Is the future of e-commerce in brick-and-mortar stores?
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Possibly, says Andrea Wasserman, CEO of e-retailer Sole Society. Launched in 2011 as an online-only shoe subscription club, Sole Society began selling its shoes on Nordstrom.com and in select Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) stores in 2012. And this summer, the e-commerce startup will be expanding its partnership with the Seattle-based department store, with Sole Society products coming to 60 Nordstrom stores across the U.S.
Sole Society isn’t the only e-commerce startup to branch out into brick-and-mortar. Earlier this spring, makeup subscription startup Birchbox announced it would be opening a storefront in New York City, while direct-to-consumer online jewelry seller BaubleBar has started selling its goods in both Anthropologie and Nordstrom stores. In the case of Sole Society, Wasserman says the relationship with Nordstrom helps introduce shoppers to the Sole Society brand.
“I do think it’s important for us to be in a number of different points of distribution – so not just being on our site, but being on Nordstrom’s site and in Nordstrom stores and then later on in other places. It serves many purposes … It is a way to get in front of more customers and reach them and connect to them,” says Wasserman.
While Wasserman says she doesn’t feel it’s essential for all e-commerce brands to pursue brick-and-mortar partnerships, she says the relationship can be very beneficial.
“I think if a company is really looking to build a brand that is multi-dimensional, then having additional touch points can be really important,” says Wasserman. “When we survey customers and ask them, ‘Do you remember how you first heard about Sole Society?’ approximately 10% of them will say that it was through Nordstrom, so we do see that as an effective acquisition channel.”