Online retailers jumping into brick and mortar

Published: Dec. 24, 2018 at 5:37 PM EST
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Dana Furrow likes to feel and see the clothes she's buying. So, when her favorite online retailer opened a store in her local mall, it was the best of both worlds.

"I love it - cause I'm typically an in-store shopper not an online shopper," she said.

Co-founded by Kate Hudson, Fabletics is a women's athleisure company that launched as an online-only retailer in 2013.

Fabletics retail vice president Ron Harries says brick and mortar stores were never part of the original plan. But when many traditional retailers started shutting down because of sagging sales, the company saw an opportunity to test the market - often with cheaper real estate.

"We noticed quickly that those who shopped online now had an outlet to do a return or exchange in store. That was a huge benefit," Harries said.

An estimated 6,000 stores from companies that started online are up and running in the U.S. Mattress maker Casper is in the midst of a major storefront rollout. Online eyewear brand Warby Parker now has nearly 100 retail locations. Even e-commerce giant Amazon has opened bookstores.

At custom suit-maker Indochino, Imran Shabbir purchased a suit online but ended up buying two more when he came into a location for alterations.

"Millennials, they don't care they'll order anything online. But old-school people like me, 90s childs, they want to go and touch product,"

It's a business model with growth potential. Fabletics has 25 locations and plans to eventually open 75 more.