Warby and Allbirds learnings

Allbirds and Warby Parker are public, and their prospectuses teach a lot about omni-channel and ecommerce sales. Key learnings from each are summarized below.

AllBirds insights from prospectus

There are 27 stores of which 12 are outside the US. You have to have a brick and mortar strategy. “In 2020, our digital channel represented 89% of our sales, while stores accounted for the other 11% of our sales (down from 17% in 2019).” The first store was opened in 2017. “All U.S. stores that were operating in 2019 generated approximately $4.3 million in average unit volume, or AUV, in their first 12 months of operation. We are in the early phase of a ramp towards hundreds of potential locations in the future, with strong unit economics.”

The omni-channel approach is synergistic. “We have seen a corresponding increase in digital traffic and digital sales as a result of store builds in new markets. Furthermore, as we grow our store footprint, we believe we will be able to expand our valuable multi-channel customer base. As an example of the benefits of our vertical retail distribution strategy, our Boston Back Bay store achieved standalone payback within eight months. Furthermore, in the three months after our Boston Back Bay store opened in March 2019, the Boston DMA region saw a 15% increase in website traffic, an 83% increase in new customers and, ultimately, a 77% increase in overall net sales, as compared to a comparable control market.”

The omni-channel customer is the most valuable. “Across all cohorts and through June 30, 2021, our multi-channel repeat customers, who represented 12% of our total repeat customers as of such date, on average spent approximately 1.5 times more than our single-channel repeat customers.“

Stores have better margins than ecom. “We expect net revenue and gross margin to benefit from increased sales through our physical retail channel, which benefits from a lower return rate and decreased shipping costs.”

The customers are loyal. “Approximately 53% of our net sales in 2020 came from repeat customers, which we define as customers who have made a prior purchase with us in any period (it was 41% in 2018).”

Allbirds does have customer fanatics. “Of our U.S. customers acquired between 2016 and 2019, approximately 43% of such customers returned for a second purchase by December 31, 2020. After a second purchase, 50% of those customers purchased again, and after a third purchase, 55% of those customers purchased again. The average spend by a repeat customer in a given cohort is over 25% more in their second year as compared to what was spent in the first year, and the average spend by a repeat customer continues to increase each subsequent year. Furthermore, of our U.S. customers acquired between 2016 and 2019, the average lifetime spend of the top 25% in each cohort is $446, demonstrating how our most loyal customers have made Allbirds a part of their lifestyle.”

New products are key to cohort growth. “80% of orders from repeat customers in the six-month period ended June 30, 2021 included a different item than in their first order, and 26% of those orders were for multiple items.”

They’re not profitable. “We reported net losses of $14.5 million and $25.9 million and adjusted EBITDA of $(1.3) million and $(15.4) million in 2019 and 2020, respectively.” Revenue has grown through covid. “our net revenue has increased from $126.0 million in 2018 to $193.7 million in 2019 and to $219.3 million in 2020.”

Covid stung. “We achieved 54% year-over-year net revenue growth in 2019, recording a year-over-year revenue growth rate of 42% in our digital channel and 157% year-over-year revenue growth in our physical retail channel as we grew from three to 14 retail locations. We achieved 13% year-over-year net revenue growth in 2020, recording a year-over-year revenue growth rate of 21% in our digital channel, which was partially offset by a 25% decline in our physical retail channel largely driven by the impact of store closures due to COVID-19.”

International sales are important. “In 2020, 24% of our net revenue came from outside the United States, signaling a strong foundation from which to scale our business globally.”

Vertically integrated, except manufacturing. “Our investments in direct and meaningful relationships with all our partners, from raw materials suppliers to Tier 1 manufacturers and logistics providers, also allowed us to improve gross margin despite a difficult cost climate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our distribution network, comprised of nine distribution centers across eight countries (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand), puts us close to the customer, allowing us to reach up to 2.5 billion people across 35 countries in a matter of days with quick, reliable service. Our footwear products are primarily manufactured in Korea and Vietnam across four vendors, with the ability to scale up manufacturing in China as a potential alternative.”

$204mm+ raised. $269mm of total capital has been raised when including additional paid-in capital. $126mm of cash sits on the books so net investment is $142mm. There is no debt.

Warby Parker insights from prospectus

It’s been an 11 year journey. “When we launched the business in February of 2010, less than 2.5% of glasses were sold online — yet we believed that if we offered high-quality, uniquely designed glasses for a reasonable price point, with mechanisms to try them on like our Home Try-On program, and outstanding customer service, people would be willing to buy eyewear online for the first time. We reached our first-year sales targets in three weeks, sold out of our top 15 styles in four weeks, and built a waitlist of thousands of customers for our first-of-its-kind Home Try-On. Those first few months were chaotic to say the least, but we learned a lot.” Interestingly, Warby made the decision to go omnichannel early-on, opening their first store 3 years after their founding in April 2013. An app didn’t come out until May 2016.

