Direct To Consumer Start Up Brands Show How To Beat Retail Giants
While many large retail brands are closing brick and mortar shopfronts, there is a small but striking trend swinging in the opposite direction. Savvy startups are branching out from their digital-only environment and opening up lean shopfronts that bring the online experience to life.
How are these digital native brands turning the retail narrative on its head? The answer lies in a combination of approaches that traditional brands just don’t seem to grasp. Digital spaces allow for stories to be crafted and relationships to be fostered with brands. This intimacy and the value of the niche can create an opportunity to bring the brand to life in a well-chosen flagship store.
Brands that originate online but reach out to the physical realm can rely on established supply lines, keeping minimal inventory to hand and harness established relationships with online account holders. It keeps overheads down, builds on established relationships and allows for an even more personalized experience with the brand.
Because digital brands have no real need to conform to traditional methods of retailing, they are free to experiment and offer unique experiences to customers in-store. A well-known example of this is Casper, an online mattress retailer that opened up a store in Manhattan. They focused on creating personalized service and private opportunities for customers to trial the mattresses – a far cry from the impersonal, sales-heavy environment most mattress retailers provide.
Digital brands can experiment and take risks with the brick and mortar model as it is not the main source of income for the company. As online continues to perform, there is room to bring the brand to life in 3D. It’s a chance to bring a very specifically cultivated brand to life and has the potential to become a destination for true fans and the curious alike.
It provides an opportunity to further craft the brand narrative and highlight key messages. It could be ethics, performance or a key style that draws customers to the brand – a physical store can invest the brand with physical representations of those values in wall art, styling, and experience. It also reduces barriers to returning products bought online and can reduce uncertainty barriers around sizing or fit for example.
Brings to life a community, makes a brand tangible, reduces barriers, increases experience, personalizes. So far apart from regular retailers that it’s really no surprise that this niche is growing in the face of otherwise universal closures.