Blue Nile has been a successful e-merchant of fine jewelry for many years, and has decided to open a brick-and-mortar “showroom” of sorts, in a mall on Long Island. It’s an interesting reversal of the usual pattern of physical stores engaging through e-commerce, and is a new twist on the idea of omnichannel retailing. Here’s a brief comment from a recent RetailWire discussion:
Omnichannel isn’t just about brick-and-mortar retailers developing e-commerce and then providing an integrated shopping experience. It’s also about web-based retailers needing to establish a physical footprint, and the Blue Nile experiment is a good illustration. In a category like fine jewelry, there will always be a substantial number of customers who need to see the merchandise before buying (especially higher-end diamonds), so even a well-conceived website like Blue Nile will eventually need to reach those shoppers in other ways.