Why Online Retailer Casper is Getting Physical in Canada

Photo: Ryan Emberley

Photo: Ryan Emberley

New York City-based sleep brand Casper has launched a series of pop-up locations to build engagement with consumers, following its runaway online success of sales in excess of $100 million last year. 

Casper launched in 2014 as a direct-to-consumer online mattress retailer, with a twist -- the award-winning sleep surface is delivered in a "how did they do that?" sized box. Casper's memory foam mattress comes in a variety of sizes, beginning at $725 (Canadian). Recently, the company has expanded its product assortment to include a "perfect pillow" pillow-in-a-pillow and soft, breathable sheets. Casper keeps its prices reasonable by eliminating commission-driven wholesale channels and related costs, including retail space. The company's phenomenal growth saw it being declared one of Fast Company's "Most Innovative Companies in the World" and in 2015, Casper won the title of TIME Magazine's "Best Inventions of 2015"

Photo: Ryan Emberley

Photo: Ryan Emberley

On Wednesday, August 17, Casper announced that it was launching a line of dog beds, in three sizes, also available for order in Canada. 

Canadians have been particularly receptive to the Casper brand, prompting the company to engage consumers face-to-face with a series of pop-up initiatives. In the spring of 2016, Casper launched a "Canadian Nap Tour", bringing its "Napmobile" to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto for consumers to try products in-person. This month, Casper is continuing the pop-up trend with the launch of its "Snooze Rooms" in Toronto -- last week, Casper touched down at 602 King Street West. Between August 19 and 21, Casper will be present in Liberty Village (80 Lynn Williams Street), followed by two Yorkville pop-ups between August 23 and 25 at the corners of Yonge and Bloor and Bloor and Bay Streets.

Casper's 'napmobile' toured Canada in the spring. Photo: Casper

Casper's 'napmobile' toured Canada in the spring. Photo: Casper

Casper co-founder and CEO Philip Krim explained how Casper's pop-ups are marrying its e-commerce business model with experiential marketing, allowing for interaction as well as consumer product testing. Casper is targeting both existing customers and new ones, with face-to-face interaction also providing consumers the opportunity to provide realtime feedback with their product experiences. It's not about selling at the pop-ups, he explained -- Casper is looking more to engage and educate customers while gaining valuable feedback, without high-pressure sales common at some brick-and-mortar retailers. 

Casper's pop-up initiative could also be the first step for the company to eventually open permanent brick-and-mortar locations in Canada as well, Mr. Krim said, though nothing is specifically planned at this time. The brand will continue to engage Canadians with temporary retail spaces, as it continues to expand its online sales channel both in this country, as well as internationally. 

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: August 18, 2016