In episode 388 of Total Retail Talks, which was recorded at the ICR Conference earlier this year, Editor-in-Chief Joe Keenan interviews John Merris, CEO of Solo Brands, a pure-play direct-to-consumer (DTC) company with a portfolio of rapidly growing lifestyle brands, including Solo Stove, Oru Kayak, Chubbies, and ISLE. Merris discusses why so many public DTC struggle to become profitable (0:59), the origin story of Solo Brands and its current brand portfolio (2:53), and why he believes DTC success comes from putting loyal customers first (5:32). He details how Solo Brands can remain a true DTC company while layering in wholesale opportunities for future growth (7:55), and the company's strategy to maintain the customer relationship when shoppers purchase from Solo Brands' select retail partners (10:30).
In addition, Merris addresses how Solo Brands maintains equal profitability between DTC and wholesale customers (12:29), why the company is investing in customer data technology to cross-sell between brands in its portfolio (14:19), and the various growth opportunities he's targeting in 2023 (16:00). He shares how Solo Brands approaches innovation with in-house talent (17:47), how the consumer behavior he saw during the 2022 holiday season will impact the retail industry this year (18:50), and his thoughts on retailers' inventory positions for 2023 (20:51). Lastly, Merris discusses Solo Brands' customer retention strategy (22:47).
John Merris has served as Solo Brand’s president and CEO since October 2018, and is a member of the board of directors since March 2021. Prior to his time with the company, Merris served as chief revenue officer and director of Clarus Glassboards LLC, a manufacturer of glass writing surfaces, from October 2015 to October 2018, and vice president of Multiview, a business-to-business media company, from August 2012 to October 2015. He also serves on the board of directors of Fostering Hearts, a nonprofit corporation. In 2020, Merris was recognized as the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Regional Winner. Merris holds a B.A. in Political Science and Business from Brigham Young University and a M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.