The age of online shopping has surprisingly lead full-circle back to bricks.
While traditional retail brands are closing up shops across the country (Gap, Macy’s, J. Crew), some e-brands are moving the opposite direction: from online platforms to brick and mortar ones.
The move from online to direct-to-consumer brick-and-mortar store is a growing trend among younger brands that started out online. Moving to a physical store front enables e-stores to connect with a larger number of clients who do not typically buy products online and also allows the retailer to create stronger bonds with their established customer base.
Among those brands to make the move to brick and mortar are Amazon, Warby Parker, BirchBox, Fabletics, NastyGal, and even dating app Bumble. These e-brands have already built an established customer base and will likely grow that base by moving into a physical location.
Amazon is opening some of its first brick and mortar book stores, but these are not quite your traditional book store. The stores stock up to 5,000 title that are ranked highest according to customer reviews on Amazon.com. The books are displayed in ways that draw from the online shopping experience. For example, books are displayed with the cover facing out, rather than the traditional spine-out display, to mimic the way shoppers view the book online. Also customer reviews are displayed next to each book on the shelf.
Online eyeglass retailer opened its first physical store in 2013. The store carries almost no inventory and instead works more like a showroom–allowing customers to try on and order items in the store, to have them shipped to their house later on. The store also includes and in house optometrist and offers eye exams seven days a week at $50. “We believe the future of retail sits at the intersection of e-commerce and brick and mortar,” says Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby Parker. “The two experiences should be seamlessly integrated and complementary.”
The subscription beauty sample box that started the subscription “box of the month’ craze has also recently opened up a store in NYC. The idea behind the store is that after subscribers have decided which products from their sample box they like enough to purchase in full-size form, they can go straight to the BirchBox store to do so. In the store customers can also subscribe to a three-month subscription and leave the store with their first box in hand. They can either choose a curated box or choose their own items at the “Build Your Own BirchBox” station.
Okay, so Bumble isn’t an online retailer, but it’s move from mobile to brick and mortar echos the trend of interacting in physical and experiential spaces. TechCrunch reports that Bumble is scheduled to open a pop-up location in NYC where Bumble users can meet their dates, their friends, and use the space for networking during the daytime.
This growing trend from clicks to bricks makes sense from a business model. An article on Forbes explains, “Online brands moving towards bricks & mortar stores have the advantage of being able to use the data collected from their e-commerce platform in order to plan store inventory based on the analysis of the most popular products sold online,” as well as choose “certain locations based on the analysis of buying behavior of online purchasers through their ZIP codes.”