Guideshops offer e-tailers a different brick and mortar future
The recent speculation concerning possible plans by Amazon.com to open hundreds of bookstores has brought a renewed focus on the role brick and mortar stores will play for pure play e-tailers going forward. For some, the future may mean fully functioning stores. For others, there will be guideshops, which allow consumers to try on/out products before ultimately ordering them online for delivery to their homes.
Bonobos, a men’s clothing merchant, first began opening its guideshops in 2011. Each small shop, as described in a 2014 RetailWire article, typically has a footprint of 1,500-square-feet or less with space to display a limited range of apparel, along with a fitting room. An emphasis is placed on personal service, and Bonobos.com acts as the guideshop’s virtual stockroom.
Last July, a Bonobos company spokesperson told Forbes that more new customers come to the site through its guideshops than via other means. First-time customers who find Bonobos through the guideshops also spend more than those who first shop Bonobos online.
A recent New York Post article reported on plans by Paul Evans, an upscale men’s shoe website, to open its first guideshop on Christopher St. in Manhattan on March 1. A second guideshop in New York’s financial district is also planned.
The Paul Evans shop, according to the Post, will simulate a “man cave” complete with comfy club chairs. Customers will be encouraged to try on the company’s Italian footwear with an average price of $389.
“I asked Andy Dunn (CEO) of Bonobos if he could do it all over, what would he do differently, and he said … ‘[Open] guideshops sooner,'” Evan Fript, co-founder of Paul Evans, told the paper.
- Why A Store You’ve Likely Never Heard Of Hints At Retail’s Future – Forbes
- Online shoe brand gives guideshops a try – New York Post
- Is Bonobos paving the way for e-commerce showrooms? – RetailWire
Do you expect that e-tailers will open more guideshops or traditional stores as they move into brick and mortar environments? What do you see as the relative pros and cons of each approach?