It has turned out to be one of the shortest-lived retail formats in history, right up there with catalog showrooms and flash sale sites. The direct-to-consumer retail business model which did away completely with stores — the so-called evil middlemen who were the bane of consumers everywhere — and operated only online arrived with great fanfare in the late 2000-teens (is there a better way to say that?). They certainly touched a nerve with shoppers, and brands like Casper and Warby Parker made lots of headlines, some decent sales and absolutely no profits. Hence, the move to broaden their distribution to — wait for it — stores. Opening their own stores, selling wholesale to other retailers and generally compromising the basic premise of their business became the de facto way these direct sellers progressed.
Now, the DTC model is essentially history. Yes, these companies continue to sell online but much of their business — in the case of Warby, the majority — is now conducted in physical stores. So much for the new way to retail.
I take a look at the rise and fall of DTC in this new post for Home Textiles Today, the business media title for the soft home sector. (And despite the fact that it appears this has the byline of my esteemed colleague Jennifer Marks on it, trust me, I wrote it.) https://www.hometextilestoday.com/e-commerce/no-direction-home-the-end-of-the-direct-to-consumer-era/