Use the data you already have. In putting together a brick and mortar strategy, I’d encourage entrepreneurs to think about the data they already have from their existing online presence. For example, from having a strong online presence at Ministry of Supply, we knew where our customers were and where they liked to shop in their city. Using this online data to inform our expansion of physical stores helped us decide what cities to open up in, what part of town to be in, and even what streets to be on.
Engage customers offline. Consider interesting elements of the brand that are difficult to portray online and how those elements can be incorporated into the in-person store experience. We recently launched a brick and mortar store in New York City in SoHo. It’s our third brick and mortar location, and we wanted to do something a little different. So we made a coffee bar in the back of the store, which ties in directly to some of our products, and a worker’s area that resembles a science classroom, which ties into our founding roots. These components are specific to our brand, but things that we wouldn’t be able to do online. It really makes the experience come to life.
Stay cohesive. It’s important to associate a brand with the same message, values and feeling across the board. Which means keeping the brand experience cohesive, whether that be online or in person. For example, we have the same return policy, customer service, and same messaging both online and in our physical locations. Of course, the interaction won’t be exactly the same, but we try to make it as seamless as possible.
Make your store associates a key part of the team. We’ve learned that the team members who are actually on foot in our physical locations are our biggest advocates. Ensuring that those individuals are heavily involved with the company and are treated as a key part of the team is crucial. In each of our storefronts– Boston, San Francisco and New York City– we’ve found that our sales associates make amazing ambassadors and are crucial in our store development and growth.
Experiment. While it may be easier to experiment online– it’s simple to change landing pages and layouts of a website– it’s also important to experiment in real life. Figure out ways to test and change locations, layout and ambience of a physical location, since seemingly small details can make a big difference in your end goal. Before we chose semi-permanent locations, we hosted a number of short-term popups to test out different areas. Being able to change, adapt and adopt in real-life in a similar way to how you would online can play a crucial role in a company’s brick and mortar success.
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