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Carly Wickham, Head of Marketing

There is a trend for ‘pure-play etailers’ to pursue a physical presence, be that a shop-in-shop, a pop-up or creating and designing a new store.

What we’ve found interesting to observe, is that these etailers arrive on the high street with fresh eyes. They don’t need to conform to previous ways of selling, store layouts or staffing. They are innovating, disrupting. And the results potentially have repercussions for all high street stores.

We’ve looked at ways in which these three retailers are shaking up the traditional bricks and mortar store format.

Indochino – valuing the personal touch

Indochino, the Vancouver-based maker of made-to-measure suits, created a “Traveling Tailor” concept as a reaction to the identified needs of their predominantly male customer. It became evident that buying a custom suit – even when it can be done efficiently online – is something that many men still prefer to do in person. The first Travelling Tailor in 2011 proved so popular that the number of pop-ups developed continues to increase year-on-year in high-traffic locations. From 7 permanent “showroom” locations in 2016, the company plans to open a further 150 bricks-and-mortar stores by 2020.

“The business is designed [so] that you and a buddy can measure at home in 10 to 15 minutes,” says Indochino CEO Kyle Vucko, “but there is a group of guys who like the convenience of pre-booking an appointment, getting measured, swiping [their] cards and heading out the door.”

Bonobos – a store without inventory

Bonobos co-founder and CEO Andy Dunn’s market research told him that about half of his customers needed to put hands on the product before they made their first purchase, so he set up a couple of fitting rooms in the lobby of the Bonobos offices. When they started doing a million dollars of revenue in run rate out of that lobby, it was a clear green light for opening a store. They now operate ten shops called Bonobos Guideshops.

The ‘Guideshop’ store format is unconventional; you cannot walk out with merchandise. Instead, a knowledgeable ‘Guide’ talks customers through Bonobos merchandise, helping clientele to find their perfect fit. The order is then shipped directly to a chosen address. Due to the popularity of these stores, booking ahead is advised.

Warby Parker – inviting people in

This fashion-forward eyewear brand started out as an online-only retailer in 2010, but they now operate an international collection of independent stores and “showrooms”.

“We view the future of retail as a truly blended approach. Customers are shopping online [including on their phones] more than ever, but people still crave in-person experiences and interactions,” said co-founder Neil Blumenthal. “Having physical stores is another way we can bring customers into the world of Warby Parker—both existing customers and people who happen to walk past the store without having encountered us before.”

This is an excerpt of our ‘Clicks-to-Bricks’ report which looks in greater depth at how these new retailers are challenging the conventions of the sector. Click here to view and download the report. Or filter by [ Report ] to investigate more of our thinking.