Offline is the New Online - The Return of the Brick and Mortar
February 23, 2016
Retail really can’t seem to make its mind up. Consumers needs are constantly shifting and retail stores are really putting in the hard yards to keep up. There was a time when traditional retail stores were threatened by online shopping, but the trend we are starting to see now is that consumers are taking a step backwards and wanting tangible in-person interactions in the real world once again. The return of the brick and mortar store to retail gives consumers a number of benefits they can’t experience online - consumers can physically touch and feel products to make decisions based on quality and material preferences, clothing can be tried on for size, colour and style and they can partake in multi sensory experiences (from online to offline) to help them to make informed decisions about purchases. The Offline experience also has its benefits for brands - retailers can define better logistics and consumer service offerings, consumers tend to spend more in-store (due to assisted buying from staff) and most importantly customers can engage on a meaningful personal level with real people to build strong, trusted and lasting relationships. There are a number of traditional online brands that have recently turned to the offline store experience - just a couple of which we think are doing it the right way here.
Rent the Runway
Started in 2009 by business school classmates Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, Rent the Runway started as an online business and now has four retail stores across the United States. The clever business works by hiring out designer clothing from an online database of thousands of styles to consumers for a select amount of time, giving consumers self confidence, a good deal and a streamlined clutter-free life. The real life store gives consumers an even more engaging experience, where the shopper can book in for a 45 minute styling appointment, try on many different looks and have all of her questions about the service answered in person. They can also do exchanges, pickups and droops at any of the stores.
As the ultimate online retailer, Amazon have taken a bold move by opening their first brick and mortar bookstore in Seattle this year. The store does its best to combine everything they have learnt over 20 years of seeing books online, to give consumers the best of both online and offline experiences rolled into one. The store is setup with reviews and ratings for each book taken from the online store, with in-store prices never exceeding their competitive online prices. Shoppers can multichannel their visit, by testing products and book in-store then heading to the online store to purchase - without having to carry around any heavy purchases.
The Cool Hunter
We are lucky enough to have this brick and mortar store right next to our office in Prahran. The Cool Hunter is an online blog that sources cool things (no surprises there) from all over the globe. As the online store on the site continued to grow, founder Bill Tikos needed somewhere to display the beautiful wares, as an online platform just wasn’t doing any justice. The real life store describes itself as “the antidote to boring shopping experiences” by displaying and selling an abundance of art, lights, books, gourmet foods and fashion accessories all with one key factor - they are really f*cking cool.