Nike, the Disruptor That's Not Walmart

Walmart’s gotten credit recently for being disruptive and setting the stage for a turnaround, largely because of the company’s brand acquisition strategy (Modcloth, Bonobos, etc.) and operational efforts, including those to activate its fleet of stores with enhanced BOPIS tactics and to initiate same-day delivery.

Nike, another company with competitive pressure, also made a number of big decisions recently. Each is very significant and has been covered individually, but I haven’t seen them all connected and told as a story in the same way we’re seeing with Walmart. Nike is:

  1. Selling directly on Amazon
  2. Cutting back on other retail distribution
  3. Building a digital community
  4. Flexing product development 

Interestingly, neither company kicked off its revolution with new strategy around product (merchandise, not digital). Now, in addition to broadening it’s assortment through acquisition, Walmart’s going deeper in that area by bringing in Lord & Taylor (with presumably more marketplace players to come).

Although Nike’s product, particularly women’s fashion, has been criticized (including by me), Nike's only more recently announced product development changes. Initially, they seemed more focused on speed-to-market and supply chain than specifically to fix fashion, but the style-driven "yoga pant studios" coming to 5,000 Nike retail stores on 11/1 sound promising.

Walmart may be getting more attention because everyone loves a battle and there’s no higher-profile competitor than Amazon, but Nike’s not lacking in disrupting itself.