RealReal Inc. an online marketplace that sells used luxury goods, had its first earnings report as a public company Tuesday. Revenue was up 51% from the year prior (GMV up 40%), but its net loss widened from the previous year.
In similar news, shares of digitally native fashion retailer Revolve fell 15% after the company announced an operating loss last week, despite exceeding all revenue expectations. In its first earnings report since going public in June, Revolve reported a second-quarter net loss of $28.1 million, all the more surprising given Revolve’s favorable unit economics at the time of its IPO. Meanwhile, online luxury retailer FarFetch closed Friday down 44.5%, after reporting larger than expected second quarter losses, despite year over year revenue growth of 44%, setting records for revenue and gross merchandise value.
Walmart will report its Q2 earnings this week. Expect to see the trend continue with above market growth for e-commerce revenue driven by continued expansion of online grocery, while operating margins will be under pressure. Transport costs, price investments, investments in e-commerce including free one day shipping, and concerns around increased Chinese tariffs will all put pressure on Walmart’s margins.
Note that last month, Recode reported that Walmart will lose more than $1 billion on its U.S. e-commerce division this year, on revenue of between $21 billion and $22 billion.
Andy Dunn, the founder of Bonobos and current SVP of digital consumer brands at Walmart, wrote about the challenges of e-commerce profitability back in 2013 when he offered a simple summary, “E-commerce is great. Only three problems: no IPOs, no M&A, no EBITDA.”
These results mirror a familiar pattern for retailers: improving year-over-year revenue while profits decline. Often these slides in profitability correspond to an outsized increase in e-commerce sales, highlighting the unfortunate truth that it’s very difficult to operate a profitable e-commerce business. And it’s only getting harder.