2020 has been a strange and tough year for retailers, especially for brick and mortar stores. Covid-19 has forced people to stay in-doors, thus changing their habits. The coronavirus has shown us the true power and potential of e-commerce and delivery services, and signs seem to point towards these trends sticking around even after the pandemic passes.
However, some enterprising entrepreneurs are now willing to hedge their bets on the brick and mortar stores making a comeback. One such company that is taking the plunge is Singapore-based Got Drip? An online coffee business that also sold its beverages at a men’s barbershop.
While other companies moved their operations online to cut overhead costs such as rent, Got Drip?’s owner, who asked to be known as Jay, is set to open up a coffee bar in Geylang, Singapore.
While more people are staying at home and opting for food deliveries, opening a physical store seems counterintuitive. However, Jay told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that he believes the move will take his business to the next level.
“It’s all about the quality of the product. The best way of enjoying coffee is to have it fresh, and we believe that people will also want to go out and enjoy fresh coffee. Opening a physical store is a natural step towards building a commercially sustainable coffee brand,” he said.
Despite the pandemic forcing many physical retailers to lean towards, or completely transition to e-commerce, some online business owners in Singapore are going against the grain by going the brick and mortar route. Others, taking advantage of pandemic-induced lower rentals, are expanding their offline presence.
To the average person, taking such risks may seem unwise. However, Dr Lynda Wee, an adjunct associate professor at Nanyang Technological University’s Nanyang Business School, said this approach was all about brand elevation.
“E-retailers appeal to shoppers who are digitally savvy. If they have the merchandise, marketing and brand, why not offer offline convenience to the same group of shoppers via bricks-and-mortar stores?” she said. “Going offline helps express the branding and build brand equity better through display and service.”
While only time will tell how successful this plan will be, one cannot doubt that the pandemic has driven down the price of rent, thus making it easier for brick and mortar stores to be set up. Consumers are still social creatures who are looking for an experience; and the e-commerce experience is definitely very different than that of a physical retailer.