Glossier to transform NYC showroom into 1st flagship
Startup beauty brand Glossier announced on Monday it will open a New York flagship at 123 Lafayette Street in SoHo on Thursday, according to several news reports. In a tweet Monday, the brand alluded to "[t]wo shoppable floors of Glossier in real life at the same address where it all started." Glossier did not immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for comment.
The new store will open at the same location where the retailer's showroom has lived since it opened in November 2017, which has become known for its unique take on beauty retailing.
The company joins a group of digitally native brands moving into physical spaces after starting online, including the likes of Away, Bonobos and Modcloth. Up until this point, Glossier has followed more the model of the latter two, which have likewise opened showroom-style locations to promote products in brick-and-mortar settings.
Founded in 2014, Glossier has been quick to plant its flag in the beauty market. Since launch, the company has gathered $86 million in venture capital funding and has already made its way onto lists of retail's most disruptive companies.
According to a list compiled by LinkedIn in November 2017, Glossier was "the fastest-growing company on this list over the past 12 months," recording an annual employee growth rate of 257%, which is explained in part by Glossier's expansion plans, including international pursuits, which were announced last year.
The retailer is competing in a popular, and growing, space with plenty of competition. As well as startups like Birchbox, which recently partnered with Walgreens for a shop-in-shop play, Glossier is also up against stiff competition from Sephora and Ulta. Both companies have become well known for offering robust loyalty programs and a shopping experience more focused on engaging with products than on the transaction.
Indeed, Sephora updated its loyalty program recently to include even more perks for its members, presenting a compelling reason for frequent beauty consumers to shop there over, say, department stores. But more traditional players like drugstores and department stores have also been innovating in an attempt to compete with newcomers. Stores have been revamped at Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, and CVS is piloting an entirely new beauty store.
In short, Glossier has its work cut out for it. But the beauty brand seems, at least so far, to be more than up to the challenge. In addition to the retailer's success in raising venture capital funding, the company is also poised to benefit from the wave of retailers making business decisions based on conversations with shoppers — something younger consumers are especially interested in.
If Glossier's showroom is any indication of the flagship the company plans to open in the same spot, it's likely to promote a touch-and-feel shopping experience and a group of knowledgeable store associates waiting in the wings to answer questions.
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