3 x Digital-First Brands Opening Physical Stores

Many digital-first brands start their businesses online in order to bypass heavy brick and mortar retail costs, and to retain more control over their marketing and distribution.

Now, according to research by JLL, it seems that it’s these digital-first brands that will be storming the high street in the next five years. Over 100 digital retailers’ pop-up and permanent retail plans were inspected, including Everlane, Allbirds and Away, in order to forecast their future brick and mortar presence.

It’s estimated that 15% of those retail locations won’t actually be selling anything; instead, they’ll act as showrooms for consumers to browse and purchase later online (a shopping pattern 50% of 18-35 year olds say they’ve done, according to YPulse).

‘Millennial’ mattress brand Casper alone is planning for 200 stores, and their CMO thinks retail is having a “rebirth”. Here are three other direct-to-consumer brands set to storm our high streets.

1. Away

Sometimes you just want to be able to see and feel a product before you buy it, which is what Away’s brick-and-mortar stores will be able to fulfil.

Physical spaces will give the brand a canvas for events, customisation and a space to showcase complementary travel lifestyle brands.

If their pop-ups are anything to go by, inspirational travel quotes lined up alongside their stylish luggage will make customers want to head straight to the airport after leaving their stores.

2. Glossier

For fans obsessed with cult beauty brand Glossier’s products and aesthetic, nothing will make them happier than visiting one of their showrooms in person.

Their signature pink spaces give consumers the opportunity to speak to ambassadors, stock-up on their favourite beauty essentials as well as grab a selfie-moment – satisfying our craving for unique and valuable brand experiences IRL as well as fuelling content creation for our increasingly plugged-in, digital lives.

3. Warby Parker

An early direct-to-consumer success story, try-before-you-buy glasses company Warby Parker now has over 60 retail stores across the US and two in Canada, where you can browse its on-trend eyeglasses and sunglasses IRL. Flagship locations now offer comprehensive eye exams.

With statistics revealing 72% of millennials plan to increase spending with brands that provide a lasting impression and opportunity to connect, it’s no wonder digital first brands are stepping their game up when it comes to activating in the physical world.

SEEN is compiled by LOVE’s Head of Culture, Kat Towers. Want to say hello, ask questions or challenge her cultural knowledge? Get in touch - kattowers@lovecreative.com