Retail startup Brik + Clik explores new ways for digital brands to go physical

Hemant Chavan was working in office and multi-family real estate development in 2019, and was hearing a lot of proposals for co-working and co-living spaces. After one such meeting in New York, he was walking around Chelsea and kept noticing vacant retail space at prime addresses — about a dozen of them within a two-block radius.

“I was thinking about a shared space, and then I saw all these vacancies in retail and that’s when the eureka moment happened,” Chavan said.

This moment led Chavan and Eric Hirani to found Brik + Clik, which was born in 2020 as a shared space concept for digital brands, and has grown into a company that seeks to push the boundaries of physical retail.

Since his eureka moment, Chavan has been testing concepts including a store featuring a curated selection of digital first brands, a holiday market, and assorted starter brand gift sets. Now it’s branching out into automated solutions like smart vending machines and robot carts designed to put products where consumers live, work, shop or otherwise congregate.

“Retail is converging with real estate more than ever, and brands are finding they need to be in high-traffic places,” Chavan said. His goal with Brik + Clik is to create nimble and flexible brick-and-mortar solutions replete with targeted brands to reach the demographics of a particular neighborhood, workplace, or mall.

Brik + Clik opened a store at Westfield World Trade Center at Manhattan’s Oculus Transit Center in November 2020. Last year, it operated five stores featuring starter brands in the vacation market at Westfield Century City Mall in Los Angeles. This spring, it began testing “robo-carts” — automated, mobile carts capable of dispensing products and accepting payments — at the Oculus.

Today, Brik + Clik is moving beyond malls and traditional retail environments to explore automated ways to sell products in AirBnBs, apartment buildings, offices and airports.

Digital ad prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic, and Apple
Privacy updates that make it harder to target digital ads have led direct-to-consumer brands to look for new ways to engage customers. Many have found that having a physical store presence is the best way to increase online sales, but they don’t have the size or product depth to open their own stores. Mass merchants and national chains can be difficult to penetrate and take long times to reach shelves, and can be lost among the hundreds of products sold in these stores.

A digital marketplace

Brik + Clik sees itself as a direct-to-consumer brand marketplace, a store where a shopper can see an assortment of different brands presented in a way that makes it easier to discover new brands.

“Every brand on Brik + Clik’s shelves is presented as a brand moment,” said Stephanie Pavlik, customer experience manager for Fly By Jing, a Sichuan brand of hot sauce and other Chinese food products. started as consumer direct and is now sold at Whole Foods, Target
and Costco, as well as independent retailers.

Brik + Clik ordered from Fly By Jing when selecting brands to feature in its Oculus store. Pavlik was in New York soon after and visited Brik + Clik, not realizing in advance that he was carrying Fly by Jing products.

“I was thrilled to see Fly By Jing products on the shelves of such a beautifully curated store in an iconic location like the Oculus,” she said.

“The store team told me how excited people were to see our product on the shelves and that it always sold out quickly,” Pavlik said.

Meeta Gournay and Tatiana Mercer, founders of Three Spirit Drinks, a line of soft drinks, said they were impressed with Brik + Clik’s ability to build brand awareness. Three Spirit products are sold in the Oculus store and were featured at the Century City Holiday Market.

Brik + Clik included Three Spirit products in corporate gift baskets and showcased the beverages at networking events held at the Oculus store.

“With Brik + Clik, the speed at which conversations can become reality is amazing,” Mercer said. “It’s great for us to be able to move quickly to test things, or for when people say ‘where can I see you or try you out in New York’.”

Gournay said she visited the New York store and first ‘secretly bought’ Brik + Clik and was impressed with how knowledgeable the employees were about the store’s products. and assortment of goods. “They have a very tight selection of amazing brands,” she said.

Three Spirits expanded rapidly into brick-and-mortar retail, including liquor stores, grocery stores, and national chains like Williams-Sonoma

Jarod Steffes, co-founder with Tyler Devos of the Muddy Bites Waffle Cone Snack brand, said Chavan and Brik + Clik provided Muddy Bites with helpful sales data on the brand’s performance in the Brik + Clik store. . Snacks are also featured in Brik + Clik’s test of robot carts at the Oculus.

Muddy Bites is sold in nearly 3,000 outlets across the country and earlier this year announced a major distribution deal with 7-Eleven stores.

With the Holiday Marketplace and Oculus Store, Brik+Clik has achieved more than half a million dollars in sales and has proven that its retail strategy — curated deals from up-and-coming digital brands — works, Chavan said. .

Chavan attended the International Council of Shopping Centers annual convention in Las Vegas last month and said the mall owners and representatives he met were interested in both seasonal market concepts and boxes. smart.

“It’s a win, win, win.” Chavan said, “Homeowners get extra revenue from their unoccupied spaces. Brands are getting sales, which is the most important thing for them, and for us, we’re creating a new retail model. »

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