The ICSC Blog

July 30, 2014

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Q&A with MOCIAL Speaker Becky Bui

Becky Bui_03-2014Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Owasso, Oklahoma, but have lived in Austin for 15 years. I love everything about this city: the people, the food, the music, and the laid-back culture. I studied advertising at the University of Texas and then returned to UT in 2006 to get my MBA. I have an amazing husband, Ben, a beautiful 10 month old daughter named Berkeley, and two rescue dogs named Jordy and Gabe. In addition to spending time with my family, I love to practice yoga, travel, cheer on the Longhorns (much to the display of my OU-loving family), visit wineries and breweries, and try out new restaurants (especially Sunday brunches!)

What are your favorite apps to use?
I love any app that makes my life easier! Uber makes transportation a breeze, especially if I find myself facing a long cab line or trying to hail a taxi in a snowstorm. Evernote is great for keeping my notes organized and accessible across devices. I love being able to capture notes when they pop in my head, which is normally when I’m nowhere near my desk.  I do all of my expense reports through an app my company uses called Concur, which I like to joke has been a life-changer. It’s just crazy to think that a few years ago I had to save receipts, tape them to an piece of paper, make a copy, and staple them together before submitting…and now I can simply take a photo on my phone and hit submit. Retailers don’t like to hear this one, but I really do enjoy the Amazon app. Amazon had done an amazing job of making shopping so incredibly easy with barcode scanning and one-click purchasing. I can’t talk about apps without mentioning Facebook, of course, since it’s the first, last and most frequent app that I check each day!

With society’s increasing dependence on technology, what changes in marketing strategies has it made in last few years? 
Great question. The first is that people are omnichannel.
People are consuming more media than ever. In fact, 79% of smartphone users keep their phones with them for all but two hours of their waking day. (Source: IDC Always Connected Report, US, March 2013) The more businesses shift their marketing resources and activities to reflect people’s behavior,  the better results they’re seeing. Importantly, as people increasingly connect on mobile devices throughout their day, they expect seamlessness experiences—seamlessness across their devices (mobile versus desktop) and seamlessness with their experiences in-store and online. Add Facebook’s massive reach and targeting capabilities to that dynamic and personalizing these experiences not only makes for more effective marketing, but it enhances that customer’s experience with your business. Personalizing experiences for shoppers—with perfectly timed and tailored messages—and having a presence on all of the devices they use throughout their day is critical to every stage of the purchase funnel. Because people spend more time on Facebook than any other platform, reaching all of the people who matter to your business has never been easier or more effective. Second, merchandising. Most people don’t know what they want, which gives retailers tremendous opportunity to inspire ideas through merchandising. But as people spend more time on mobile, discovery becomes increasingly difficult for marketers and shoppers alike. With people checking Facebook an average of 14x per day, retailers can use the visual canvas of News Feed to showcase products in-stream with ad units that are optimized to drive sales. Third, return on investment is key to the story. The path to purchase has become increasingly complex, particularly as people discover, research, and shop for products across channels and devices. Because Facebook’s data is based on people’s real identities—not user names, proxies  or email addresses—advertisers can not only personalize and time what their customer sees, but they can accurately measure and optimize performance across channels. With Facebook’s complete measurement solution, you can close the loop between ad spend and conversion, no matter where it happened — in-store, online or in mobile app.

What have been the benefits of incorporating digital marketing and mobile apps into your corporation? 
The major benefit is that our clients and the 1B+ people who use Facebook around the world have better experiences. Because we are a mobile-first company businesses can leverage Facebook to reach people where they are spending their time. This is critical as people increasingly shop, share, and conduct business on their smartphones. For context, 1 in 5 minutes spent on mobile devices in the US is spent on a Facebook or Instagram. This provides businesses with an incredible opportunity to get their messages in front of the people they care about.

What do you hope participants will gain by attending your MOCIAL session? 
I hope to give participants confidence in embracing the digital transformation rather than feeling overwhelmed by it.  I’d like participants to walk away feeling excited about the opportunity to use Facebook to connect with all the people they care about, across the devices, and feel good about how other retailers are already doing it so they can put Facebook to work for their business right away.

