Bonobos, the men’s clothing brand that began life online and has now pushed into the physical realm, is betting on the tactile experience to boost sales.
As Forbes reported, the firm is opening is latest brick-and-mortar location in midtown New York City, with an eye on boosting its store count, from 27 now to 30 by the end of the year and 100 by the end of 2020 (Bonobos calls its locations “Guideshops”).
The financial publication said that its target audience, centered on men doing their clothes shopping, likes to come in, feel the merchandise and talk with salespeople. In an interview, Erin Ersenkal, chief revenue officer of the firm, said: “People like to touch and feel clothing. They want the human interaction. The experience of being in a store is something customers appreciate. It’s great for helping us with repeat customers and acquiring new ones.”
That insight has led the firm to push harder into opening new locations, having found that customers have asked to, and desire to, come in and try on clothing. With the firm’s founding in 2007, the first Guideshop was at the company’s headquarters in the Flatiron District. The first standalone location was in Boston in 2012. The experience in-store is now one where guides (serving in what might be termed the more traditional sales associate roles) spend as much as an hour with each customer by appointment. Those associates are not paid on commission.
Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analysis firm Conlumino, told Forbes: “Many men — especially younger professionals — are now more fashion-conscious and want some guidance and help when they buy. The personal service provides this and allows them to move beyond online to an environment where they can experiment more. The appointment system also puts men in control and works so much better than the cold ‘Can I help you?’ approaches made by assistants in, say, the department stores. It also saves time and provides for a more focused experience — things that most men value when it comes to shopping.”