2017 has been a whirlwind of a year for retailers to say the least, with most of the conversation surrounding how brands need to think digitally first. However, this morning in a panel discussion at eTail East, Drew Green, CEO of Indochino, a made-to-measure menswear company, ended the session with a telling statement.
“I think in the next five years, every online brand will be offline in way or another,” Green said.
In addition to Green, the panel included Kevin Lavelle, founder and CEO of Mizzen + Main; Cheryl Kaplan, president and co-founder of M.Gemi; and Emily Hofstetter, vice president, business development and communications at Bombas. All of the panelists shared their thoughts on the importance of connecting a data-driven digital strategy with offline events. The brands represented on the panel — Indochino, Mizzen + Main, M.Gemi, Bombas — may have started by successfully creating a strong online community, but offline tactics have helped them grow their customer bases.
Kaplan said that offline retail allows online brands to connect one-on-one with customers and capitalize on experiential retail, creating an experience the customer won’t forget. “I think it's very important to think creatively and flexibly,” she said.
Hofstetter followed by saying retailers need to have a specific goal in mind before using resources — i.e., time and money — to go offline.
“You need to understand your purpose for going offline," she explained. "Have a pop-up for a reason. Our pop-ups have helped us convey our brand’s story and to connect with the audience. We’ve approached offline as a way to have consumers engage with us.”
Lavelle reiterated the importance of a well-thought-out offline strategy, adding that there are many ways to approach an offline strategy as an online brand. “Most importantly, I think you have to know how to capitalize on a timeline and know your resources,” he said.
Lastly, Green offered up his top tip to the audience, saying, “I think the keyword for an online-only brand is ‘commitment.’ You really need to commit the company as a whole to an omnicommerce strategy.”