How DUMBO Boutique Glam Expressway Quadrupled Revenue By Moving From ‘Clicks -To-Bricks’
'A physical store helps people discover the site — and vice versa,' says founder & CEO Lindsay Stuart.
Opening a brick-and-mortar store is a major investment, particularly for a small online-only business — but for DUMBO boutique Glam Expressway, the “clicks-to-bricks” move has paid dividends across properties: According to founder & CEO Lindsay Stuart, in the year since opening a physical location, revenue has quadrupled, with sales increasing both on and offline.
Why? Well, even in the age of Amazon, having a physical location confers substantial discovery benefits. “People still value the offline experience,” Stuart says. “Plus, I’ve had so many tourists and people walk through the area who would never know about us, but then after visiting they continue to buy from us online. A physical store helps people discover the site — and vice versa.”
Warby Parker may have pioneered the clicks-to-bricks journey with great success, but Stuart talked to GeoMarketing about making it work for on a smaller scale for local SMBs — from tips for working with micro-influencers to why in-store events matter.
GeoMarketing: Glam Expressway started online about five years ago, and you opened the boutique in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood one year ago. Since the opening, revenue has quadrupled. Why do you think physical stores still resonate with consumers in the age of Amazon — and what have you done to grow the physical and digital properties in tandem?
Since opening the store, I have seen so much growth both offline and online. I really believe that, first and foremost, it’s because of my community presence. I’m involved in a lot of different groups in the community, and [having the store] also allows me to be part of an business group in DUMBO that is associated the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. They do a lot to help small businesses, and they’ll send out e-mails to people in the neighborhood.
Secondly, I think the foot traffic [aspect] really does matter. It has helped so much; I’ve had so many tourists and people come through the area who would never know about us, but then after visiting, they continue to buy from us online. A physical store helps people discover the site [and vice versa.]
Even just here in New York, there are people that come by from Harlem and the Bronx and just walk through the neighborhood. And whether they’re New Yorkers or from different states, they come back to the site now — in part, I think, because they know it’s a legitimate store. It’s not just one of these Instagram shops that pop-up.
Really, I think it’s all about just being really ingrained in the community, and also working with social influencers who live in that community.
Local micro-influencers have risen in popularity, with approximately half of fashion, cosmetics, and luxury retailers in Europe and the U.S. considering them to be the most effective tier of influencers on social media. What kind of influencers do you work with, and how has that benefitted the business?
I think working with micro-influencers is absolutely great, because it can help you reach a lot of different niche audiences. For us, there’s a mommy-niche [in the neighborhood]. And then there’s our online customer, who tends to be more of a young partier. So, there’s a mommy blogger that I work with in my neighborhood, and then I can also [partner] with a model that I know and who is more active in nightlife. And [the fact that] their fees aren’t that of working with a celebrity or [mega] influencer makes that possible for a small business’ budget.
So yes, as far as local influencers, there are a ton of them, they’re everywhere. And I find the best thing you can do is start to build a relationship. I’m very into relationship marketing. Build a relationship, the sale will come later; the relationship is way more important than the sale.
In terms of deciding who to work with, engagement is what I look at. So I might see someone with 200,000 followers, but if their picture only has 50 comments, then I already know that their engagement isn’t good. And for small business owners, there are a ton of free apps and information out there that you can use. For example, there are several apps that you can use to rate an influencer. So, you can plug the person in and you kind of get a sense of their engagement, their active following. I definitely look at those statistics and that helps me.
What advice would you give to to other local businesses looking to make the clicks-to-bricks move — in terms of what has worked well for driving store visits and continued engagement?
Well, in-store events can be a big win. Last weekend I hosted a two-day event [featuring] a brand based out of Fort Lauderdale that specializes in genuine leather sandals handmade in the Caribbean. We did a trunk show to introduce my customers to the brand.
I’m actually selling some of them in the store now. I didn’t have shoes before, but I made a relationship with this company. In-store events [where there is a natural brand connection] are amazing: They had a following in New York, and people came out to the store from Long Island, Queens, upstate. And I didn’t charge the brand for the trunk show; a lot of people will charge to host that, but I think that sometimes it’s just about the partnership and the sharing of that customer base.
Finally, there are three things that I do with every customer — and I’ve trained my staff with this — at the close of a sale. The first thing is that we ask for is a Google review. That’s huge for small businesses, and, obviously, Google is a controlling factor right now with local discovery online.
I also ask for them to take a photo in the product that they’ve bought and either tag me and send it to me. Some people aren’t comfortable tagging you, but they’ll DM it to you because they want that shine on your page. And when I ask people to follow me I follow them back — I think it’s important to have this two-way interaction with my customers.
Finally, the third thing I ask for is their email address. This is where I really begin to develop a relationship with the customer. All of that has been incredibly successful for us.