The resale business, users tweaking algorithms and the history of iron
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°01.ep14 - 2019.10.28
Viewers come for the blockbusters but stay for the familiar series or movies they may have watched - and will watch again - a thousand times. That’s why “nostalgia manufacturer” Disney has a strong hand in the streaming wars. Link (T)
“Amazon is a process company. Last year, it collected a hundred and twenty-two billion dollars from online retail sales, and another forty-two billion by helping other firms sell and ship their own goods. The company collected twenty-six billion dollars from its Web-services division and fourteen billion more from people who sign up for subscription services as Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited. Amazon is estimated to have taken in hundreds of millions of dollars from selling the Echo. Seventeen billion came from sales at such brick-and-mortar stores as Whole Foods. And then there’s ten billion from ad sales and other activities too numerous to list in financial filings. No other tech company does as many unrelated things, on such a scale, as Amazon”. Is Amazon unstoppable? Well, you may have the answer yet, but it is worth the long read. Link (S)
Why it’s so hard to replace incumbent social apps: it’s not that new services are less innovative than Facebook and its ilk used to be, but that (i) our time is finite and already fully exploited, and with that in mind, (ii) “this isn’t just about changing behavior for you, but for your friends as well”. Link (T)
Banx for the Financial Times. (S)
Last July, a pair of sneakers set a new record. That wasn’t on a playfield, that was under the hammer of Sotheby’s auction house: a first edition of a very rare pair of Nike racing shoes tripled their estimate to reach $437.500. This may have looked anecdotal but this was the tree that hid the forest. About the same time, I was really surprised when my sister offered our mother, at her request, a second hand-pair of shoes on her birthday, purchased on a platform called Vinted. The trend was deeper than I thought and I hereby declare my first successful acquisition on StockX last week.
StockX — the resale platform originally for sneakers — was a pioneer in the resale space back in 2016 and is now a stock exchange worth $1 billion. The broader resale industry, which includes companies like Vestiaire Collective, Poshmark, ThredUp, and The RealReal, is valued at $24bn. Sneakers and bags are now regarded as an asset class of their own.
It started with platforms connecting sellers and buyers of second-hand products, verticalized and premiumized successively. To the extent that some companies like Rebag, a luxury handbag resale site, buy stock now. To do so, Rebag introduced C.L.A.I.R. last week. This Comprehensive Luxury Appraisal Index for Resale, is “an algorithmic tool that shows bag owners the resale spot prices of their bags if they were to liquidate them immediately by selling to Rebag”.
Stock markets, indexes, algorithmic trading, … behind such a sophistication, there are some deep shifts.
1) New consumer habits
From Millennials to my mother, it is “cool” to wear second-hand and even pre-worn fashion. Smart marketers call them pre-loved. These habits are carried by two megatrends: more sustainable consumption practices (yes it is!) and let’s call it normcore-dandyism, a mix of mellow nature and attention to detail that shape today’s style.
2) A new asset class for a new social class
For a generation not so sure to buy their own flat, not wearing suits and ties and not considering cars like a matter of social standing anymore, how can you save money and stand out of the crowd respecting new social standards? If I were a bank or an insurance company I would certainly think of new saving or life insurance products using these underlying assets.
3) Best companies get it right
And the best of the best may be Nike. The vast majority of products traded on StockX are under Nike’s two main brands, Nike and Air Jordan. Everybody knows one’s Nike sneakers’ size and I am amazed just like many people around me by the number of different variations the company provides on its models. It makes it really easy to buy an item from any channel and makes information both easily available and really meaningful for the buyer.
Smart fashion brands initiate different strategies: produce “collectible by design” goods, like collaborations with the cool kids (Supreme, Bape, etc.), collaboration with the cool platforms is a good option too (special editions again, but also upcycling of your items).
Leaders like LVMH are now said to decide how to deal with their collections (reedition, price, etc.) by looking with attention at how their accessories perform on the digital trading platforms.
To me, this is one of the most powerful, intricate and complete impact, from back to back, of the Internet on our civilization and an entire industry.
P(S): As you may have noticed, design and vintage stuff is more than a subject of study to me, this is a passion and a way to strike a balance with my “dematerialized practices” and my everyday job. I have been collecting pieces of furniture for years, as much as to launch a dedicated venture call Analog. (it can’t be more explicit, can it?). You can follow us with Constance at Analog.Paris. I dream of Franco Albini and Gae Aulenti, but also of these machines even the crème de la crème of digital and AI can’t compete with. If you come across them, please let me know...
Pinterest ushers in a new phase in the relationships between users and algorithms: now the former are invited to tweak the latter to adjust their home feed experience. Link (T)
Geolocation x QR codes x friend-to-friend (vs. P2P) technologies x great UX = new widespread, decentralized forms of activism. Link (T)
The most important news these past few weeks was Google had reached Quantum Supremacy, the point when quantum computers can perform a task that today’s supercomputers would be incapable of handling. But what needs to happen next? Link (S)
80 year-old Ken Loach just released what is said to be one of his angriest film ever, if you know his movies, that’s how violent it is. Sorry We Missed You is the story of Ricky and Abbie, a couple trapped in the dehumanizing world of zero-hour contracts, the foundation of the gig-economy and e-commerce. Link (S)
Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the history of iron without asking. Link (T)
The easiest way to be part of the top 1% at something: reach the top 10% in 2 related skills. That’s the appeal of skill stacking. Link (T)
The rhythms of our lives changed dramatically in the 2010s. How everything from TV to Trump to Instagram messed with our heads just enough that time feels like it melted. This is Katherine Miller’s take in Buzzfeed on the 2010s, a decade near its end, that broke our sense of time. Link (S)
Weekly hours of work required, per worker, to match the output of the average British worker in 1930 - Honey, I shrunk the workforce. (S)
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Edited by Stéphane Distinguin & Tom Morisse
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