Nick Boyce

@nickboyce

E-commerce lessons from opening a bricks and mortar store

In February this year, King & McGaw opened a concession shop in the Heal’s department store in London. Here is what we’ve learned so far.

Opening night at the King & McGaw shop

Over the last few years we’ve experimented with pop-up shops as a way of drawing attention to our brand. It seemed inevitable that we would open a permanent store eventually, so when Heal’s invited us to open a concession in their flagship London store we jumped at the opportunity.

Within 3 months, we’d hired staff, built the store and opened the doors to our first shop. Here are some of the things we’ve learned so far.

We can collect insights from real customers 7 days a week

Daisy, master of clipboards

We put a lot of time and effort into understanding our customers – through surveys, user testing, market research and customer support insights. With the store, we have feedback from real customers 7 days a week.

During the first few months, the E-Commerce team was rotated on shifts to train the new shop assistants, and iron out any kinks. We were learning so much that it became obvious the shop staff should write daily reports so we could share insights across the company. Many of these have lead directly to changes on kingandmcgaw.com.

Having a finite space forced us to reduce our range by 99%

Some of the range in our store

Most of the 19,000 products we sell on kingandmcgaw.com are manufactured on demand, so we’re not limited by factory space. The downside is we’ve avoided hard decisions about which products we should keep or kill.

When we opened the store, we had to to distill the range down to 150 products. Reducing the range by more than 99% was hard, but now we have a litmus test for new products – “would this go in the store?”.

It’s also been eye-opening to see the effects of merchandising first-hand. This is much more obvious and immediate in a store with a narrow range than it is online.

Discrepancies between online and offline is confusing

Some products and offers available in the store that weren’t available online (and vice versa). This was confusing to customers and embarrassing for us.

Can I use vouchers in the store? Can I have my items delivered to the store? Can you accept returns in the store? Why isn’t this product available online?

No amount of planning could prepare us for every eventuality so we had to make decisions very quickly. We’re now working to ensure our range and messaging is consistent across channels.

Omni-channel attribution is difficult

My best “omni-channel is a guessing game” look

Understanding and attributing the indirect value the store brings has been difficult. Though the website is driving traffic to the store, and some of the in-store leads convert online, the full picture remains blurry.

Have you ever opened a store for an E-Commerce brand? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Hacker Noon is how hackers start their afternoons. We’re a part of the @AMI family. We are now accepting submissions and happy to discuss advertising & sponsorship opportunities.
If you enjoyed this story, we recommend reading our latest tech stories and trending tech stories. Until next time, don’t take the realities of the world for granted!

More by Nick Boyce

Topics of interest

More Related Stories