Getting to Know You

As physical and digital channels collide, consumers reap the benefits
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Posted September 6, 2019

There’s no question that retail continues to evolve at an astonishing rate as brands rise to the challenge to reinvent themselves and their in-store experiences. Perhaps the most significant (and welcome) change has been a renewed focus on the importance of understanding, and thus better engaging, the customer.

As wave after wave of digital native brands have entered physical retail, hoping to connect with their current and potential customers in new ways, we’re seeing a hybridization of the two models, bringing the best aspects of each to the ultimate benefit of the consumer.

The good news is that shoppers are channel agnostic, they want what they want when and where they want it. It’s up to retail brands to figure out the how, when, where and why. What retailers are learning is that when they engage consumers in this manner, the loyalty and resulting brand equity that’s achieved is impressive.

Take El Segundo, Calif.-based athleisure brand Fabletics, which recently partnered with Varsity Spirit (Memphis, Tenn.), an organization that hosts cheer and dance camps for about 900,000 young athletes every year in order to create a series of experiential events. The deal is the next logical step in the digital native brand’s effort to expand its physical retail presence.

During last fall’s cheer season, Fabletics hosted pop-ups at eight competitions for a total of 16 days. As a result, the brand reportedly acquired more than 5000 new members, an admirable accomplishment. But what is even more telling is that these carefully targeted new members have a lifetime value that’s two to three times higher than those customers who join online, according to Fast Company.

No longer are e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail to be seen as unrelated silos. Instead, smart retailers are leveraging lessons learned from their online and in-store efforts and adapting them to drive results in brick-and-mortar retail, and vice versa.