Before starting Samson Media in late 2005 I had owned and operated an online pet store named Lucy The Wonder Dog for 10 years. While I grew that business to the point where I eventually sold it, I felt at the time that I needed to have a brick and mortar presence in order in order to take that retail business to the next level.
Not wanting to go the brick and mortar route for all the lifestyle reasons that owning a physical store entails, I opted instead to sell the web-only business, which is now owned by a brick and mortar pet supply distributor.
There were many, including low profit margins, undercapitalization and fierce competition due to low barriers to entry, but I believed then, as I do now, that the click and mortar combination was where the business had to evolve if it was really going to grow.
That’s why a recent story in the New York Times caught my eye about the successful melding of online and offline inventory from such traditional retailers such as Nordstrom, Walmart and Target.
Nordstrom of all places, and what retailer makes you think gee-whiz ecommerce more than Nordstrom ;-), has significantly increased overall sales by linking their retail store inventory seamlessly with their online inventory, allowing shoppers to seamlessly access products from either source by using shared warehouses and online databases accessible at the point of purchase.
While some web-only behemoths like Amazon.com have proved that online-only is ok, I think that the one-two combination of online retailing and a physical store is the recipe for retailing success.
What has been your experience with online-only or click and mortar combos?