Thursday, April 02, 2015

When Stores Stop Selling

Within the past year, online retailers Amazon and Birchbox have each opened their first brick-and-mortar stores.  This move is a sign that online retailers are acknowledging that many shoppers, at least for now, still prefer some sort of in-person buying experience.  But it also points to another trend..

Warby Parker, as called out by Advertising Age last week, uses one location to create an entirely new brand experience.  The Company's store in Soho, New York, looks like a library.  Not at all like a store.  Why?  Because Warby executives think it's a turn off "to be sold to."  In a store?  Yes.  The way they see it: physical stores are just a part of the marketing channel to promote the brand.  They are not always just a location to actually SELL.  So Soho strollers can come in, take a load off, crack open a book and relax a little.  That's it.

Amazon, Birchbox and Warby Parker have all been moving in a similar direction, the opposite of conventional marketing wisdom: rather than creating digital campaigns to drive customers to stores, stores are being built to drive buyers online.  The in-person experiences are meant to draw people in and to create real ambassadors.  Then they can go on to shop, pin, text and post on their own time.

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