Hong Kong innovators

As more online shoppers complain of clothes that don’t fit, Hong Kong's Grana tests hybrid try-before-you-buy approach at first store

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 September, 2015, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 4:33pm

E-commerce fashion store Grana launched a flagship brick-and-mortar store in Hong Kong over the weekend as part of its strategy to drive sales online by letting customers try on clothing before committing to making a purchase via the web using in-store computers.

This tackles a growing problem amid China's recent e-commerce boom: many shoppers complain that the product they receive looks different out of the box from the image they saw online; others find the shoes, clothing or accessory they have just shelled out on doesn't actually fit them.

READ MORE: Meet four of Hong Kong's hottest young fashion designers

Grana’s first store is located in trendy Sheung Wan district. It has a full product range in various sizes and colours, and a couple of dressing rooms so that customers can try before they buy.

No "takeaway" purchases can be made in-store, but orders can be placed using the computers there and delivered the next day, the company said.

People are further enticed to show up to enjoy the personal touch of real staff guiding them through the products. They can then place an order and have it delivered the following day from Grana’s Hong Kong warehouse.

“We bring together the best of two shopping worlds for a unique hybrid experience,” says founder Luke Grana from Australia.

This represents an interesting take on a popular new trend: online to offline sales, known as O2O.

“Our customers can receive the tailored customer service and interaction that only a bricks-and-mortar location can provide, but with the ease of online purchasing,” he adds.

Dubbed The Fitting Room, the company describes it as the first permanent physical space in Asia offered by an e-commerce player that allows customers to try on garments before making a decision.

The 1,300 sq ft space will hold the brand’s full line of products, including silk shirts, cashmere sweaters and denim jeans.

The Hong Kong-based apparel company says it plans to open similar stores in Australia and the US next year.

Grana joins a list of local start-up success stories. It raised US$1 million from investors including Singapore’s Golden Gate Ventures in July. That, conjoined with a previous seed round from luxury retailer Bluebell Group, takes its total funding above US$2.5 million. 

The company also ranks among a growing number of online retailers, such as American eyewear company Warby Parker and menswear retailer Bonobos, that hope to boost sales by utilising a permanent offline presence to drive online sales.

Warby Parker experimented with a series of showrooms before launching its first New York flagship store in 2013. 

Bonobos also has multiple stores located across the US, where customers can make an appointment to have a member of staff recommend the right fit and guide them through the shopping process.

Online fashion retailer Zalora, a subsidiary of German internet company Rocket Internet, has also experimented with pop-up stores in its Asian markets.
Pop-up stores are temporary retail spaces set up by e-commerce merchants which allow customers to interact with products before placing an order online.