European eyewear e-tailer, Ace & Tate, made the move into physical retailing after trialling several pop-ups in Germany and Rotterdam. Since launching its first store in Amsterdam in 2015, it now has 17 stores across Europe in the Netherlands, Belgium and the Nordics.

Koen Bremer, COO at Ace & Tate, said he thought moving into physical retailing would be a marketing initiative, but he said it has become clear it is a customer acquisition channel.

Speaking at Shop Talk Europe, Bremer said 80% of in-store customers are completely new to the Ace & Tate brand. And these new customers then go online to buy their second, third or fourth pair of frames.

“It builds trust in your brand, it’s a physical location people can go and touch and be in touch with the people in store,” he added.

Bremer said physical retailing is part of its strategy to determine new markets. “We work the presence online, decide on a 2-6 month pop-up and then make the case for a new store.”

Bremer also explained how beginning life as an eCommerce company has helped the brand create its physical stores.

“Starting as an online company allowed us to have the backbone to put into our stores – order management and logistics is all shared with online, so it’s easy to give one shared customer experience.”

Ace & Tate customers are also asked to identify themselves when buying a pair of frames in-store, either by logging into their online account or signing up. “We can track customer behaviour through the stores with the data capabilities bought [from online].”