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DSC_0428Neighborhood boutiques thrive on foot traffic, but in today’s world, a digital presence is increasingly important for survival.

Boutiika is a startup that connects online shoppers to clothing available in local stores. Today the startup announced that it has expanded into three more cities, has more than 300 retailers available on the site, and added in a slew of new features.

Cities like New York and San Francisco are brimming with funky, unique local stores, but learning what clothing items and brands are in these stores at any given time is difficult without making an actual visit. Boutiika helps local store owners publicize their wares online. Users can search by specific stores and brands, new arrivals, and specific categories such as eco-friendly to see what is currently in stock.

Boutiika has updated the platform with a “gold dress” feature where shoppers can hold an item to try on in-store. It is also launching a same day delivery service in San Francisco called Dash by Boutiika. If you need a specific dress or a last-minute gift fast but can’t hit your favorite shops, Boutiika will help get it to you within hours. Major retailers like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and even Google are all experimenting with same-day delivery models to get an edge in the competitive e-commerce space. Boutiika wants to bring this degree of immediacy and convenience to small, local stores.

“Boutique retailers crave foot traffic to their stores and local customers who will come back again,” founder Ruchika Kumar said in an interview with VentureBeat. “Our local commerce platform helps them show off everything they have in store and attract local customers. Think OpenTable — but for fashion.”

Boutiika grew out of Kumar’s idea to develop a directory of local boutiques. She said her friends weren’t interested in buying from expensive designer stores or big-box retailers — they wanted to patronize local gems. But it was challenging to do this online or on mobile devices. At the same time, neighborhood boutiques are starved for foot traffic and struggle to reach smartphone users. The idea proved popular with store owners and Boutiika was born in July. The company is dedicated to putting customers in boutiques in the real world rather than helping them establish a full-fledged e-commerce platform like competitors Shoptiques and Farfetch.

Kumar said there are five reasons why e-commerce will never replace local commerce. People still want to try on clothes before buying. Fit matters. Secondly, consumers still want to touch, feel, and see items, and they still enjoy the sensory experience of shopping. Going out shopping is also a fun activity for many people — a social endeavor, hobby, or escape that you can’t get online. People also appreciate the instant gratification of buying something in store and the personal attention and expertise of sales associates.

The expansion and updates are all intended to make brick-and-mortar retail more efficient, convenient, and Internet-savvy, while maintaining the strengths and joy and in-store shopping. Boutiika is now active in Austin, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle.

Image credit: Boutiika


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