With Dotcom Distribution being just a few minutes from New York City, we naturally make it a point to keep up with the eCommerce happenings in the NYC market. Recently, while reading the eCommerce news, we came across a store called Showfields, which claims to be “the most interesting store in the world”.
Think of Showfields as a stage for many different direct-to-consumer eCommerce businesses to set up shop and gain exposure in a physical environment – essentially it’s a mall of eCommerce brands.
And not just any mall – think of it as mall 2.0- the brands setting up in Showfields are creating experiences, and the layout of the venue is like a maze- you’re guided through the space on a path, and you never know what you’re going to find around the next corner. One of their main focuses is to encourage discovery on your journey through the space.
This is an interesting concept, especially when we’ve been hearing all the buzz about omnichannel, experiential shopping, and immersion over the past two or three years. This feels like all of those ideas coming to life.
And on the topic of experiences, customers can see, touch, feel, and learn about products from a “host.” A host is a brand rep that will demo the product for you or allow you to try it out, and if you decide to make a purchase, you can use a self-checkout kiosk in many of these stores and the product is shipped directly to your door. There are also brands that stock inventory and have point-of-sale systems on site.
Showfields is making brick-and-mortar more accessible. Historically, having a physical presence has been a challenge for many pure play eCommerce brands. One of the owners of Showfields actually said that in the planning phases for the concept, one of their goals was to make the process of opening a store as easy as opening a website. And brands can do long term leases or set up a pop-up shop.
And Showfields is not the only company bringing eCommerce brands into the physical world. There’s a similar concept called The Floor of Discovery currently being built at Hudson Yards. Their goal is to showcase brands in a way that can’t be achieved from behind a screen. They’re going to have brands like Dirty Lemon, Stance, and Rhone in their space.
Something that has become clear to us in this evolving retail landscape is that brick and mortar is not dead by any means. It’s being reimagined and reborn. JLL predicts that eCommerce brands will open at least 850 stores by 2023. What’s even more interesting is that they predict over 40% of those stores will have their first locations in New York City.
It’s certainly an exciting time to be an eCommerce brand. Especially in NYC.