Click & Mortar: Online Brands Transform Brick & Mortar Retail
There is little doubt that the retail landscape is changing at a faster pace than any other time. Internet shopping has changed consumer habits; yet, data shows that brick and mortar retail maintains some key advantages. While there is a common perception that consumers are browsing in store and subsequently buying online, research shows that only 1 in 20 shoppers make a purchase after browsing an online store, while 1 in 5 make a purchase during a visit to a brick and mortar location. In addition to this, 78% of consumers tell us they prefer to shop in a physical store.*
While both digital and brick-and-mortar selling each have their own unique advantages, many brands are learning that doing both in confluence can be the best way to optimize shopping experiences and grow business. Read on to learn about the benefits of digital-to-physical launches with Brookfield Properties.
Enhanced Connection with Consumers
Consumers are seeking a more personalized shopping experience—an extension of the dialogue they are developing directly with brands through social media contact. Technological developments are allowing brands to scale quickly, while maintaining a one-to-one connection to deliver an elevated customer experience. A common thread to many digital native brands is their direct to consumer delivery, therefore circumventing traditional delivery channels and allowing them to maintain a tight grip on the complete customer experience.
So, what are the brands, who have already enjoyed considerable success as online retailers, looking for in a brick and mortar space? For some, it is giving consumers a chance to “try before you buy”; something that consumers are particularly keen to do with high value purchases. Others are looking to engage with a new customer base who have yet to connect with the retailer in an online space.
“Digitally native vertical brands are reinventing the idea of a store. It’s less about moving product, and more about providing consumers with an immersive brand experience with exceptional customer service,” says Brookfield Properties' Retail Development Director, Patty Hirt. She adds, “The narrative in retail is changing, and retailers are racing to keep up with the expectation of personalized service that these digital natives offer consumers. Our retail development team knows how to work with online brands, which previously may have been afraid of losing their authentic voice by moving into a physical space. By adding the knowledge, experience and weight of our company behind them, we are able to help them make a seamless transition into brick and mortar.”
Of course this showroom style space has additional advantages for brands moving into a physical space. They may be able to take on a smaller space than other similar category retailers as they don’t have the need to store large amounts of inventory onsite. This allows them to operate in a similar manner to pop-up stores, many of which treat their physical presences as learning labs to test a product or market without high levels of upfront investment.
One of online brand UNTUCKit's physical locations, hosted at The Streets at Southpoint
In addition to connecting with shoppers, physical locations give brands additional opportunities to learn about them via data collection—an online retailer’s lifeblood. In-store digital connection points, such as supplemental shopping apps, in-aisle beacons and touch screen kiosks, combine to aid retailers in linking online and in-store consumer behavior. These touch points enable increased personalization and the delivery of an even better shopping experience—ultimately driving brand loyalty.
Brookfield Properties has brought a number of digital native brands to their first brick and mortar spaces. While a retail center may not feel like an immediate natural home for an online brand, we are able to collaborate with them to identify the best possible locations, through overlaying brand data with our own consumer data. This information, combined with the history of how similar retailers and categories have performed in our retail centers, helps us to identify the best possible locations. Continual data gathering by center management and digital native brands is subsequently key to tracking a brand’s success in its brick and mortar development process.
Patty Hirt added, “We look at what brands are trying to achieve and guide them to the best locations to fulfill these aims. One location may be suitable for a brand to generate sales and in-person engagement from an existing customer base, while another location may be better suited to bringing the brand to a new audience. Our skill lies in placing these brands in the most fertile retail soil available.”
Below, explore some of the digital native vertical brands which have established a successful presence in our retail centers.
This apparel retailer began its brand journey when it launched its first line of 15 shirts in 2011. The distinctive line designed to answer the demand for the perfect “untucked” shirt now carries lines for men, women and children. Ten of its stores are now resident at Brookfield Properties-owned retail centers and the brand continues to grow.
Mattress retailer, Casper, has taken the “try before you buy” concept for digital natives to a new level, with consumers having the opportunity to schedule a nap at one of its brick and mortar locations, while also viewing a new range of bedroom products. The in-store Casper brand experience also includes educational touch points, allowing consumers to learn more about different mattress options and identify the best product for their needs.
This athletic apparel brand, backed by Kate Hudson, began in 2013 as an online membership subscription program. We helped launch the first Fabletics brick and mortar presence in 2015. By expanding into physical locations, Fabletics has been able to attract consumers keen to get to know the product before committing to the monthly subscription program.
Direct-to-consumer luxury Italian shoe brand M.Gemi took their pop-up shoe fitting concept on the road. The pop-up is housed in a mobile gelato truck that utilizes a similar model to men's fashion retailer Bonobos. These mobile "fit shops" allow customers to try on shoes from the brand’s range, which are then shipped directly to the customer’s home after purchase. The purchases are assisted by M.Gemi sales associates, who are equipped with technology allowing them to check inventory information and scan barcodes, so that customers never have to wait in line at a check out.
Identifying a gap in the market for affordable yet high-quality lingerie for all women’s sizes, Adore Me launched online in 2012 with a monthly subscription program. As it expands into physical locations to allow women to find the perfect fit for intimate wear, Brookfield Properties is delighted to host brick-and-mortar stores for this innovative brand.