As many chain retailers struggle to balance their online presence with bricks-and-mortar stores, some local boutiques have created a formula that leverages both. Gena Chandler in North Hills is a prime example.
The upscale women’s retailer posts photos of new arrivals on social media sites to keep customers updated on the latest pieces that are available. This effort was originally focused on local customers, but with more than 11,000 followers on Instagram now, orders are coming in everyday from places as widespread as New York, Alabama, and California. Now Gena Chandler is launching an ecommerce site to manage the uptick in business.
“Social media has been such a great tool for us and has allowed us to grow beyond what we ever could have expected,” said co-owner Gena Combs. “The volume of orders we are receiving really demanded that we moved to a website.”
Combs says the store’s approach to sales has evolved with changing consumer habits.
“A lot has changed with how people shop since we opened the store 11 years ago. We found our customers do not have hours to spend going from store to store,” said Combs. “We receive new pieces daily, and our local clients can check out the latest arrivals on Instagram and decide if they want to stop by. Our physical location is important for many reasons, including that it gives our clients an opportunity to touch the materials and try on items for size.”
Combs says she and co-owner Chandler Norman select merchandise with their local and national customers in mind when they attend markets across the country – something large chain stores cannot do.
“Being a smaller retailer give us the luxury of shopping for our clients personally,” Combs said. “Having a national audience has allowed us to take more risks with what we buy.”
Combs says Gena Chandler’s success online is exciting, but the heart and soul of the business remains deeply rooted in the North Hills store. All the merchandise is sold and shipped from the North Hills location, and the owners are there most days working with the sales team and interacting with customers.
“We value the relationships we have developed with our customers over the years. We love helping them build their wardrobes, prepare for special events and shop for vacations,” Combs says. “Whether you are visiting our North Hills store or ordering from Oklahoma, we make sure you are treated with the highest level of customer service.”