in 2021 alone.
At the same time, Target celebrated the success of its expanding collection of billion-dollar owned brands. CEO Brian Cornell had announced that the company had added 17 in-house labels since 2019, including two brands, Good & Gather food and All in Motion apparel, that had each generated over $1 billion in sales.
Kohl’s began accepting Amazon returns at 10 of its stores in the spring of 2017 as a way to drive more foot traffic to its stores, and by the summer of 2019, the Amazon returns kiosks were rolled out nationwide. The team-up proved fruitful as the retailer said it added 2 million new customers in 2020, thanks to Amazon.
Amazon customers will reportedly be charged a fee for some returns to UPS Stores, encouraging customers to make their returns at other locations. The news coincides with increasing concern among retailers and brands about the rising cost of handling returns. H&M started charging for returns in September 2022, following in the footsteps of Zara.
Learn more: Amazon Charging New Fees on Some Returns
In 2017, Nike formed a partnership with Amazon to sell its products directly on Amazon’s website. With the partnership, Nike aimed to increase control over its products, reduce unlicensed sales and expand its customer base.
The partnership did not work out as planned, however, as gray-market listings — sales of genuine products through unauthorized channels — were difficult to eliminate. Nike officially ended its pilot program with Amazon in November 2019, announcing that it would no longer sell its products as a first-party vendor on the platform.
In 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peloton and Adidas teamed up to produce a line of athletic wear and lifestyle products in unisex styles and inclusive sizes.
The merchandise, which included shorts, hoodies, tees, crewnecks, sports bras and jogger pants, sold for $30 to $85. Sizes went up to 2X, and unisex options were available. They went on sale on both companies’ websites and in select Adidas and Peloton retail stores.
Since then, both websites’ Adidas and Peloton collections landing pages lead to broken pages. But Peloton has revealed that it will be focusing on subscriptions as its partnerships with Amazon and Dick’s are paying off.
In Peloton’s second-quarter 2023 earnings call in February, CEO Barry McCarthy elaborated on comments made in a shareholder letter, revealing a company in transition as the connected fitness brand opens up its ecosystem with an “anyone, anytime, anywhere” strategy.
McCarthy said the Fitness as a Service (FaaS) offering and sales of refurbished hardware through Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods were significant contributors to the company’s turnaround.
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