By Holly Dutton
LAS VEGAS: Brick and mortar stores don’t need to worry about online retailers, they just need to join their ranks.
In 2012, online retail accounted for six percent of all retail sales, compared to traditional retail stores which accounted for the other 94 percent, said Marianne Wilson, editor in chief of Chain Store Age, at the “Retail: The Next Wave” panel here Sunday, citing numbers by Forrester Research.
“The other side of the coin is that it’s growing at a faster rate,” said Wilson of online retail, adding that Forrester is projecting an increase to nine percent by 2016.
Daniella Yacobovsky, co-founder of online jewelry retailer BaubleBar, said “You’ll die as a retailer” if your company doesn’t get comfortable with social media.
The New York City-based BaubleBar, which began online, transitioned into pop-up stores in Manhattan, which were very successful.
“The web has made the retail world a smaller place,” said Wilson. She cited UK-based TopShop’s entry into the U.S. market with crowds lining the street in Soho for the store’s opening as a sign that shoppers are more informed in today’s market.
Yacobovsky, who started BaubleBar with friend and fellow Harvard Business School classmate, Amy Jain, looked to Amazon.com as a model for online retailing.
With sophisticated web analytics that track shopper’s every move, the company is able to get a clear view of who their customers are. “What they do best is analyze data,” she said.
George Sappenfield, senior vice president of real estate, store planning and facilities with ANN, inc, which owns the Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor LOFT brands, helped to re-invent their brand, including bringing in actress Kate Hudson as a model/spokesperson for the brand and focusing in on their target audience.
The company opened a successful brick and mortar store in the rural northwest Texas town of Lubbock, after tracking online shoppers and finding they had a huge customer base for Ann Taylor LOFT.
Online data has also revealed some not-so-secret truths about this generation’s young people, that many are time-strapped and have short attention spans when it comes to shopping.
“A lot of our (online) orders come in over the evening hours,” said Stephen Gallant, VP of Facilities Development at men’s clothing retailer, Jos. A Bank. The company also has strong online numbers in rural areas where there isn’t a physical store.
“I think companies are succeeding that realize where offline fails, where online fails, and how to bridge the gap,” said Yacobovsky.
And in a look to the future, one Seattle retailer is taking online and brick and mortar to the next level, with a completely interactive in-store experience with cutting-edge technology.
Last year, former Amazon executive Nadia Shouraboura founded Hointer, a men’s clothing store where shoppers can use an app on their smartphone in a streamlined process to choose and try on clothes.
When someone sees something they like, they scan it with their phone and when they get to their designated fitting room, the clothes are already there waiting for them, delivered by a sophisticated German robotic system.
In addition to Hointer’s 3,000 s/f pilot location in Seattle, the company has a store in Palo Alto, CA and one more opening in Seattle May 31.