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NIKE’s Distribution Channels: How Products Reach Customers

Phalguni Soni

Traditionally innovative: A must-know investor’s guide to NIKE (Part 6 of 22)

(Continued from Part 5)

Analyzing NIKE’s distribution channels and retail model

NIKE distributes its products through three major channels:

  • By selling products to wholesalers in the US and international markets
  • By direct-to-consumer (or DTC) sales, which include in line and factory retail outlets (see graph below) and e-commerce sales through www.nike.com
  • Sales to global brand divisions

Retail partnerships

NIKE, Inc. (NKE) has also tried to create category-specific retail destinations by partnering with footwear retailers such as Foot Locker, Inc. (FL), JD Sports, and Intersport.

NIKE’s sales mix and retail slant

Sales to wholesalers are the largest revenue category. However, this category’s contribution in the sales mix contracted from 83.3% in fiscal year 2012 to 79.2% of revenues in fiscal year 2014. DTC sales, on the other hand, increased from 16.2% to 20.3% over the same period. This is significantly lower than the ratio of DTC revenues for NIKE’s rivals in the space. In the most recent quarter, the respective ratios of DTC revenue to total revenue for Under Armour Inc. (UA), VF Corporation (VFC), and Adidas AG (ADDYY) were 25.3%, 23%, and 25.4%.

NIKE is focusing on direct selling to the consumer with its DTC initiative. Comparing NIKE’s distribution channels, direct sales to the consumer provide higher margins than do sales to wholesalers. In fiscal year 2014, DTC revenues accounted for ~20% of total NIKE Brand revenues as compared to 18% in fiscal year 2013. On a currency neutral basis, DTC revenues grew 22% in fiscal year 2014 and 30% in 1Q15, year-over-year.

The company is attempting to grow the DTC category to $8 billion in sales by fiscal year 2017, up from $5.3 billion in fiscal year 2014. That’s an annual growth rate of 14.7%, compounded.

Read the key elements of its store and online strategies in the next part of this series.

Continue to Part 7

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