At the beginning of 2015, it seemed that store closure may be upon us, but by September there was hope for luxury brands in Canada. Now in 2016, purely digital companies are opening physical shops. Crazy, right? We’ve entered a time where in order to be successful, online retailers cannot solely exist online. Well known e-commerce brands are now using their expertise in data collection and applying it to locations that you can physically walk into.
Expansion into brick-and-mortar is no easy feat. High overhead costs, creating a physical brand experience, hiring the right staff, and worrying about inventory, are just some things on a list of many that are unfamiliar to online companies. Rolling out physical locations does require time and capital, but US brick-and-mortar retail sales are predicted to be 80% in 2020. Online brands are opening showrooms, and flagship locations as a mean to differentiate themselves in a rather claustrophobic online marketplace. 85% of customers would rather shop in store, and strictly digital brands don’t want to miss out on an opportunity for new customers and higher revenue. Amazon was the catalyst for this movement, by opening its first brick-and-mortar location in November 2015 (and soon to open a second location in San Diego). Since then, many online brands have followed suit.
Founded by four university students, Warby Parker is a designer eyewear company that sends customers up to five trial frames at no cost. Currently, Warby Parker has 27 retail locations across the United States.
Now with 20 “Guideshops” across America, menswear company Bonobos is planning on opening another location in Miami. In a Chicago location, Bonobos is the only store in the shopping center where customers will not walk out of the store with their purchases, instead bought items are sent directly from the warehouse in Massachusetts. instead bought items are sent directly from the warehouse in Massachusetts.
After opening up a successful pop-up shop, men’s accessories seller The Tie Bar decided to make it a permanent location. The company has partnered with Nordstrom but also hopes to have its own branded stores across the world.
The women’s clothing, accessories and home decor site, has recently made three new hires that suggest physical expansion. ModCloth has tested pop-up shops previously and sees an opportunity to grow its strong community base.
A menswear company, with 12 North American locations that doesn’t bother with POS or legacy systems. Frank & Oak encourages in-store visitors to purchase items online during their visit, and each store only carries a handful of each item.
Online retailers are using postal codes, website traffic, customer demographics and other data to determine the best location for new store openings. As time and technology progress, the collaboration of both online and offline will be the answer to creating a truly successful omnichannel experience.
Digital giants collect a lot of data from each and every customer. While they may be experts in a virtual world,in-store data collection is a bit more tricky, but still necessary for brick-and-mortar locations to be lucrative. Sure, tech like wi-fi and Bluetooth beacons have sparked a lot of interest and hype, but they could also deter shoppers instead of wooing them. Say goodbye to push notifications and hello to smart fitting rooms, more knowledgeable associates and new creative technologies!
Smart Fitting Rooms
Mirrors in fitting rooms at Polo Ralph Lauren’s flagship store are more than just a reflective surface. Backed by tech from Oak Labs, customers trying on garments can adjust the lighting in their room, browse colour and size options, and receive additional clothing recommendations based on what they have already chosen. Need assistance? Request a sales associate and receive a message on the mirror like “I’ll be right there” accompanied by a name and photo. Rebbecca Minkoff has similar technology on a feature wall. It shows video and other content and allows customers to request a fitting room among other things. Coupling an interactive user face with data collection is beneficial for both users and retailers.
Mobile Devices in Store
A survey from time trade reports that 90% of customers have an increased potential to buy when being helped by a store associate. Retail workers will be able to access an individual’s data and have the potential to complete a transaction in the middle of a store.
A UK startup, Market Hub, has created digital shelf labels for retailers. Stores can adjust prices in real-time to help lower perishable food waste. Market Hub taps into POS systems of major retailers and uses predictive analytics to determine buying trends.
As online and offline retail landscapes continue to blend, data is going to be at the core. Online giants will continue to open brick-and-mortar shops creating a genuine omnichannel experience for their customers. New and creative technologies that collect data will be putting physical retail back on the shelves. Whether you love shopping online or prefer to get out of the house, everything is soon to become integrated.