Ecommerce Merchants Embrace Brick-and-mortar

With all the talk of a”retail apocalypse,” you may wonder why any merchant would want to open a brick-and-mortar shop. Yet several successful ecommerce businesses are currently operating physical shops and the trend appears to be picking up in 2018.

Some of the most successful online vendors, who have contributed to the passing of the competition in their product group, have physical locations. By way of instance, Amazon, which greatly impacted independent bookstores and book chains, has opened 15 large format bookstores in eight countries with plans to start more. Amazon also possesses Whole Foods Market with its 479 shops in North America and the United Kingdom.

Why Physical Stores?

Physical stores function as a complement to online sales. Physical stores also provide a simpler and free way for customers to return items bought online. Customers who pick up and swap items in shop tend to purchase extra items. And several shoppers still prefer to see, try on, and touch products before buying them. Significantly, brick-and-mortar shopping generates higher conversion rates than online only.

Sometimes there’s a need for particular expertise an online shopping experience doesn’t provide. Consider Warby Parker, for instance. Launched in 2010, this eyeglass frame merchant mails up to five frames to prospective clients to try on at home at no cost, accompanied by directions on the best way best to get a fantastic fit. Additionally, it provides online videos. Consumers then return all of the frames with the dimensions for the selected frame.

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Many observers doubted whether customers would feel comfortable performing the evaluations and adjustments themselves. However, Warby Parker has been exceptionally successful, probably because it has a vast choice of frames which are less costly than the competition. Nevertheless, the business knew that it wasn’t reaching a considerable number of possible customers who wouldn’t order frames online.

Warby Parker now has 65 retail locations in the USA and Canada with plans for another 40 in 2018. In 2017, more than half of the business’s sales came from physical shops, evidence that most people today feel more comfortable with specialist help when buying eyeglass frames. Some shops also offer eye exams.

Warby Parker now has 65 retail locations in the USA and Canada, including this shop in a Denver mall. Source: Warby Parker.

Likewise Caspar, which previously sold its mattresses online only with a 100-night free trial and free delivery and returns, now has 18 stores in a number of states. Caspar can’t resell returned mattresses; it donates them to charity instead. However, the cost of the practice is high. Caspar’s omnichannel approach solves a problem for a product that clients will need to touch.

Among smaller online merchants who’ve taken the brick-and-mortar jump are (a) Bonobos, a men’s fashion merchant that doesn’t stock its physical stores with stock, (b) Allbirds, a organic substances athletic shoe purveyor, and (c) beauty product merchants Glossier and Madison Reed.

Online Brands Better?

Ecommerce merchants are having success with physical stores while traditional retailers are failing– notably mall-based chains. Some online shops are opening shops in malls, but many are opening standalone storefronts, particularly in urban areas like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

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It appears that ecommerce brands are better than conventional retailers at incorporating digital applications into a tangible presence. It is easier for a nimble online vendor that adapted to mobile shopping years ago to provide a seamless omnichannel buying experience. Successful ecommerce fashion brands have offered virtual fitting rooms and 3D imaging. They’re more skillful at providing an experiential shopping experience than traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

Integrating mobile apps give manufacturers the ability to customize an in-store trip. A user can walk into a clothing shop, have measurements taken by an employee, and then save those dimensions in a mobile app. The shop can send personalized style recommendations to the customer with a likelihood the recommendations will be the ideal size and style. This works regardless of whether the shop holds inventory or functions just as a showroom.

Retail Space Expensive

Retail space is costly, particularly in major cities with a great deal of foot traffic. Frequently ecommerce merchants start their brick-and-mortar attempts in high tech zip codes in major cities and, if successful, they venture into more regions. Some start with pop-up shops to gauge interest and then rent permanent space.

Pop-ups are a fantastic option for small ecommerce brands to demonstrate their goods across the nation. Marketplaces for short term retail spaces are emerging. One of these is Appear Here, which operates over 1,000 places collectively in Europe and New York. It’s worked with 80,000 brands to find temporary retail places. The terms are flexible — space can be leased on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis for pop-ups or longer-term arrangements.

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Appear Here rents retail space on flexible terms. Source: Appear Here.

Appear Here also matches property owners looking to rent-out retail area together with merchants that need a physical existence. A store in a store is now a favorite means for internet sellers to acquire space.

A brick-and-mortar presence — no matter how small — may become a necessity for little net sellers with a distinctive and established brand.