Two-year-old online mattress startup Casper is quietly planning to open physical stores, according to a series of ads for executives discovered by the New York Post.
The Casper job postings include a director of retail to “build, launch our retail store fleet,” a director of wholesale, a hospitality partnership manager and two dozen other positions worldwide needed for a brick-and-mortar strategy.
Casper inked a tie-up with Williams Sonoma-owned furniture retailer West Elm earlier this year, and has also run a series of pop-up stores in Los Angeles, New York and London.
Casper, like rivals Lessa, Yogabed and Tuft & Needle, has disrupted the mattress industry by scaling back the profusion of mattress types, qualities, prices and sellers to offer a lean list of equally priced mattresses.
These upstarts are grabbing a growing amount of the $14.2 billion retail mattress industry, which for years has taken the opposite tack — providing consumers with a hodgepodge of mattress types and price points that make comparison shopping between mattress stores and department stores nearly impossible. Tempur Sealy and Serta Simmons made 70% of bedding wholesale shipments in 2014, when half of the industry’s revenue growth came from price increases.
The success of e-commerce mattress retailers depends in large part on a model that allows them to inexpensively ship a mattress in a box so that it slowly unfolds until it’s ready to fit on a bed. But online sales may be hitting their limit in a retail space where many shoppers still head to stores to bounce, lie down and try to imagine how the mattress will feel at home.
Casper’s return guarantee may not be cutting it with those customers that want to see and touch the goods before plunking down payment. Indeed, the advantage of brick and mortar is proving irresistible to once pure-play online retailers like Warby Parker and Bonobos, which have both chosen to expand their physical locations.
The trend is the fulfillment of L2’s contention earlier this year that pure-play e-commerce is not viable for success. Many pure-play ventures are well aware of the need for brick-and-mortar; two-thirds of venture capital-backed e-retailers raised funds “with the explicit purpose of building stores,” according to that report.