Walmart home site Allswell, an online mattress and bedding brand, on Thursday launched a "Tiny Home" retail concept, a 238 square-foot "custom-built, highly-stylized and functional house on wheels."
The pop-up truck, custom-built by tiny home builders Modern Tiny Living, is traveling coast to coast, starting in New York on Thursday, for visits and shopping, according to a brand press release. The mobile home will go to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Nashville, Tennessee, Austin, Texas, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.
The tiny traveling house has four rooms, which feature Allswell beds, a couch and bedding, and are designed not only to be shoppable but also to be "social media-friendly vignettes," the company said.
Online pure-plays are popping up all over the physical landscape, an acquiescence to the reality that consumers want to personally check out merchandise, especially for the home.
"We have had customers begging us to come to their cities so they could test out our mattresses," Allswell Brand President Arlyn Davich said in a statement. "We couldn't think of a better way to do so than with a Tiny Home and literally welcoming people into our home, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the brand."
That doesn't seem like a lesson a brand run by the world's foremost brick-and-mortar retailer would have to learn. Yet, Allswell launched last year offering sales only online and, in a departure from Walmart's previous strategy, is not affiliated with Jet.com. Indeed, as Walmart also beefs up its marketplace of third-party sellers, also Jet's forte, the retail giant appears to be depending less on Jet to take its fight to Amazon.
Walmart has had difficulty moving upscale because it has pulled the plug on such efforts when they don't immediately show fruit, experts have previously told Retail Dive. Jet, which the retailer acquired in 2016, enjoys sales from wealthier customers that tend to also shop at Amazon, and Walmart has mostly chosen to affiliate Jet with its other acquisitions, like Bonobos, to take advantage of that.
But Allswell also reflects Walmart's desire to partake of the hot mattress market, where sales are being fueled by fierce competition among startups that have disrupted manufacturing, merchandising and marketing. Legacy players like Mattress Firm and others have ceded market share to a slew of newcomers, which include not only digitally native brands like Casper, Tuft & Needle, Leesa and Purple, but also two decade-old Amazon.