Online brands now have physical stores

Winter Wonderlabby Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

More online companies are getting into brick-n-mortar. This is a natural evolution of business. The “old” mantra that physical stores are dead is false. The saying was, everyone was going to shop online and NO ONE will be shopping in stores any more. It’s true, online buying has continually increased at a rapid pace. That was to be expected since it started from zero. What the techies overlooked was the fact that humans still did the buying. What this means is real-life experience is still a part of what, and why, we buy. It’s the feeling of a sweater. It’s the physical exploration of a new gadget. It is also human to want to talk and interact with other people.

There are starting to be many examples of digital-only companies setting up shop in the physical world.

• Google – The latest entry is Google and their Winter Wonderlabs. These are stores where people can go in, experience unique activities, learn about Android and play with Chrome and other products. As stated Google stated, “The Winter Wonderlab is a fun and interactive way to experience all of Google’s new gadgets in one place.” They are taking a page out of the Apple Store playbook by opening in select cities (New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Paramus and Sacramento).

• Amazon – Amazon is planning to open a test store in their home town of Seattle, WA. to sell a variety of products and gadgets. They recently bought Quidsi, an online retailer. They opened their first retail store in Manhasset, New York to sell expensive cosmetics and perfumes under the BeautyBar name. Grocery giants are keeping a suspicious eye on Amazon as well with their introduction of AmazonFresh, a grocery delivery service.

• Etsy, eBay, Piperlime and Bonobos – Each of these online brands are testing out brick-n-mortar stores they call, “small showrooms” (ironic, isn’t it?)

There are two main factors driving this trend:

•  Touching is believing – The initial belief behind online retail was that consumers dreaded taking time out of their day to visit a physical store, the benefits of being able to touch, feel, and experience products has been shown to be an incomparable driving force for decision making. This is the being “human” element many techies tend to overlook.

• No one’s home – Many people aren’t home during the day to wait for packages to arrive. We’ve all been there – we’ve missed the delivery of a purchase…for the third time. Then we’ve needed to fetch it from a far-off warehouse that kept inconvenient hours. Improving the flexibility customers have in receiving their packages makes a lot of sense.

The lesson is we are still people who live in a physical world. Technology is best used to take out the “grunge” in life, but not to replace experiences, exploration and human interaction. There is no silver bullet, even online. A great brand understands they must meet people where they are and still be human. We are not droids.

About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: