When discussing the ever-growing e-commerce industry, it’s rare for a conversation not to revolve around Amazon. Whether it’s about the heavyweight taking 49 cents out of every U.S. e-commerce dollar spent, the stock reaching a $1 trillion valuation, the future of a Whole-Foods-led Amazon or the sleeping giant endeavor Amazon Go—the company has forever changed customer behavior and preferences.
Though brick-and-mortar stores continue to disappear thanks to the growth of online retail, not all brands are suffering the same fate.
Here are four brick and mortars thriving in the wake of Amazon.
What started as an online-only purveyor of men’s clothing now operates 48 stores, called Guideshops, across the U.S. What’s Bonobos’ secret? There isn’t one, actually. The company has adopted the same model held by brick-and-mortar furniture stores for decades: no inventory and no stock. Bonobos has modernized their offering to reflect current times, though—by offering free two-day shipping and no-hassle returns.
Bonobos’ curated, by-appointment personalized styling experience solves serious pain points for many male shoppers, who want tasteful clothes that fit well but don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping. On the margin side, not having inventory allows Bonobos to operate in smaller, more efficient retail spaces with less overhead, which lend to a better store aesthetic and eliminate price slashes that inevitably stem from overstocks and seasonal fashion changes.
In a similar vein to Bonobos, Warby Parker started selling glasses strictly online. And had Warby never left that arena, they’d still be a smashing success with their free home try-on program. But that’s not what the company did, initially experimenting with showrooms and even a school bus that traveled from city to city pedaling frames. When they realized there was demand for permanent physical locations, Warby Parker rolled up their sleeves.
The company plans to operate 100 stores by the end of 2018. The core of Warby’s mission is the customer experience. The company uses robust customer analytics initiatives and maintains consistent consumer interactions across channels to make that happen.
These efforts are underscored by Warby Parker’s 86 net promoter score, the highest in its industry. A recent example of Warby catering to consumer needs is their “Find Your Fit” feature for the iPhone 10, which measures 30,000 facial points for more personalized frame recommendations. In-store associates can also take pictures of customers wearing various frames and turn those pictures into digital bookmarks sent to email, allowing customers to ponder their choices and purchase online.
Target built a colossal brand selling everything from electronics and diapers to groceries and affordable furniture. But the brand wouldn’t have posted its best quarterly comparable sales in 13 years without a major shift in their approach. Target remodeled their stores, reduced prices and opened smaller stores in urban areas and near college campuses to target young urban millennial populations. Target’s curbside delivery rollout, which allows customers to order items from mobile and have the items delivered to their car, curbside, gives them competitive footing against similar services offered by Whole Foods, Kroger and Walmart.
Amazon’s unprecedented merging of consumer-focused price points, product selection and convenience would seem to put dollar stores in their grave. To the contrary, Dollar General is in the midst of opening 900 stores in 2018, for the second year in the row. Dollar General is capitalizing on the void of shopping convenience in rural America. While low-income shoppers are the biggest customers for the everyday bargain essentials chain, more middle-income and even affluent shoppers are contributing to Dollar General’s growth. With more than 14,000 stores in 44 states, the company has grown 35 percent in five years. Even more staggering, by the end of 2018, more than 75 percent of Americans will live within five miles of a Dollar General.
Modern shopping — whether online or in-store — shouldn’t take work. Countless physical retailers have bit the dust, and plenty more are suffering rapid declines and store closures. However, these four brick-and-mortars are thriving in the wake of Amazon — proving that brick-and-mortar isn’t going away, it’s just changing to offer a seamless, omnichannel experience that replicates the online simplicity consumers have come to love (thanks in no small part, to Amazon).