Physical Retail Matters More Than E-Commerce, in a Digital World

Business of Fashion published an Op Ed by Ari Bloom of A2B Ventures on the importance of physical retail vs e-commerce, despite us being in a digital age.

…While Emarketer predicts that e-commerce in the apparel and accessories market will grow at an astounding 17.2 percent annually between now and 2017, one would be hard-pressed to find reliable projections that show offline sales accounting for less than 75 percent of total apparel and accessories sales for the foreseeable future.

Fashion, especially at a higher price point and in its broadest sense, is an industry that relies on brand experience and “value for money” (not actual cost, but the value exchange). Brands are more than just the products they sell, they are the reason people are prepared to pay more for one than another, to collect and covet, to spend time and money. And though e-tail and digital presence have improved significantly over recent years (slower than in other industries, I hasten to add) the experience in store still offers the ultimate experience of the brand and emotional sell necessary.  That’s the “value”, rather than the actual amount of money being spent – not to mention the immediate gratification.

But considering any of your marketing and sales channels in isolation from each other is a mistake – immediate store sales and branded bags prompt other purchasers to act, being an advertising medium in themselves. And digital is increasingly part of the sales experience in store, as much as brands are seeing retail as experiential spaces not just sales locations. Hence emergence of stores like Burberry and their interactive changing rooms and music venue, 10 Corso Como and their bookshop and cafe spaces, or Louis Vuitton and their exhibitions and collections of modern art.

Ultimately, fashion brands, whether they are born online or offline, should harness and integrate the strengths of both channels to create a better consumer experience and build more effective businesses.

Read more at Business of Fashion.

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