The rise of brick-and-mortar among ecommerce specialty brands
Given the ubiquity of digital media, some may be befuddled to learn that a select few online specialty retail companies are setting up physical stores.
The uninitiated would perceive such a move as somewhat of a step backward, but those familiar with merchandising know how much brick-and-mortar venues contribute to brand development.
People want to purchase specialty products (hunting apparel, running shoes, Olympic lifting items, etc.) from businesses that have a tangible presence in commerce. Basically, physical outlets provide consumers with the chance to validate the quality of particular goods. Depending on whether a business passes such a test, its reputation will be affected significantly.
A different take on brick-and-mortar
Specialty merchants aren't simply setting up run-of-the-mill stores and hoping everything falls into place. They rely on retail customer intelligence tools to help them deduce what kind of experience people are looking for. When a consumer visits a tangible store, he or she is looking to develop a certain attachment to the items on display.
According to Street Fight Magazine, that's exactly the type of environment men's apparel brand Bonobos is trying to create. The source noted the brand originally started as an ecommerce venue, but then expanded into the physical space to allow its customers to interact with its products.
However, Bonobos isn't taking the traditional brick-and-mortar route. While Bonobos' venues allow customers to test fabric and try on clothes, the purchases themselves are processed as ecommerce orders, meaning items are delivered days later. The source maintained this allows Bonobos to sell a wider variety of inventory at a fraction of the price.
The shift to ship-from-store
Essentially, the specialty men's apparel store is leveraging its new stores as order fulfillment centers. This strategy is similar to the one Macy's has adopted, according to Fortune. Macy's has taken a different route than Bonobos in that it began as a brick-and-mortar chain and is now investing in ecommerce.
In order to support its online operations, Macy's is leveraging its tangible locations to satisfy purchases made on its websites. In addition, the retailer is allowing its stores to pool inventories to ensure shortages don't occur.
"The customer is driving innovation," said Macy Chief Omnichannel Officer RB Harrison, as quoted by Fortune. "She or he is increasingly expecting a seamless experience between a digital and in-store environment."
As far as how omnichannel strategies will progress in the future, it depends on how creative executives are. The more versatile and open-minded they are, the better they'll be able to satisfy consumers with high expectations.