Interview • 13.07.2020

All knitted and sewn up: an online yarn retailer takes a stationary foothold

iXtenso’s interview with Joachim Hansen, retail manager at Hobbii

It’s all about yarn at Hobbii. From now on, the Danish retailer does not just sell exclusively online but also in physical stores. Joachim Hansen describes how digitization and personal contact interact in the retail stores.

A young man with blond hair holds several packages of wool and smiles into the...
Joachim Hansen, retail manager at Hobbii
Source: Hobbii

Mr. Hansen, why is the company now also active in the bricks and mortar retail?

Joachim Hansen: One of the biggest challenges of the online business is the fact that the customers can’t touch the merchandise. In the yarn business, this is even more critical since the sensation of softness is so individual. Some people find untreated sheep wool soft as summer rain while others think Baby Merino itches like crazy. 

A different issue is the calibration on computer screens which means a color can be displayed in very different ways depending on different screens. With our physical stores we have eliminated these issues and the customers can even easily compare colors and qualities. 

Our physical stores are meant to be a complement to our online webshop and will accommodate the customers who enjoy browsing in the local yarn shop, taking in the look, feel and smell of yarn and also please the customers who are skeptical about the look and feel of the online products. With a physical store the customer is more likely to leave the store with the perfect product for their project. 

What is the concept behind the stores? 

The concept is basically to extend the brand into the offline market and keep the brand top of mind within our target group. The idea of the stores is that they should feel light and inviting to the customer and they should be able to find whatever you’re looking for with the same ease as an online shopping experience. Our solution has demanded a high investment in light fixtures to make all the colors of the yarns stand out and simple and easy readable ESL signs that announce what you will find on the shelves below.

Someone scans a ball of wool
Source: Hobbii

How is online and offline shopping linked here?

Besides the company color being present throughout the store, the stores are equipped with ESL price tags that are linked to the webshop which makes sure the prices are the same whether you buy online or in the store. 

What does the technical implementation look like?

We have implemented ESL price tags on all of our yarn shelves which makes it easy to find the price on the yarn. Our accessories on the walls have been a challenge – with more than 2500 different products on a limited wall space – but we have found a great solution in having price scanners placed in strategic places around the store. 

What are the advantages for retailers?

One of the advantages of having a physical store is the fact that you are in close contact with your customers and you get their feedback right away. This way you have the opportunity to take their opinions into account and adjust accordingly. 

Another advantage is that the staff in the stores help put a real face to the webshop. The direct contact between customers and staff will make the company profile even more personal. 

Is one mainstay – brick and mortar or online – no longer sufficient these days? Why should retailers diversify?

For a business like the yarn business, having both a physical presence and an online presence makes sense. For our target group, yarn is a passion and they love the process of perusing and buying yarn just as much as the process of knitting and crocheting. The customer today is present both online and offline and it is important to have touchpoints where the customer expects to meet us and thus keep the brand top of mind whenever a yarn craving occurs. 

Interview: Katja Laska, Natascha Mörs

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