Is the increasing number of online shoppers a concern to you? 
While the vast majority of retails sales still happen in store, the shift to online shopping is something we’re going to see more of. This can be very good for our industry. As I mentioned earlier, the notion of people expecting seamlessness across their devices and in their experiences is an important one because it highlights the needs to be omnichannel in a now-omnichannel world. I firmly believe that all retailers—brick-and-mortar only, web-only, or multichannel—have the opportunity to influence customers who are shopping online. Often times, online shopping just means a person is discovering new brands and products when consuming other content. Brands that can ensure their products are a part of that experience will continue to influence the consumer purchase path, regardless of where the final transaction takes place.

July 30, 2014

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Check Out Retailer of the Week, The Organic Pharmacy

Most people associate organic products with food, but The Organic Pharmacy makes handmade, luxurious, organic products available in every department of body care from makeup to skincare to supplements and more. The London-based brand is dedicated to bringing the best quality product to clients and curing ailments from the inside out with organic ingredients and homeopathic professionals assessing customers’ needs.

The Organic Pharmacy opened its first New York location at the end of June. Founder Margo Marrone says the next step in expanding is a flagship store in Hong Kong. While The Organic Pharmacy is all over Europe and expanding in North America, this will be the first Organic Pharmacy store in Asia. “We usually look for other luxury skin care brands and fashion brands that have a similar customer profile and who will attract additional footfall,” Margo says of the brand’s preferred retailer adjacencies. For more information about The Organic Pharmacy, check out the official website.

July 29, 2014

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ICSC CEO Updates the Next Generation of the Shopping Center Industry

By Veronica Polanco

Michael Kercheval, CEO of ICSC provided young industry professionals with an update on where the future of the retail real estate industry is headed and the secret as to why it’s still a thriving, creative sector in business at the 2014 ICSC Next Generation Conference in Philadelphia. He pointed out that there are several misconceptions regarding the industry lately that have been presented in the media.

However, the narrative is changing.

Currently, 94% of retail sales occur in store. This past year, retailers announced 2,000 store openings while occupancy rates have been steadily rising and base rents have seen an increase in 2013. Demand for shopping center space has been vastly outpacing supply and even online retailers have been opening up their own brick-and-mortar stores, proving that consumers still value the in-store shopping experience.

The second misunderstanding is that the industry is irrelevant and nonadaptive. Yet retail is constantly changing to accommodate the consumer. Consumer desires and interests are now driven by a multi-channel, nonlinear process as customers use mobile devices, social media and internet research to keep up with trends in the industry. Retailers have been using technology to facilitate sales by adapting trends like in-store pickup, mobile self-checkout, “web rooming” and guide shops. While it’s true that e-commerce sales are growing, the in-store shopping experience offers what online cannot.

What’s next in the future of retail is up to the next generation. Kercheval encouraged future leaders to use the changing times as an opportunity for creativity. The retail industry has always reacted and adopted and the rise in technology won’t be an exception.

July 28, 2014

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Learning from a Pro at ICSC Next Gen Conf


By Elana Krasner


Regency Centers is one of the largest owners of shopping centers across the country, and is also leading the way in grocery-anchored assets, a huge trend throughout the industry–that has helped reinvent and revitalize the typical shopping center. To help educate future industry leaders, Alan Roth, Senior Vice President and Senior Marketing Officer, Regency Centers, presented a case study of Kings Park Shopping Center in Washington, D.C., at ICSC’s annual Next Generation Conference in Philadelphia.


King’s Park Shopping Center faced a challenge in a highly competitive marketplace as its grocery store, which anchors the property, was undersized, outdated, and quickly approaching an option notice date.  In order for the center to thrive in an area that was saturated with other grocers like Whole Foods and Safeway, Regency considered its options; was an expansion feasible? Studies showed that 50-60,000 sq. ft. is the ‘sweet spot’ for most grocery stores, and the Giant at Kings Park was only 28,000. By taking a look at the lease terms and provisions, exclusion terms, and recapture clauses, Regency was able to determine whether or not an expansion would help bring life back into the shopping center. *Spoiler Alert* Giant is currently closed while the store is undergoing a renovation that will significantly increase the store size, and better serve the 125,000 residents in the center’s direct trade area.


