Casper started out as an online mattress brand, but it's now opening 200 stores across the United States. We visited its first permanent store, which opened in February in New York City.
- Mattress startup Casper will open 200 stores in the United States after opening its first permanent location in New York in February, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
- These stores are likely to be similar to the New York store, which is designed to be a testing ground for the company to trial new products and see how customers interact with them.
- Casper CEO Philip Krim told the Journal that the company plans to test out the model of the stores and adjust them based on feedback from customers.
Casper is opening 200 stores.
Just months after it launched its first permanent location in New York, the online-mattress startup confirmed plans to drastically grow its store count across the US, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Casper CEO Philip Krim told the Journal that sales have grown more quickly in markets where the company has opened temporary stores.
"It's a way to educate new consumers," he said, adding that the new stores will help the company to market its other sleep-related products, such as pillows, bed linen, and dog beds, which were more recently rolled out.
Since it launched online in 2014, Casper has become one of the biggest disruptors in the mattress industry. Customers can order the product online, trial it for 100 days, and return it if they don't like it. Total sales reached more than $600 million in 2017, and it has diversified from its core mattress product to sell all things sleep-related.
It has also expanded its mattress range to offer more pieces — a queen-sized mattress, for example, can cost from $600 for a standard mattress up to $1,850 for a more technical piece.
50 Cent is an investor, as is Target, which now stocks Casper products in more than 1,000 of its stores across the US.
After running a series of pop-ups around the country, Casper opened its first permanent store in New York in February. The digital retailer is entering the brick-and-mortar game as legacy stores such as Mattress Firm succumb to the pressures of the retail apocalypse, scale back, and shutter stores. But Casper told Business Insider that it has a strategy to make it work.
"It's all about creating an amazing experience. It will be a zero-pressure environment with no commission sales people," cofounder and chief operating officer Neil Parikh told Business Insider.
We visited the store shortly after it opened earlier this year. See what it's like:
The New York store is located in Manhattan's Noho area, on the popular shopping street Broadway. It took the design team a year to create the concept and just over a week to get it up and running. When we visited, parts of the store were still under construction.
Casper wants to eliminate the mindset that shopping for a mattress has to be a dreary experience by creating an engaging space where customers can trial products and have fun. There are no salespeople working on commission. "It's really meant to be the antithesis of a traditional mattress retailer," Emma Frane, communications director at Casper, told Business Insider.
"We want to create places that are fun and exciting. More like the Apple stores and less like a traditional mattress store, where you're like, 'Ugh, I have to go take a shower after I've been inside,'" Parikh said.
Casper created a pillow with two different types of fiber — when you switch sleeping positions, the inside rotates to support your head. You can touch and feel the fibers in the store's pillow section. "It's like the science museum. That's kind of a hard thing to conceptualize online," Parikh said.
The store will evolve over time with its customer. "There used to be this idea that a retailer would spend thousands of dollars on a flagship store and then it is done forever. Today you're going to see a lot of continuous iteration cycles," Parikh said.
One of the big advantages of this store is that you can buy the products then and there, including mattresses. You don't need to wait to have them shipped to you, which is typically what other digitally native brands do to minimize the footprint of their stores. Below the shop is a large basement where inventory is stored. Products can be shipped within two hours if you live in New York.
One of the unique parts of the store is the "birdhouses" where its test mattresses are stored.
The idea is to make the experience of trying a mattress more discreet. Parikh describes it as an intimate moment if you go in with a partner. "You have your own bedroom here," he said.
They created open ceilings so that customers wouldn't feel trapped. "You want to feel you're in an enclosed space but not scared," Parikh said.
Each room has a different design and sound effects, such as bird noises that activate as you walk in.
The use of steps in the shop was also strategic. "Kids and families love going upstairs, as it makes like you're going somewhere," Parikh said.
Krim told the Journal that he hasn't decided on the size and layout of the 200 stores or confirmed where they will be.
The company will test different store models and adjust them based on customer feedback.