Starting next month, mattress startup Casper is opening several of its own retail stores, pop-ups that will be open through spring 2018 in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and 12 other major metropolitan areas, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The effort is Casper's first foray into physical retail on its own, the company said.
Shoppers have been able to see and test Casper products in West Elm stores since 2016 and in Target stores as of this year; Target now also sells Casper mattresses online and smaller items in stores.
Casper mattress, an internet commerce darling, is following in the footsteps of other once pure-play startups with a growth strategy that increasingly relies on brick and mortar. The new Casper pop-ups will showcase its new "Casper Wave" mattress, along with other sleep products like the Casper pillow, sheets, and the original mattress. All items will be available for purchase at each retail location, the company said.
"The demand to experience our products in-person has continued to grow exponentially," Casper co-founder and CEO Philip Krim said in a statement. "Casper retail environments allow us to seamlessly traverse online and offline, which we believe is paramount to an exceptional customer journey."
The news comes as Moody's Investors Service this week released a myth-busting report noting that Amazon has several weaknesses, not least that it depends on a sector of retail that's producing, at most, just 10% of all retail sales. While Amazon has steadily grown its own footprint in recent years, most profoundly with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods, its retail strategy as of now resides largely online. Younger startups like Casper that struggle with customer acquisition and shipping costs have leveraged later funding rounds to move on to physical retail to help scale, according to a report last year from L2.
In addition to allowing shoppers to touch and see the merchandise, physical stores have also proven to be integral to customer loyalty, returns, fulfillment and — believe it or not — a driver of online sales. "We found 'If I don’t have a store near my house to make an eventual return, I don’t make the purchase,'" Andres Mendoza Pena, a partner in global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney’s retail practice, told Retail Dive last year. "So let’s agree that a physical store adds value to consumers, even when they transact online."