Four years ago, eyeglass retailer Warby Parker started as an online store selling $95 prescription glasses to compete with monopoly Luxotica. The brand’s online try-on program (sending three styles to each users’ home free of charge) was critical to its growth, as it allowed expansion without real estate costs. In 2013, the brand opened its first store – or showroom – in New York City where users could try on glasses to order through the e-commerce site. Subsequent stores opened in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. And this week, co-founder Dave Gilboa told the Wall Street Journal that those brick-and-mortar stores are turning a profit with an average of $3,000 in annual sales. (That’s higher than Tiffany & Co. store sales per square foot.)
No longer thought of as a liability, brick-and-mortar shops are becoming ammunition for retailers to fight against online-only players like Amazon. Best Buy, for example, was able to beat Amazon in shipping time during the 2013 holiday season by shipping from its retail stores.
Shipping from stores brings other benefits as well. Among them reduced cart abandonment, less markdowns due to overstock and ability to offer same-day shipping for nearby zip codes as shown in the graph from L2’s Intelligence Report: Omnichannel Retail.
Warby Parker’s success shows retailers should ensure their stores are being fully utilized to better the in-store and online shopping experience.