A ‘web room’, this is what Blue Nile’s CEO, Harvey Kanter calls his first physical store.
The web room is much more than your regular jewellery store. Here, customers can look at, touch and feel almost 360+ engagement ring styles and what’s more, they have the advantage of gaining advice from the expert staff and figure out what they should exactly buy.
The online diamond seller, that threw open its first brick and mortar doors in Long Island mall in June, 2015, plans to grow to up to five stores in 2016. By 2017, physical stores may become a central part of the company’s long-term strategy, says Kanter.
The advancement from “experiment” to “initiative” may seem like semantics, but Kanter says it’s a serious distinction which is representative of noteworthy changes he has observed in the e-commerce industry. Through his first store, he learnt that millennials are not just looking to shop online but at the same time, offline jewellers are not offering them what they want.
What they want is the same “online experience” but in a “three-dimensional retail setting.”
The company’s broader strategy to open up stores in multiple locations rests on the thought that, can the one web room, which saw exponential results, be extrapolated to five. If the growth plans work and the other five outlets perform evenly, then the company would want to expand furthermore and it will be their major development initiative in 2017 and beyond.
E-commerce biggies like Warby Parker and Lenskart for eyewear and Bonobos for garments have already shown us how such a retail strategy can be slick and efficient. Lenskart has set up about 70 stores, which according to Founder & CEO Peeyush Bansal is an approach to ease a customer's hassle of buying his power glasses. Amazon is another example of how a company that is part of the revolution in e-commerce since two decades, has now opened up a physical bookstore in Seattle.
Kanter is of the opinion that Amazon’s mediation between online and physical outlet, by using reviews and sales data from its e-commerce business to determine what all would be a part of the physical store is a perfect example of how e-tailers should see through the difference between online and offline. In this way, they will be able to give buyers the kind of personalized assistance in jewellery shopping they are looking for.