Clearly a fan of showrooming as long as it leads to their own website, Bonobos Inc. has announced plans to have 40 "Guideshops" open nationwide by 2016.
The Manhattan-based men's clothing specialist currently operates 10 Guideshops. These shops allow customers to try on Bonobos merchandise and make assisted purchases online while in the location. Each shop has only enough space to display a limited range of men's pants, shirts and suits in addition to the fitting room and the promise of one-on-one attentive service. With Bonobos.com serving as a virtual stockroom, investment in real estate for these "e-commerce stores" is minimal, with locations ranging up to 1,500 square feet.
The seven-year old e-tailer first began opening Guideshops in 2011.
"We said we would never be offline, and then, wait a second," Andy Dunn, the co-founder and chief executive of Bonobos, told The New York Times. "We hit a big turning point. We realized offline really works."
Since the Guideshops opened, Bonobos has cut online marketing expenses in half as in-store purchases have increased. "Customer reaction to the model has been overwhelming," said Mr. Dunn in a statement. Suits sell at twice the rate at the Guideshops as online and dress shirts at a 50 percent higher clip.
"Customers are loving the look, feel and fit of our suits and dress shirts, and Guideshops have removed the friction of buying them over the web," said Dwight Fenton, VP of design at Bonobos, in a statement.
The news of the ramped-up expansion came as Bonobos secured another round of financing, bringing the firm's total funding to $128 million. In February, AYR.com, the company's first women's brand, was launched.
Other e-commerce players that have recently opened stores that to varying degrees act like e-commerce showrooms include Birchbox, Warby Parker, Piperlime, Indochino and Harry's.
Will e-commerce showrooms like Bonobos become increasingly common in the years ahead?