Retail Designed for 2020

Posted by Erin Johnson on September 15, 2020

b8ta was founded with the mission to make retail accessible for all. By offering a paid subscription to place products in our stores, we supported brands as they tested and launched in physical stores quicker, cheaper, and with more control than any other retailer. Five years later we’ve built a couple dozen more stores, launched thousands of product, engaged with millions of customers, and learned quite a bit along the way.


Nothing can replace an in-person experience with your product.

The value of the in-person experience comes from humans’ natural desire to interact in real life and talk to people face-to-face. While the last six months have made in-person contact less appealing, it remains undeniable that interacting with a real person (whether this is in-store, or through a virtual appointment) to see how a product looks, feels, and works in real life is exponentially more impactful than looking at pictures online.

Customers discover in-store, but still purchase online.

Online buying has become an increasingly common way for people to make their purchases. Thanks to companies like Amazon and Shopify, ordering online is an expected part of the retail landscape. Online ordering is so convenient that consumers will discover a product they want in-store, then order it online just to avoid carrying it home.

Products that launch in b8ta stores historically have seen, and continue to see, their sales grow not just in the b8ta store, but also on their own website. This is especially marked in orders near one of the b8ta stores where products are featured. Customers are discovering a product in b8ta, then choosing to order directly from the brand’s online store. We call this the halo effect: a lift in sales attributable to the presence of products in a b8ta store.


The economics of traditional retail are creating tremendous headwinds for retailers, and a significant supply chain challenge for the product maker.

Traditional retail involves the retailer purchasing inventory and re-selling it for a profit. However, thanks to the accelerating shift to online purchasing, combined with a global reduction in physical foot traffic owing to the pandemic, it’s quickly becoming prohibitive for retailers to own inventory that exceeds newly-adjusted sell-through rates. Retailers are struggling to cover the operational costs of their brick and mortar systems with purchase dynamics and velocities that are fundamentally changed by the reduction in foot traffic.

Retail can be similarly challenging for new or specialty product makers because large brick-and-mortar chains will require sufficient product to properly stock their whole system. This can drive a need for an economically-ruinous ramp-up in manufacturing for the maker, creating a risk profile that overwhelms the benefit of placing the product in front of potential customers.

So how does a brand get their product in front of customers in real life without the upfront risk and cost? And how does a retailer stay in business when consumers are spending less time at the mall, and more time buying online, making it financially risky to hold inventory?

Introducing the b8ta attribution retail model.

With an attribution retail model, both the brand and the retailer (in this case b8ta) share in the risk and reward of placing products in physical retail stores. It’s like our original Retail-as-a-Service model - but with no upfront cost.

As with the original b8ta model, you showcase your products in our premium locations, and through our digital channels; however, instead of paying a fee for the space, your fee is based on performance. This no-upfront-fee model allows us to identify products that will do well in our stores, and offer those brands a mutual beneficial retail opportunity.

Attribution retail is distinct from consignment retail in the sense that b8ta stores operate as full-featured retail outlets, feature highly-trained award-winning sales associates (our famed b8ta testers), give you access to manage your own messaging and positioning, and give you access to insights and consumer feedback. You’ll be invited to participate in our digital marketing campaigns, be interviewed and featured in our regular live video series, and enjoy broad distribution to the regions where your product will be most in demand.

Successful products will see sales both in our stores and on our web properties (b8ta.com and forumstore.com), and we will send you the generated revenues, less a predetermined revenue share percentage. Similarly, in recognition of the impact of the presence in physical b8ta stores (the halo effect), we ask you to track online sales of your own, and to remit a percentage back to b8ta for all sales within an agreed-upon radius of stores where your products are currently featured. Our integrations with major ecommerce platforms (like Shopify) make tracking attribution simple. To put it simply:

  1. There is no fee to start your placement at b8ta.
  2. We take a predetermined commission of sales in b8ta-owned retail and digital spaces.
  3. You remit a share of your online sales on orders within an agreed radius of stores where your products are featured.


Placement via prepaid fees is still available. When you participate in the b8ta attribution model, you are entering into a full partnership, in which we share both the rewards of sales, and the responsibility for maximizing the return. As such, b8ta will take the lead on defining which stores will feature your product, and will manage our marketing efforts; over the course of the partnership, your products may be featured in different locations - or potentially all of them! - as we seek to optimize the outcome. You’ll have control over the messaging and imagery of your product on the digital displays that accompany them.

For makers who are seeking full control over the timing and locations in which their product will be shown, and may wish to design the physical surroundings of those products (a custom backdrop, perhaps, or a larger space for a more immersive customer experience), fee-based placements are still welcome. Together we’ll define the interactions customers have with your products - including training our b8ta testers - and you will receive 100% of all sales revenues.

Choices: continuing the mission to make retail available to all. During what can only be described as a deeply disrupted year for everyone, we’re ensuring that you still have access to brick-and-mortar retail for your products, whether you prefer to assume all the risks and rewards by paying upfront for your placement, or whether it makes more sense for your business to take a fee-free approach and share the revenues.

b8ta will always be committed to the success of our partners. Adding the attribution model option is our way of investing in you, and joining with you to build the future of retail.

By following this route we are mutually invested in the success of your product at b8ta.