As the line between ecommerce and bricks and mortar blurs, retailers who began on the internet are beginning to experiment with physical stores. Amazon opened a pop-up store in New York city in time for last Christmas, and the year before it popped up in a kiosk at a mall in San Francisco.
Onceit founder Jay Goodey spoke with The Register this morning fresh from attending the Deloitte Fast 50 awards on Wednesday. The company just missed out on making it into the line-up of rapidly-growing companies this year but was ranked at number 48 in 2014.
Goodey says he’s been interested in opening a physical store for around a year. He says there’s a lot of merit in the bricks and mortar format, and is looking forward to implementing crossover opportunities like click and collect and having physical samples of goods in store.
“I’m pretty excited about that, blurring the lines between online and offline.”
His team pushed the “go” button on the 200 square metre pop-up store three weeks ago. Goodey says it will receive drops of new product twice each week to achieve a high turnover, and the team will try to maximise the amount of stock within the store.
“You’d be surprised at how much stock you can fit in that space.”
Goodey says the store will allow Onceit to stock certain brands which it can’t offer online for “various reasons”. Some labels won’t allow their products to be sold online, while distributors and importers for big international brands can also have strict rules for online sales.
“I think they’re a bit old school,” Goodey says.
The opening of Onceit’s pop-up store is timed to extend the tail of the store’s holiday rush. Goodey says in previous years, the website’s sales have started to drop off just after mid-December, but he hopes the store will keep demand high until Christmas Eve.
Goodey’s main concern is that the pop-up will sell out too quickly and the team won’t be able to replenish it fast enough: “That’s a good problem to have, I suppose.”
Onceit has a good arrangement with its landlord, and if the store works as well as Goodey hopes, he’ll look at keeping it on as a permanent outlet. He is already looking at rolling out two to three additional stores next year.
In the meantime, the Onceit website continues to charge ahead. The team has recently rolled out same-day dispatch for stock they have on hand, and are now doing up to 300 of these sales each day. Goodey also hopes to implement night deliveries after Christmas.
Amazon opened its first permanent store on the campus of Indiana’s Purdue University in February this year, and has this week introduced a bookstore at Seattle’s University Village. Like The Warehouse’s new micro-store in central Auckland, the Purdue outlet was more about allowing customers to pick up and drop off items they had already purchased online, but the bookstore is to stock around 6,000 titles.
UK fast fashion retailer Boohoo started as an ecommerce site nine years ago, but now has physical stores around the world. It opened its first pop-up store in London last year.
Boohoo co-founder and CEO Carol Kane has said that Boohoo’s model is based on newness, and the speed at which its stock moves means it doesn’t suit physical stores.
"We have 500 lines delivered every single week,” she told Women's Wear Daily. “You can't support what we do very easily in a store environment. You can have a collection here, but it's going out of stock as quick as it's going in."