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The shops have enabled Bonobos to win over the segment of potential customers who are uneasy about buying from a digital-only brand, Dunn said. The effort has proved so successful that Bonobos hired its first director of retail, and plans to quadruple its store count within two years.
"Say what you want about a digitized world," Dunn said, "a great face-to-face interaction still goes a long way."
But the company said its bread-and-butter is still the website. Although the average order placed in a store is about $360 -- double that of a purely Web purchase -- shoppers who come back to the brand usually opt to buy online without visiting a Guideshop.
"Guys are fundamentally lazy," Dunn said. "What happens is, once you know what you like and what fits you, the repeat business is happening online."
Gap Inc., the epitome of mall retailing, went deep into the digital retail world six years ago when it spent $150 million to buy Athleta, a Web seller of premium women's sportswear. Gap already operated Piperlime, an online fashion shop made famous by its exposure on design reality show Project Runway.
Now the San Francisco giant is pushing its online offspring out onto the street: Piperlime has launched a store in New York, and Athleta is boosting its store count by about 27% to 100 by the end of its fiscal year on Jan. 31, 2015.
Athleta has found success with physical shops, said Tess Roering, vice president of marketing and creative, partly because the old-fashioned back-and-forth is harder to duplicate online. The Petaluma, Calif., company discovered that shoppers didn't interact as much with customer service after Web sales began edging out catalog sales, she said.
"The retail stores," she said, "are about creating a human connection."
© 2014 Los Angeles Times (CA) under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.
Posted: 2014-08-21 @ 6:56am PT
E-commerce is the next big thing, online retailers need to have competitive pricing and provide faster and cheaper shipping. New developments such as this will provide better shopping experience to the customers. I work for McGladrey and there's a whitepaper on future retailing that will interest retailers it discusses the state of retail and the need to adapt to a changing industry: “The one constant in retail is change.”