In this digital age, engaging our consumers where they naturally live – on their desktops, mobile phones, tablets – is the most effective method of reaching them. So where do brick-and-mortar stores fit in? Are physical stores slowly dying out to e-commerce?

Not so fast! Quite the contrary, in fact. Let’s look at 3 big brands known for their pioneering online strategies, who have recently chosen to use brick-and-mortar locations to further boost their growth.

Case 1: Birchbox

Birchbox has found incredible success in its monthly mail-delivery program of beauty products. They started with products for women and have now branched out into catering to men, offering grooming products such as beard oil and face scrubs. Their past success has exclusively been using an online model.

However, as a follow-up to breaking into the men’s market, they will launch their first brick-and-mortar stores this year. They’ll do a road trip of 3 U.S. cities and test pop-up locations of Birchbox Man, allowing customers to vote on which cities they’ll visit as well as how the new spaces will be designed. The pop-up stores will offer services such as haircuts and trims and a tech lounge with male-oriented gadgets and gear.

With a physical store, Birchbox hopes to further tap into the male grooming market, which is valued at $6 billion in the U.S. and up to $33 billion internationally. Brad Lande [the general manager of Birchbox Man] feels like they’ve got the right approach to tap into the male market. “It’s all about making sure there are plenty of familiar things next to the unfamiliar ones,” Lande says. “We’ve found that to be the recipe for success.”

Case 2: Amazon

We all know and love Amazon as the pioneering online e-commerce company that offers unbeatable pricing and customer experience. However, they will continue with their brick-and-mortar penetration by opening a new staffed pickup location at the Georgia Institute of Technology. They’ve already launched several pickup centers at Purdue University, University of Cincinnati, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of California, Santa Barbara, and University of California, Berkeley. It’s likely that they’ll open more bookstores at other university locations as they cast a wider net into the physical domain. Continuing their original mission of offering low prices and convenience to their customers, it looks like the student population will now be their target audience for the brick-and-mortar experience.

Amazon Purdue
Image source: http://purdue.amazon.com/

Case 3: Etsy

The peer-to-peer e-commerce company that focuses on handmade, vintage or unique items has realized the value of being able to offer its sellers’ merchandise in bulk to wholesale merchants. Instead of building its own stores, Etsy has started to allow wholesalers to shop in bulk at their online store so that they can stock larger quantities of goods at their physical locations.

Relationships with […] national brands have begun with curated, cobranded Etsy displays. Nordstrom, for instance, hosted holiday items from Etsy sellers and has partnered with the service on jewelry trunk shows. Whole Foods recently installed a cobranded display of Etsy items in three of its New York City stores, and West Elm has hosted one-day pop-up shops with Etsy sellers.

 

What does this all mean? Well, it looks like physical stores still hold a firm position in our society. According to a WSJ report, despite the rise of e-commerce, U.S. shoppers still make more than 90% of their purchases offline.

Don’t write off the good old-fashioned in-store shopping experience just yet. It’s here to stay.

Sources:

One Useful Feature For Online Retailers: Lots of Physical Stores, Wall Street Journal

Etsy Wants To Bring Its Handmade Wares To A Brick-And-Mortar Chain Store Near You, Fast Company

Birchbox’s Strategy For Hooking Men On Grooming Supplies, Fast Company

Amazon bets on universities as its brick-and-mortar expansion continues, Venture Beat

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