Done correctly, a vertically integrated, digitally native eCommerce brand can enter the physical retail space effectively. It’s tricky to pull off but Everlane has done it right with their first two brick and mortar stores. They’ve executed it so well that there are lines outside their SF stores winding around the street. On the other hand, there’s a long list of companies who tried the exact same thing and have now shuttered their popup shops and cornerstone stores and ran back to online exclusivity with their tails between their legs.
What brands need to remember is that moving from eCommerce only into a mixed strategy does not mean a shift in core values or leaving your original web audience behind. Instead, It’s a graceful blend of migrating your onsite experience into a store and making your former (or current) online shoppers feel like they’re back at your home[page] while stepping through your new retail space.
Don’t engage in the retail space just for the sake of having a store. A laundry list of brands have learned this the hard way. Opening a physical store for the sake of having a brick and mortar presence isn’t worth it. Creating a retail experience should be done because of customer demand or because of a market gap in a perfectly targeted area.
What brands also shouldn’t do is wade into the shallow end of the pool and not fully commit to their retail experience. Neglecting your in-store experience will ripple across your company and eventually impact your online shoppers. In-store execution is something that most digitally native stores don’t have experience with and it can be easy to screw up. Don’t make this costly mistake.
It’s incredible to watch shops that once only operated on a few pages online blossom into physical retailers with incredible stores and shopping experiences that rival those of Apple. Execution is hard and brick and mortar isn’t for everyone. It’s a challenging space to penetrate and finding the right market (one that’s also affordable) for your cornerstone store can be next to impossible. You’ll need high foot traffic, great visibility and to be in a part of the country you know resonates with your current online audience.
Every online store owner dreams of the success that Everlane is seeing, few will ever get there.