Roth noted that there were several key things in play here; first and foremost was thinking about the property strategically. What was happening in the direct trade area? Taking a look at other properties, Roth noted that there was direct competition just down the road from Kings Park. He also noted that a major expansion may take a bite out of the other tenants’ space, so it’s important for an owner or landlord to also control the adjacent shop space.


While each shopping center varies in its nuances and needs, the take away from the Kings Park Shopping Center expansion was that it took an eye for the big picture, from competition to market size, to really determine if an expansion is feasible, and more than that, worth it.

July 25, 2014

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Q&A with Retail Prophet’s Doug Stephens


Interview conducted by Michael Lagazo  

Doug Stephens is one of the world’s foremost retail industry futurists. His intellectual work and thinking have influenced many of North America’s best-known retailers, agencies and brands including Walmart, Home Depot, Disney, Microsoft, WestJet, Citibank, Razorfish, Intel and WestJet. In 2013 Doug was voted one of retail’s top global influencers by

Prior to founding Retail Prophet, Doug spent over 20 years in the retail industry, holding senior international roles including the leadership of one of New York City’s most historic retail chains.  Doug is the author of the groundbreaking book, The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism. He is also the consumer technology contributor on the acclaimed international television series App Central, as well as the retail contributor for CBC Radio. Doug also co-hosts the popular web series, The Future In Store and sits on the advisory board of the Dx3 Digital Conference.

His unique perspectives on retailing, business and consumer behavior have been featured in many of the world’s leading publications and media outlets including The New York Times, Bloomberg Business News, TechCrunch, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company.

“In the new age of consumerism, the world is your store.” –Doug Stephens

Q: What inspired you to start Retail Prophet?
A: Having spent over 20 years in retail in both Canada and the U.S. two things occurred to me; the first was that retail (as an industry) tended to be terribly short sighted in its outlook – often not looking out much farther than the next quarter. Secondly, I felt that we were entering a period of unprecedented change across economics, demographics, technology and media and that unless retailers began embracing a more forward looking attitude, many would be at risk. That was almost 6 years ago and I think we’re now seeing the fall out among industry players that failed to assess market changes and adapt.

Q: How is business this year?
A: Our business in North America continues to grow year on year and we’re now also increasingly working in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Europe and Scandinavia. The world is indeed becoming a smaller place all the time.

Q: What percentage of your work is in Canada and how much is in the U.S.?
I do about 30 percent of my work in Canada and about 40 to 50 percent in the U.S.

Q: In your book, The Retail Revival, you talk about ‘transporting buying opportunities to consumers where they may be…’ How does a physical store maintain relevance when a path to purchase is progressively bypassing the store?
A: The value of physical retail stores isn’t disappearing but it’s definitely transforming. 25 years ago, in many cases, the only way to get certain products was by visiting a store. Stores were distribution vehicles first and foremost. But today, in a world where we can order anything we want and have it delivered in as little as an hour, we increasingly won’t rely solely on stores for distribution. Therefore, stores need to move from simply distributing products to distributing remarkable branded experiences. They need to focus primarily on creating such a powerful and galvanizing shopping experience that it creates a permanent emotional and cognitive bond with the customer. Then, regardless of which shopping medium the customer chooses, the hope is that the imprint extraordinary experience will prompt them to buy from your brand instead of someone else’s.

Q: Mainstream shopping center rhetoric says malls are dead. Would you like to offer a counterpoint?
A: Virtually every form of retail that has ever existed exists today. The only thing that changes are the forms that happen to be dominant at the time. For many years the downtown department store ruled, then the suburban mall, which gave ground to the the big box power center model, which is now succumbing to ecommerce. Ultimately though, the strongest in each format survive. Malls will be no different. We will see (and area already seeing) some malls completely reinvent themselves into really outstanding food, entertainment, lifestyle and shopping centers. But successfully navigating this transition will also involve adopting a new perspective on how malls are planned, built, infused with technology, tenanted, operated and measured. Most won’t make the necessary shift. So, I doubt we’ll have nearly as many malls as we do today but the ones that remain will likely be quite extraordinary.

