When shopping online offers efficiency and a wealth of choice, with minimal effort required beyond the tapping in of card details, it’s easy to see why consumers are opting to shop from home rather than head out to the high street. And, now that their potential customers are more than comfortable with e-commerce, new brands can start up quickly by purchasing a domain name. For some however, the lure of the in-store experience has proved too lucrative as digitally born brands make the move to bricks-and-mortar. Here, we look at three companies who’ve gone offline: how are they making it work?
The RealReal: Taking Online Expertise Offline
Over five years of operation, The RealReal has become a leading luxury consignment company in the US. Until recently, the company had done all of its business online, through its website and mobile app, but, for a few weeks in December 2016, it wooed holiday-period shoppers with a pop-up in New York’s Soho neighbourhood – and netted over $2 million in revenue as a result. It makes sense then that the company, now armed with $173 million in venture capital, will be opening its doors permanently in Soho as of this November 2017, in a 2-floor flagship store. The appeal of The RealReal, to those serious about their labels, is its intense authentication procedures and the expertise of its employees, including specialist brand authenticators, gemologists and watch experts. Now that the company is venturing offline on a permanent basis, being able to speak to an expert face-to-face – and, if you’re selling, to have your items valued there and then – will help to bring consumers into The RealReal’s new store. Of course, there’s also the pull of being able to see all of these luxury products, from a wealth of brands,in the flesh. As the company’s founder Julie Wainwright told TechCrunch: “When you have 100 Birkins on the wall and people have never seen that – even at Hermes – they tend to call their friends.”
Allbirds: Using Data to Keep up With the Customer
When innovative footwear start-up Allbirds presented its sustainable shoe concept on Kickstarter in 2014, backers were so invested in the idea that the company hit its target within five days – just over $119,000 was raised. Since then, Allbirds has continued to thrive. Instead of just using the millons it has received through investment rounds to continue to grow its online presence, the company made the decision to move into bricks-and-mortar retail. And it’s determined to get it right. The brand’s San Francisco flagship store opened in May and, in order to keep up with its customers, Allbirds has partnered with Retail Next to deploy an analytics programme across its first bricks-and-mortar output. The findings of Zebra’s 2017 Retail Vision study state that 70% of companies surveyed intend to implement the Internet of Things into their retail experiences by 2021, so AllBirds is ahead of the game – perhaps because they’ve been invested in the power of technology from the start. Retail Next will offer AllBirds detailed insight into shopper behaviour, so the brand will have a better idea about where to move next. “Integrating RetailNext’s SaaS platform into the new Allbirds concept store allows us to experiment and test different concepts to determine which are most intriguing and engaging to shoppers,” Joey Zwillinger, co-founder of Allbirds, told EPR Retail News. “[This will] allow [us] to better understand the core elements that make up customers’ shopping journeys, and in turn empower us to continually lift our levels of shopper experience and service excellence to new heights.”
Ministry of Supply: Bringing Production In-Store
Ministry of Supply was founded by a group of former MIT students, so it was somewhat inevitable to see the brand put out clothing in technically advanced fabrics. But the young company has been focusing on something more unique since its 2012 launch: bringing its technical savvy to the manufacturing process. As of March 2017, customers visiting Ministry of Supply’s flagship store in Boston have been able to design their own iteration of the company’s signature blazer, and then have it 3D printed before their own eyes. Those who can’t get to Boston are able to purchase their own 3D-printed blazer online, but there’s a lot to be said for the immersive experience of visiting the store itself, creating a bespoke garment and then taking it home on the same day. “The customer gets to be part of the process and design a garment that’s knit just for them,” Ministry of Supply’s CEO and co-founder, Aman Advani, told Digiday. “A lot of folks dip their toes in this customization movement, but we think it can revolutionize both supply and demand.”
Rati Levesque, Chief Merchant at The RealReal and Aman Advani, CEO of Ministry of Supply will join us to discuss why a digitally-born brand would foray into bricks and mortar, at the Decoded Fashion New York Summit (November 1-2). Book your ticket here.
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Image Source: Man of Many