Giving customers an experience offline
Local blogshops evolving into brick-and-mortar stores
Local fashion label Love, Bonito is not the only blogshop that has evolved into a brick-and-mortar store these days.
It defied expectations in a sluggish retail market by opening its first physical boutique with much fanfare at 313@somerset in October, taking seven years to finally enter the scene.
And other home-grown e-commerce women's wear brands have done the same.
At shopping mall Plaza Singapura, you can find Runway Bandits, Her Velvet Vase, Ninth Collection and Shop Sassy Dream, which all believe their physical stores will complement their online strategies, despite cost being a consideration.
The latest entrant is Runway Bandits, which was founded in 2008 and opened in October. Its creative director, Miss Quek Swee Ying, 28, feels a physical store is able to create experiences that cannot be replicated online.
She told The New Paper: "We enjoy hosting groups of friends who want to have a fun girls' day out shopping and mum-and-daughter pairings who visit our store following a treat somewhere nearby."
Shop Sassy Dream's founder Kim Khai Woon, 25, said its significant digital following over the years since it started in 2014 helped stabilise its business and push it towards offline expansion.
The Plaza Singapura outlet, which opened in August, is its third, alongside stores at Orchard Gateway and Far East Plaza.
Miss Kim said: "Having retail stores has definitely helped widen our reach.
"We've had shoppers who don't fall into our typical target demographic come in and compliment what our label has to offer.
"This is heartening because it means our label speaks to more people than we thought."
According to co-founder Clare Chan, 29, Her Velvet Vase customers "enjoy viewing and trying out products in person, resulting in a healthy spillover of online account sign-ups as well".
A physical store also helps Her Velvet Vase - which was founded in 2007 and relocated to the third storey of Plaza Singapura in October after a pop-up stall that ran from May to September - understand customers' preferences better.
"Feedback comes faster since our retail assistants are able to actively reach out to customers who are trying on our new arrivals and ask them questions, guided by our design and styling team," said Miss Chan.
Miss Quek said: "Having our own brick-and-mortar allows customers to have a first-hand look and feel of the garments while experiencing fitting sessions amid a comfortable environment."
Shop Sassy Dreams' Miss Kim added: "Customers still like having the option to try the apparel before purchasing, which saves the hassle of a size misfit."
Nevertheless, turning physical has its challenges.
Miss Quek said that besides the initial start-up costs of renovation, furniture and branding collateral, she also had to deal with manpower issues.