Walmart exec Andy Dunn, who founded Bonobos, says being digitally native is now overrated — and Nordstrom is the business’s most profitable channel (WMT)

NEW YORK CITY — Ecommerce-focused retailers need to join the real world.

And that's coming from Andy Dunn, the founder of one of the biggest, most successful digital native brands out there: Bonobos.

"I don't really like digitally native vertical brands," Dunn said. "What gets me excited are brands that are really strong and direct-to-consumer, but also have got omni."

Founded in 2007, Bonobos started out as an online-only menswear retailer. However, the company began opening up physical stores in 2012. In 2017, Walmart bought Bonobos for $310 million, and kept Dunn on as its senior vice president of digital consumer brands.

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Dunn acknowledged the irony of his about-face to the audience at The Business of Home's first Future of Home conference in Manhattan. In a panel with Business of Home columnist and podcaster Dennis Scully and Interior Define chairman and founder Rob Royer, Dunn talked about why he's changed his thinking.

Dunn called ecommerce a "tremendously challenging, frequently unprofitable business," saying that companies that are solely focused on establishing an online business may be missing out on meeting customers' needs.

"It also doesn't take into account how much consumers still want to be in person with brands and products and people," Dunn said.

He said that, in the case of Bonobos, the brand's "most profitable business" today is its partnership with Nordstrom. Bonobos now also boasts 66 brick-and-mortar stores known as "guides shops."

"That is something that would have been antithetical when we started," he said.

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