Digitally native retailers are opening stores to bring their virtual experiences into the real world, and Zola is one of the latest merchants to test out the brick-and-mortar waters. The wedding retailer opened a store in New York City’s Flatiron District that is billed as a “one-stop-shop for wedding planning.”
The company said the space carries 2,000 “top-selling gifts for newlywed life,” as well as more than 200 invitations and save-the-dates. In addition, the company allows customers to tap into the expertise of a Zola advisor in order to receive planning help on a one-on-one-basis. At the same time, the space seeks to inspire engaged couples by showing them how other couples used the company’s technology to send out invitations and create websites for their weddings.
“We are so excited to bring the entire Zola experience under one roof,” said Zola CEO and Co-founder Shan-Lyn Ma said in an announcement of the store’s opening. “We translated everything our couples already love about us, including our easy-to-use planning tools, our curated gift selection and our outstanding customer service, into a wedding planning destination.”
The company also seeks to provide its customers with experiences within the space. Shoppers can, for instance, visit a listening booth to plan a playlist for their weddings or visit a CBD lounge “to help make wedding planning even less stressful.” In a 3D printing “chapel,” customers can make toppers for their wedding cakes. The retailer is also prepared for couples who might want to get married in its store, as the store associates are “available to perform weddings.”
Ma told Fortune in December that going forward, the company does not intend to shift away from its main digital strategy. At the same time, however, she noted that her company would consider growing its brick-and-mortar footprint. “We’re not in the business of opening 200 stores, but we’ll really get a sense of how it benefits us in terms of awareness and education for the couples,” Ma said. “We’ll consider a few more cities.”
Zola’s store opening comes as another wedding retailer, Kleinfeld, opened its first-ever pop-up shop in Secaucus, New Jersey. The company said the store would offer more than 1,500 designer wedding dress styles, such as new overstock dresses and sample dresses. On average, they are priced at under half the cost of the national average of wedding dresses in the U.S., per a report cited in the company’s release. The company noted that the space, which is at The Mall at Mill Creek, will be open until mid-January.
From Kleinfeld to Zola, the latest openings suggest that wedding retailers are testing out new brick-and-mortar concepts with the beginning of the new year.
In Other Brick-and-Mortar News…
Lord & Taylor has left its landmark New York City store on Fifth Avenue as it seeks to focus on its online presence. Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), Lord & Taylor’s parent company, had sold the retailer’s famous building in the fall of 2017 to WeWork for $850 million. (The space was said to become a new headquarters for WeWork in the city.) At one point in time, the plan was for Lord & Taylor to keep a smaller space in the iconic 676,000-square-foot building.
In other news, Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Eddie Lampert made a takeover bid of $4.4 billion for the retailer in an effort that could help preserve the jobs of up to 50,000 workers and 425 locations. The bid was placed by Transform Holdco LLC, an affiliate of the ESL Investments hedge fund. Lampert’s bid was partly backed by funding from multiple financial institutions. It was reported that the institutions agreed to an asset-backed loan of $950 million and a revolving credit line of $350 million.
“Factoring for all considerations, we believe that our going concern bid provides the best path forward for the company, the best option to save tens of thousands of jobs, and is superior for all of Sears’ stakeholders to the alternative of a complete liquidation,” said a spokesperson for ESL, according to reports. “Much work remains, and there is no assurance our proposal will be completed.”
On another note, digitally native brand Warby Parker was reported hit by a cybersecurity attack that impacted roughly 198,000 shoppers between late September and late November. It was reported that hackers tried to access accounts and took usernames and passwords. After finding out about the breach, Warby Parker contacted law enforcement.
Retail hacking has been a frequent problem for large companies. Macy’s, for instance, was targeted by hackers last summer. Between the end of April to the middle of June, hackers were reportedly able to get usernames and passwords as well as email addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and payment card info. At the time, Macy’s said the hackers didn’t get card CVV numbers or Social Security numbers.
For the latest in brick-and-mortar retail trends, check out next week’s Retail Pulse.