Reimagining Brick-and-Mortar

The role of physical stores for modern shoppers has been under quite a bit of debate. First we were told that the “death of brick-and-mortar” is here. Then, as it turns out, they matter more than ever. With the increasing presence of e-commerce and retailers fighting back with more of an omnichannel approach, it’s no wonder that there’s confusion about the relevance of physical stores in the modern shopper culture.

A recent interview with Andy Dunn, CEO of Bonobos, brought an interesting perspective to the table. When it comes to brick-and-mortar, maybe its role is neither dying nor thriving–maybe it’s just being reimagined.

For those not familiar, Bonobos is a men’s apparel brand that was built entirely on e-commerce. Over the past few years, the brand has experimented with “guideshops”–physical stores that do not actually sell any goods. These stores are simply locations for shoppers to try on the products, with a heavy focus on personal service and customer experience. The purpose of the Bonobos stores is to elevate the shopping experience for men and ultimately drive purchasing back to the brand’s e-commerce site.

Dunn believes that this retail model is the future. It just might be. More and more, we’re starting to see online retailers make their way back to physical stores, but with a twist on convention (Warby Parker, Birch Box).

Regardless, it’s important to understand that brick-and-mortar retail serves a purpose for shoppers and the brands that clearly define the function of their physical stores will ultimately win favor with shoppers.

Photo source: Bonobos Guideshop