As bricks and mortar retail stores struggle to maintain footfall, we examine three brands that are fighting back by trying to encourage consumers to hit the high street by doing things a little differently.
Bulletin: Giving Fledgling Brands Their Time to Shine
Understanding that opening up a bricks-and-mortar space has a significantly greater financial outlay than setting up shop in the digital realm, two former Contently employees, Alana Branston and Ali Kriegsman, decided to give startup brands a leg-up by founding Bulletin. Right now, the company has two US-based stores, and everything sold in them has been created by digitally born brands. Brands fill out a brief application form to apply to sell through Bulletin and, if they make the cut, Bulletin takes the brand under its wing, selling their products in one of its two US-based stores. Bulletin curates its offering carefully, and its stores align with the current movement towards more fluid, experiential retail experiences; its product mix spans fashion, health and beauty, lifestyle and homeware products. Selling through Bulletin is an opportunity for fledgling companies to give physical retail a test-run by sharing the space (and the cost of it) with other brands, and watching how well their wares go down on the shop floor. Bulletin keeps its brands updated with their selling statistics in real time via an online seller dashboard, making it easy for brands to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Tory Burch: Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline
At this year’s NRF Big Show, Tory Burch’s director of IT architecture and engineering, Mike Strauss, stated that “becoming more omnichannel and bringing the online experience in-store is where retail is headed right now.” Tory Burch stores reflect this. iPads are available on the shop floor to assist visitors with their shopping, so they can see what’s available in-store that they liked the look of online, and the customer service offering and the checkout process is as efficient as it is online. And then there’s Tory Burch’s newest venture, Tory Sport, “activewear that celebrates the elegance of sport”, that the brand is beginning to open dedicated stores for. Tory Sport’s bricks-and-mortar presence reaches further than your typical sports store, though; locals are encouraged to visit even if they’re not buying, as the store plays host to a variety of fitness classes that anyone can join. The centre of the stores feature a large interactive display, too, for visitors to use to shop, browse lookbooks and play games. The brand has recognised that customer’s needs are changing – when they can do all of their shopping online, there need to be unique incentives on offer to pull customers into your stores.
Outdoor Voices: Using Stores as Bases for Community Events
As the popularity of recreational fitness is on the rise, Outdoor Voices is winning over millennials by encouraging them to see exercise as fun and social, rather than competitive and serious. The burgeoning fitness brand’s stores aren’t just about selling product – they’re about bringing together communities of like-minded people. Outdoor Voices CEO, Tyler Haney, has explained that her stores are “not about revenue, but community – giving the customer a hook into the O.V community,” which explains why events are so central to Outdoor Voices’ business model. Events are divided into four categories and offer something for all tastes, whether you’re a “casual recreationalist” or you’re “in it to get super sweaty”, and they include the likes of ‘Wags and Swags’ (dog walking), ‘Thug Yoga’ and ‘Dance Club Cardio’ – these are far from your traditional exercise classes. But it works, as the brand’s community continues to grow, and more stores continue to open. Other companies would do well to take notes from Outdoor Voices’ community-focused commerce – as Fortune points out, “selling stuff is no longer the point of retail stores.
Alana Branston, CEO & Co-Founder of Bulletin and Tyler Haney, CEO & Founder of Outdoor Voices join us to discuss what draws consumers to the high street, at the Decoded Fashion New York Summit (November 1-2). Book your ticket here.
Image Source: Fashionista