Ecom only is dead. More than half of revenue is in-store. “For the year ended December 31, 2020, we generated 60% of net revenue from e-commerce and the remaining 40% of net revenue from our retail stores. For the six months ended June 30, 2021, we generated 50% of net revenue from e-commerce and the remaining 50% of net revenue from our retail stores. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our channel mix for the year ended December 31, 2019 from our retail stores and e-commerce was 65% and 35%, respectively. Customers can purchase our items in one of our more than 145 retail stores.”

Stores are the key to growth. “In 2019, we opened 32 new retail stores between December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2019, and we closed 1 retail store over the same time period. In 2020, we opened fewer retail stores than in years prior due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related operating challenges, including extended retail store closures and heightened safety measures. In total, we opened 10 new retail stores between December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2020, and we relocated two retail stores and closed three retail stores over the same time period. In the six months ended June 30, 2021, we opened 19 new retail stores, and we relocated one retail store over the same time period. As of June 30, 2021, 91 out of our 145 retail stores offered in-person eye exams.”

Stores are the best marketing spend. “we find that there is significant interplay across online and offline channels — browsing online might lead to a visit in one of our more than 145 stores and end with a purchase via our e-commerce app. On average, we have observed total market sales increase over 250% in the first year after opening the first retail store in that market. During the first year of opening, e-commerce sales growth slows as the market rebalances between online and store sales. After this initial period, we see e-commerce growth rates normalize to the same level as our purely e-commerce markets that have no store presence. For example, our total sales in Atlanta grew over 295% in the year following our first store opening in September 2014, while e-commerce sales declined by 3% over the same period. In the following two years, e-commerce sales growth normalized to 32% and 33%, respectively. As of June 30, 2021, we now have three stores in the Atlanta market.”

Retention is perfect. “On average, for customers acquired between 2015 and 2019, we observed approximately 50% Sales Retention Rate within 24 months of their first purchase and a nearly 100% Sales Retention Rate over 48 months. We have continued to grow our Active Customers and Orders and had 1.81 million and 2.14 million, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2020.”

Best in class store performance. “Our retail stores are highly productive and we have historically targeted, and continue to target, Four-Wall Margins of 35% and Average Sales Per Square Foot of $2,900. We plan to open over 30 to 35 new retail stores in 2021 and will seek to continue this pace of rollout into the foreseeable future.”

Very strong contribution margins. “Our Average Contribution Per Customer for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019, and 2020 was $48, $54, and $45, respectively, reflecting Contribution Margins of 25%, 26%, and 21%, respectively. In 2020, the decline in Average Contribution Per Customer was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to lower overall demand and slower growth in our Active Customers relative to 2018 and 2019. The decrease in Contribution Margin was also driven by an increase in Customer Acquisition Cost, which increased 49% to $40 per customer in 2020 compared to $27 per customer in 2019, while the increase in our Average Revenue Per Customer was 5%, from $208 in 2019 to $218 in 2020 and 16% since 2018 from $188. The 2020 increase in Customer Acquisition Cost was driven by deliberate investment in media spend; we wanted to broaden awareness that our business could support customers throughout the pandemic by offering critical products and services to help people see through our e-commerce channel and telehealth offerings.”

But EBITDA margins are tight. “For the year ended December 31, 2020, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin were $7.7 million and 1.9%, respectively, and for the year ended December 31, 2019, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin were $21.9 million and 5.9%, respectively.” Notably the company has not been profitable for the past three years: “For the years ended December 31, 2018 (unaudited), 2019, and 2020 we generated net (loss) income of $(22.9) million, $0 million, and $(55.9) million, respectively.”

New products drive order size. “Our increase in AOV is driven by our ability to introduce and scale new products or service offerings to our customers. From 2018 to 2019, AOV increased by 11% from $158 to $176 primarily driven by a higher unit mix of progressive lens product as well as the scaling of additional lens offerings such as blue-light-filtering lenses, which were launched as an offering in November 2018, and light-responsive lenses. From 2019 to 2020, AOV increased by 5% from $176 to $184 primarily driven by moderately higher unit mix of progressive lens product and continued scaling of additional lens offerings, most notably blue-light-filtering lenses and light-responsive lenses.”

Vertical integration with outsourced manufacturing. “We design and sell glasses under our own brand name. Our integrated supply chain consists of owned optical and fulfillment laboratories as well as third-party manufacturing and laboratory partnerships that we have built over the years and gives us control over product quality and fulfillment speed.”

They have 2 CEO’s. “Our mission, commitment to our core values, and focus on innovation are driven by our Co-Founders and Co-Chief Executive Officers, Neil and Dave. Having met as classmates in business school, Neil and Dave have scaled Warby Parker from an idea to a growing, impact-driven brand.”

$500mm+ of capital raised. $633mm of total capital has been raised when including additional paid-in capital. $314mm of cash sits on the books so net investment is $319mm. There is no debt.

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