Christopher Jordan

Chief Business Officer, Hubba
Chris is the Chief Business Officer at Hubba – a global wholesale marketplace that connects craft brands with independent retailers. Hubba facilitates thousands of these wholesale relationships and transactions each week. Prior to Hubba, Chris spent the bulk of his career at BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion) where he led the Enterprise Specialty Software organization. In this role, he oversaw overall operations for several acquired organizations (including Ascendent Systems and Chalk Media) and directed their post-acquisition integration into BlackBerry. To learn more, visit:
  • Posted on: 08/10/2018

    Can on-demand sales stabilize Blue Apron?

    We're seeing the effects of the oversaturation of the subscription everything market. I suspect this is just the beginning of the turn, and the companies that actively work on diversifying their business model will end up ahead. We ended up with a subscription service for everything under the sun because investors really like the words "recurring revenue." The problem is there has to be a market to support the model -- do people really need new sandals/slow cookers/pet clothing delivered fresh to their door every month? Blue Apron's market is well-suited for a subscription model, but regardless -- there will some customers that follow the ideal (i.e. regular recurring) pattern, but there's a whole bunch that won't. Winning is figuring out how to get wallet share from customers that aren't following the ideal without cannibalizing those that are.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2018

    Retailers use brand ads to help pay for free delivery

    Retailers seem to have their heads wrapped around secondary revenue streams online, but still have a lot of running room with offline components. Building secondary streams like on-/in-box advertising can make all the difference in whether a retailer is able to (profitably) participate in things like free, overnight, etc. shipping that used to be a differentiator and is quickly becoming table stakes. While ads and sponsored listings have been a staple of the online revenue model for some time, there's analogous money to be made on the offline portion of the experience. It's not just about ads, either -- companies like ExactMedia provide the ability to create additional revenue from brand coupons, samples, etc.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2018

    Walmart and Microsoft team up to slow Amazon’s roll

    Given their friendly relationship with Google as of late, I'm surprised Walmart went with Microsoft. Broadly speaking, I don't believe this partnership (though realistically, it's a public vendor selection announcement) to be a huge strategic shift or "game changing." Walmart needs cloud infrastructure and the three most likely choices are: Amazon Web Services, Google or Microsoft. Given their joint plays with Google Home/Shopping and, I was a little surprised that Google wasn't the natural selection for cloud infrastructure. I view a continued and sustained push by the Walmart/Google pairing as the quickest way to cause some genuine disruption for Amazon. My best guess is that the Microsoft decision is largely a diversification play and Walmart will continue to work with Google on the business side.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Ellison shaking things up at Lowe’s

    A "shake-up" shouldn't end up with the Lowe's team looking like every major retailer from the last 20 years. There's been a number of sweeping executive changes at large retailers over the last couple years, but the "major shake-up" typically ends up being a game of musical chairs, bringing in more of the same -- executives from some other top 50 U.S. retailers (who have generally been in retail their entire careers). The strong moves Marc Lore and team have made with Walmart e-commerce illustrate the benefits of bringing in a team with experience outside of traditional retail circles. Lowe's is going to have to innovate, be different and think big to gain the ground they need to against Home Depot, and getting a diverse mix of backgrounds on the executive team is the best starting point.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Will lockers transform Home Depot’s BOPIS operations?

    I'm admittedly a BOPIS skeptic, though I do believe that home improvement is one segment where the concept makes sense. That said, I suspect that for a BOPIS implementation to move the needle, it'll need to be tailored to the unique requirements of the home improvement space. Simply having lockers that'll only handle smaller items and claiming "expanding outside of home improvement" doesn't do it for me. If Home Depot genuinely wants to remove bottlenecks and create a competitive advantage, they'll need to tune the entire workflow to their line of business. How can they implement lockers for larger items? How do they design a layout to reduce bottlenecks in getting items from the locker to a vehicle? Should there be parking specific to the lockers? Etc.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2018

    WeWork doubles down on member-based retailing

    It most naturally works as an incubator out of the gate, but I suspect it will evolve into a standalone retail concept before we know it. One of those "that was sneaky" good ideas you only see in retrospect. In my opinion, viewing WeMRKT through a strict community-building lens misses the underlying point. WeWork has a bunch of assets (captive audience, tenants that skew innovative, physical space) and are looking to use them to their full advantage to build out member brands. Market testing/feedback, data and real revenue -- this is a huge advantage and accelerant for upstart brands.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2018

    Ride-sharers buy while they ride

    With the growth of ride-sharing apps, there's significant money up for grabs -- though I question if Cargo's approach is going to be the winner. There are a number of potential concerns with the model. Even if we assume the natural supply-chain challenges to be non-issues, there's a baked-in limitation on assortment (cars are only so big) and with an advertised profit to drivers of $300 per month, what I suspect to be very thin margins. I have a feeling the winners in the space will look something more like a Ritual for the ride-sharing space; in that they're designing around existing retail infrastructure, but tailoring the workflow towards a specific audience.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2018

    Joann Fabrics’ new concept is all about the experience

    There's markets where playing it safe isn't going to cut it, and arts and crafts is one of them. Looking at the converse strategy, Michael's shares dropped ~14 percent following their 2018 Q1 earnings call. The messaging from CEO, Chuck Rubin was pretty typical -- mobile, BOPIS, CRM -- sales down due to timing of holidays ("weather" has also been popular in recent earnings calls from other large retailers). With the commoditized nature of the merchandise, physical retailers in the space will need to be doing things that are truly different to succeed against (often cheaper, more convenient) online competitors. In my opinion, Joann Fabrics is definitely taking a step in the right direction and should be focused on tuning this prototype and scaling it quickly.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2018

    Will an online dating site formula work for pop-ups?

