When entrepreneurs in the fashion niche think about starting a business, most prefer brick-and-mortar stores. They favor the latter because customers can come and see the products in person. The benefit of instant gratification is that the customer can buy what they like. What’s more, physical locations can build face-to-face relationships with consumers.
But eCommerce stores also have their benefits. One of the advantages that stood out during the pandemic as thousands of brick-and-mortar stores had to shut down. The closure of thousands of physical stores from 2020 to 2021 became known as the retail apocalypse.
We had the opportunity to talk to fashion entrepreneur Cesar Cruz on the debate between brick-and-mortar versus eCommerce.
Cesar Cruz (a.k.a Rickie) is the founder and owner of the Sebastian Cruz Couture. His company is one of the leading high-end men’s fashion brands. He started the company together with his wife Natasha in 2014.
Cesar has been in fashion for most of his adult life. In his early twenties, he would post daily looks on his personal Instagram. Cesar was regularly posting custom-made suits for a company called Astor & Black. The Kardashians were becoming popular, and Scott Disick was wearing suits from this company.
Cesar and Natasha got married in 2012. As Cesar went to pick up his custom-made suits, he noticed the daughter of his alterations person hand-crocheting a pocket square. Immediately, Cesar got an idea and saw the potential of disrupting the pocket square industry with these pieces. He felt that it was a small product that he could package well and ship worldwide.
Starting and settling for eCommerce
Cesar has always been in eCommerce, even before starting his business. When he and his wife decided to launch Sebastian Cruz Couture, they opted for an eCommerce store instead of a brick-and-mortar strategy.
Cesar states that the cost of the best eCommerce store is lower than the cost of setting up a physical shop. Moreover, with an online store, you have the chance to reach a larger market that exists beyond your physical location and has less financial exposure; allowing easy pivots..
An eCommerce strategy also lets you start without a huge capital. Since it’s less expensive than a physical store, you can start selling and using the money you make to work on more product launches.
When he set up Sebastian Cruz Couture, Cesar stated that he started by selling pocket squares. He set up bots to manage over 300 of his online accounts and had a bunch of servers running those accounts. Cesar set up an Instagram page for the pocket squares and called it “At the Pocket Square Industry.” This phrase helped build the perception that his business was the leader.
Cesar knew his target audience when he set up his digital commerce. When he posted his products for the first time, he got over 20K followers. When he decided to sell dinner jackets, his first post of a white Paisley dinner jacket got him over 300 pre-orders.
To Cesar, an eCommerce store beats a brick-and-mortar store any day. Brick-and-mortar stores are expensive to set up and maintain. As many people opt for making online purchases, physical stores are becoming unsustainable.
Cesar stands by eCommerce as he managed to build his luxury fashion line from scratch and turn it into a multi-million dollar brand purely online.