From SCORE Richmond by Doug Carleton:
An interesting thing is happening in retail. Online shopping, led of course by Amazon, has been like a slow-moving Pac-Man gobbling up retailers who operated from bricks. Many of the bricks have crumbled – think Toys ‘R Us. But, bubbling just below the surface, some bricks are making a comeback, and one of the most stunning is Amazon itself, with Amazon Books – a chain of retail book stores. But the move to physical locations isn’t limited merely to mega-giants such as Amazon, Untuckit, an online men’s clothing brand that saw online success through aggressive advertising, has been opening locations at an unprecedented rate after seeing initial success with its Manhattan location. Warby Parker, an online eyeglass company that spearheaded the e-commerce movement, aims to have 100 retail locations across the country by the end of the year. Online clothing retailer, Bonobos, is also looking to nearly double its retail locations. Indeed, a 2018 American Express In-Store Holiday Shopping Survey found that 88% of shoppers intend to shop in physical stores this holiday season.
Why? Instant gratification for one. Amazon started its rise to owning the world selling books online. But there is something about holding a book in your hands – reading the flyleaf, the back cover (even though you can do that on Amazon), and thumbing through the pages. There is something about trying on a pair of shoes and looking at them, seeing what it feels like to walk around in them. Holding up a blouse, or a shirt, or putting on a winter jacket; hard to do that online. Tactile; human touch; sights and smells, and on and on. You’re in a store and something else catches your eye that you would like better. You probably wouldn’t have seen it on the website.
But my guess is that one of the most powerful advantages of the bricks is customer service. You can ask questions. Do you have this in another size? Another color? You can return something to the store instead of boxing it up, shipping it back and waiting for the charge to be credited back to your credit card.
There is a certain magic to good customer service.