As direct-to-consumer (D2C) companies look to drive more long-lasting relationships, many are finding that if they want to deepen customers’ connection to their brands, they must offer physical touchpoints, and New York City is the place to do it.
Brands selling everything from small items (both in size and value) such as bracelets to large purchases (again, in both senses) such as beds have been entering the brick-and-mortar channel or expanding their physical retail presence.
For instance, D2C accessory brand Ink + Alloy posted to social media Thursday (Oct. 12) about the opening of a store in New York City. Last week, D2C apparel brand GSTQ announced a pop-up shop to sell its fall and holiday collections in Rockefeller Center, a holiday season destination for many consumers.
“The in-person connection is important to our brand and for our community to come together; consumers get the advantage of experiencing our fabrics, clothes and premium feel in person,” GSTQ CEO Katie Mayne said in a statement. “We will be using this store as a test model for future brick-and-mortar buildouts and wholesale partnerships.”
Also last week, D2C apparel brand Mizzen+Main announced its brick-and-mortar expansion, with plans to reach 10 stores by the year’s end, and D2C hunting brand KUIU shared via Instagram that it is opening its second store, arriving in Dallas, Texas. Plus, as Modern Retail reported in September, D2C furniture brand Maiden Home is opening its first brick-and-mortar location, situated in New York’s Meatpacking District.
Even brands that do not typically sell physical products are finding ways to leverage physical spaces to drive customer connections. As Netflix Vice President of Consumer Products Josh Simon shared on social media Thursday, even the streaming giant plans to open retail stores called “Netflix House” in 2025, selling clothing and merchandise related to the platform’s shows, as well as themed food.
Major brands are also reprioritizing traditional retail. Earlier this year after years of prioritizing its D2C channels, Nike began reestablishing wholesale relationships with various retailers and sellers, despite having severed ties with them in the past. Many other major brands have been reprioritizing retail partnerships in recent months as well.
Most retail customers still shop at brick-and-mortar stores at least some of the time. PYMNTS Intelligence’s study “Consumer Interest in an Everyday App,” a collaboration with PayPal, found that among the 61% who had made a nongrocery retail purchase in the previous 30 days, 39% did so exclusively via internet-connected devices, 33% did so both using internet-connected devices and in person or by phone call, and 28% did so exclusively in person or by phone call.
“Brands need to give new customers who might be on the fence about buying their products an opportunity to feel and test out the product,” Joey Zwillinger, co-founder and co-CEO of D2C footwear company Allbirds, told PYMNTS in an interview earlier this year. “Being purely D2C can hinder long-term potential because reach is limited. Brands must meet consumers where they are.”
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