There is also an important transition taking place between major cities and their suburbs. Many major North American cities now experiencing greater levels of growth, wealth, income and even safety than their neighboring suburbs. This is a sharp reversal of a long-running trend and one that will likely result in more “malls” being woven into the landscape of urban centers.

Q: Brick-and-mortar stores give shoppers a sense of place as well as brand immersion while mobile and ecommerce engage a hyper-connected consumer at their moment of need. What does the intersection of these two retail environments look like?
A: I firmly believe that over the next five to ten years we’ll see digital commerce become much more immersive and tactile while in-store shopping will become more digitally integrated. The intersection is what I call “Phygital” retailing – an entirely new form of retail. For example, look at the potential for wearable computing like Google Glass combined with augmented reality to create a digital overlay in the retail environment that can be completely personalized and unique to a given shopper. Coupons, offers and recommendations are tailored to my preferences. In addition, while we’re shopping in a store we may be able to see the not only products that are physically on the shelf, but also virtual products sitting next to them that can be seamlessly ordered for delivery while standing at the shelf.

Likewise, I envision technologies akin to the recently acquired Oculus Rift, virtual reality headgear, eventually giving us the ability to shop in any store in the world without leaving our home – to actually walk the aisles of stores along the Champs-Élysées, for example, and even interact with store staff.

Are these online, mobile or physical experiences? Who knows? And more importantly, does it really matter?

Q: You wrote about redesigning stores to deliver high octane experiences in your blog post, “The Future of Retail: Experiences Per Square Foot.” How should retailers measure store productivity and how do these metrics affect the square footage required?
A: I find it somewhat curious that we measure the productivity of a retail store today much the way we did at the turn of the 20th Century. Sales and profit per square foot, per hour, per associate etc. But when online is taking a bigger and bigger chunk of sales each year, this can only result in a viscous spiral of downsizing, which I think we’re seeing. Some brands are simply allowing their stores to downsize to the extent that there’s no remaining opportunity to create a store experience.

Meanwhile we’ve got a new arsenal of analytic tools that enable us to measure the physical environment much more the way we glean great analytics from web sites. Bounce rates (how many people enter and leave immediately), time on site, path of navigation, cart abandonment, demographics etc. are all measurable now in-store!

So, if we agree that the store needs to deliver an experience and that shoppers are shopping across multiple channels, then we simply can’t measure stores the way we did 200 years ago. We have to use a new set of analytics to measure the execution and value of the store experience.
In other words, don’t simply downsize the store and hope for better results. Right-size the experience and measure the results.

Q: In your web series with Amber Mac, ‘The Future in Store’, you talked about solutions, like NOMi, which track customer movements in the store.
Some people think this level of personal data capture is creepy. A creepy experience leads to a creepy brand. How can retailers deliver intensely personal, contextualized digital experiences to customers without creeping them out?
A: If you’d told my great grandfather that a satellite could track his physical whereabouts within a few feet and guide him wherever he wanted to go or that people could be beamed into his living room inside an electrified box, he probably would have been pretty creeped out by that too. History shows that we’re often initially uncomfortable with new technology until, that is, the obvious benefits of the technology outweigh that discomfort. We’re in the very early stages with many of these technologies, like location-based services for example, where the benefits simply haven’t yet been fully realized. Right now, all the privacy infractions, mobile tracking, push notifications and ad retargeting haven’t really delivered much real, tangible benefit to us as consumers. If and when it does, we’ll be far more likely to embrace it.

Q: If you could learn one thing about shoppers, what would it be?
A: What they all want so I could sell it to them! Seriously though… I can’t wait until neuroscience is better able to map the chemical responses in the human brain when we’re having a great shopping experience and what sorts of specific external inputs actually cause those responses. I guess you could call it the biology of being remarkable!

Q: Where would you like to see Retail Prophet in the next five years?
A: I have never been more fascinated, fueled and delighted with my work than I am right now. I have the privilege of meeting and working with tremendously bright, adventurous and talented organizations and people from all over the world. I really couldn’t ask for more than that!

