Should physical products (skincare, in our case) always be available in brick and mortar stores? Is being online-exclusive brand suicide?


That depends on how differentiated you are from existing products and if having your product next to a dozen competitors on a shelf will help sell it. Do customers need to touch it to see why it's different/better? If not, brick-and-mortar might not be necessary, at least initially.

Warby Parker overcame this issue by making their glasses easy to return. Try on a few frames and return the ones you don't want.

Answered 11 years ago

As a former retail buyer for Target and product marketer at Neutrogena, I have some thoughts on this. Online-exclusive is not brand suicide. It's a strategic choice. Brands that are usually best suited for online-only are niche brands that don't have broad appeal. Brick and mortar stores carry products that have enough market size to warrant their real estate in stores. And a niche product just can't turn the same velocity as a broader product. Skin care does well in either channel, but if your skin care targets a very specific skin condition, you may be better off staying on-line where you have more room to educate consumers and show testimonials and before/after pictures (helpful in skincare!). Also, you may sell online and learn that your brand turns a lot of sales, more than expected, and at that time you might decide to enter the brick and mortar retail markets. My client, The Honest Company, first started out with no intention of selling in physical stores. But after their success out-the-gate and after retailers like Nordstrom, Whole Foods, and Target (and more) began calling them asking to carry their products, they then "pivoted" and decided to broaden their distribution to physical stores. So my advice, launch in online first and see what happens. The products-business is an iterative process. So test and learn and go from there.

Answered 10 years ago

Great question! I have 8 years experience working for Target on the brick and mortar side, and transitioned to exclusively selling products through online channels. Here is my advice seeing both sides of the spectrum.

A top trend right now in retail is "omni-channel" meaning having your product in any available channel, be that online or in brick and mortar locations.

Selling online allows you to educate your potential customers and specifically advertise to customers with the specific condition of the skin care you are selling.

Selling in brick and mortar stores you are reach a larger breadth of customers but it is not as targeted. However, 90% of all purchases are purchased in person as opposed to online.

If you wish to discuss omni-channel selling, please feel free to reach out!


Answered 9 years ago

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