Bringing online shoppers to physical stores is one part of the omnichannel shopping equation, but as retailers well know, simply having a website doesn’t necessarily add up to sales.
Brickwork, a New York City-based startup, launched a platform today that aims to change that by coaxing online browsers of retail sites to visit their local store by making retail websites specific to each store in a chain and letting local sales and marketing teams work their magic with customers in their areas directly. Although it officially unveiled the platform today, Brickwork is already working with just under 25 retailers, with Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq:URBN), J. Crew and Bonobos among them.
The idea was based on data that shows 90 percent of sales are done in physical retail spaces but 80 percent of customers who shop in stores start on the path to making a purchase by going online and increasingly by logging on via mobile devices, Brickwork founder and CEO David Muczinski said in an interview.
Despite all the online research, conversion rates are woefully low: with only 3 to 5 percent of browsers buying. But if retailers can get customers to visit the stores, the ability to sell is many multiples higher, Muczinski said. This reality has many retailers refocusing their efforts on the in-store experience.
“Over the course of the last year, the executives in the retail space, have bought into the idea that the store is not dead,” said Muczinski, who previously worked in omnichannel retail division at Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) “Far from being in decline, physical stores are in an evolution.”
Brickwork received seed funding from Aileen Lee-led Cowboy Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Beanstalk Ventures and Novel TMT. Lee and Beanstalk’s managing partner Ken Seiff are both on the Brickwork board.
In a statement, Seiff said that Brickwork is the first software solution to bridge the gap between e-commerce and the brick and mortar experience.
“Since store conversion is 10-times online conversion, moving online traffic into the stores could well be the lowest hanging fruit in retail.” Seiff said.
The company sells its software-as-a-service platform as a subscription, allowing companies to create individual store pages for each location within a chain of stores. Having a unique content management system means local teams are able to engage with customers directly, inviting them to unique store events, setting up dressing rooms with selected merchandise and a time to try on with features like “book a dressing room,” and “RSVP for exclusive access to new product.”
Most stores — big and small — don’t have local marketing, relying instead on outdoor advertisements such as a chalk placard set up outside the store to indicate events or specials, said Muczinski. Brickwork also allows retailers to collect data, such as email addresses, that they might not have had before.
The technology works in various ways: Some retailers use a geolocation tool to send potential customers web pages with unique messaging for the closest store, while other consumers arrive on the website via search.
“You could be interacting with a Google listing but all the data that’s there from the address is being hosted and pushed from the [local store],” Muczinski said.
One of the key ideas behind Brickwork is giving local stores more power to engage with customers instead of simply having everyone rely on one marketing tactic.
“There’s increasing research coming out of management science that companies that devolve decision making to frontline teams see outsized returns,” Muczinski said. “If you trust them to engage the customer to upgrade, you’re creating a more efficient workflow within your company.”
Source: Upstart Business Journal, Teresa Novellino
Photo: Brickwork’s software platform allows stores to personalize their websites with special store events and more, with the idea of driving online browsers into physical stores. (Brickwork)