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“It’s nice to have that physical experience”: Flora & Fauna opens first store

Eco-friendly and cruelty-free retailer Flora & Fauna has opened the doors to its first physical store in North Rocks, Sydney, just next door to its warehouse.

Described by Flora & Fauna founder Julie Mathers as “a little bazaar but really shoppable”, the bright, airy store offers a wide range of homewares, beauty, baby products, vegan food, fashion and accessories for the environmentally-conscious customer. 

The shop also features a bulk refill section and offers click-and-collect services, while a big glass window allows customers to see inside the warehouse as the team work behind-the-scenes. In the year ahead, Mathers said the Flora & Fauna team will continue working on improving its omnichannel offering now that the business includes a physical store.

To celebrate the new Flora & Fauna store, an opening event took place over the course of the weekend, as customers enjoyed educational workshops and events, where they could make their own vegan donuts, learn about gut health and how to use disposable nappies.

Flora & Fauna founder and CEO, Julie Mathers. Source: supplied.

“The store opening was fantastic. We had well over 1000 customers come and visit us over the day and it was amazing to be able to talk to so many of them. We had a great community atmosphere with delicious vegan food, music, mini makeovers and wine by Vineful. We also sampled Tea Tonic tea and had a wonderful raffle, where we raised $1360 for Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary. A truly amazing day,” said Mathers.

“Since the opening we’ve remained busy and it is wonderful to be able to talk to our customers face-to-face.” 

While Mathers launched Flora & Fauna five years ago as a pureplay business, it was always her intention to one day open a shop, especially given her vast experience working in bricks-and-mortar businesses, such as Coles, Woolies and John Lewis.

“I’m a massive fan of stores. We’re purpose-driven but we’re also customer experience-driven and you can give someone a great customer experience online but it’s nice to have that physical experience,” said Mathers.

“I started working in stores and I just love having that close experience with customers where you can build a community. If we look back to the stores that are on the rise, it’s around building that community.” 

The modern customer journey

According to Mathers, she views the physical store as a brand extension of Flora & Fauna’s online operations – the aim is not for the store to drive sales and profit, but to give the business a new way to showcase its products in a physical way for its tightknit community.

“I’ve worked in omnichannel businesses where we’ve been obsessed about attributing dollar sales to stores and it just gets messy, because it divides you as a channel. I think in some ways, the whole P&L aspect needs to be pulled out of it. It really needs to be shaken up and looked at in a wholly different way. What does a modern retailer look like?” she pondered. “I’m not stressed about attribution at all.”

“It’s taken a massive shift for retailers today to think differently to what they were doing five to 10 years ago.”

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