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Specialty Retailers Take New Tacks

Digital Native Companies Enter Brick and Mortar, and Vice Versa

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The omnichannel avenue is widening, as digital-native companies lean into brick and mortar operations, legacy physical outlets explore online opportunities, and specialty retailers face new realities.

Amazon is leading a retro charge, with their big spring sale focused on books. The retail giant started in 1994 as an online bookseller.

Pinterest is also trying print media with Real Simple magazine. QR codes in the magazine will lead consumers to Pinterest boards selling products featured in the magazine.

EBay is also examining QR technology, making it easier for sellers to create listings by scanning the labels of connected apparel and auto-populating relevant data.

It’s the latest development in fashion’s digital switch , which is leading consumers to engage with third-party marketplaces instead of retailers or brand DTC channels, according to industry reports.

That hasn’t stopped Tanger Outlets from investing in the digital game, rolling out a new tiered loyalty program and TangerClub app.

The outlet mall operator manages 38 shopping centers across the US and Canada, leasing space to more than 700 retail brands.

In specialty markets, eyeglass brand Warby Parker reported strong earnings from their’ 245 storefronts, out-earning the ecommerce side that started the business in 2011. A giveaway of viewing glasses in stores ahead of the recent solar eclipse helped drive in-store purchases, the company said.

Several brick and mortar specialty stores report that buyers are moving to Amazon and other third-party online platforms. Advance Auto Parts reported sales decreases, while posted a $6.5 million loss for 2023. Crafts store Joann recently reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while music equipment outlet Sam Ash filed their own Chapter 11.

Grocery showed mixed trends. Online grocery revenue increased 11 percent, but storefront sales of organic and deli products both showed robust increases for brick and mortar operations.

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