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Why Warby Parker sees a big future in physical stores




Stores as billboards

Part of the benefit to physical retail, in Warby’s case, is lowering its customer acquisition cost. For digital brands, attracting online shoppers requires big advertising investments with Facebook and Google. Plus, Warby Parker pays to ship glasses for customers to try on at home.

“Unless you pay for ads or find a way to connect with people online, they’ll forget about you,” said Daniel McCarthy, assistant professor in the Business School at Emory University. “A store is a big billboard. People can come in and buy things, but when you walk down the street and see the store, it at least triggers that awareness. “

On average, the company in 2019 spent $ 27 on marketing for each customer acquired, according to its S-1 record. Last year, with limited in-store purchases, the total climbed to an average of $ 40. In the company’s S-1, he noted that he had absorbed higher costs last year amid an increase in home testing.

Although the company has declined to disclose any future locations, its interest in physical retail is a promising sign for the struggling real estate market. Before the pandemic, e-commerce companies setting up shop windows helped boost some shopping districts. It is especially true in SoHo, where many online brands have followed Warby’s lead. During the pandemic, SoHo was one of the hardest hit retail markets, with Conclusion of CBRE around 30% space to be gained in the spring, the period with the most recent data.

Pandemic protections

Other digital brands are also eyeing the retail market. Make-up brand More shiny in July, closed a round of funding of 80 million dollars; he said he would open more stores with the money. San Francisco-based shoe company Allbirds has filed for an initial public offering and plans to open hundreds of stores nationally. There are currently 26.

Ed Coury, managing director of RCS Real Estate Advisors, which has consulted with direct-to-consumer companies, said many brands spent aggressively on real estate in the years leading up to the pandemic and struggled when these stores were forced to close. But with strong digital sales, brands are returning to physical locations, albeit at a slower pace and with pandemic protections built in. rental conditions.

“They don’t see a negative impact on online business when stores reopen, and now you have stores that are operating at 85%, 95%, or even above 2019 levels,” Coury said. “So although there may be a shift in the way consumers buy products. Brick and mortar are still viable when done correctly.

Warby Parker reported first-half revenue of $ 270 million, up about 50% year-over-year, with a loss of $ 7 million in that period.




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