August 6, 2015

Technology Trends: Online gets Physical

According to a recent eCommerce report from Business Insider, online sales are growing faster than ever. The electrical industry is especially aware of this with large online retailers such as Amazon and Grainger seen as competition to brick-and-mortar stores. However, there has been a recent trend by online retailers to move in the exact opposite direction: opening physical retail stores. Companies such as Warby Parker, Rent the Runway, and BaubleBar have all taken their wares to the people and are finding benefits as their online and physical locations work in tandem to drive sales.

This week, we take a look at some of the businesses that have decided to open up shop, and learn a bit more about why they are spending the extra money to connect with customers in person.

In its Next Move, Amazon Could Turn to Physical Grocery Stores The Washington Post 

Amazon, known for its risk taking, is considering an expansion into the grocery industry. In order to provide same-day service to online customers purchasing perishable goods, Amazon may open up “mini-warehouses” where customers could pick up orders placed online, circumventing the complex logistics of fresh grocery home delivery.

Conceived Online, Birchbox Embraces the Beauty of Brick and MortarThe Entrepreneur

Birchbox, an online cosmetics retailer, is famous for its $10/month subscription box of beauty product samples delivered directly to the doorsteps of customers. However, the retailer found that customers were then purchasing the full-sized items not from the Birchbox website, but from its retailer competitors with storefronts, such as Sephora. It is now trying to turn that around with a brick-and-mortar presence.

Bonobos Opens Store in Seattle’s University Village The Seattle Times

Bonobos, a men’s clothing retailer, has opened a handful of stores that it’s calling “guideshops” throughout the United States. Bonobos found that customers like to try on clothing before purchasing, or simply want the opinion of a professional in person. The stores, which have no inventory, are locations for customers to get fitted and place orders, which are then shipped to wherever the customer would like.  

Online Retailers Buck the Trend and Set Up Bricks and Mortar StoresThe Globe and Mail

Canadian retailers discuss why they have moved from online to physical store locations. Points include building a relationship with customers and using store locations as “learning labs” to test how the market reacts to different products and to observe customers’ purchasing habits.

Physical Retail and the Role of a BrandThe Guardian

Roger Wade, founder of pop-up shopping mall Boxpark, discusses how opening a physical store complement to the company’s online enterprise has been an investment in its brand. More than sales, Boxpark uses its brick-and-mortars as a way to promote company brand recognition and drive traffic to its online site. Wade discusses the value of having a digital and a physical presence for consumers.