Online jeweler Blue Nile is expanding its bricks-and-mortar footprint as the company prepares to open one of its small-format ‘webrooms’ in Bellevue Square next week.
Online jeweler Blue Nile is expanding its bricks-and-mortar footprint as the company prepares to open one of its small-format showrooms in Bellevue Square next week.
The Seattle-based company hasn’t set an exact opening date but says it will open sometime Thanksgiving week on the first floor in the south wing of Bellevue Square.
It’s the company’s fifth so-called “webroom”; the company opened the first in June 2015 at Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, New York.
The webrooms are much smaller than traditional mall jewelry stores. And while customers can see and try on some of the company’s products in the stores, all purchases will be done online through tablets in the stores. Its salespeople are non-commissioned.
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The company expects to add five more next year and plans to eventually have dozens.
Blue Nile first tested display cases of its jewelry at a few Nordstrom stores a couple of years ago; those displays have since closed.
In the bright-and-white webrooms, customers can see and try on the company’s products, though all purchases will still be done online through tablets in the stores. The store’s salespeople are non-commissioned.
The stores also include a panoramic TV wall where videos and live feeds of postings from the company’s social media fans are featured.
CEO Harvey Kanter said the rent and staff costs of the showroom are less than running advertising through Google to draw in customers.
Blue Nile is among the formerly online-only pure plays, including Amazon and Warby Parker, that are expanding their bricks-and-mortar presence.
“Most people want to touch, feel and look before they make a purchase. They do like the tactile experience,” said Brendan Witcher, an analyst at Forrester Research.
More and more shoppers are researching online first and then buying at a store. This year, about $376 billion of the $3.4 trillion in overall retail sales will be done online.