4 Examples of E-Commerce Brands Launching Brick and Mortar Stores and Why They Set-up Shop
A few decades ago, companies were mostly moving from brick and mortar locations to e-commerce locations. Target started as brick and mortar and then evolved into an e-commerce giant. Nowadays, companies that are starting as digitally native are moving into the brick and mortar spaces. E-commerce brick and mortar stores give brands the chance to expand their presence and engage new audiences.
E-Commerce Brands Going Brick and Mortar
Let’s take a look at a number of e-commerce brick and mortar stores that opened after the companies started out as digitally native. Many of these companies started with a pop-up shop to prove the market, and then moved into the neighborhood full time.
Warby Parker captured a generation of Millennials with simplistic styling and dedication to glasses that were somehow both on-trend and timeless. They started as a digitally native brand, to solve the problem that eyeglasses are simply too expensive. They undercut the market and offered free shipping and returns so that people could get a good look at the glasses before committing.
They now have retail locations in over a dozen states and a couple of places in Canada. While once a digitally native brand, their website now leverages the legitimacy of their retail stores, and they simply pitch themselves as an eyeglasses company now instead of an e-commerce eyeglasses solution. Through brick and mortar, Warby Parker was able to change their narrative from “we sell hip glasses online” to “we sell great glasses.” They’re an excellent example of how brick and mortar can legitimize a business and change its narrative.
Casper started in a similar way to Warby Parker, seeing an opportunity to sell a cheaper product to a millennial market. Younger generations were baffled and frustrated by the high price of mattresses just like the high price of eyeglasses, and so Casper undercut the market by selling quality mattresses delivered to your door for less.
Casper now has around six locations in the New York and New Jersey areas, and they’ve built store experiences that mirror their online brand’s mission. They deliver great sleep for less money and make getting and returning your mattress super easy. Casper shows us an e-commerce brand that understood how to make its stores feel like its brand that it had already established online. Casper stores are simple, minimalistic, and offer their great mattresses with free delivery at the same low rates.
Additionally, Casper is also in other people’s brick and mortar stores. They’ve partnered with a number of Target retail stores to bring the Casper experience into different spaces. Casper has been able to maintain the integrity and youthfulness of their online brand, even expanding into their own stores and other retail spaces.
Allbirds wanted to make comfortable, environmentally friendly shoes and skip the crowded retail shoe spaces by selling direct to consumers. If you’re going to launch a clothing company as a digitally native brand, you’ll need to have a product that connects with the kind of people that buy clothes online. In this case, it was an eco-friendly fashion that feels good, looks good, and is good.
They now have stores in San Francisco, New York, London, Chicago, Boston, and Seattle. Each of the stores attempts to creatively link the shoe brand with the vibe of the city, showing consumers what it’s like to own Allbirds in their city. It’s a marketing strategy where you go to the living spaces of the consumer, and show the consumer how your product looks in their city.
Fitness is changing, and e-commerce is changing fitness. Consumers are demanding more and more engaging and technologically advanced products, and Peloton sought to meet that demand by delivering an on-demand biking home workout. Peloton connects you to workout videos, live sessions, and groups of riders. The display can let you bike famous trails or simply work to sweat out extra calories.
It started as a digitally native brand but quickly began opening showrooms to justify the high price tag that the bike carries. They have showrooms in around 50 locations all across the United States, with high concentrations in California and New York. The showrooms function as both gyms to show off the aesthetics of the bike, and sales floors to let you experience what it would be like to own one. Peloton launched showrooms to let customers get hands-on experience with an with their product.
Why Go Brick and Mortar?
E-commerce brick and mortar stores open because companies think it will ultimately boost their value by expanding their brand presence, engaging new audiences, and creating more trust in their brands.
Expanding Brand Presence
There are two ways to expand your brand presence. The first, and most important for an e-commerce brand, is to expand your brand presence online. Secondarily, if you can get into people’s physical worlds in new and creative ways, that will do the trick as well.
Branding design solutions can help you establish a brand that connects with customers, and moving into a brick and mortar location can help that brand hit home in a new way.
Engage New Audiences
There are only so many creative gimmicks that you can use to find and engage people on the internet. Most of those tricks will engage in similar market sectors. To really expand your brand by exploring new audiences, you need to do something drastically different, like showing up in someone’s city with a new brick and mortar store. You might learn about audiences you never knew you had.
Legitimating Your Brand
When people see your product in a store and your name on the masthead, it can build more consumer trust in your brand. The online market is saturated with small companies and Etsy shops trying to elbow each other out. You can establish yourself as a major player in the e-commerce space by showing up in a physical location.
Once people see your brand expressed in-person, they have a different experience with it. They associate it with their lives, their shopping, and their schedule. It can be the difference between an interested viewer and a lifelong customer. Sometimes, we just need to see something before we buy it.
Someone Else’s Bricks and Mortar
Alternatively, you don’t need to build your own store, you can try to get your product on the shelves of major retailers. You’ll sacrifice the expanding brand presence and legitimacy, but it might be a cheaper alternative to use the brick and mortar distributions of established retailers. Depending on your audience, this may be a more cost-effective way of getting your product in physical locations.
How to Pop-up Shop
If you’ve been anywhere on the internet over the last few years, you’ve heard about the rise of pop-up shops. They’ve gone from high fashion and niche fashion brands to independent coffee roasters and tasty treats, to now every digitally native brand on the market.
A pop-up in New York City can cost a brand anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 per month, depending on a number of variables, like how the store is designed and when it opens. If you do elect to pop-up, make sure to use a social media marketing solution to maximize your presence. You’ll want to make the most of your investment, and get shoes in the door.