Retail Pulse: Framebridge Opens DC Store; Starbucks Hits 30,000-Location Milestone


Online brands are stepping into the world of brick-and-mortar, opening their own physical locations to help consumers experience their concepts in real life with the help of digital technology. Custom eCommerce framing startup Framebridge is opening its own in Washington, D.C., and Bethesda, Maryland, that will work to mirror the company’s online experience.

Framebridge shoppers can choose from different framing options through an app or website to see how their items would turn out. The company provides customers with shipping labels and materials, shoppers mail the to-be-framed items to the company’s framing center and the stores will have the orders brought to the production facility.

In the stores, shoppers will be able to transmit their artwork or photographs from smartphones to iPads that allow customers to preview their framed final products. Framebridge has reportedly brought in a new point-of-sale (POS) system to give shoppers an experience that’s almost equivalent to shopping online. The D.C. location reportedly opened Tuesday (March 19), with the Maryland store to come next month.

Framebridge founder and CEO Susan Tynan has said the company “tested a number of pop-ups,” and that “there were people that had been to our site several times but wanted to see us in person.” She added that pop-up’s “average order values were 40 percent higher than they were online.” According to the Washingtonian, the store was inspired by shoppers who began to visit the company’s headquarters in Georgetown looking for “human interaction.”

News of the store comes after Framebridge announced in July that it had notched $30 million in Series C funding, raising a little more than $67 million to date. Funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. led the investment along with participation from existing investors such as New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Revolution Ventures and SWaN & Legend Venture Partners.

“This next chapter empowers us to keep our focus on delivering that excellent customer experience at much larger scale and in more convenient and inspirational ways,” Tynan said in an announcement at the time of the investment. The brand’s latest chapter will include taking a leap into the world of brick-and-mortar with the help of technology-enabled storefronts.

In other brick-and-mortar news

Starbucks hit a store count milestone by opening its 30,000th worldwide location in Shenzhen, a move made ahead of plans to open hundreds of stores each year in China. The coffee chain, which operates in 78 global markets, opened its first store in Seattle in the 1970s. Starbucks Coffee

“The opening of Starbucks 30,000th store is a proud moment for all Starbucks partners,” company president and CEO Kevin Johnson said, according to reports.

The move comes as the chain is reworking its rewards program, which includes new redemption options starting in the middle of April. Consumers who link their loyalty membership to Starbucks Rewards Visa credit or prepaid card will not have to worry about expiring points, either, and the green and gold rewards tiers will be removed with the new offering.

In other news, Amazon will be providing package drop-off and pickup services at particular Whole Foods locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Amazon shoppers will use self-service kiosks or visit staffed help desks for the offering, which rolled out at the Addison store this week. The service is also available in Lubbock and Austin, and differs from lockers which offer only three-day holds. The Addison store will keep customer packages for up to 15 days.

Amazon Prime members will also receive free same-day delivery to a store without a minimum order, but all customers of the eCommerce retailer can use physical locations for pickup and drop-offs. The news comes per reports late last year that Amazon was planning to expand the number of Whole Foods locations so more shoppers could use its delivery service.

On another note, retailers like Costco and Target are increasing their own sales quicker than those of iconic American names. The 20 largest brands notched a 1.2 percent increase in Q4 2018 in toiletries, food and drink and other consumer goods, but private-label brands in the same categories saw a 4.3 percent increase in U.S. stores, per Nielsen.

“You have to deliver something that is superior,” Nomad Foods CEO Stefan Descheemaeker said, according to reports, “If you don’t, then at some stage the question arises: Why do you need brands?”

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.