VMSD - March 2013 - (Page 4)
FROM THE EDITOR
of the Fitting
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Online, offline, the store concept
keeps hanging in there.
Back and forth, the discussion goes, about just what impact the Internet is having on traditional in-store retailing.
When the conversation began in the late 1990s, we were all suddenly talking about “kiosks” and “bricks and mortar.” I never took an
official survey, but my guess is this industry used the word “kiosk”
more in 1998, 1999 and 2000 than it had in all the intervening 100
years since the William McKinley administration.
Online was going to be the death of stores. Consumers loved the
idea of shopping in their pajamas. Not so fast, consumers also loved
the idea of touching, feeling and trying on merchandise.
And so it raged. Consumers, said the bricks-and-mortar crowd,
needed to push away from their laptops and experience social interaction in the store. Shoppers were wary of putting their credit card numbers and other personal data into an impersonal Internet site. Shoppers
were afraid of late deliveries, incorrect deliveries, no deliveries.
Chill, said the Internet geeks – sorry, engineers – we’ve taken measures to make all this confidential stuff perfectly secure. (Right!) And
deliveries will be accurate and on time. (Right again!)
Retail sales did suffer, but there was this recession thing going on,
too. And deliveries were largely reliable, except for the ones that weren’t.
In 2007, Andy Dunn, who started the Internet-only apparel company Bonobos, said, “We keep men out of retail stores when we know
that men fundamentally don’t enjoy shopping.”
Four years later, Dunn has six stores – you know, the bricks-andmortar kind – around the country. He’s planning more.
“I was pretty puritanical about e-commerce only,” he told Stephanie Clifford of The New York Times. But, he said, he found that about
half of his potential customer base wouldn’t order apparel online
because they wanted “to feel the merchandise.” Really? I always
thought retailers just told themselves that.
It’s not just Dunn, either. Etsy and eBay are testing temporary
stores. Warby Parker, the online eyeglass brand, will soon open a physical location. And we all know about Piperlime, the Gap start-up that
was online-only for six years until it opened a store in SoHo last year.
Dunn insists it’s a changing retail model. Well, welcome to our
world. The model has been changing – innovating, responding, reacting – for more than 100 years. Because that’s what we do.
4 MARCH 2013 | vmsd.com
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VMSD - March 2013