What is the right blend of selling online and brick & mortar? It’s like mixing a cocktail…everyone has their own preferences. With Target’s announcement to reduce its workforce and invest in their online efforts, I found some good articles to support the healthy debate.
Target Focuses On Multichannel
With store growth slowing, Target is turning its focus to building up its omnichannel and multichannel capabilities, including store fulfillment for online orders, digital commerce and mobile enablement. For small to medium-sized retailers, this shows that even Tier 1 retailers find defining and executing a multichannel strategy difficult. I believe the lesson learned, however, is that in order to capture an ever-evolving market, you must be nimble so you don’t miss the opportunity or lag behind your competitors. Said differently (or from a half-glass-empty perspective), you need to be nimble to stop the bleeding!
LL Bean Adds Stores
Now here’s a retailer going the other direction. 100-year old LL Bean is planning to open at least 100 stores in the next five years, sighting a need to give customers a more integrated shopping experience between catalog, online and stores (including buy-online-pickup-in-store and simply being able to physically touch a product before buying). While they’ve wanted to make this expansion for the last several years but were waiting for more favorable market conditions, another driver was changing consumer preferences. Demand for their signature boot has exploded, driving revenue and providing an optimistic outlook for the near future.
Rethinking Your Store Strategy
While this article points out the benefits of the physical store, it argues that the debate between brick & mortar and online is second to brand. It’s the brand people seek. So whether you’re a traditional retailer moving to the web or an eTailer (like Warby Parker or Bonobos) that is now opening up your first physical store, the most important strategy for expansion is building a strong brand and presenting it consistently across all channels.