If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. It’s the prevailing attitude among small urban boutiques, and it’s working. The New York Times reports that online flexibility is exponentially helping independent fashion businesses not only stay in the game, but take a little bite out of business normally reserved for the bigger players.
The report cites tactics as varied as follow-up emails (to make sure orders were okay), handwritten notes, holiday cards, and personal styling tips. Shouting out to Seattle’s Totokaelo and Brooklyn’s mini-chain of Bird boutiques, the article noted how each store has cultivated a devoted following of farther-flung customers due to their online presence and willingness to communicate with shoppers over the web. When it comes to making the transition to online, it seems key to retain and promote that one-on-one, personalized approach of independent retail.
In terms of friendly e-tail and nimble, fun social media — which is an important factor for small boutiques, first as self-promotion and second, to stand out from more corporate brands — we’ve got a few more successful players to add to the list. We’re big fans of In God We Trust, with a couple outposts in Brooklyn and Manhattan (check out their charming, oft-updated Tumblr) and Steven Alan, which is also a mini-chain based in New York, sells online, and produces very cool, shoppable lookbooks. Though they only have one physical outpost, Dear Fieldbinder makes great video content to showcase their product, and semi-recently launched e-commerce (and their blog is fun, too).
Of course, those are just a few examples. What are some of your favorite small shops making the independent leap from mere storefront to successful e-commerce?