While attention is increasingly focusing on maximising ecommerce opportunities, the founder of start-up retailer Orchard St is urging more businesses to consider the benefits of having a physical presence.
Kirsten Shanks, who founded the wellness goods retailer initially as an organic cold-pressed juice and juice-cleanse maker three years ago, said that there is still a strong place for retail stores as they provide the opportunity to connect face-to-face with consumers.
“We launched just online, so the first six months of business we were just online. And even then, I launched the website and within a couple of weeks I already had to move to a new kitchen facility. It really took off straightaway, [and I] employed a few new staff,” said Ms Shanks.
“But in the business world today, where there is so much online it can be hard sometimes to really convey the essence of a brand to someone just by marketing or just by images – there is something so different you get when you walk into a space, and you really experience that tangible offering first-hand.”
As well as a booming online store, Orchard St now has three stores across Sydney’s eastern suburbs, with plans to expand further across the city before pushing into Melbourne.
“I think there's so much more that you can offer than online, and the online world is pretty saturated. [A retail store] sets you apart from the others,” she said.
"There's a lot more risk involved with having bricks-and-mortar spaces: you need a lot more overheads and a lot more staffing – there's more to lose. But I really do think a brand can have a lot more to gain.”
Regardless of which avenue ecommerce businesses take, Ms Shanks suggested the key to success is having clarity in your vision for the business and sticking to your values.
“At the moment, we're looking at how to expand and how to do it in a way where we don't lose any of our integrity and values. We have such an enormously loyal clientele that you need to be careful how to grow so that it resonates with all of them,” she said.