Locally Satisfies Shoppers’ Demand to Find Popular Online Items Near Them
Sales generated by local retailers spiked nearly 400% in 2021, with retailers in California, Texas, and Colorado leading the way with the highest sales volumes by state. Shopper demand to discover local stock for same-day consumption has increased as well, even as pandemic restrictions continue to ease.
The gradual return to pre-pandemic life is causing some mass market brands to question where they fit in. Despite selling merchandise through their websites, the majority of manufacturer brands in the US don’t currently operate physical storefronts. That means they can’t offer the type of same-day pickup services that have become so popular among consumers, and they lack the operational scale that’s allowed e-commerce behemoths like Amazon to thrive.
Enter Locally, a platform designed to connect shoppers to premium brands and in-stock products at local stores.
Although Locally was launched years before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, the company found new footing and saw brand adoption surge in 2020, when curbside pickup became a part of everyday life for most Americans.
The company now boasts an impressive roster of brand partners, including YETI, New Balance, Brooks, Osprey, Patagonia, Trek Bicycle, and Helly Hansen.
Popular brands with successful online storefronts can integrate Locally’s technology to show shoppers where they can pick up specific product merchandise immediately at retailers in their own neighborhoods. For example, a shopper who clicks on a 30oz Rambler Tumbler on YETI’s website would see a link to purchase the product online, alongside a list of retailers that have the product in-stock nearby.
Locally’s mission to bridge the gap between the power and breadth of online shopping and the convenience of local pickup is largely due to the experience of one of its founders, Mike Massey. A third-generation New Orleans retailer, Massey has an intense interest in helping to bring life back to local retail communities. His family’s chain of specialty outdoor stores, Massey’s Outfitters, was one of the first in its industry to sell online, sell through online marketplaces, and integrate data exchange processes into its business.
“The common thinking by 2010 was that retailers would only survive if they moved their business model away from local shoppers and [pointed] it at online shoppers. Even today, that’s the argument being made by online ad platforms,” Massey says. “But the reality is that there really is no such thing as single-channel shoppers. Virtually all shoppers use the internet for convenient product discovery.”
Massey says he founded Locally back in 2014 to help retailers and brands take advantage of changing shopper habits and the on-demand economy. He also sees his platform as helping to reduce waste by giving consumers a way to purchase premium products locally without unnecessary product packaging.
“As a retailer, an e-commerce and marketplace pioneer, and as a director in a national trade association, I spent decades trying to foster retailer [and] brand collaboration. I helped many major brands develop and implement digital marketing plans, and then sat on committees that measured, revised, and enforced cross-channel strategies,” Massey says.
Research shows that shoppers are more satisfied with the service they receive in-store than online, and they are generally happier with their purchases. While today’s shoppers return 15% to 40% of products they buy online, the return rate on in-person purchases is significantly lower, dropping to 5 to 10%. Fewer returns are good for brands and good for the environment, and it’s part of what’s helped Locally build a loyal clientele among high-end brands and retailers.
“Our thinking is and has always been that Amazon’s Achilles heel is the bottom half of the conversion funnel: pickup, fast delivery, service, easy returns. And, as more and more brands and retailers become disenchanted with dropshipping for their competitor, they have started looking for ways to support the upper part of the conversion funnel—online engagement—with tools that drive local commerce,” Massey says. “The proof of why this is so relevant is simple. When we tell people that Locally is a network that connects online shoppers to real-time inventory at local stores for pickup and delivery, they always respond: ‘I can’t believe that doesn’t already exist.’”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.