SINGAPORE (Dec 24): In the cut-throat environment of the e-commerce space, online retailers are finding it increasingly hard to differentiate themselves from their other online competitors. Some have resorted to retreating into a new old space ‒ physical retail. The trend is partly driven by consumers’ dissatisfaction. Karen Yeung, an account manager, for example, is wary of buying clothes online due to inconsistent sizing by retailers. “I don’t want to end up spending more time and effort sending back the items,” she says.

Online fashion brand Love, Bonito opened its first retail store at 313 Somerset in November 2017 after seven years in business. It opened another store at JEM this month. Love, Bonito made the move after positive experiences with pop-up stores. “Despite the exponential growth of e-commerce, traditional bricks-and-mortar still makes up a huge portion of the retail pie as consumers prefer the ability to touch, feel and try — this is particularly relevant in the fashion space,” says Love, Bonito’s chief commercial officer Dione Song.

Online concierge service honestbee has moved offline too. It went from buying groceries on behalf of its customers to the retail business, under the branding “habitat by honestbee”, where customers can experience an automated checkout experience, with robots packing their purchases for collection.

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