cheap polo clothing only businesses find success in physical stores
Online shopping gets all the attention these days. But sometimes there still no beating a physical store.
The British designer Lee Broom came to that realization last May after opening a pop up shop for a month in Manhattan SoHo filled with his furniture and light fixtures, including lamps made from hollowed out marble tubes and cut crystal bulbs recalling cocktail glasses.
He had already been selling his products through his online store and about 180 retailers worldwide, including major online players like Lumens. But his temporary store in New York helped his sales in the United States jump by about 50 percent over the 12 months through early October.
went incredibly well, and massively exceeded our expectations, Broom said. want to see the pieces in person, get the scale, look at the materials and touch them. last month, Broom opened his first permanent American outpost in an 800 square foot store in SoHo, and plans to follow it up with a location in Los Angeles in the coming months.
He is far from alone. While crushing traditional physical stores, the rise of online shopping is, in many cases, also encouraging the development of new and innovative retail shops.
Companies of all sizes that once sold primarily through multibrand retailers are building on their experience running online stores by opening direct to consumer brick and mortar locations. Established retailers are shifting their focus from basic transactions to offering compelling brand experiences and higher levels of personal service.
Design stores that once catered to professionals are welcoming independent consumers, as Houzz, Pinterest and Instagram give rise to a legion of do it yourself decorators. And even companies that started as online only enterprises are increasingly opening physical stores.
To understand why, just follow the money.
Online sales in the United States will reach about $394 billion this year, according to estimates by the research and advisory firm Forrester Research, a number representing less than 12 percent of total retail sales, which the firm expects will total $3.4 trillion.
But web influenced sales in physical stores (when a consumer researches a product on a smartphone, for instance, and then buys in a store) are expected to account for an additional $1.3 trillion, or about 38 percent of all retail sales.
are still vitally important, said Fiona Swerdlow, a vice president and research director at Forrester Research. the influence of digital touchpoints is huge. to consumer
Herman Miller, a modern furniture giant founded in 1923, is opening its first permanent American direct to consumer retail store since 1967, when it ran a small Textiles Objects shop. The two level 6,000 square foot space opening Tuesday in Manhattan Gramercy Park will also include accessories from other manufacturers and vintage goods to present a complete lifestyle vision for the contemporary home. It follows the debut of Herman Miller online store six years ago.
With the online store, started as a relatively small experiment has grown very rapidly, said Ben Watson, the executive creative director of Herman Miller. size of the business we do directly to consumers has been growing. That was a hint to us that there is a lot of untapped appetite for products from Herman Miller. companies are discovering the same thing. a lot of categories, you seeing a significant shift from wholesale, as a percentage of their total revenue, to direct channels, said Al Sambar, a managing partner at the management consulting firm Kurt Salmon.
In the expectation that digital tools and social media will continue to drive more consumers to individual companies, while bypassing traditional multbrand retailers, are building their capability to sell direct, he said. also a way to have a personal relationship with the customer, and to have them be really loyal. fashion designer Thakoon Panichgul, who once sold his collections through upscale retailers like Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman, switched exclusively to a direct to consumer model in August, with a new Thakoon online store and a chic SoHo boutique.
saw a shift in the way that the customer was shopping, or the way she wasn shopping anymore, Panichgul said. customer was shopping online more, and questioning the price of everything. The designer also wasn able to control his own vision through and through. All of these components made me question the way we were doing business. the same time, he began presenting collections in a see now,
buy now format, where ready to wear pieces are available to purchase online or in the store immediately or soon after being presented on the runway. The strategy, which capitalizes on the immediacy of social media while reducing the risk of knockoffs, is shaking up an industry where a six month lag between runway and retailer is common. Where traditional department stores keep handbags separate from clothing, at Saks Fifth Avenue Downtown, an edited range of goods is organized by designer label, with handbags, ready to wear and jewelry commingling on a circular path intended to inspire surprise finds.
wanted to de compartmentalize the department store, said Marc Metrick, the president of Saks Fifth Avenue. not how she shops anymore. some displays, lay things down flat on tables, just like you see on a website, he added.
But Saks embrace of technology is about more than mere surface treatment.
After browsing product suggestions online, shoppers can make an appointment to meet their sales associates in person, to continue shopping. And even after the in person visit, the shopper can follow up with the very same sales associate again, online.
overall, is transforming. We really pushing this all channel experience, which blends the digital and physical, Metrick said. goal is to keep that interaction going. stores embracing a similarly mixed approach include Rebecca Minkoff in SoHo and the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship on Fifth Avenue, which have smart touchscreen mirrors in fitting rooms that suggest coordinating pieces for items a shopper is trying on, enable alternate sizes to be summoned from staff and can send links to products via text message so customers can purchase them later, online.
At Brookfield Place, Saks is also offering highly personalized services, including its new Power Lunch program, which promises to deliver a style consultation, beauty treatment and lunch together in one hour. The service is free, except for the cost of products a consumer decides to purchase.
seeing this convergence where it the best of both worlds, said Steven Barr, the United States retail and consumer leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. centered around extraordinary technology and extraordinary customer service. than treating online and in person sales as two separate channels, he said, finally entering that state where we can say there is a total retail experience. retailers are focusing on offering shoppers a chance to try products in a way they can online. Pirch, a 32,000 square foot kitchen and bath store that opened in SoHo in May, encourages customers to turn on fully functional faucets and showerheads or take in live cooking demonstrations, rather than merely looking at disconnected fixtures and appliances.
Sonos, the wireless speaker company whose products are widely available through retailers like Amazon and Target, opened its first direct to consumer retail store in SoHo in July. Most homeowners either didn know they existed, or were purposely excluded. With the widespread availability of designer resources online, that has changed.
Showrooms are increasingly fielding requests from individual homeowners who want to buy direct, and many are opening street level retail stores to become more accessible.
Poliform, an Italian manufacturer of streamlined kitchens, closets and furniture, has long had a showroom inside the A Building in Midtown Manhattan, where it catered largely to design professionals. But at the end of September, it opened a 10,
000 square foot street level flagship store on Madison Avenue to have a larger retail presence.