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