The direct-to-consumer migration to physical stores is well underway, as these digital natives recognize the advantages of having physical touch points. And few four-wall expansions has been as heralded as Untuckit’s. Mall executives repeatedly point to the brand as a leader in the changing face of retail, as it continues to put down roots across the country. The challenge for companies that have gotten their start via e-commerce though is figuring out how to translate the online experience in real life. Through a partnership with NewStore, the apparel brand is bridging that gap.
When Untuckit announced its partnership with retail platform NewStore in Fall 2018, the startup clothing brand had 41 stores in North America. Now, Untuckit has 50 retail locations, and plans to double that number by the end of this year. The company credits its brick-and-mortar expansion in part to strong brand recognition and a commitment to fit, but the digitally native retailer also benefits from its strong in-store focus on true omnichannel.
According to Casey Antonelli, director of corporate communications at NewStore, consumers can’t get enough of the mobile integration and fulfillment options that NewStore brings. In turn, they can’t get enough of Untuckit.
The first brick-and-mortar Untuckit store opened in New York City in 2015, and four more opened the following year. As the company expanded, two of its founders, Chris Riccobono and Aaron Sanandres, spent time working in the new Chicago and SoHo stores for several weeks. “They were learning customer behavior, watching how they interacted with products they’d only seen online, studying how they engaged with store associates,” said Antonelli. That time working alongside their employees gave Riccobono and Sanandres an idea of what in-store transactions needed to look like to support a nationwide expansion.
Antonelli says that empowering store associates with tools and information was one of Untuckit’s top goals when they partnered with NewStore. To support the company’s sales people, NewStore equipped Untuckit with a fully mobile POS service, which works on iPads and iPhones, that eliminates checkout lines and congestion. It also saves time on training, says Antonelli. “When you hand someone an iPhone, they know how to use it,” Antonelli said. “We train people, but it’s so intuitive, you almost don’t need to.” Store associates can also perform returns or look up inventory through the mobile devices, eliminating the need for a customer service counter and preserving a comfortable, laid-back customer experience. “Mobile checkout is the cornerstone of experiential retail,” Antonelli said.
Figures from NewStore’s Omnichannel Leadership Report indicate that mobile device integration is becoming standard for retailers. In a survey of more than 150 brands, 60 percent provided store associates with mobile devices in store, up from 51 percent in 2017, according to the report. That doesn’t mean that brands have taken advantage of every opportunity in the omnichannel space. In the same report, 68 percent of respondents said that store associates can’t see a customer’s omnichannel data, such as purchase history. Untuckit associates can.
“I am a consumer, first and foremost,” said Antonelli, “and I can tell you that a lot of retailers see their in-store and online retail as different entities. It’s a matter of marrying them together.” When Untuckit customers visit a store, store associates can use NewStore’s platform to pull up their information, including special promotions, purchase history, and sizing information. Armed with their knowledge of the store’s inventory and data on customer behaviors, associates can be proactive in helping shoppers make a purchase decision. “Maybe it’s creepy to go up to a customer and say ‘Hey, I saw you were looking at plaid shirts online,’” Antonelli said, adding, “but you can reframe that and say, ‘Oh, I can see here you have an interest in these styles, here’s one that I actually think matches what you’re looking for.’”
NewStore’s mobile platform also allows store associates to see inventory—not just what they have on hand in-store, but in warehouses and other stores across the country. “That seems useless to the customer at first. Why would they care that the shirt they want is at a warehouse in New Jersey?” said Antonelli. “But then you tell them, ‘This can be at your house in four hours,’ or ‘We can have it in-store tomorrow morning,’ and they start to understand.”
While Untuckit continues to grow its retail presence across the U.S. and Canada, NewStore continues to develop tools and improve platform efficiency. Even with the rapid expansion, Antonelli says the NewStore team has been surprised at the relative ease of the deployment.
“It’s been fairly easy to roll out the platform at such a magnitude because the majority of stores are using the exact same thing,” Antonelli said. “We’re using a repeatable platform, so it’s easy to integrate.”
According to Antonelli, NewStore will continue to expand its portfolio of brand partners in 2019, and is excited to continue growing with Untuckit. She said that Untuckit is just one of many brands that will succeed in the next decade because it positions omnichannel planning at the forefront, rather than as an afterthought.
“Omnichannel, when done right, is absolutely going to be the future,” Antonelli said.