When Everlane, the online clothing retailer known for its timeless pieces and “radical transparency” philosophy, bared its San Francisco doors for an open office, we jumped at the chance to take a peek. This fashion brand is one of several companies who have gotten on the growing trend of digital retailers opening physical spaces. So, the future of retail isn’t just about bringing digital to brick and mortar stores (like Sephora did with their new in-store experiential model), but also about bringing a physical component to digital shops and truly giving customers an omni-channel experience.
Everlane unveiled their new showroom in a series of events over the course of 5 days. As one may have suspected from a brand who’s known for “reinventing retail” and touts a founder on the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 list for that reason, it’s not your conventional office space – no conference rooms, and no cubicles. It’s just an open-concept minimalist wonderland. And yes, it’s just as gorgeous in person as it is from the pictures we’ve seen on their Instagram and Snapchat.
Los Angeles-based husband and wife team Brook&Lyn partnered with Everlane to create the remarkable new showroom, which seamlessly incorporated with the rest of the office space. The showroom was equipped with Everlane’s latest collections and a dedicated personal stylist (along with several other Everlane employees) to educate customers about the products, as well as making sure they find the perfect item and fit.
With last year’s launch of a native mobile app, Everlane seemed to own the digital retail space, bringing them closer and closer to their overall goal of “[making] online shopping better than offline.” Why then open a physical showroom? After several successful pop-up shops left customers yearning for more, Everlane couldn’t ignore customers’ asks and found opening a physical space to be the next natural step for their business. In addition to the customer benefit of physically interacting with merchandise, they are able to gain more insight regarding customers’ behaviors.
Everlane is killin’ it across desktop, mobile and now, brick and mortar, bringing their customers’ omni-channel experience full circle. But what is omni-channel, you ask? It’s just fancy marketing lingo to describe creating a seamless brand experience over multiple channels. Everlane isn’t the first brand to do this – online men’s fashion retailer Bonobos has opened a number of “guideshops” and women’s retailer ModCloth has done several popup “fit shops.” Although consumers are hyper-connected nowadays, digital retailers have recognized that nothing will ever replace the personal touch. Customers want to see and touch the merchandise in person, which is the biggest drawback of online stores. With this growing trend (bolstered by retail giant Amazon’s opening of a brick and mortar bookstore in Seattle late last year), it’s clear that digital retailers opening physical spaces will soon no longer be a trend, but a necessity in order for them to be remain competitive and be successful in the market.
It’s not enough for an online brand to simply open up a physical store. How can successful brands born in the digital space elevate their physical properties? Since customers’ association with the brand is of a digital nature, it makes sense to carry over that experience to the brick and mortar space. Everlane did this by having a portal similar to their existing website to place customer orders. However, incorporating visual cues and user-generated content to in-store displays could be a simple solution to elevating the physical experience even further.