Nike, clearer than ever

Nike stores
Michele Caprini
31 Oct 2019

To explain Nike's choice, we need to take a step back. Already in 2013, a research of NRF, the association of American retailers, predicted the special technological future of distribution companies. These companies should have left their subordinate position of more o less advanced users of technologies. And, on the other hand, with the leadership of managers with strong competence in digital and technologies, essential premise to any strategic plan.

The history of the American competition in retail, in these last six years, couldn’t be a clearer confirmation. No surprises when Nike announced, in the past days, the coming left of the CEO Mark Parker, that will remain in the company but with other tasks, replaced by John Donahoe.

John Donahoe

Subject, John Donahoe, that well represents the strategic evolution. Already a member of the Nike board, John Donahoe is been CEO of eBay for ten years and from two years guides Servicenow, a Californian cloud computing company.

To be noticed that the change in leadership doesn’t come up to heal a period of difficulty but, on the contrary, after a long history of successes with the signature of Mark Parker.

The analysts of Wells Fargo defined him as “one of the best retail managers of the recent history”, remembering that the price of shares rose by nine times under his administration. Parker has real product innovation records. And with him, by fact, eCommerce and app became central in operations. As chain stores innovation, unique and ever more app-based.


Like Starbucks

The number one of global sportswear chose John Donahoe because it wants to be recognized, also, as a technological leader. Same history with Starbucks, that wanted the lead of Kevin Johnson, already CEO of Jupiter Networks. From routers to Frappuccino. Not bad.

The “old” Parker could not find a better summary to represent his heir: strong relation with Nike, sure, but above all “his experience in electronic commerce and technology. These skills make him ideal to speed up our digital transformation”.

Mobile is an important part of this transformation. As well as sell-through smartphones, Nike continuously invests in technology to add new functions like Nike Fit, to pair buyers with the right size for every shoe.

Epochal changes in commerce and distribution, in the USA, are a consequence of a commercial battle without precedent, with Walmart and Amazon as protagonists. To every action of one, the reaction of the other. The primary characteristic of the battle: the consolidation as global leaders, beyond any conceptual, territorial, and technological delimitation.

In America, clients are making things that were unbelievable just five years ago and speed is the new currency.

Merciless comparison

And the same in Italy? No, on the contrary, we add our penalties to Europe’s general delays, at least in comparison with the USA and China. And, actually, it is a problem that affects not only retail.

According to ASSIRM innovation Index, Sweden confirms itself with steadiness in the first position of the continental ranking, followed by the Netherlands and the UK. As already detected in 2018, Italy complains about a net disadvantage compared to other European countries. After losing, in 2014, its competitive advantage over Spain, it also gave Portugal. Last of all Greece, only country with a negative innovation index.

In the NRF research quoted at the beginning of this text, it was explained (in 2013, it’s useful to remember) “To the leaders of retail will be demanded to be digitally fluent to take the lead. Whether it is assessing the digital preparation of the managing team, or making difficult decisions about capital, times and strategies risk of integration, we are ready to see a new generation of CEO who are the supervisors of the company digital transformation”.

Maybe a few read it.