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Why Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck Is Bullish About Physical Retail

Why Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck Is Bullish About Physical Retail
[Photo: Jessie English; Set Designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Fifty million users provide Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck with a treasure trove of data about where consumers are spending their time—and his findings show that brick-and-mortar stores are still a big draw.

“I think the demise of physical retail is way overstated. What most people forget is that 92% of consumer activity is still in the real world. Where people go is still an indication of their values. Two of the most innovative retailers of the last decade are Bonobos and Warby Parker. Both started out online but ultimately went to [physical]. Warby didn’t find success until it opened these boutiques, because shipping five glasses is not the same as trying on 50 and having a social experience with someone helping you.

“We’re seeing an evolution. A lot of lousy older malls are getting absolutely crushed. The store of the future is going to be more experiential and personal. The AI bot that talks to you when you enter the store of the future will be informed by how you spend your time.

“I think brands often underestimate the importance of social connection. We looked at the states that legalized cannabis and wanted to see how it would affect bar traffic. What we found is that people still went out to bars and restaurants because we are still social animals. We want to connect.”

This story was adapted from the Fast Company Innovation Festival.

CLARIFICATION: While introduction and expansion of physical retail locations has accelerated Warby Parker’s growth, the company was successful from its February 15, 2010, launch, reaching its year-one sales goal in less than a month.