Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know it’s a pretty terrifying time to be a brick-and-mortar retailer. In fact, I suggest doing a quick Google search on the word “retail” and watch the flood of doom and gloom news articles takeover your browser:
Looking pretty bad, right?
There is absolutely no question that retail is going through a huge upheaval. Many experts are suggesting that we are seeing the first signs of an industry moving to a purely digital state, and they even have some pretty good evidence to back that claim up. Walmart is filling its shopping cart with all kinds of online goodies, layoffs and store closures are becoming the new norm and we’re all left wondering: does this mean that brick-and-mortar is dead?
To answer this question, I’ll ask another: who is valued at $136 billion (that’s right, with a “B”) and is betting big on brick-and-mortar?
Here’s a hint:
That’s right. It’s Amazon.
Though they may haven’t cracked the nut on brick-and-mortar yet, it’s only a matter of time. Amazon is taking steps into bookstores, grocery convenience stores and online order pick-up locations and, if I was a betting woman, I would wager they have even more up their sleeves for the brick-and-mortar realm. It is very clear that this dominant force in the retail world doesn’t believe that brick-and-mortar is dying either.
What’s more is that they are by no means the only retailer moving from online to offline. Here are 5 other retailers that already have or are in the process of making the shift:
Warby Parker can be categorized as nothing but a disrupter. Known for turning the prescription glasses market on its head with affordable, high-quality, socially-conscious eyewear at a fraction of the going price, it’s no surprise that Warby Parker was one of the first to disrupt the e-commerce world by going offline. What’s more, the brand says it plans to open 25 more locations by the end of this year.
The beauty world’s latest darling (turned cult-obsession) and newest entrant in the brick-and-mortar realm is Glossier. The beauty startup continues to change the game with grassroots, almost guerilla-style social media marketing and waitlists 30,000 strong. Glossier is the reigning queen of retail pop-ups and currently operates a showroom in NYC, but there is no doubt in my mind that expansion is on the #glossierpink colored horizon.
Rumored to be next in the now lengthy list of Walmart’s e-commerce driven acquisitions, Bonobos got its start in the e-commerce world and extended reach with “Guideshop” locations starting in 2011. Although they started as a physical space for men to try on styles, Guideshops quickly became an integral part of their business.
One King’s Lane
A fairly recent acquisition of home-furnishings retailer, Bed Bath & Beyond, One King’s Lane announced that it would be opening its first pop-up location. This comes somewhat as a surprise, since it was generally assumed to have been bought as a line of defense against Amazon for Bed Bath & Beyond. What is clear, however, is that neither of these retailers are giving up on the brick-and-mortar game.
Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway came into the market as the ultimate solution for all women that have ever been frustrated by answering the age old conundrum: a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear. Offering a unique, subscription-style clothing rental model, Rent the Runway has been making big moves into physical locations for added convenience and customer service – doesn’t hurt that the stores themselves also operate as a marketing vehicle.
This is all gravy if you’re an online only retailer, because it means there is room to grow and another channel for you to explore. But what does this mean for our friends that are already in the physical world of retail? It means that you should be taking notes from these trail-blazers that are going online-to-offline because chances are, they are only getting started.