When times are tough, companies are more willing to test new ideas and Target, Warby Parker and Amazon are pushing the boundaries of traditional retail.
Target gets in bed with Casper
After failed attempts at an acquisition, Target has instead invested in Casper Sleep, a foam mattress startup.
An unnamed source close to the deal said the chain is investing $75 million in a funding round that will reach at least $100 million.
The cash infusion in Casper, which sells foam mattress online and delivers them folded up to customers’ doors, is the latest partnership between Target and young brands like Harry’s and Who What Wear.
Recode quotes the company’s statement on the deal: “Target invested in Casper because we believe in their team, their ideas and their vision for reimagining sleep.”
The statement continued: “The strategic partnership offers Casper access to an established retail brand and gives Target an opportunity to work with a future-focused digital brand that is exploring an area that is meaningful for our guests—sleep and wellness.”
Amazon eating into grocery market
Though there’s a good chance that most Amazon Prime members have never been to a drive-in movie, much less a drive-in restaurant replete with carhops, Amazon is cribbing that model for its Amazon Fresh Pickup locations, which launched this week in Seattle.
In keeping with the convenience of shopping the e-tail giant, the grocery locations are meant to be a seamless and quick way to food shop. For now, Amazon Fresh Pickup is only available to Prime members.
The move allows Amazon to dive deeper into the grocery market while also alleviating some last-mile costs and concerns.
Amazon’s other grocery experiment, Amazon Go, is still in the testing phase. The cashier-less stores were slated to open already but the company is reportedly trying to work out some kinks.
Warby Parker sees the future of eyecare
With its new Prescription Check App, eyeglass retailer Warby Parker is enabling consumers to skip the trip to the eye doctor.
The app works in concert with the shopper’s computer to administer an eye test designed to confirm that their current prescription is still valid. It doesn’t rely solely on tech though, the results are reviewed by a physician.
Currently the service is only available to shoppers in a handful of states and those who fall within the 18-to-40-year old range.
“We’ve been exploring vision technology for a long time” a Warby Parker spokesperson told Tech Crunch. “We weren’t able to find existing technology with a user experience that met our standards so we decided to build it ourselves.”
The new app removes some of the friction in buying new glasses, especially for those who would like to do so online. It is the latest disruption from a brand that launched the eyeglasses-by-mail concept before diving into physical locations.