In Brick-and-Mortar 2.0, The Product is Success

Brick-and-Mortar is coming back, but in an upscale, almost ephemeral way. Rather than envisioning a literal store, with inventory, sales signs, and a cash register, Shopify is updating the indoor experience to be a clearinghouse of sorts. In a sense, the product is you, and the store is a place to pass through on your way to hopefully becoming more successful. Part college campus, part incubator, the space (at least in the pictures) is light and open, perfect for huddles, seminars, and networking. It was explained to me in very explicit terms as I set out to write this piece that Shopify’s space is not meant to sell products, but to bring people together for the specific purpose of sharpening their online sales skills.

Last fall, Shopify opened a brick-and-mortar location in Los Angeles with the purpose of driving entrepreneurship and equipping small business owners with the tools they need to succeed in the eCommerce space. When asked in an email interview if brick-and-mortar is marking a comeback, Satish Kanwar, VP of product, responded this way: “Brick-and-mortar is an area of tremendous opportunity, especially for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. More and more digitally native brands are opening up brick-and-mortar stores because their consumers are demanding creative, personalized and entertaining shopping experiences. At Shopify, we want to help retailers and merchants with personalization strategies, digital integration and engagement tips, and more to ensure both online and offline stores thrive.” Even though many people may be shopping on Amazon late at night in their pajamas, there is still the rush of excitement of meeting new people that comes from networking and sales, especially for entrepreneurs looking to take their business to the next level.

Vashti Bryant, founder of an online clothing brand based in Los Angeles, has only been in the business for two years, and credits Shopify’s brick-and-mortar location and the resources it offered with her ability to quit her job and devote herself full-time to her entrepreneurship. Bryant’s web developer encouraged her to transfer everything over to Shopify, because of the interface’s ease of use. “It’s night and day. Especially because I don’t know how to code, I don’t know how to do any of that, and [Shopify] is much easier, seamless, and honestly, once you set it up, it’s so easy.”

“When they opened the first store, I was one of the first ones going. I was literally going every week.”

When the brick-and-mortar space first opened, Bryant was alerted via email that it was opening and that other brands were coming to do events (omnichannel and email marketers, take note here.) Intrigued, Bryant decided to check out the location for herself. She was impressed with the variety of activities and events that Shopify had to offer, and found herself a regular of the Shopify space. Regular attendance and networking opportunities landed Bryant with a new manufacturer whose approach aligns more clearly with her business’s growing demands. Bryant told me that she now lives near the store, and still takes advantage of the opportunities and events that frequently occur there.

As business and marketing continue to transition online, sometimes it can be difficult to remember that the ones creating the products, marketing them, and selling them are human beings. Shopify seems to know this, and aims to focus its physical space on the people who are behind the transactions. Specifically, Shopify attempts to make its online portal more accessible by demonstrating that a shopping experience can be equally seamless on and offline, reinforcing each other to drive demand for your business. The future of shopping may not be exclusively brick-and-mortar or eCommerce, but a dynamic hybrid of the two.

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