Retail in the 21st Century: The Value of Brick and Mortar in an Online World

Patrick Wheeler, Program Manager On April 19th, 2016

Topics: Customer eCommerce Marketing / Sales Value Chain

Retail in the 21st Century: The Value of Brick and Mortar in an Online World
Isabella Liu T’15

This year the CDS is exploring digital business models and how digital technology is transforming businesses across the spectrum in our annual Britt Technology Impact Series. A prime example of a company taking advantage of technology to introduce a new business model is that of Warby Parker.

Warby Parker’s success is often cited as the perfect example of digital disruption and how digital business models benefit the customer and increase efficiency into existing markets. What’s interesting about that narrative is that somewhere along their road to online eyeglass domination, Warby Parker decided to build physical stores.

At the center, Warby Parker’s move into physical retail is often discussed and we’re fortunate enough to have a Tuck alum, Sarah Apgar T’11, Director of New Stores and Facilities at Warby Parker, helping shape that new direction for the company. Sarah will join center MBA fellows for a Digital Drop-In next week to talk about her role and the firm’s move into the space.

And while the move into physical retail was unexpected for the company, it’s a trend we’re seeing more and more. Warby Parker now operates more than two dozen retail locations and internet giant Amazon opened its first location in Seattle last fall (something discussed by Amazon’s SVP of Worldwide Business Development, Jeff Blackburn D’91, during his Britt Series talk, Primed for Innovation: Digital Transformation from A to Z, this past November).

CDS Alumni Fellow Isabella Liu T’15 explored the topic in-depth last year in her research project. We recommend reading her whitepaper on The Value of Brick and Mortar in an Online World, and viewing her PowerPoint presentation answering the question, Is the Brick and Mortar Store Dead? You can also watch Isabella present her research findings last spring:

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