Over the last few years, we’ve seen how direct-to-consumer brands that started online have launched brick-and-mortar stores. Everlane recently opened stores in New York and San Francisco, luggage brand Away now has five stores around the country, and home brand Parachute has been opening cozy locations in big cities.
But four-year-old Casper appears to have the most ambitious brick-and-mortar strategy of them all. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, it plans to open 200 stores, including 18 existing pop-ups, which it says it will convert into permanent stores. This is a massive retail expansion, considering that Casper is already selling products through existing retailers like Target, Nordstrom, and Amazon.
It’s an odd move for Casper, which is seen as a digital pioneer. The brand, which has a whopping $239.7 million in funding, helped normalize the idea of buying a mattress online and receiving it in a big box at your doorstep, totally bypassing the need to go to a store. Mattress shopping, the brand argued, was a major pain point for consumers. Until now, Casper has played with several retail concepts, including The Dreamery, where customers can pay $25 to have a 45-minute nap in a Casper bed.
Casper makes the case that this aggressive move into physical retail will help it stand apart from the many other mattress brands that have sprung up online, including Saatva and Purple. But expanding this extensively into brick-and-mortar also carries risk. Incumbent mattress company Mattress Firm, which has a network of 3,400 stores, has had to shutter many of its locations, and Reuters reports that it is currently exploring bankruptcy.
Ultimately, it is hard to be nimble when you have massive real estate investments and long leases. If customer shopping habits change, Casper won’t be able to easily tweak its game plan.