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For most digitally native brands, a retail concept is nothing more than a pop-up shop in a major city, but for Untuckit’s co-founder and CEO Aaron Sanandres, a modern retail strategy demands a permanent physical footprint.

“We started Untuckit with the vision of providing a better-looking, casual shirt,” said Sanandres. “We initially thought we were going to be marketing to millennials; we didn’t realize we would strike a chord with such a broad demographic. The challenge for us had always been, ‘How do we cater to such a broad demo from a marketing perspective or a communications perspective, without diluting who we are?’ One thing we learned is that, across this demographic, there are people that just don’t engage with brands unless they have a physical footprint. It was either from this skepticism of digitally native brands, or it was because they wanted to touch and feel the product before purchasing it. So we knew pretty early on that we needed a physical outlet for this cohort.”

Untuckit now boasts 50 retail doors across the United States and Canada. For Sanandres, it is vital to meet the consumers where they are. That’s why you can also find an Untuckit shop on Amazon, which operates more like an outlet and is used to sell products that are from seasons past.

On this week’s episode of The Glossy Podcast, Hilary Milnes sits down with Sanandres live at the NRF Big Show to discuss how customer data is being used to improve in-store experiences, what his approach is to selling on Amazon and why retailers need a physical footprint. Edited highlights below.

Using data to personalize the in-store experience
“So there are two parts to [personalizing the in-store experience]: There’s the feedback, like how does our merchandising team know what’s transacting in the stores and online? Today, we’re pretty good at collecting all of that information and dumping it into one data warehouse. From a merch perspective, some of that is pretty easy, where they can see what’s selling out of the store so they can know what to stack. There’s a lot of online learnings they can take and apply to our stores. Having a fuller picture of the customer who comes into your store is just something we haven’t had the ability to do in the past. That’s something now, where we’re building out these point of sale platforms that are able to tell you, ‘Hilary, you’ve shopped in these five stores and [you’ve bought] this online,’ and it brings that to the store associate, who can finally engage with the customer in a way that’s personalized and curated, but not creepy. What we’re able to do with the 360-degree view of the customer in store, in terms of having a more personalized experience, is exciting.”

Untuckit’s Amazon strategy
“We do sell on Amazon. It’s not that they came knocking, but we ended up taking some of our broken styles or last-season items and putting them on Amazon to use like an outlet. We don’t do anything material on Amazon as a company — overall, it’s a very small percentage of our business. The relationship is we pay them a fulfillment fee, so if you go on Amazon and look for us, you’ll find an Untuckit store that is managed and fulfilled by Amazon. It’s enough product to keep the store interesting, and the fortunate thing about our business is we’re not seasonal, so when I say ‘last season,’ it could just be a black-and-white gingham shirt with thicker lines than this season. We also try to keep pricing the same. In fact, you just can’t have anything that’s less expensive on your site than on Amazon. There’s always pricing parity between the two. At this point, we don’t want to be distributing through some of the other discount retailers who pick up excess inventory, and fortunately we’ve been able to manage inventory in a way that we haven’t had to.”

Modern retail requires a physical footprint
“A modern retail strategy includes physical retail, and that will play itself out more and more. You’ll see companies that swore they would never open a physical store start to convert. There’s just too much opportunity to drill down on a single market, which a store allows you to do. A modern physical footprint is omni. Whether it’s five or 50 stores, that’s brand-specific. I think digital still plays a role. People are on their phones more every year and not less, so there’s more opportunity. Some of that will come through things like SMS, but we’ll see how that all plays out. My guess is that you’re going to get more texts from retailers than you did last year.”