While more brick and mortar stores are entering into Ecommerce with web-stores and online offerings, a new trend does the opposite with a certain success.
More Ecommerce only brands are opening physical locations to showroom their products, and offer face-to-face interactions with their customers.
Bonobos, a men’s apparel web-store has opened 8 physical locations throughout the US to provide fitting services as well as a showroom for its array of products. The storefronts are accessible via an appointment made on Bonobos’ website.
Once in the “store”, the customer is greeted by representatives who will assist him throughout the purchase, and place the order for him. The order will be shipped within 2 days to the customer’s house.
Warby Parker, a prescription lens website is another example of real world online showroom. Warby Parker has opened 5 locations to allow customers to try on, touch and test its frames. It also has a retrofitted school bus traveling across the US showcasing its products.
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Physical locations like Bonobos’ and Warby Parker’s showrooms help with brand awareness, impulse buys, and returning customers. Knowing there is a physical location can help ease the minds of customers who are either untrusting or unfamiliar with online shopping and yes, still reluctant to using their credit card details online. The stores themselves are relatively small, as there is no stockroom or stock for that matter, beyond what is on display.
Tesco in South Korea has also adopted the “Brick-and Click” strategy, although in different ways. Tesco, who already has physical grocery stores and super markets, has setup billboards promoting its in-store products with QR codes, while remaining visually similar to market shelves. Customers with the Tesco smartphone app simply scan the codes of the products they want, and their order is shipped to their homes.
Even Google has embraced the new business model, and throughout the holiday season has set up exhibits coined “Google Winter WonderLabs”. The exhibits will showcase Google’s Play Store only products, like its Nexus line and Chrome OS devices.
We have seen showrooming before, mainly promoted by Amazon with its Price-Check application. Amazon took advantage of physical retailers, offering 5% off on products that were scanned in-store and added into the customers online shopping carts. The move, while affective, was not well received by retailers, as it has caused a trend of buyers who firstly examine the product in a store and then order it online. Non-affiliated showrooming has also sparked more retailers either to offer online solutions, or to offer incentives for their online shoppers, like Best-Buy and Walmart.
With the growing acceptance of online shopping, many people still have a need for old-fashioned stores. Just because a brand sells its products online, does not mean there is no longer a need for storefronts.
Image courtesy of Flicker