These Direct-to-Consumer Brands Used Black Friday Weekend to Test Experiential Retail

Several shops created oasis-like settings for customers to enjoy

Burrow opened up its shop for people to relax during the hectic holiday weekend. Burrow
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

This was the year of the pop-up shop, as both old-guard retailers and direct-to-consumer ecommerce companies played with a bricks-and-clicks strategy. Macy’s, for example, experimented within its own stores with hosting rotating pop-ups with The Market @ Macy’s concept and newer companies like Winky Lux and Greats either opened up standalone shops or tried out temporary spaces.

For ecommerce companies, retail is a testing ground to both gather more data and see if the company’s products resonate with consumers outside of a Facebook and Instagram ad budget. For some this year, that meant seeing how shoppers interacted with a space during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. According to the National Retail Federation, more than 89 million people shopped online—and off this year, a 40 percent increase year-over-year.

“Black Friday and the holiday season is so stressful for consumers,” said Erica Amatori, director of marketing at Burrow, a furniture company. “For [Burrow], it’s not about pushing the consumer to buy but having them relax.”

Companies like Burrow and Snowe each tested and tried different concepts for the holiday shopping period.

Burrow opened up its shop in New York’s SoHo neighborhood to become an oasis for shoppers who traversed the trendy area. While the company had several sales on site (like $150 off orders of $1,000 or more) and additional promotions in-store, the brand also worked with different companies like Dirty Lemon, a beverage brand, to give people free drinks. The store has a small theater in its bottom floor, which was open for people to watch movies, complete with wine and beer. Amatori said the shop saw foot traffic double on Black Friday, and saw sales increase by seven times (she declined to share the exact numbers on both figures).

Snowe

“It’s all about finding what the customer journey is,” Amatori said. “Our whole purpose is to make them remember that Burrow is a cool brand and not necessarily educate them on what Burrow is.”

Burrow is going to start advertising the store more, beginning with a destination website that will have information on events and other activities that are happening there.

Burrow’s not alone in this strategy. Year & Day, a home decor brand, offered customers the chance to take a breather with some tea and skincare options. However, no discounts were given online or in-store.

“We did have an opportunity to delight our store shoppers in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to online which is one of the things that’s so exciting about having that in-real-life experience,” said Kathryn Duryea, founder and CEO of Year & Day. “For us, doing something that felt like a special touch that just made the experience more pleasant felt right thing for us to do on a day that we knew would have a lot of attention on us both online and in-store.”

The company’s pop-up, which opened last month and runs through Dec. 24, has so far driven double-digit revenue growth month over month (Duryea declined to share exact figures). It is also contributing to a “healthy” general web life of 40 percent and average weekly sales in the New York area increased by about 250 percent.

Year and Day

Snowe on the other hand, another home goods company, did not do anything different for its in-store experience other than offering a free tote bag with any purchase. However, Andrés Modak, co-founder and co-CEO of Snowe, said the company saw store traffic grow five times and saw sales increase by eight to nine times. The company’s pop-up, which is open through January, is located in the Flatiron district in New York. It’s the company’s second pop-up in the city, as it previously had one in SoHo last year.

“This new experience in Flatiron was telling the history of the brand, the design and manufacturing details and all elements of the products that make it truly exceptional,” Modak said. “We’ll continue to test until we figure out what is the perfect formula for our customer.”

Modak said the company plans on testing the pop-up experience in more cities across the country next year, but didn’t disclose which ones. He is however optimistic of Snowe’s “hybrid approach” of creating a physical location that can “inspire”—and make people shop.

Considering the growing force of Cyber Monday and Cyber Week, we have a feeling that more ecommerce companies will adopt this strategy for next year’s holiday season.

Get access to more stories like this – sign up for Adweek’s ecommerce newsletter today.


@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.