In a role reversal of sorts, pure online retailers are venturing offline and into the world of brick-and-mortar retail. Here’s a look at five that are generating lots of buzz:
Online subscription fashion retailer JustFab’s first retail store, in Glendale Galleria, Glendale, Calif., was designed to mirror the brand's online shopping experience. Customers shop curated product displays, with trend story videos and in-store “stylists” offering fashion advice. They can also register for exclusive VIP member pricing. Using the app's floor activity toolsets, JustFab associates are able to check inventory instantly.
2. Proper Cloth
Custom-made shirts — and fine Scotches — are the bill of fare in online shirtmaker Proper Cloth’s first brick-and-mortar outing. The store is located in New York City’s Soho neighborhood, in a walk-up, residentially-styled loft space. (Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are ok.) Customers can peruse the fabrics, be measured or fine tune the fit of a Proper Cloth shirt already ordered. They can also get style or fit advice, and place online orders.
Online menswear retailer Bonobos has entered the physical arena with Bonobos Guide Shop, a handsome and comfortably-furnished showroom where customers can try on the brand's shirts, pants and other products, get one-on-one expert fit advice and place an order (with delivery to their home). To date, the company has opened eight locations, from San Francisco to New York City.
4. Warby Parker
After opening small, try-on-only showrooms, the popular online eyeglass retailer, known for its affordable prices and cool retro frames, opened its first retail store in spring 2013, in New York City. It has since expanded to five additional locations, including Boston and Los Angeles. Glasses are on open display for try-on, and an in-house optometrist is on-hand for $50 eye exams. Non-prescription glasses are sold for take-away, and customers can choose to receive prescription products by mail or to pick them up at the store. There are also lots of non-optical shop extras, including a photo booth.
Launched in 2011 by Fossil founder Tom Kartsotis, this Detroit-based watchmaker also manufacturers bicycles and some paper products. After selling its products online, the company opened a flagship in Detroit this past summer, which was quickly followed by a location in Manhattan. (Shinola’s distribution will also include specialty fashion and jewelry retailers.). Along with Shinola-branded goods, the stores offer special collaborations and selected merchandise from like-minded (meaning a commitment to American-made goods) brands.