Retail-as-a-service provider Leap launched a platform to enable digital brands to occupy brick-and-mortar retail stores more quickly and without taking on the typical risks of physical store development themselves. Leap does this as they announce their first store opening in Chicago, for shoe brand Koio, and the support of $3 million in seed funding, led by Costanoa Ventures with the participation of Equal Ventures and Brand Foundry Ventures.
According to an ICSC 2018 survey, opening a new physical store for emerging brands results in an average 45 percent increase in overall traffic to that brand’s website after a store opening. Retail stores also tend to have higher average sales per customer and fewer returns, leading to digital native brands like Warby Parker, Casper, Bonobos and others scaling their store footprints dramatically. But the high costs and risks of leasing, staffing and store management have kept the opportunity out of reach for many brands.
“Brands that have physical stores perform better when it comes to local brand awareness, customer engagement and overall sales,” said Amish Tolia, co-CEO of Leap. “A modern growth strategy has to include a smart retail presence.”
Leap enabled Koio to launch its Chicago brick-and-mortar store at 924 W. Armitage Avenue in a matter of weeks. For Koio, the Leap platform is making expansion of its store footprint completely turnkey by removing the need for the brand to lease, build-out, staff, implement technology and manage day-to-day operations for every store location.
“Working with Leap will enable us to grow our retail footprint more quickly and efficiently. We’re excited to partner on our first location in Chicago, with plans to grow into more markets like San Francisco, Miami and many more over the next couple of years,” said Chris Wichert, co-founder of Koio. “I am confident that Leap will execute on our brand mission seamlessly.”
Leap makes deployment of high-impact retail brand experiences easy for brands by seamlessly integrating omni-channel customer service, data-driven operations and rapid expansion. The platform also impacts brand experience, allowing for brand experiences that engage customers and drive local word of mouth.
“Today’s consumers expect true omni-channel service and want direct accessibility with the products they love. This presents a major opportunity for brands to build deep customer connections and consistent brand interaction. For the first time, digitally native brands can roll out a flagship location to hundreds of storefronts at scale. That is why we’re thrilled to partner with Leap as they build their tech-enabled retail platform that operationalizes best-in-class retail practices,” said Farooq Abbasi of Costanoa Ventures.