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CEOs on Coronavirus: Scott Cutler of StockX Believes the Industry Will Recover ‘Faster Than You Expect’

In a new series, top leaders from across the footwear industry discuss the deep impact of the coronavirus and the challenging road ahead.

Despite the challenges the pandemic has created for the greater sneaker industry, the resale market is still in good health.

StockX — which has adopted the label “the stock market of things” — confirmed with FN this week that sneaker prices have been relatively stable, and with the exception of some high-priced silhouettes sitting for longer than usual, there have been no major dips.

For StockX CEO Scott Cutler — who assumed the role in June 2019 — navigating an organization during economic uncertainty isn’t unfamiliar territory: the executive was a member of the New York Stock Exchange senior management team during the Great Recession in 2008.

Below, Cutler discusses how the way people work and the playbook for dealing with crisis will be permanently changed because of COVID-19.

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Footwear News: How would you assess the performance of StockX throughout this global health crisis?

Scott Cutler: “Everybody is navigating a new normal, including our core customer, who is the young, passionate sneaker and fashion enthusiast. This customer remains engaged on our platform and as an online marketplace, we’re not experiencing the same dislocations that traditional retail is seeing. We’ve had more traffic and buyers coming to our site because of that shift. The fact that traditional retail in many geographies is not available has propelled many shoppers to an online experience and our marketplace has always been driven on scarcity — and access to highly sought-after consumer goods — so the tailwind continues to grow during this time.”

How has your strategy for this moment and the rest of 2020 shifted?

SC: “I believe that today’s headlines will not mark tomorrow’s history. Our platform has remained strong and stable throughout the pandemic and we will continue to make adjustments. I feel confident that the decisions we’ve made in terms of keeping StockX open and stable during this environment, as well as the extra precautions that we’ve put in place in our authentication centers to make sure our team is safe, positioned us well for a rebound whenever that happens. Our key areas of focus into the future remain the same, which is continued expansion of our business internationally. We’ve continued to have incredible growth internationally, particularly in Europe, even through this pandemic. As we look to our future beyond Europe, we’re focused on Canada and Mexico. We’re looking at expanding our localized experiences to those markets as well as in Asia, which has been a place we’ve been focused on for a while. We have a continued focus on category expansion and diversification. We have five categories on the platform and we see continue to see growth in our newest categories, collectibles and and trading cards. We have always believed that our model is disruptive to the industry. It’s where the customer is going, and it’s where they are today. We’re committed to continuing to provide both innovation and disruption to the industry. And and as a result, I think we’re going to come out of this stronger.”

What have you learned about the resale market as it relates to retail and StockX throughout all of this?

SC: “I have a deep appreciation for the commitment that our team has in working through this environment — either from home or in our distribution centers. I am very optimistic around the technology investments that we’ve made in the company to be able to be where the customer is during this pandemic as well as what we see in the recovery. And I’ve learned a tremendous amount about how the resale market is shifting and impacting the overall industry. We’re obviously not immune to what’s happening out there in the world and we’re making adjustments to our plan as a result of that, but I’ve been really proud with how the team has responded to it.”

How are you leading your team throughout this experience?

SC: “Fortunately, this isn’t the first time that I’ve managed through a crisis situation as a leader. I was part of the senior management team at the New York Stock Exchange during the 2008 economic crisis. I managed the marketplace business at eBay, where we had entire shutdowns of communities like the hurricanes that wiped out Puerto Rico, the floods that crippled Houston, the California fires. In all of these experiences there are there are lessons to be learned. Some of the things that I’ve that I’ve learned is that the recovery is typically faster than you expect going into it. As a leader, it’s making sure that business continuity and contingency planning is always at the forefront. Don’t wait until the time of crisis for a plan to be developed. [StockX] had hired a great operation team so we were able to manage through the crisis. We’ve stepped up our internal and external communications to make sure we’re delivering clear and concise messages to all of our stakeholders, which includes both our team members as well as our sellers and buyers.”

How will the StockX playbook for dealing with crisis change given the lessons you have learned throughout this experience?

SC: “The lesson we’re learning going through this is how to prepare for a different type of consumption and a different type of distribution. We are preparing for shifts that were already happening in the marketplace: the acceleration of online shopping, the acceleration of access to goods and services and a sensitivity to dependence on supply chains [in certain regions]. We’re obviously much more sensitive to that now than we were before. I think those things prepare us for the future. I also think how we work is going to change, and was already changing. Working from home and remotely will be a part of our work environment going forward no matter what. And in our distribution centers we will continue to have an intense focus on safety, in particular health, and be conscious about the impact of the spread of a virus or sickness can have on the business. I think a lot of the safety protocols that we put in place around how we work in distribution centers will forever change.”

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