July 24, 2014

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Bricks Beat Clicks for Back-to-School Shopping

2014 BTS
By Jesse Tron

Shopping in brick-and-mortar stores will be the overwhelmingly preferred method for consumers as they go about their back-to-school shopping this year. Discount stores are still expected to be the overall winners, grabbing a nearly 24 percent share of where consumers will shop. However, many retailers typically found in malls and open-air shopping centers such as office supply stores, department stores, electronic stores and apparel specialty stores will see increased activity as well. Apparel specialty stores were the biggest mover in terms of share, going from 8.4 percent in 2013 to 10 percent this year. Apparel in general is still the second most purchased item during the BTS shopping period – behind school or office supplies – but its popularity is growing this season; most likely a consequence of the rising impact of a “change in fashion trends” as a driver of BTS sales. The amount of consumers that listed this as a reason to increase their spending doubled from last year to 20% in 2014. While consumers typically view BTS merchandise as an essential expenditure, this indicates a strong move towards more discretionary purchases by consumers – a good omen for retail as we progress through the BTS season and into the holidays.

Additionally, consumers may be tiring of online shopping. The share of online as a BTS shopping venue will be 8.1% this year – a drop from last year’s 8.6%. Catalogues will comprise a 3% share. This means that brick-and-mortar retail in total will comprise almost a 90% share of BTS shopping. But showing the importance of omni-channel retailing, “webrooming” will be quite significant during the BTS season as 73% of consumers indicated that they will do research online, and then make their purchase in a physical store.

For more information, read ICSC’s Research Report on Back-to-School Shopping

July 24, 2014

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Q&A with MOCIAL Speaker Chad Rodriguez

ChadTell us about yourself….
I grew up in Florida taking my first real job there that brought me all over the world. Got a real taste for travel and eventually ended up in Sydney Australia where my focus in the retail world began. I’ve been living in NYC for the past 4 years working some incredible fashion brands and agencies. I’ve been raising my two children with my wife and I love it.

What is your favorite apps to use?
hmmmm – this is hard. I’m the guy that’ll try any app once. My goto is always Twitter, I love that platform. For productivity I’m a huge fan of Sunrise calendar, and for keeping my life organized I use Evernote for pretty much everything.

With society’s increasing dependence on technology, what changes in marketing strategies has it made in last few years?
I think it’s made marketing have to focus. The majority of marketing has always been about being as loud as possible to reach as broad range of people as possible. The new face of marketing is very specific about who it talks to. The best brands/retailers will realize how valuable tools like social and emerging technologies are at connecting with their customers. The age of being “loud” is over.

What have been the benefits of incorporating digital marketing and mobile apps into your corporation?
Well we’ve always been a mobile platform. We believe strongly that retailers/brands are wanting to own their space more and more. Our tech specifically really empowers the retailer/brand to understand what’s going on inside their space at a much more finite level, while being able to engage the customer with things they are genuinely interested in. It’s an exciting time to be a retailer.

In what ways has the digital age revitalized your industry?
I think it’s made things more personal. It doesn’t feel like spam anymore because as technology evolves it helps to make better decisions. The customer can only benefit from this. What it means is that more and more we won’t have to see things that are of little interest to us.

How important is consumer engagement? How do you bring attention to your brand through you social media channels/mobile apps?
Consumer engagement is everything. Just like culture, that if you aren’t building it then your employees or customers are going to fill the gap on their own. That can be a dangerous thing. It baffles me how few brands still don’t see the value in monologue. I think in most cases it’s fear that keeps most retailers from engaging, “what if I say the wrong thing?”. I think you have to just be okay knowing that in any relationship you’re going to sometimes say things that not everyone loves, but if you have a relationship the consumer won’t go anywhere. They’re more forgiving than we think, especially when they know we are having an open dialogue with them.

What do you hope participants will gain by attending your MOCIAL session?
That the time to act is now. That not knowing what to do, is a bad excuse. Technology has made it so easy to begin to interact with customers, and at some point you just have to start, even if you don’t fully understand it. My hope is that people will have their fears lifted a bit, and see that you don’t have to be some technology expert to use technology effectively to interact with customers.

