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Love, Bonito to open largest physical store in Funan

The shop will have instagrammable spots, an express e-commerce counter, and on-demand stylists.

Love, Bonito will launch its third physical store in the upcoming mall Funan, offering customer touch points such as “instagrammable” spots, an express counter for e-commerce orders, and on-demand personal stylists. The fashion e-commerce player is looking to offer a retail experience designed to be “thoughtful and feminine” whilst taking into account the feedback of customers on its first two stores.

In an exclusive interview with Singapore Business Review, Love, Bonito co-founder Rachel Lim talks about the new features of their biggest store to date. Lim also shares the investments they are making to improve store fixtures and train retail staff.

Can you describe what the third physical store of Love, Bonito will be like?
Our third store will definitely offer a different retail experience, with a refreshed design and layout that is distinctly thoughtful and feminine. More importantly, the store will hold dedicated and designated space for us to bring our community together to experience the brand, via workshops and events.

The store will also see the roll-out of many customer-centric touch points such as multiple, photo-worthy instagrammable spots, an express counter for e-commerce order collections, and value-added services like alterations and personal stylists on demand - ready to give honest fashion advice to our customers, ensuring they always leave with their head a little higher, voice a little louder. These are a few examples, and we will see more features roll out throughout the year.

How did you come up with concepts like this based on what’s happened in your first and second stores?
Our goal is to be the most thoughtful brand made for the modern Asian woman, so we make it a point to observe the needs of our customers, invest in conversations with them; hearing and listening to the different issues, pet peeves and problems that they have when it comes to shopping in general. That’s the starting point for brainstorming and coming up with ways to meet their needs.

How different will be the third store from the first two?
Basically, seeing as how this is our biggest store to date, it gives us greater space, which means more room to play around with different elements of the store and customise them to the needs of our customers. But it's still connected to a lot of the essence of Love, Bonito and our heart for community.

What types of investments have you made to improve offline retail services?
Everything starts with people, so our main investment goes into the training of the people on the ground. We want to make sure our retail staff are not simply driven by commission but focus on building a relationship with our customers. Also, understanding that our stores see a lot of footfall, there can be wear and tear, so we are particular about investing in sturdier and longer-lasting fixtures in the store.

Recently, there’s been this trend of phygital stores, are you looking into that concept as well?
Yes, I think we’re already taking steps to move in that direction, but never for the sake of trends. We keep our customers at the heart of our efforts, and focus on delivering a seamless, delightful shopping experience for them - that happens to include omnichannel, or phygital touchpoints that we’ll continue to explore.

Does this mean that you’re looking to grow the share of offline retail in your company revenue?
That has been a happy by-product of our efforts, but I think ultimately, at the end of the day, we just want to be wherever our customer is shopping, so we see both online and offline as one
experience; the same unique LB experience. We are, after all, one brand!

Is there a difference between your returns of online and offline retail? Has investing in offline made much more of a difference than investing in offline or are they typically the same thing?
Investing in offline has allowed people to really get to know the brand in a more up-close and personal kind of way; they get to touch and feel the brand, so to speak, and that helps us to win
their trust. Offline experiences also allow women to experience the heart of the brand, e.g. through our community workshops. We’ve also seen how having a physical space helps to create more brand awareness in general.

Do you think retailers in Singapore ready to take on the same strategy that Love, Bonito is undertaking?
I think it differs very much on, firstly, the product that you’re selling, and secondly, the audience that you have. It really depends on what your audience is looking for when they shop, your product, and your brand. I think there is no one fixed method or a sure way to win the market. I think you really have to dive deep and observe based on your unique product offering and target audience.

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