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Clicks by bricks: Beanstalk’s Allison Ames and the rise of digital retailers turning to physical

It was bound to happen. And it is, step by step, or should I say brick by brick?

The world of online retail is tiptoeing into the physical format to try its hand at brick and mortar. And why wouldn’t these now established online brands begin to inch into this space?

It was only a matter of time. Yes, ecommerce sales continue their growth. According to Forrester Research, online sales in the US alone will reach nearly $394 billion in 2017. However, this is still a disproportionately small segment compared to the total retail market of roughly $4 trillion.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the transformation of brick and mortar retailers moving into the digital world. We’ve seen what feels like an infinite list of retailers shutter stores or drastically reduce their footprint, in no small measure due to online retailers, especially Amazon.

We’ve seen countless brick and mortar retailers trying to re-engage with consumers in-store to stay alive. We’ve seen the birth of web retailers that have created a unique way to interact, transact and tell the right brand story to consumers online, all through access on a digital device.

What’s been so refreshing about the emergence of these digitally native brands is that they all share a common goal. They are razor focused on two words: intimacy and experience. By definition, all aspects of ecommerce are predicated on a deep and analytic understanding of consumer demographics and needs to establish trust and repeat visits.

Consumer intimacy is directly linked to success and sales. The successful digital retailers have perfected the experience that consumers have with their brand from the first click. But there is one thing that the experience of a click can’t achieve. And that’s the intimacy that comes from a physical interaction.

So it stands to reason that the next phase of this segment’s evolution is its move past online to integrate physical retail into the total experience. The good news is that these brands have learned from their predecessors and their move into the physical domain is far more than what we’ve come to expect from the old guard of retail.

Brands born from the digital world are now disrupting the physical space with a new dimension of customer involvement. Traditional retailers beware. These etailers are changing the basic transaction and store print to offer far more compelling brand experiences and customer service. It just might make people want to walk back into a store again.

More importantly, this might be the life line that malls need to bring shoppers back, especially millennials.

There’s a steady list of etailers that are venturing into the physical world and have recognized the importance of unified commerce that blends offline and online. How they’re executing is going to drive the next phase of retail, delivering exciting experiential methods that will reinvigorate and change our relationship with shopping as well as consumer behaviors.

These are just a handful of established online stores making their brick & mortar debut but doing it ‘their way.’

These are only a few examples of the growing roster of online retailers taking the next steps into the offline world.

In addition, we’ve heard about Birchbox, Fabletics, Untuckit and soon to open One Kings Lane also stepping into the physical genre. And there’s many more.

One thing’s for sure, these digital disruptors are going to change the face of physical with innovative and state-of-the-art retail stores that will amplify the meaning of true experiential brand engagement and unified commerce.

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