The four fastest growing retailers in the U.S. aren’t necessarily household names — at least not yet.
Every year beginning in 2008, the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Stores Magazine and Kantar Retail collaborate on the Hot 100 Retailers list, which outlines the retail companies that posted the largest increase in U.S. sales year-over-year.
For the first five years in the report’s history, 2008 to 2012, Wal-Mart reigned supreme, claiming the number one spot for the highest YoY growth. Kroger was a close second for four of those years. In 2013, Wal-Mart lost not only its number one spot, but fell out of the top 100 entirely. The new contender in town was a Jacksonville, Florida-based grocery chain, Bi-Lo.
In fact, in 2013, six different grocery chains rounded out the top 25 fastest growing retailers in the U.S. — Bi-Lo, Sprouts Farmers Market, The Fresh Market, Grocery Outlet, Tops Holding and Whole Foods Market, many of these outselling Amazon, Apple and fast fashion chains like H&M or Rue21.
In 2014, the data showed another shift in the commerce industry. While grocery chains held three of the spots in the top 25 fastest growing retailers in the U.S., markeplaces like Overstock.com and WayFair began to hit a stride, as were stores within home improvement industries including Lumber Liquidators and Sherwin-Williams.
Indeed, this data proves that consumer purchasing trends can be fickle, and that big box retailers aren’t the only ones capable of generating mass demand at scale. This is played out even further in the 2015 data, which is much different than the previous two years.
Branding’s Big Impact on the Bottom Line
Claiming the top four spots on this year’s fastest growing retailers list are all little known mid-market brands, but each packs a big punch when it comes to moving product. Saks parent company Hudson’s Bay holds this year’s number one spot, while online shopping sites Choxi.com, Zulily and G-III — which holds licenses for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger — come in at second, third and fourth.
This year’s silver medal winner, though, has a particularly interesting story. Discount marketplace Choxi.com rebranded in April 2015 from NoMoreRack and has since experienced more than 100% growth in revenue. The rebrand came three years after Nordstrom filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against NoMoreRack on the grounds that Nordstrom, which operates the Nordstrom Rack chain of discount stores and NordstromRack.com, had staked its claim to the “Rack” name when it came to online commerce. That case, however, was dismissed in February 2014.
“The Nordstrom case was a factor in us changing it, but it was not the only factor,” said Choxi’s chief marketing officer Vishal Agarwal. “We had actually decided about changing our name before the Nordstrom case.”
For Choxi, the choice to rebrand was an omnichannel one: they needed to appeal to a more international audience, and NoMoreRack was just too English of a word.
“NoMoreRack is a very literal English word,” Agarwal said. “We wanted to have a more global name, a more world-recognized brand that would be easier for everyone else. We wanted to be able to set the right platform for the future.”
And their work has certainly paid off. This is the company’s first-ever inclusion on the fastest growing retailers list.
SMBs Best Prepared for Fastest Retail Growth YoY
According to the NRF, which helped to gather the data for the report, maintaining such a forward-focused strategy and customer-centric outlook are key for any brand making the list.
“Our list is a mix of established retailers like Nordstrom and Kroger along with newer players like Zulily and Choxi [formerly NoMoreRack.com],” said Stores’ editor, Susan Reda. “All are focused on growth objectives and keeping customers in the center of every decision.”
For big box retailers, this is one area in which ecommerce and SMB businesses have the upper hand. After all, in an omnichannel world, innovation and ease-of-use rule — and mid-market businesses have both the cash flow and the agility to hop on trends and outcompete the household names consumers are quickly forgetting.
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