Online to Offline: Apparel E-Tailer Tuckernuck Opens DC Store
The move foreshadows the importance for all retailers to develop a seamless online to offline strategy.
Georgetown-based apparel e-tailer Tuckernuck is expanding its cross-channel strategy, moving from online to offline with the 2016 opening of its first physical store location.
It’s been nearly four years since the preppy apparel haven’s online launch, and taking the storefront step at the right time has always been part of the plan, according to co-founder Jocelyn Gailliot. But the move is more than an exciting development for DC prepsters; it’s indicative of a larger trend of online-only brands embracing offline shopping — and stresses the importance for retailers of all stripes to develop a coherent cross-channel strategy.
Call it the counterpart of the “uberfication of everything” — inverted, but related. While physical businesses have begun to make the necessary leaps toward reaching today’s consumers through digital channels — developing apps, targeting mobile ads, enabling in-store pick-up — e-tailers are confronting the fact that over 90 percent of purchases are still made in stores. In other words, there’s still something to be said for the in-store experience, and retailers that give consumers the choice between shopping online, shopping offline, or blending the two are more likely to succeed.
“We feel that in order to be a successful retailer these days, you need to have a strong omni-presence,” Gailliot told Washingtonian. “This includes selling online, selling offline, and having a brand that is popular on social media.”
The Warby Parker Way…
One familiar example of a brand that went online to offline successfully is Warby Parker. The eyeglasses e-tailer sold an estimated one million pairs of specs online, but its retail expansion has paved the way to even greater success; there are now 24 physical WP locations and counting, as the brand has blended seamless online ordering with the fun of the actually trying on glasses in-store.
Other e-tailers like cosmetics specialist Birch Box followed suit, making Tuckernuck only the latest in a long line to embrace offline retail. When Warby Parker blazed the trail, various media outlets asked, “Does Warby Parker need actual stores?” Now, those questions are quieting.
And why? Even as the popularity of the word “omnichannel” wanes, 2015 was the year that it became an accepted concept that brands need to blend the online and offline world, keeping a coherent presence across channels and devices. This is necessary because consumers don’t live their lives in silos; they research products on desktop and mobile, and when it’s time to come to a store, the device isn’t left behind — smartphones are a primary shopping companion for research and comparisons. Stores that understand the multitude of ways that shoppers interact with both online information and physical products are more likely to capture their attention — and their dollars.
This is Tuckernuck’s goal as it looks to expand its horizons and boost sales — both online and off — in the New Year. And don’t be surprised if the retail footprint expands out of DC sooner rather than later: “We’ve come up with a leaner formula that we hope will be a richer experience for our customer,” Gailliot said. “We will try to perfect this formula in our backyard of Georgetown where we will have the ability to monitor it closely, then roll out the model to additional locations throughout the country.”