As reported earlier by Wall Street Journal and Business Insider, Warby Parker and Bonobos, two high-growth eCommerce brands, are planning to grow their current physical retail store footprint. Warby’s leadership, Neil Blumenthal, even sees up to 1,000 storefronts in the future.
Considering the power of eCommerce as a boundaryless demand driver, giving companies the ability to reach hundreds, thousands or even millions over time without the restrictions of physical location, opening retail stores may seem like a poor strategy to some.
When eCommerce first emerged, I would have wholeheartedly agreed. Retailers were strong, eCommerce brands were newbies, retail was expensive and lethargic and there was little in the way of true geographical market intelligence. However, today is a different story. Now that eCommerce has begun disrupting retailers across the nation, with even Walmart feeling the pressure, real estate prices have drastically dampened. Ecommerce companies have a clearer picture of their geographic demand based on eCommerce sales trends, and having eCommerce as a backbone channel to sales enables a high level of creativity in the supply chain. But perhaps the most powerful reason to differ is what has made physical retail so powerful in the first place, customer engagement.
Until virtual reality commerce catches up with physical retail (this isn’t a joke BTW), physical storefronts still provide the only immersive brand experience known to man. People tend to buy more based on exposure and availability. The BI Intelligence chart below shows customers buy substantially more from those brands who saturate the market across 10 or more channels.
For those who are able, why shouldn’t brick and mortar be one of those channels?
With that said, just because it’s a good idea, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your business. If you are considering opening a brick and mortar now, there are some key things to think about before investing a lot of money only to achieve little gain:
- Have I already maximized my exposure across all the other digital channels?
- Are my customers asking for it?
- If not, have I asked them about it?
- What experience am I attempting to deliver offline that I cannot achieve online?
- Do I have a large enough customer base in a particular area to substantially de-risk this channel expansion approach?
- Is there a central or hub location, based on my geographical sales trends, that could allow me to open up shop at a reasonable investment level?
- Could I leverage a pop-up shop near this area to test my assumptions?
If you would like to chat about the idea of moving from clicks to bricks, or tools to better help you capture the type of customer data to support this concept, feel free to give us a call or chat with us. We’re here to help.