Online retailers move into bricks and mortar stores

Published on: 2nd December 2013

This emerging trend, labelled ‘clicks to bricks’ or ‘e-tail to retail’, looks set to inject energy back into local high streets.internet-shopping300

A recent survey in the US of the shopping habits of 18-25-year-olds suggests that 68% prefer to shop in stores for clothing and shoes. Online brands are now acting on this. A physical store offers shoppers the chance to touch, feel and try on merchandise, and for luxury brands in particular, this is important. Having stores are also helping etailers to better understand their customers.

For high street landlords with vacant space to rent as well as online start-ups this trend is good news, says Ross Bailey, founder and chief executive of Appear Here. His firm brings together shop landlords and mainly e-commerce entrepreneurs, with the aim of making renting a pop-up or permanent physical shop easier and more flexible.

Some e-commerce brands are moving into so-called guide shops – allowing shoppers to try on items, and then order in-store for home delivery. Bonobos menswear is at the forefront of this phenomenon, and has opened guide shops across the United States. Increasingly it seems, the channels are blurring.

Bonobos founder and chief executive Andy Dunn said that this is the future of retailing, but that “it is also the past”.

“When you look at retailers who are thriving in this environment, it’s the brands focused on delivering a strong service experience. It is one of the ironies of our time that a digital medium, the internet, is making the in-person shopping experience a more humane one,” he added.

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