By Mario Toneguzzi
Fashion retailer Frank and Oak, which began as an online business, continues to expand its bricks and mortar footprint across the country.
But it’s key to success is omni channel retail - using its physical and digital presence in a combined way to enhance the customer experience.
“I’m a big believer that the number of locations in this day and age is not important . . . A lot of people are fixated on the store count but in reality it’s so much more about regional growth and regional growth is defined by the combination of online and offline and the omni channel for customers,” said Ethan Song, co-founder of Frank and Oak.
“I think we’re definitely seeing the market shifting. There’s no doubt about that. We’re really seeing the purpose of stores transform.”
Years ago, retail stores were used purely as a transactional area.
But today, leveraging stores to create a unique customer experience is important. Leveraging stores to deliver a brand’s message is also becoming more important and moving beyond just the transaction of selling a product.
“Obviously Frank and Oak is a brand that started online and we like to use our stores as a bridge between the physical and the digital and leveraging our stores to basically deliver a satisfying experience for the customer.”
Recently, the company opened a store near the Zara in Place Ste-Foy, Quebec, in about 1,300 square feet featuring both men’s and women’s collections. So will a new 2,400 square foot location set to open on Friday at Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby, east of Vancouver.
That brought the company store count to 17 in Canada.
The retailer is also moving locations within West Edmonton Mall to an area with more retail traffic.
“Our target customer is really young, creative and we wanted to make sure that we’re in an area that addressed that demographic,” said Song.
He said the brand has plans to open more locations in the country.
“The number of locations is not nearly as important as creating unique experiences for customers,” said Song, adding that the company’s focus to date has been on the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver markets and will continue to be in the near future.
“We’re going to see this world where digital and physical combine to one.”
Frank and Oak started in 2012 and its first location was late 2014.
It was founded by childhood friends Song and Hicham Ratnani.
“We design the entirety of our limited-edition Frank And Oak collections at our headquarters in Montreal’s Mile End. We started with a simple goal of helping men dress better and affordably via our passion for style, design and technology. Five years, nearly eighty thousand Oxford shirts sold, and a growing women’s line later, we remain committed to the little things - the important things - we have built our reputation on,” says the company.
Song said he and a small group of passionate creatives launched Frank And Oak “in what was basically a broom closet.”
“In this small space, we designed entire collections, built a website, and everyone lent a hand to pack and ship out orders.
These early years were a lot of hard work, but it was a laugh and the goal was quite honestly just to stay afloat and keep creating products we loved. In the years that followed, we’ve grown as a company and as individuals, and we’ve become more conscious that we have an active role to play in making our own community, and the world, a better place.”
One of the company’s key pillars is reducing the carbon footprint.
On its website recently Song wrote: “In the next few months we will introduce products made with recycled polyester and organic fibers, and game-changing water-efficient denim. But that’s just the start. We’re determined to do our part for the planet. This means big changes in the way we make products with major steps towards sustainability.”
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.