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Anchor Shops looks to help DTC brands go offline — with no big upfront expenses

Anchor Shops

A new startup wants to make it easy for digitally native brands to enter the physical space by significantly lowering the costs associated with customer acquisition, leasing and operating stores, shipping product and handling returns.

Anchor Shops (powered by ShopFulfill, a vertically integrated retail storefront and distribution network)  will make its retail debut in the second quarter of 2020, at Fashion District, a shopping, dining and entertainment destination in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. The center is owned by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT). 

Situated on the mall’s concourse level, Anchor Shops expects to house more than 40 digital-first retailers in a setting designed to take consumers on a curated journey that allows each brand to support and be supported by the other. The company said it intends to scale nationally after developing its network within the Philadelphia/South New Jersey region. (In line with the planned opening and future expansion, Anchor Shops will a fulfillment center at PREIT-owned Moorestown Mall, in Moorestown, N.J.). 

“The retail paradigm has shifted to require a brick and click approach,” said Shlomo Chopp, founder and CEO of ShopFulfill. “It has been much easier for legacy retailers to build out their online infrastructures, but digitally native brands have found it difficult and cost prohibitive to develop physical footprints. We are offering online-first brands something that is entirely unique and practical – the only all-in-one solution that empowers them to achieve profitability, establish a physical retail presence and build stronger customer connections.”

The store at Fashion District will be staffed by associates employed by Anchor Shops. The company said it is currently in discussions with a diverse group of online brands interested in plugging into its network. Anchor Shops offers brands store replenishment, e-commerce fulfillment, and buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) services. The company said its regional distribution model also helps retailers lower their carbon footprints by utilizing a strategic delivery system that maximizes the productivity of each truckload.

With an average monthly price that starts at about $800, online brands can lease space at Anchor Shops, sharing retail staff, warehousing and transportation. (The price depends on the size and type of space and services required by each unique brand.)

“As the retail ecosystem continues to evolve, the mall platform is a vital component of successful multichannel retail strategies,” said Joseph Coradino, chairman and CEO of PREIT. “Our portfolio, concentrated in densely populated markets, is uniquely positioned to support innovative solutions such as Anchor Shops, allowing emerging and digitally native brands to access our prime physical space as they position them for growth. Shoppers who frequent our properties will be able to engage with new, exciting and emerging brands, making the merchandising mix at properties like Fashion District Philadelphia even more compelling. Solving for logistics and infrastructure challenges positions these brands for sustainable growth within our portfolio.”

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