THE BLOG
10/22/2014 04:32 pm ET Updated Dec 22, 2014

The Rebirth of the Brick-and-Mortar

As the traditional means of business transactions, such as the brick-and-mortar store and the phone call to order restaurant delivery, is moving towards online systems, the opposite is happening for online-based businesses.

During the tech boom, new businesses turned to the online platform as their sole means of conducting business from seller to consumer. The early adopters of this model include Rent the Runway, a platform for renting clothes through on online shop, Warby Parker, the online prescription glasses retailer, and Birchbox, the subscription-based beauty kit provider. However, within the past year, they have all launched traditional brick-and-mortar stores within Manhattan in order to allow customers to view and purchase their products in person.

These online businesses are still growing, but they are just expanding in the opposite direction of the conventionally perceived route.

The most recent transition from online to storefront is supermarket delivery service, MaxDelivery. While they offer the convenient platform for delivering groceries within one hour of online purchase, they have just opened their second supermarket in Manhattan. Using the term, hybrid supermarket to refer to the new "backwards" model of business, Scott Edlitz, a senior managing director at Colliers International, who represented MaxDelivery in the transaction explained, it is "a new model for retail in New York City as technology continues to transform the industry."

The method for obtaining the retail property for these companies has made the opposite transformation. Traditionally, one has had to visit a property in order to make an informed decision on where to rent a commercial space out; however, new apps such as View the Space, which provides 3-D walkthroughs of commercial spaces, allow properties to be seen online, making the visit to the space not as needed and not as frequent.

The New York real estate industry has been adapting to the new trend in even more ways. When constructing a new development, the developer typically opens a sales gallery, equipped with a model apartment, the finishes, etc., in which prospective buyers can visit in order to experience the units before purchasing. Just as Rent the Runway, Warby Parker, and Birchbox, and MaxDelivery have opened up storefronts for their customers to experience their products before purchasing, developers have done the same.

The brick-and-mortar store is still thriving, just with a whole new purpose.