Casper extending reach into brick-and-mortar
Online mattress start-up Casper is getting more upfront with shoppers.
The fast-growing company plans to open some 15 pop-up shops in cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The pop-ups are scheduled to launch in October 2017, and will remain open through spring of 2018.
The temporary stores mark Casper's first significant investment in a company-owned retail presence across the U.S. Last year, the company partnered with West Elm to sell its mattresses in West Elm stores and through its website and catalog. (On Sept. 5, West Elm announced it was replacing Casper as its official mattress partner). And this past June, Casper inked a deal with Target. Under the terms of the agreement, the discounter sells Casper mattresses on its web site, with other Casper products, including pillows and sheets, also available in select Target stores.
The Casper pop-ups will showcase the brand's sleep offerings, including its newest product, the ergonomically designed Casper Wave mattress. Shoppers will be able to try out Casper's full product line-up, which in addition to its original mattress includes sheets and pillows. All items will be available for purchase.
"The demand to experience our products in-person has continued to grow exponentially," said Philip Krim, Casper co-founder and CEO. "Casper retail environments allow us to seamlessly traverse online and offline, which we believe is paramount to an exceptional customer journey."
Launched in 2014. Casper quickly developed a cult following for its mattress, which is made of memory and latex foams, and delivered in a box. The mattress comes with a 100-day money-back trial.
Flash site pioneer unveils redesigned, more customized Web experience
Online luxury retailer Gilt.com is kicking off its 10th anniversary with the launch of a new website.
The company, a pioneer in online flash sales, unveiled a complete site redesign on Tuesday. Dubbed “The New Gilt,” the site continues to feature daily new arrivals and the flash sales that it's known for, but it will also feature easier site navigation, more exclusive offerings, and edited and dynamic editorial content — all of which will contribute to a more tailored customer experience, Gilt said.
A robust navigation bar and expanded category tabs enables customers to shop by a general merchandise category, specific brand or one of Gilt's featured shops. With access to an expanded assortment of products, shoppers can also narrow their search via filters such as brand, size, color, price or item type, all the way down to the sleeve length or material of a dress.
Gilt is also using customer shopping patterns, search habits and profile preference to deliver specialized new product feeds, shops and editorial stories. Custom recommendations and similar products can now be viewed throughout the shopping experience through the use of updated visual recognition and machine learning technologies.
Gilt is also merging experiences into the site through its Gilt City feature, which positions an offer from a local business alongside merchandise. For example, an ad for a yoga studio sale may be highlighted with activewear. Gilt expects this move to position the company as “a one-stop lifestyle destination for both fashion and experiences,” the retailer said.
"The New Gilt is a totally redesigned shopping experience that lets customers shop their way, whether they're looking to be inspired or know exactly what they're searching for," said Jonathan Greller, president of Gilt and Saks Off 5th. "In this rapidly changing retail environment, listening to our customers and evolving to exceed their expectations is more important than ever before."
Gilt.com serves more than 9 million members.
Enter the Daily Needs Mall
You’ve read the news: More and more spending is moving online and retailers that have not been able to adapt are falling by the wayside. E-commerce accounted for 8.9% of all retail spending in early 2017 and has nearly tripled its share of overall retail spending since 2008.
Yet retail market conditions remain positive. National mall occupancy has slowly declined since the recession but hovers at approximately 96 percent, with 2.3 million sq. ft. of net absorption in the first half of 2017. This demonstrates mall owners are finding ways to attract new types of tenants that will continue to bring consumers into their centers.
How? In part, landlords are pivoting to retailers that address customers’ daily needs and spending, drawing foot traffic on a more regular basis.
Grocery stores and regional malls make a great match. Grocers appreciate available spaces in retail centers with plentiful parking. Mall owners value a tenant that households visit on average 1.6 times per week. Both sides benefit when customers can enjoy efficient, one-stop shopping trips.
Mall owners increasingly see grocers as viable options to replace struggling department stores. Furthermore, for centers that still have high occupancy, replacing a struggling department store with a grocer could be a boon to the center. The grocery store can increase foot traffic and may draw a higher-income customer than the department store attracted.
Combined with the growing number of visitors, grocery stores bring in higher sales per square foot. For example, the average sales-per-square-foot at Sears’ stores was $103 in 2016. At Kroger it was $553. Another department store, Macy’s, averaged $150 in sales per square foot, whereas the typical sales per square foot at Whole Foods was $915 in 2016! True, the store footprint for grocers may be smaller, but they bring in consumers more frequently and generate a substantially higher sales volume for the territory.
Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota, was the first modern indoor shopping mall. It was designed as a communal gathering place where people could shop, eat, and socialize. Southdale’s success has ebbed and flowed, but it served as the template for shopping malls in their mid-century spread across the United States and the rest of the world. This seminal retail center continues to demonstrate its adaptability, having recently announced plans for a Life Time Fitness to take over a 120,000-sq.-ft. space vacated by J.C. Penney. The fitness resort will feature a bistro, medical facilities, and rooftop pool.
Life Time Fitness is following in the footsteps of an increasing number of fitness centers and shopping mall owners. Active gym users go to fitness centers an average of 3.6 times per week, compared to the once-per-month that consumers typically visit a shopping mall. For mall owners, adding fitness tenants can significantly increase consumer foot traffic. Also, the average gym user has a median household income of more than $75,000 – 14% higher than the average American household.
For fitness-focused tenants, shopping malls can offer flexibility. Vacant department stores offer large spaces that can accommodate a variety of uses, from gyms with luxury spa facilities to rock-climbing walls. Inline spaces can be adapted to smaller, specialty fitness users. In both cases, shopping malls typically have plentiful surface parking to facilitate quick and easy access for gym users.
There is also an opportunity for fitness centers to create synergies with other mall tenants. For example, apparel retailers and fitness centers could combine marketing efforts to increase the sale of athleisure apparel and drive gym membership.
Sometimes, mall owners must look beyond retail users to fill vacant spaces in their centers. When that is the case, owners are increasingly marketing a portion of a mall – if not the entire property – as co-working space.
In San Francisco, Westfield opened Bespoke in 2015, converting 37,000 sq. ft. of San Francisco Center into co-working, event, and collaborative space within the larger 1.2 million-sq.-ft. mall. The property’s co-working members spend upward of $400 per month for their space, so the mall owner not only generates direct revenue from memberships but also drives revenue at the mall’s remaining stores and restaurants patronized by the co-working members. Staples stores also are exploring co-working and have a trial program underway that converts excess space in select stores into co-working space.
For shopping centers near office districts and transportation, co-working appears to be a viable method to fill space and adapt to new uses without significant construction costs. Co-working brings together office workers and clients in a retail environment. It is one more method to fill space, increase consumer foot traffic and, hopefully, drive sales at stores and restaurants within the center.