Bonobos Opens Offline Stores for Online Customers

April 13, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. apparel [uh-PAR-uh l] (n.) – a type of clothing
Example: The clothing company is known for its stylish men’s apparel.

2. merchandise 
[MUR-chuh n-dahyz] (n.) – products that are bought or sold for profit
Example: The merchandise that I bought online will be delivered tomorrow morning.

3. solely [SOHL-lee] (adv.) – completely or only
Example: I use my laptop solely for business purposes.

4. efficient [ih-fish-uh nt] ( (adj.) – able to get a good result without wasting money, time or resources
Example: He believes using the Internet to sell things is more efficient than building an actual store.

5. retail [ree-teyl ] (adj.) – involving the business of selling things directly to customers
Example: People usually buy the food and clothes they need from retail stores.

Read the text below.

Bonobos [bu-NO-bos], an American men’s apparel company, is offering a different way for people to shop.

The company has opened stores in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Washington D.C. But these stores do not have much merchandise. Customers also cannot buy anything from the shops. If customers want an item, they have to buy it through the Bonobos online store.

According to its operations officer Erin Ersenkal, Bonobos was originally established solely as an online store. With around half its customers wanting to check the apparel before buying, the company realized they needed to build shops where customers can see and try on the actual items. However, purchases still need to be done through the company’s website.

The company’s business model is efficient, said Bonobos founder Andy Dunn. Managing smaller shops with fewer employees, alongside the online store is also less expensive for the company.

Additionally, many people find Bonobos’ service convenient because the company mails its products to customers.

Although some retail experts think Bonobos has a good business model, Fiona Dias of online retail network ShopRunner is not sure if the business plan will be very successful. She said the company’s retail method may not be interesting to shoppers who want to buy and use merchandise as soon as possible.

Aside from Bonobos, other retailers that have also established a physical shop along with their online stores include eyewear company Warby Parker and Gap.

Affirming the popularity of online shopping, a recent IBM survey showed that around 50% of online shoppers check products in actual stores before deciding to buy products online.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What can you say about the business model of Bonobos?
·         Do you believe that online shopping will become even more popular in the future? What makes you say so?

Discussion B

·         What products do you think are the best to buy online?
·         Can you give examples of situations when shopping in a store is more convenient than shopping through the internet?


April 13, 2013