Though e-commerce platforms are increasingly vital in today’s retail marketplace, not everyone is quick to discount brick-and-mortar stores. At our March PubTalk, the founders of Wildfang, evo, and brandlive discussed how they leverage online and offline retail experiences to create more demand.
As moderator Ian Yolles deftly observed, “Physical retail isn’t going away, but it’s in the process of being repurposed.” How? Why? Our panelists weigh in:
Emma Mcilroy, co-founder of Wildfang, talked about the “handshake” between offline and online retail. Offline channels are crucial for building your brand; they are an art, not a science, which makes them harder to replicate. Customers make an immediate emotional connection in a physical space that can inform your overall brand strategy. On the other hand, online channels can provide essential data about your customers and their buying habits that can inform inventory planning and other critical components of offline retail.
Bryce Phillips, founder of evo, says that despite the fact that online retail drives 85% of their business, offline retail is crucial to building community. Their physical retail spaces, in both Portland and Seattle, are much more than stores. They are not so much about facilitating transactional relationships with customers, but rather about telling the evo story and bringing people together around common interests.
Fritz Brumder, founder of brandlive, came at the topic from a different angle. Brandlive hosts live interactive video events for brands that want to establish more personal relationships with their customers through online channels. Though ecommerce is typically hailed as the “way of the future,” online-only brands will need to think proactively about how they can establish those personal relationships with customers that are the hallmark of the offline retail experience.
See more highlights and photos from the evening: