Why E-commerce Businesses Still Want a Physical Presence





saddleback leather

For years, businesses have been focusing on boosting their online presence to sell and market their products and services. But now, some businesses are starting to do the opposite, looking for a physical presence to boost their brand and support online sales. Saddleback Leather and Love 41 are two such companies.

Run by entrepreneurs Dave and Suzette Munson, both companies already have thriving e-commerce sites where they sell their goods. But they are now working on opening a 10,000 square foot retail location in Fort Worth, Texas.

This might seem a little backwards. E-commerce businesses usually cost a lot less to run and can reach people all over the world instead of in just one area. But the couple have their reasons for going this route. Dave Munson told Fox Business:

“We wanted to have a flagship destination because we’re only online — and if we didn’t make any money in it, although we obviously really want to, it builds our brand even more and gives us the chance to share who we are (with our customers).”

By creating a destination, the companies will be able to connect on a personal level with the customers who visit. This could help them build stronger ties to the community and support a stronger brand image there.

Of course, the Munsons are ultimately hoping to turn a profit from their new retail location. Those other benefits are great, but they wouldn’t necessarily be worth taking a huge loss due to an expensive location.

There is, however, one more potential benefit to having a physical location in addition to just an online presence. And it’s something that could definitely help sales in the short term instead of just providing some abstract branding benefit for the future.

Saddleback Leather is a seller of fine leather goods. And Love 41 is a company that holds auctions for accessories to benefit children in Rwanda. Both companies feel they can benefit from giving the customers the ability to actually see and touch each product in person. Suzette Munson told Fox Business:

“We can see the trend of Internet sales going up every year. Every year people are becoming more Internet buyers for Christmas rather than going to jam-packed malls. But we have a dedicated following — and one thing they’ve always desired is a destination where they can put their hands on our products.”

So while customers may be defecting from physical retail spaces in ever greater numbers, brick and mortar locations may still have their place. And the Munsons are amongst those entrepreneurs who recognize the powerful roll a mix of physical and online presence can play for brands moving into the future.

Image: Saddleback Leather

9 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

9 Reactions
  1. Thanks for taking notice. I believe that one of the keys to making a store be successful in sales too is for it to be in a location that has the kind of foot traffic that can’t be hurt by interesting websites and “Lowest Price of the Year!!! BTW, I’m planning for the store to be one of the coolest stores in Texas. Well, cool for those who like leather.

    • That’s great! There are definitely some businesses that just naturally lend themselves to having successful retail locations. I hope it goes well for you!

  2. Hi Annie !
    Thank you for your great content about e-commerce business. In these days, many small businesses are incorporating e-commerce platforms as part of their business systems. With the advancement of the internet and smartphones, it’s making easier than ever to integrate a workable solution that will work for many people. The immense question remains; what are the advantages of e-commerce for small businesses? In my personal views there are numbers of benefits stands there for ecommerce business i.e. Very low running costs, open 24 hours a days and 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Opportunity to reach new markets, sell a wider range of stock items, Make more profit per item sold. Therefore; many small businesses are entering to global market through ecommerce ways.

    • That’s definitely true – ecommerce platforms have a lot of benefits for businesses. It’s interesting to see how businesses find a balance that works for them.

    • I’m not sure how many people are aware that it’s pretty darn expensive to do business online. We don’t pay rent, but we pay way more each year for our eCommerce platform than we would ever pay for rent. We don’t have people working in a store, but we have customer service folks on the phone who each have a Macbook Pro, headset and an extra monitor. We don’t have a maintenance guy or a janitor, but we have to pay 5 Full Time IT people to fix breaks and change things and whatnot. And those guys, especially, aren’t cheap. Then we have people writing bullet points and product descriptions and managing affiliates and online ads and so on and so forth. It’s super expensive to do business online… well, but totally worth it. Like someone mentioned, open 24/7/365. Also, we get to spend time with people online and get to know them. We have people who call in regularly just to chat because they have a friend with us.

      • That’s so true – there are different types of expenses involved for each type of business. But it’s great that you’ve found a system that works for you!

  3. Sure, e-commerce is good. But now that more and more people are looking at brands with a scrutinizing eye, it is always better to have a physical store. makes you look more legit.

    • I don’t think it’s necessarily the right move for every online business. But I definitely think that some of them could benefit from having a physical location.

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