Glossier is opening its first permanent store in Seattle since shuttering all of its locations last year, the company said in details emailed to Retail Dive. It's the beginning of a broader return to physical retail for the DTC brand.
The 6,200-square-foot Seattle store opens on Friday, to be followed by a Los Angeles location in the fall, and London in the winter. A previous Glossier pop-up in Seattle had the highest conversion rate of any of its physical locations, at more than 70%.
While the DTC brand has fallen back on digital channels over the past year and a half, its stores and pop-ups saw over one million visitors in 2019, according to the company. Prior to the pandemic, Glossier still made 80% of its sales through e-commerce.
Brick-and-mortar planning for DTC brands is back as the harshest impacts of the pandemic begin to wane (though the highly contagious delta variant is threatening broad-based recovery).
In many ways, DTC brands were better positioned to weather the impacts of the coronavirus in 2020, selling mostly online and generally having smaller footprints. Glossier made the decision halfway through last year to give up on its physical presence for the time being, laying off its retail staff and permanently shuttering its locations.
Now, on the back of revenue growth across all of its categories in 2020, Glossier's physical plans are back. The DTC brand is replacing its two permanent stores from last year with three permanent stores in 2021, and CEO Emily Weiss said in a blog post earlier this year that the company has an "exciting retail roadmap" that involves opening more stores in 2022, including in New York.
For many DTC brands that saw record growth thanks to the digital-driven consumer behavior of the past year, the pandemic has presented opportunities for expanding their physical footprints, while many others in the industry focused on shrinking. Outdoors focused Faherty opened seven new stores in the fourth quarter because of the favorable real estate market, and athleisure brand Vuori told Retail Dive in June it had plans for five new stores in the summer and the fall.
For Glossier, physical retail has been productive, with an average conversion rate of 50% at its permanent stores and 60% at its pop-ups. They've also in the past been magnets for Instagram posts, and driven extensive lines and hype for the brand. With the particular success of the Seattle pop-up, opening a physical store just blocks from where it once sat makes sense.
"We're thrilled to be returning to physical retail starting with our new permanent store in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood after seeing so much success from our pop-up in the area in 2019," Emily Lewis, head of retail operations at Glossier, said via email. "This new space is one of our biggest and most imaginative offline experiences to date, and builds on everything we've learned from years of experimentation with various concepts and formats."
The store is four times larger than the Seattle pop-up Glossier ran, and one of Glossier's "biggest offline experiences to date," according to the company. The store design is inspired by Seattle's natural landscape and innovative technology. It mixes "futuristic" and industrial elements with "rolling moss hills, massive boulders and floral and mushroom details throughout the terrarium-like space."