Discover how a blend of digital and physical can be a match made in heaven for online-first brands.
Ah, love… where would we be without it? Certainly, when it comes to running a business, building a strong, healthy relationship with your customers can be the difference between toasting ten years together and being stuck at home wondering why you’ve been ghosted again.
The way brands engaged used to be straightforward. Big brands opened a shop. Customers came. Customers chose. Customers took away. Customers saw marketing comms that reinforce their choice. Customers felt good about that and returned.
The world has moved on, of course, with online shopping becoming the essential part of life that it has, while being demonized for the downfall of our high streets. A truth, in part, but there are so many other factors in play, factors which Sook is addressing: prohibitive rates, and bureaucracy preventing those who want the space from accessing it.
Thankfully, the lines are blurring nicely. It’s not, and should never have been, about Online Vs Offline.
Just as with any relationship, it’s about compromise, give and take, ebb and flow. It’s about getting the right mix, for the people involved, for the time of day, for the task at hand. Business owners have been aware of the duality for years, understanding the customer buying journey, as it crosses from online to offline, sometimes several times before a decision is made.
The answer to the question of how to support this behaviour? A Hybrid Retail model.
What is Hybrid Retail?
A model being adopted by big and small alike, Hybrid Retail is a combination of online and shopping, with previously purely online retailers, such as Freddie’s Flowers, dipping their toe into the world of physical space, and using their powerful online presence to drive people there - a trend increasingly termed Clicks to Bricks (C2B).
“In 2022 we should expect most shopping journeys to start online, but that doesn't mean they should always finish there. In many cases an online shopping journey's best and most convenient destination is a physical store down the road,” claims Nick Brackenbury, CEO and co-founder of NearSt, a retail technology company.
Let's Get Engaged
Brand trust absolutely hinges on the consumer experience. Is your brand giving them something to remember, something to feel good about? Are you telling your story and demonstrating your values so they can judge if they align with theirs? Are you engaging with them on an emotional level? Are you showing them what they mean to you?
Diversifying your appeal, and becoming more accessible to your people is a win-win, unless you’re a brand whose entire marketing strategy centres around not being there for your customers, like Supreme. Even so, they still know the value of the hybrid approach, even if their pop ups are super exclusive, and they’ve been rewarded with brand loyalty that’s, deservedly, off the charts.
Sounds ideal. But is it a viable option for small independents? If you’re a big brand with oodles of cash, a hybrid approach is often easier - throw some cash around and pop up wherever you like, when you like, and that’s that, right? Yet, big or small, the same issues affect us all: extortionate rates; money-wasting dead hours and expensive fitouts; and mountains and mountains of red tape. It’s why shops stand empty and people stay away. So what’s the answer?
“Technology underpins hybrid retail, but in order to flourish, customers need to be 100% confident that the thing they want is definitely available nearby” explains Brackenbury.
And it’s this that drives operations at Sook. Customers will come - they want to come - so long as the facilities are there for the brands they are coming for: accessible; digitally-connected; and fit for purpose.
So, why not branch out and book a Sook, and create a space where some (brand) magic can happen?