Is the increasing number of online shoppers a concern to you?
Not at all – I think ecomm needs to be more careful of cannibalizing itself. It’s so easy to get into the ecomm space now. Anyone can throw up a site with some product. Amazon will continue to cannibalize anyone who is interesting (see zappos). I think we just need to accept that there are days where I want to shop from my couch and days where I feel like being in a store. Both are opportunities to connect with me as a consumer and to neglect either is a dangerous thing.

July 23, 2014

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Fendi Pops Up in Soho

fendi and lights
Luxury brand Fendi is stirring up interest in Soho, where it has opened a new pop-up shop on Greene Street. Although the Fendi flagship store is located in the city on Fifth Avenue, the pop-up is a fun way to attract customers in the bustling downtown area teeming with curious tourists and shoppers. The store will be open for the next six months, and each month will be revamped with a different theme and limited edition items.

This month’s theme is mini, with smaller handbag styles like the Petite 2jours and the Mini Peekaboo serving as the focal point of the displays. In addition to the mini handbags, the store is lined with electric blue carpeting, chic mannequins, fur and gold accents, vending machine displays, and light decorations highlighting the store’s social media hashtagged buzzwords like #fendisoho and #exclusive. The hashtags remind customers that Instagram and Twitter pictures of the store are welcome, and all are encouraged to photograph the pop-up and spread the word about the shop to their followers.

Next month’s theme will be personalization, allowing customers to focus on adding a unique twist to their bags, such as a monogram on the signature tag attached to the handle. It will be interesting to see how the store will change with the new themes over the next few months. For the latest information on the shop, check out Fendi’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

July 22, 2014

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Win Free Registration for NY National Deal Making!

Strap on your thinking cap, because it’s time for some trivia. Every Tuesday through the end of November, we will be posting a new question on Twitter about the city that never sleeps. To enter just respond to our tweet with the correct answer using the hashtag #NYConf and tagging @ICSC. The more questions you answer correctly the better chance you have!

We will be choosing one winner each month in August, September, October and November. Each correct answer gets you an entry, so the more questions you answer each month, the higher your chances of winning. Responses without the hashtag #NYConf will not be considered. The first question will be posted on our Twitter today. Start thinking, and check our Twitter page every week for the next question!

July 18, 2014

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Q&A with MOCIAL Speaker Jeff Gibb

Jeff GibbWhat are your favorite apps to use?
My apps fall into two categories – Ones that make my life easy/efficient (Google Maps, TripIt, Fitbit, Kindle), or Apps that entertain (Instagram, Hootsuite, Spotify, Swarm).

With society’s increasing dependence on technology, what changes in marketing strategies has it made in last few years?
You can talk about different channels, funnels or customer journeys, but the biggest advancement I’ve seen in marketing in the past few years is marketing in the moment. Technology is so pervasive these days, you need to reach customers when they are read to engage. That can be done through a mobile app, in social or even with a well timed email.

What have been the benefits of incorporating digital marketing and mobile apps into your corporation?
Speaking for our (Simply Measured) customers, deeper integration between digital marketing and mobile has made for a smoother experience for the customer. Many times, social can be the bridge between mobile and digital. A tweet can drive people to a mobile optimized site while a Facebook Ad can drive people to install a native App. Consumers have a choice in how they consume the offering.

In what ways has the digital age revitalized your industry?
(not sure this will be relevant as Simply Measured is a tech company providing social media analytics to brands, but I’m happy to provide an answer if it would be helpful)

How important is consumer engagement? How do you bring attention to your brand through you social media channels/mobile apps?
If I had to choose only one metric to measure success in social it would be engagement. Others like audience size, reach and impressions are important, but Engagement is the ultimate consumer action within social media.

What do you hope participants will gain by attending your MOCIAL session?
I hope that people walk away with a list of ways to improve social channels they are currently on, a list of new ones to try and confidence that data and measurement will guide their strategy moving forward.

Is the increasing number of online shoppers a concern to you?
I don’t think it’s a concern. I think it’s very interesting that Web Only ecommerce sites like Warby Parker and Bonobos have opened brick and mortar stores. Physical retail is still essential to the success of a brand.