Apple revolutionized consumer electronics shopping with its beautifully designed, well-staffed meccas. Sephora forever changed the way women shop for beauty with its open-sell playground of high-end cosmetics.
Now Bonobos, the e-commerce menswear company best known for its well-fitting chinos, is breaking ground in the realm of fashion retail with its “guideshops,” an unusual hybrid of online and personalized offline shopping.
“We are the pioneer in reinventing retail for this day and age,” says Stanford alum and Bonobos co-founder Andy Dunn, whose plan for launching a Web-only company in 2009 has since evolved into an aggressive brick-and-mortar expansion that includes its second Bay Area location in San Jose’s Santana Row. “We realized, of course people love to touch and feel clothes, but we can also provide a real retail experience without customers walking out with their order.”
While mass retailers from Gap and Macy’s to Kohl’s and J.C. Penney are closing stores and seeking ways to stay current in the fast-changing, omnichannel arena, a new breed of specialty e-commerce startups is popping up in the Bay Area with physical storefronts that are redefining offline shopping.
Instead of the traditional store model of tracking backroom inventory and tying up staff with the tedious task of constantly folding clothes, says Dunn, Bonobos’ guideshops offer an edited, relaxed space where guys can enjoy a beer during their 45-minute appointments. There, they receive one-on-one sample fittings from knowledgeable “guides,” before placing an online order that is delivered to their doorstep within one to five business days.
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By Nerissa Pacio Itchon. As seen in sfchronicle.com, Feb. 12, 2015.