Shopping fulfillment center venture ShopFulfill will give digitally native direct-to-customer brands a physical presence by Q2 2020 in two prime East Coast locations, downtown Philadelphia and a mall in Moorestown, NJ.
Its Anchor Shops will integrate retail storefronts with distribution networks for multiple ecommerce brands. The concept offers access to a single facility combining a physical storefront with regional distribution capabilities to bring products closer to customers, allowing faster delivery.
“The retail paradigm has shifted to require a brick and click approach. It has been much easier for legacy retailers to build out their online infrastructures, but digitally native brands have found it difficult and cost prohibitive to develop physical footprints,” said Shlomo Chopp, Founder and CEO of ShopFulfill.
Anchor Shops will enable quick stock replenishment for retail, enabling brands to offer same-day or next-day delivery, as well as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) services. The New Jersey fulfillment center, which will not initially include the retail component, will allow them to offer next-day delivery from northern Virginia to Connecticut, Chopp said.
“It solves the last mile issue, because even if you are a small guy that doesn’t have last mile volumes in your own right, you could participate in this co-located last mile facility that serves multiple retailers,” Chopp explained in a blog post. “It solves the store footprint issue as you can have a much smaller store. It solves the sales per square foot question because one of the big issues is retailers say their sales per square foot are down, but their ecommerce sales are up, so if you combine ecommerce with the store you’re good to go.”
Chopp expects Anchor Stores to attract both emerging and well-known brands, with announcements over the next two months. He said they include companies offering beauty, health and wellness, home goods, electronics and children’s items.
The retail store at the Fashion District Philadelphia mall will be 7,000 square feet, while the Moorestown Mall distribution center will be 30,000 square feet. Both will be staffed by retail professionals employed by Anchor Shops.
The Philadelphia location is on Market Street in Center City, and the Anchor Shops will be on the concourse level of the mall. Anchor Shops anticipates hosting more than 40 DTC brands in the location.
Brands will have the option to join Anchor Shops and its national distribution network starting at $800 per month, depending on the size and type of space. Center aisle and front-of-store retail displays would command a premium, Chopp said. He said strategic pairings available to smaller brands could, for example, position an emerging sock brand next to a well-known shoe brand.
Anchor Shops plans to scale nationally after developing the Philadelphia/New Jersey regional network.
Key to the process is ShopFulfill technology, including an app that helps them find the location items within the stores. “As you pass by something you like, a coupon will pop up offering a 20% discount,” he said.
“As the retail ecosystem continues to evolve, the mall platform is a vital component of successful multichannel retail strategies,” said Joseph Coradino, Chairman and CEO of PREIT, which owns both Fashion District Philadelphia and the Moorestown Mall.