CEO Supper Club: Does ecommerce 2.0 need its own brick and mortar to survive?

By Sarah Lacy , written on February 26, 2013

From The News Desk

Something interesting is going on with ecommerce 2.0. On one hand, it's aimed at replicating more of the in store experience online -- whether that's customer service, personal shoppers or just brand affinity.

But at the same time there's a trend towards ecommerce 2.0 actually opening physical locations. Aren't these two inherently at odds?

Neil Blumenthal from Warby Parker said that in person environments has always been core to his company's growth -- dating back to the days when people would stop by his apartment in Philadelphia to try glasses on.

Their current offices in New York have a paltry 600 square feet of showroom space on a fifth floor walkup, and it grossed $2.5 million in sales last year. On a per square foot basis, that's on par with Tiffany's, he says. "When you see those numbers, you say why don't we dabble a bit more?" he says.

To Ben Lerer of Thrillist and JackThreads, it's all about creating spots that are as much about people spending their time as their money. He envisions a Thrillist/JackThreads space, where they're putting on 50 or more bespoke events throughout the year -- further blending the commerce and content vision of the site.

Doug Mack of One Kings Lane was the lone dissenter at the table, saying he'd rather own a broadcast network than concrete stores.

(Oh, and at the 5:52 minute mark Lerer turns into a teenage girl and won't stop texting people from the table. Obviously, I call him out for this.)