Onto the High Street: Event Wrap Up

2018 was tough on the high street…so why are pure plays moving in? from Omnifi on Vimeo.

Omnifi were proud to sponsor the latest TLA Retail Tech event at Cocoon Networks, looking at how and why pure-play eCommerce brands are increasingly investing in physical retail channels.

Here is an event wrap-up, including video from the night (above), a summary of the presentations as well as links to more info on the brands present and the themes discussed.

Introduction from Eugene from TLA Retailtech and from Simon from Omnifi. 

Onto the High Street: Why E-Commerce Brands Are Getting Physical – Intro Slides from Simon Liss – Jamie Bennett, Head of Showrooms has made record sales across the UK and is expanding into four new EU markets. They’ve enlarged their London showroom, and while physical retail has a key role, the customer journey will always end online (i.e. transactions are not part of the physical store experience).

For, offline augments the customer experience, and enables;

  • Conversations IRL and a human touch
  • Confidence in purchases, especially high ticket items
  • Reinforcing brand trust

The central London site is in fact a 11,000 square foot retail space that is not a shop! The brand has even had to put a sign on the store window that says “This is not a shop” to help manage customer expectations.

Technology is present in the new store, but as an enhancement of human interaction, it’s primary role is as an enabler of better interaction between people and products.

The company is constantly evolving their spaces, the customer experience and the technology to support it.

Kitri – Haeni Kim, Founder and Mike Barnett, Head of Operations

Kitri are an online direct to consumer brand based in London. Their range, pitched between luxury and Fast Fashion is produced in limited quantities and is regularly refreshed. 

They have done two retail pop-ups in London, as well as in-store concessions with Selfridges. 

Why did they open a physical presence?

  • Trust 
  • 3D brand experience
  • Adjacency to bigger brands (in concessions)
  • Building brand culture and community

They opened the first pop-up after just 5 months of launching online. The main objectives – to build trust and brand awareness, especially around their ethos and aesthetic. The store has also been massively leveraged as a PR platform and is the centrepiece for events and talks.

The first pop-up led to the Selfridges concession. Subsequent pop-ups have been different to the first – they wanted to surprise and delight, and the store design reflected the collection at the time, along with custom furniture. The pop-up even doubled up as a shoot venue/studio. 

Kitri shared a few lessons learnt from their physical store journey:

  • Stores can definitely help convert online interest into paying customers
  • Anyone opening a store needs to define their objectives – direct ROI is hard to calculate, so costs can be hard to justify
  • You must resource against the store – to make sure you can service both your new channel and your existing online channel adequately
  • Thinking and designing the experience to be seamless cross-channel is key

Farfetch – Robert Amor, formerly Farfetch Store of the Future Product

Farfetch, who floated last year, owns no stock, making their money by shipping products around the world. The enterprise is driven via a huge platform, with massive reach. The platform is supported by around 2,000 devs in Porto, with a corporate HQ in London. 

In 2015 Farfetch bought Browns, their first foray into physical retail. The founder, Jose Neves, had a background in traditional retail and understood that;

  • Fashion cannot be 100% digitised
  • In-store technology had a long way to go

Farfetch’s Store Of The Future concept is a hugely ambitious project and platform that looks to augment and personalise the in-store experience through data. The solutions are often in the background, the thinking being that consumer’s own mobile devices can do a lot of the work in terms of front-end experience. 

Storefront – Matt Greenwell, MD UK

The Storefront platform is a cross border B2B enterprise that rents our retail space on short-term leases. The business operates;

  • Across 3 continents
  • Has taken 100,000 enquiries
  • For 10,000 stores on its books

Their figures show that a physical store presence can lead to 37% average increase in web traffic, and 86% of brands see positive effects on entry to new markets when they open physical stores. 

About TLA Retail Tech:

Retail technology is developing fast as consumers and retail businesses embrace multi and omni-channel modes of selling and shopping. The TLA Retail Tech Group brings together online and offline focussed startups, experts and practitioners in this exciting area of digital innovation. Our mission is to promote London as a centre of Retail Tech innovation, supporting start-ups in this sector and facilitating dialogue between members.

Find out more about the group and TLA membership here

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