From a story in the June issue of Fast Company comes news that outdoor clothing manufacturer NAU is trying a new retail strategy – a “webfront”.
“It starts with a retail concept that combines the efficiencies of the Web with the intimacy of the boutique. Called a “Webfront,” the Nau store integrates technology in a striking gallery-like setting. The central mechanism is a self-serve kiosk that transfers the online shopping experience to a touch screen and encourages customers to have their purchases sent home, with the incentive of a 10% discount and free shipping.” – Polly LaBare, FastCompany
All I can say is – it’s about time!
adcSTUDIO is in a very rural part of New York. The key reason we can live and work here is that we have access to the whole world online. I like to “shop locally” but sometimes I just need something that I can only find in a big mall or city. When that happens I shop online. This always makes me feel a little guilty when I see friends around town who are the local retailers. No matter how good their product lines are or how much care they’ve taken in choosing the stock they have in their shops they just can’t have everything I’m looking for. I’ve often imagined that if they would integrate an online store as part of their day-to-day sales process they could vastly expand their inventory at minimal cost. Understandably when I suggest this idea to them they’re skeptical. As a new retailing concept the risks and costs for a small business are more than they’re comfortable taking. That’s why I’m excited that NAU will give it a try.
The store sounds like it will be IKEA without the warehouse. All the products are available to touch and try on but the actual purchasing happens through the kiosk. For a vacation area this seems like a no brainer. Gone are the days of having to carry the shopping around all day or taking it back to the car. They could even overnight ship items to their hotel if it was a big rush. These days kiosks don’t have to be the big floor models they can be wall mounted throughout the store for about $3,000 each. When they’re not being used for ordering they can be video displays.
The systems are in place – highly sensitive touchscreens, online ordering and inventory control with suppliers, shipping, payment-processing. Add to this logistics powerhouse a technically savvy product maven retailer, a fun interface and a well designed store… sounds like fun. I can’t wait to try one!