    The independent movement is well underway. These pop-ups are the rare symbiotic opportunity for both the retailer/landlord/space and the brand. From the perspective of the retailer or landlord, pop-ups provide the opportunity to create experiences, draw in foot traffic and create revenue in the process. Malls and large-format retailers have already started to dabble in the concept and should continue to embrace it. Pop-ups give independent brands a viable alternative to reach the "in-person" consumer to the decades old process of getting listed with majors, spending large marketing dollars, etc. This allows them to be more nimble, to test and iterate quickly rather than placing one big bet that may or may not pan out.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2018

    Merchants seek the right balance between classics and fad items

    It's dependent on the definition of "fad" we're using. I'll go a different route and use grocery as an example. If we're speaking about the mix between independent and national brands of well-known/understood products (say Prego vs. Mr. Organic Ragu) I believe most retailers see the change in the consumer market and have been rightfully developing a better mix. That said, the shift has happened way too slowly. If we're speaking to completely new product lines (say cricket meal) in general, large retailers seem to have a reasonable mix today. That said, the improvement to be made here is getting ahead of trends (or "fads") rather than being reactionary, which today has them jumping in on the tail end of the adoption cycle when they have the technical, research and data resources to get in earlier.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2018

    Macy’s takes stake in retail-as-a-service tech firm

    Macy's plan around The Market always made sense. They (as do other department stores and malls in general) needed to create a "draw" -- a real reason for consumers to make the trip vs. the multitude of more convenient options they have for the same merchandise. In theory, The Market delivers that experience -- something new, something different. The concept should work, but is a tough one logistically -- identifying/signing brands that will drive interest, getting the displays/pop-ups built consistently and quickly, measuring impact, etc. Build by b8ta should expedite a number of these steps. The question of the day is if Macy's is looking to go fast, will b8ta (with the undisclosed investment amount from Macy's) be able to scale to keep up?
  • Posted on: 05/30/2018

    Is GDPR an opportunity or a threat to retailers?

    Absolutely, though what interests me most (and I see this is a massive opportunity) is how this will impact the general approach retailers take to data. Having to be very explicit to consumers on how their data will be used should be a forcing factor causing retailers to look inward on how they're using data. It's an common trap for retailers to amass terabytes of data, thousands of metrics/segments/etc. and to declare themselves "data-driven" without actually having a concrete plan for how this data will create practical outcomes to move the business forward. Meeting the requirements of GDPR naturally forces organizations to catalog the "what?" and moreover, evaluate the "why?" with respect to data-driven programs.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    1-800-Flowers stays a step ahead of disruptive tech

    I believe the weakest point (almost universally) in the retailer technology adoption cycle is making the jump from the "innovation" group into a practically viable production roll-out. 1-800-Flowers isn't on the bleeding edge because they evaluate and play with emerging technologies early -- just about everyone does that. Where they're ahead of the curve is making the bridge with this tech into full-scale, real world environments. From my experience, this step is typically done poorly because the innovation groups and production IT teams are siloed. The innovation team has up to (let's say) $25,000 to spend per project and does all kinds of wild and interesting things, but the incentives to move something successful to full scale is murky at best. Meanwhile, production IT groups are largely measured on keeping core systems scalable, running smoothly and so forth. In absence of a concretely defined transition process and an outline of the long-term plan/strategic value of the tech, emerging technology can often fail to make this leap.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2018

    Is excess space behind retail’s shrink and customer experience problems?

    I'd be curious to see the breakdown of growth/decline segmented by the size of the store, i.e. is the 0.3 percent increase driven by large or small format? A key area not addressed that I believe to be the primary factor impacting whether we see large format store growth is changing consumer behavior. In particular, I'm interested in variations based on region and the shift towards independent brands. Large-format had been dominant in previous decades due to convenience, availability of product and economies of scale/price (in some cases). With the maturation of online, large locations will struggle to be successful playing the "only game in town" card. Throw into the mix that today's consumer is actively looking away from national brands and that consumers in different regions (even cities) have materially different preferences and this results in a big challenge to profitably stock, sell-through in large format stores.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2018

    Should Starbucks acquire Blue Apron?

    I'm not following this suggested strategy. There are a number of things that don't add up. Blue Apron's wheelhouse is rooted in the "experience" -- the act of having to cook the product yourself is part of the value proposition. I don't see any overlap with Starbucks' core competencies (i.e. focus is ready-made, convenience). Moreover, with the Nestle deal, it'd be tough to even construct a secondary argument around a Starbucks partnership/deal adding strategic benefit within traditional retail. The Nestle announcement clearly indicates retail distribution isn't going to be an area of focus for Starbucks. Avoiding retail distribution partners because they introduce a competitive private label offering is short-sighted and an almost universal risk that isn't specific to Blue Apron.
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