5 Online Brands We’d Love to See Move Into Retail Locations

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Innovation, Omnichannel, Retail

Shopping in a physical store is an invaluable part of the customer journey because of the sensory experience it presents. Despite more and more retailers increasing their efforts in e-commerce, they are ignoring the bigger revenue opportunity captured in the store. The online shopping experience is certainly influential to the purchasing process: it’s relatively painless, it’s predictive, it’s often personalized. But we know that digital experience can and should be replicated in the physical store by bringing in technology that works for the shopper.

There are many online-only brands out there today that we’d love to see open physical spaces and we’d like to encourage and even challenge them to do so. We chose five online brands that we think have a strong handle on their e-commerce business in markets that are eager for innovation. In choosing these five brands, we considered three primary categories:

  • Online Influence: Social Reach (based on Twitter and Facebook) and Alexa Global Ranking
  • Funding History: How much money has the brand raised to date, and what stage of funding are they in?
  • Competition: Who are the incumbents/other players in their space?

All of these brands already have great online sites, they each offer something unique to their respective markets and we think each of these could be the next Warby Parker of their space.

Trunk Club

Trunk Club

What is Trunk Club?

Trunk Club is an online clothing store for men. What’s unique about Trunk Club is that is connects each customer his own personal stylist and allows him a 10-day window to try the items on at home and send back what he doesn’t love.

Why brick-and-mortar?

The best apparel experience is when customers try on clothes before they buy. It’s one of the best forms of personal expression and that is hard to replicate online. Despite TrunkClub’s belief that shopping for clothes in stores is overwhelming and inconvenient, the two unique features that they offer would essentially eliminate the inconvenience. With the help of a stylist and a trial period, shopping for clothes becomes that much easier.

Imagine walking into a clothing store and being greeted by your own personal stylist. You’ll sit down with her and explain exactly what you’re looking for, and you’ll be measured and fitted. The stylist will choose a trunk full of perfect pieces, you’ll try them on in the store, and you’ll still have 10-days to return what you don’t love. The Trunk Club Store has the right balance of useful technology that improves the shopping process and the traditional experience of shopping for new clothes.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron

What is Blue Apron?

Blue Apron is a pre-portioned meal box delivery service. They send customers 2-4 meals per week at about $9 per meal, but what’s unique about the service is its ability to get people cooking simply by making it more convenient.

Why brick-and-mortar?

Food is an incredibly sensorial experience when done well. Smell, texture, taste, appearance — each of these senses are used to find the best. It only makes sense that this type of shopping and learning would happen in a physical space.

We envision The Blue Apron Store as a learning experience. Perhaps they sell pre-boxed recipes with all the ingredients and a recommended wine to boot, but the focus of the store is learning. Cooking classes for all levels, wine classes and tastings, pop-ups with local chefs, even a practice space are all on the table.

The Clymb

the clymb

What is The Clymb?

The Clymb is an online shop that specializes in recreational gear and apparel, but what makes them unique is the selling of adventures. They uncover epic adventure packages and partner with local tour operators to offer the experiences at a discount.

Why brick-and-mortar?

Getting to see, touch, and try on your adventure gear is essential; any small issue with a piece of equipment can mean major problems when they’re in use.

At The Clymb Store, not only are you able to make sure the gear you’re buying will be just what you need, you’ll also be able to book an epic expedition to make use of it, all in one place. Your sales associate sees you’re upgrading some of your cycling equipment and he tells you about a great deal on a cycling adventure in Thailand they have available. You just head over to the Adventure section to get booked.

Makeup Geek

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 12.00.03 PM

What is Makeup Geek?

MakeupGeek got its start on YouTube with great tutorials on makeup application techniques and reviews, and has since grown into it’s own line of high-quality yet inexpensive products.

Why brick-and-mortar?

Makeup application truly is an artform and, like any artform, learning and practice are key.

The Makeup Geek Store might look something a Sephora or Ulta from the outside, but on the inside is something more like a co-working space with a focus on learning. As a trusted voice in the makeup community and having its roots in teaching, MakeupGeek could offer classes, practice space and materials, specialists, and a digital library of videos for newbies and pros to work on their skills.

The Grommet

the grommet

What is The Grommet?

The Grommet is a product launch platform that finds unique, undiscovered products and helps them succeed. They allow you to shop based on personal values, like “Made in the USA,” “Sustainable Living,” “Philanthropy,” and more.

Why brick-and-mortar?

This market is full of products that are complex, so it’d be nice to see these items in a store first, being able to test and try them before you buy.

We envision a The Grommet Store as something like Brookstone meets Kickstarter. Like the website, The Grommet Store focuses on small companies with innovative products and telling the story behind it, selling the grommets with the highest online sales each month, or even only stocking grommets from makers local to area.

The Brand Most Likely To Open A Retail Store

Based on the three categories (social influence, funding history, and market), we think Trunk Club is the most likely e-tailer to open a physical store. The fashion industry is making major strides adopting new technologies and strategies at a faster rate than ever before, and Trunk Club has already shown us that they are innovative and fresh with their e-commerce business. Not to mention, being acquired by Nordstrom (a company that has made itself a winner in omnichannel retailing) gives them an opportunity to test the waters and deliver something totally original in customer experience.

We hereby challenge Trunk Club to take their business a step further and consider opening a physical store. We’d love to help them get started.