Investing in Leap to Unlock Scale in Retail

Inside Koio Store in Chicago

Spinning up an online store is easier than ever before. Tools like AWS, Shopify, and Shippo have enabled retailers to quickly scale sales online and be data-driven in every approach to online retailing.

But despite being a much older and much larger sales channel, spinning up physical retail remains incredibly difficult, and most attempts fail to utilize much data in their approach.

My family’s business is in offline retail supply chain. Since I was young I’ve seen brands across the spectrum struggle through the entire workflow of opening up retail stores. Physical retail is complex — from sourcing real estate and capital planning to outfitting stores and visual merchandising — and requires a set of competencies totally different from those needed in online retail. Not to mention the challenge after store opening of managing staff, inventory, and measuring key store KPIs like foot traffic, halo effect sales, and consumer NPS.

We are in the midst of a rebirth in retail, however. Next generation brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos are transforming from digitally native brands to true omnichannel retailers with physical stores central to their brand story and customer acquisition efforts. Physical retail offers a host of benefits to these brands. Average order values are significantly higher. Returns are lower. And offline exposure actually drives further sales online, with recent analysis from ICSC showing one physical store drives a 37% increase in overall local web traffic for brands.

The benefits of physical retail are clear, but the new competencies they require also demand a new solution.

Your Retail Stores, Delivered by Leap

The industry needs a turn-key solution that enables digitally native brands to expand retail footprints at a startup’s pace. We’re thrilled to support that need in leading Leap’s $3M seed round alongside our good friends at Equal Ventures, Brand Foundry, and select angels including Brian Sugar, who founded PopSugar and Everlane.

If you’re building a consumer brand and haven’t yet invested in retail, or perhaps are looking to expand your retail strategy further — talk to Leap. The company’s first customer, Koio, a leading Italian footwear brand, was able to deliver a premium retail experience in Chicago with Leap end-to-end in weeks (with more stores to come). Leap makes opening those stores truly turnkey: no leases, no build- out, no staffing. Leap makes it as easy to turn on retail stores as turning AWS on to develop software.

Koio’s Lincoln Park Chicago Storefront

What struck us about Leap was the team’s unique skills bringing digital brands to life in physical retail. The Leap team has collectively opened thousands of successful retail stores. Leveraging experience from Lululemon, Bonobos, CustomInk, Brand Innovators Labs and Signal, and more, they have a clear vision of what it means to successfully translate an online brand into a retail store that brings the brand experience to life in the physical world and amplifies it. They’ve thought deeply about the process of setting up retail stores and identified opportunities up and down the value chain to use tech to scale.

Leap’s business model creates alignment with brands around success of stores, as measured by sales performance and quality of customer experience. Unlike a “pop-up” strategy, Leap aims to grow with their customers over time as a long-term partner in helping them launch one store to hundreds (or more) eventually — while maintaining the highest quality of brand integrity and consistency.

Jared and Amish, founders of Leap, have developed an excellent relationship, with this being their fourth venture together as partners. We’re thrilled to be working with them. Onward!

Farooq and John