Clicks to Bricks: The Genius of Warby Parker and Other “Destination” Brands
April 27, 2015
By Tammy Sachs
For years, we've heard the lament that big box stores are money pits. They often serve to showcase products smart shoppers can see, touch and feel and then buy online elsewhere. This trend isn't helped by retail staff that often knows less about the product than their customers. There are some innovative exceptions, like Lowe's, that are actively training their folks to educate customers on complex purchases (like creating the connected home.) This changes the value of actually purchasing in a store.
A fascinating trend in retail, fueled by the Apple Store and its Genius Bar is the “destination” brand -- a store open 24/7 for brand groupies to hang out, newbies to take free or individual classes and repairs to be made on the spot. Plus, it is a place to feel, touch, listen and BUY.
Fast forward to 2013 where Warby Parker (a pure play that started by disrupting the lock Luxottica held on costly prescription glasses) opened its first store in SoHo. What happened? Similarly to Apple, it became a cool gathering place full of people trying on glasses and getting them adjusted. Customers even brought their dogs to the store during a recent co-promotion with BarkBox. Can you imagine experiencing that level of excitement at Pearl Vision? What started as one experiment has grown into nine stores and countless showrooms that actually drive sales.
Another interesting pure play gone “destination” is Birchbox. They practically invented the idea of a subscription model for getting hair and beauty samples monthly. Recently, they opened a store where you can try on the samples, make your own Birchbox and get a mani/pedi too. Again: not a store, a destination.