From Clicks to Bricks-and-Mortar

How three cutting-edge brands are taking their online presence in store in 2018
Posted September 24, 2018

The stats are in: As of 2018, 90 percent of retail sales still take place in store. That turns on its head the notion that retail is dying and instead places the physical store at the heart of the industry. This reverse trend is great news for digitally native brands that are ready to put down their roots.

Luxury handbag resale brand Rebag (New York) did just that in downtown New York. “Our reasons for going offline were to scale and head into the mainstream,” says Charles Gorra, Founder and CEO, Rebag. “Our digital brand voice is clear, so we had to preserve our identity with specific imagery. We wanted to own a color that would be recognizable across online and in store, which is now our unique yellow.”

Rebag, New York | Photography: Courtesy of Rebag, New York

The result is a space that Gorra describes as “Zen, sophisticated and approachable.” The interior is bright with the merchandise creating a swath of rainbow colors, and it’s spacious with a mirrored pillar at the center. Customers are invited to touch the product, ask questions and take pictures for Instagram. “We wanted to give the space a luxury vibe that still feels welcoming,” says Gorra.

Rebag, New York | Photography: Courtesy of Rebag, New York

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. “The SoHo store presented more of a challenge layout-wise. It’s a narrow space, so we had to work around visibility issues. Luckily, the lighting in both stores is amazing, with good window space. We also tackle the static nature of a physical store with weekly remerchandising,” Gorra explains.

Remarkably, the store has lifted online business, encouraging the in-store customer to purchase online later, too. “And that’s the synergy we’re trying to achieve,” says Gorra.

Indochino, Nashville | Photography: Shannon Fontaine, Nashville

Reach was at the forefront of custom suit brand Indochino’s (Vancouver, British Columbia) approach to bringing their online presence to life. “We aspire to be a global brand,” says Drew Green, CEO, “so in-store has to be part of the strategy.”

These aren’t empty words: the company has just opened its 29th showroom and has seven more in the pipeline.

Indochino, Nashville | Photography: Shannon Fontaine, Nashville

“We want to provide an experience for our customers, not just a product. Our showrooms are described as ‘the Apple for apparel.’ In fact, they look a lot like Apple stores. We’re proud of the design; it’s one of the brand’s key ingredients.”

The showrooms are effortlessly modern, with tech delivering its virtual inventory. Colors are cool tones of gray, blue and brown. “Our concept is light on investment and focuses on a ‘box’ design, which makes for an efficient space,” says Green.

Tommy John, New York | Photography: Courtesy of Stewart-Schafer, New York

Creating a hassle-free experience was what drove men’s underwear brand Tommy John (New York) to open its physical doors.

“Our goal is that a shopper can walk into any Tommy John space and know where they are because of how impactful the design is,” explains James Veal and Christine Stucker, both founders of design firm Stewart-Schafer (New York), the company tasked with bringing the brand’s online personality to life.

“The key to a constructive customer experience is that when you interact with the design, you don’t notice it, which was our challenge.” The contemporary space is clean and bright, embodying quality and functionality to highlight the product.

Tommy John, New York | Photography: Courtesy of Stewart-Schafer, New York

With underwear shopping being notoriously difficult, ease of experience was another focus for Tommy John. “Product hangs from stylish custom-designed slatwalls with equally spaced garments at eye level so there’s no rummaging for sizes and colors,” the designers explain. “The palette is cool blue and tan, so the space feels airy and comfortable, and it’s adorned with Philadelphia artifacts for that hometown connection.”

All of these stores used different approaches, but there is a common thread. What’s clear is that a strategy of building brick-and-mortar stores as well as cultivating clicks is a winning formula for brands navigating the evolving retail landscape as we head into the final stretch of 2018.