B8ta Unveils Flagship Retail-As-A-Service Store For E-Commerce Brands

The gadget store b8ta is broadening its horizons with the launch of “Built by b8ta,” which offers a retail-as-service platform for e-commerce brands that want to build a physical presence.

Based on the success it has found with its own retail stores, b8ta believes it can provide simple and cost-effective options for brands looking to roll out brick-and-mortar stores of various sizes. b8ta has built and deployed 78 stores over the country since unveiling its first store in the last month of 2015.

“As our business grew, there started being a class of larger companies in apparel and beauty that wanted to bring products to stores but the product experience was misaligned with what they wanted to do,” said b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby to TechCrunch. “With apparel, you don’t need a separate display for every shirt. So we started imagining creating a number of different brands for other categories.”

Rather than generate those brands itself, b8ta decided selling its store building and infrastructure process for a flat monthly fee to other entrepreneurs that wanted their own stores would be a more scalable approach. The monthly fee varies based on the square footage needed, and the cost of real estate in the market of the store’s location.

“For most brands we’re working with, the costs are quite reasonable,” Norby said. “I’ll say that it’s at least 50 percent cheaper than doing it yourself.”

The software b8ta offers comes with solutions for inventory, point of sale, inventory management, staff scheduling services and more. The first customer to create a Built by b8ta store will be Netgear, which wants a location in Silicon Valley’s Santana Row in June. b8ta plans to roll out additional stores for other brands in that area. The company is expecting to launch stores anywhere from 10 to 15 companies, likely in the fields of cosmetics, apparel, and furniture.

“This is designed for direct-to-consumer brands who have no store space but believe it’s important or they’ve done one or two stores and are having a hard time scaling that up to 10, 20 or 30,” Norby said.

A few of these Built by b8ta locations will exist inside some of b8ta’s existing flagship stores. b8ta also has the capability to build medium to large stores for brands that need more space.

The offering, b8ta has explained, is like a physical version of how Shopify offers virtual stores to brands. b8ta has relationships with national real estate owners, architects, contractors and designers which will help them deliver build-outs and infrastructure

“In our system, no individual store needs to hire their own management team,” Norby said. “It’s just one team looking over the whole center.”