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Why Digital-Native Brands Are Headed In-Store

If retail is really “dying,” why are some thriving digital brands risking the jump from online to in-store? For the same reason people visit Disney World. You can watch a movie at home, or you and Goofy can get sticky-faced from Mickey ice pops under the fireworks: it’s about the experience.

Revolution Digital  |  September 14, 2018
Why Digital-Native Brands Are Headed In-Store

If retail is really “dying,” why are some thriving digital brands risking the jump from online to in-store? For the same reason people visit Disney World. You can watch a movie at home, or you and Goofy can get sticky-faced from Mickey ice pops under the fireworks: it’s about the experience. And for digital brands, those experiences can help foster a sense of community, enhance service and, believe it or not, boost sales.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen some of our favorite e-tailers take a backwards approach to selling: testing the waters online first, then setting up shop in brick-and-mortar. While some of those brands used digital insights to propel themselves into more secure in-store set-ups— using what they’ve learned about their online consumers to cater to those in-person— the move certainly still has its risks.

That said, recent retail trends would actually support these brands’ transitions over to “the dark side,” making it a risky— but strategic move for companies who are looking to give their fans an exciting experience. And to support that notion, a new study revealed that Gen Z, a generation that grew up on social media and technology, actually prefers shopping in-store or on a desktop, as opposed to mobile. But that’s not all. Target’s CEO recently raved about the state of the economy, calling it the best consumer environment he’s seen in his career and siting growth in store.

With that in mind, see which digital-first brands are trying to capitalize on the strong market by adding some foot traffic alongside their web traffic:

For Wayfair, Home Is Where the Heap Is

Wayfair shoppers’ e-carts are never empty. So why would the largest online furniture retailer in the U.S. feel the need to open an outlet? They’re hoping that their new space will help sell off a ton of excess inventory and returns, while driving online business in the process. After all, it’s hard to sweep 20,000 sq. ft. of extra furniture under even the best-selling rug when it’s virtual.

Casper Makes Its Bed in Stores

The famous bed-in-a-box brand is no longer selling naptime online only. The mattress company plans to open 200 brick-and-mortar stores in the next three years to “build loyalty with current customers, gain exposure among new shoppers, and increase impulse buys that can only come from browsing physical locations.” Now you can put your bed to the test before you invest.

Glossier Does It for the ‘Gram

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So, why would a D2C, blog-born beauty brand turn to brick-and-mortar when it’s thriving online? For Instagram, obvi. Glossier is opening their second retail store to cater to their loyal Millennial fans. The store is designed to incite product testing and ‘gramming. But don’t expect huge expansion. Too many storefronts may dilute their swagger.

Amazon: Heading to the Big Screen?

Amazon knows the value in experiential retail. After conquering the world of e-commerce, the e-tail powerhouse opened physical stores (whose sales reached $1.3B in 3 months, BTW) and added Whole Foods to their roster. Now, they’re reportedly looking to acquire Landmark Theatres, a cinema chain that could provide new distribution for Amazon media, food and more. Next up: world domination.

Away Finds a Place for Wanderlust

After dipping their toe in the pop-up shop space, digital-native luggage brand, Away, opened their first physical store last year in NYC before expanding to three other cities. Their first space was designed as a showroom, but also featured workshops, travel guides and events to excite consumers about their journeys, adding value to the brand in an edgy way they couldn’t online.

All Eyes on Warby Parker

Dubbed “The Netflix of Eyewear,” Warby Parker had a good thing going with their at-home try-on program and online sales model. But after a while, consumers craved an “experience.” So, the brand built a store into a school bus that visited 15 cities, before finding fertile ground for shop no.1 in NYC. They’ve since expanded and continue to grow. Now, more than 85% of Warby’s in-store shoppers later visit their site.

Google May Settle Down in Chi-Town

Google may be heading to the windy city. The search giant is poised to open their first permanent retail store in Chicago to show off their expanding line of products, including Pixel phones, VR headsets, Nest products and more. While Google hasn’t confirmed the news, we can’t blame them for wanting to give consumers a hands-on, techy playground like Apple’s.

Brands like Fabletics, Bonobos, Rent the Runway, The Tie Bar and Parachute have also gotten in on the action, proving that this “trend” may soon become the new normal. As powerful as it can be to have insights from online consumers, nothing quite compares to having that in-person experience. So, before you assume that the “retailpocalypse” is happening, consider this: retail may not be dying, but mediocre retail is.

At Revolution Digital, we can help bring your brand to life online. It might be impossible to out-Amazon Amazon, but our digitally-savvy team can help you set realistic, achievable goals, then turn them into a retail reality. With the hands-on attention of a boutique agency and the creative minds of a big one, Rev-D is ready to take on the challenge. Give us a call at 973-539-2727 or email newbusiness@rev-d.com to find out how we can help.

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