TORONTO – Companies that launch online first can benefit from eventually opening up physical stores to help promote their brand and better serve their customers. Here are five companies that have become, or are planning to become, so-called omni-channel retailers:
Frank + Oak
Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani started selling men’s clothing designed by their brand Frank and Oak online in February 2012.
The company opened its first store in Montreal in November 2013. It’s since grown to 13 locations in Canada and the U.S. — with plans to open two more Canadian shops this summer. The newest locations will be at Toronto’s Sherway Gardens mall and Ottawa’s Rideau Centre.
Another men’s clothing retailer, Indochino got its start selling made-to-measure shirts and suits online. Customers measured themselves, ideally with the help of a friend, before completing the virtual checkout.
Heikal Gani and Kyle Vucko founded the brand in March 2007 and chose to open up its first bricks-and-mortar location, dubbed a showroom, in Toronto in August 2014 after hosting a series of pop-ups in North America.
The company now boasts eight locations on the continent where men can book appointments for an employee to take their measurements and can peruse the fabric selection. It plans to expand to 150 locations by 2020.
It’s not just clothing companies that feel the need for physical shopping spaces in addition to their e-commerce ventures.
American eyeglasses company Warby Parker plans to open its first Canadian outlet this summer. The Toronto shop will sell the company’s eyewear, which is designed in house.
The company formed in 2010 to offer a way for consumers to buy cheaper, quality eyewear.
It now has 31 retail locations, including one on a parked school bus in Austin, Texas, and several new ones planned.
Apple started out selling its computers online and in the stores of its partners. Legend has it co-founder Steve Jobs grew frustrated with shoddy customer service at retail outlets selling Apple products.
This growing discontent led to the advent of the Apple Store in 2001. That year, the company opened 25 outlet across America with the first opening May 15, 2001, in McLean, Va., and Glendale, Calif. In a statement at the time, Jobs called it “an amazing new way to buy a computer.”
The company now boasts 463 retail stores, according to its most recent annual report.
Luxury winter jacket retailer Canada Goose recently announced it will open its first two retail stores this fall in Toronto and New York City.
Founded in 1957, the company gained a following for its down-filled, fur-lined parkas that have been worn by celebrities, featured in Hollywood movies and appeared on the cover of Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit edition.
It sells the parkas and other winterwear on its website and through authorized retailers in Canada and abroad.
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