Sleepwear brand Homebodii is on a mission to grow its direct-to-consumer business with the launch of its first physical store at Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast and plans to open a US warehouse in February to cater to its American customers.
Since it launched nine years ago, the Australian label’s robes, pyjamas and loungewear have been stocked in Anthropologie, Nordstrom, David Jones, The Iconic and Revolve, but according to founder Ingrid Bonnor, “direct-to-consumer is the future”.
Homebodii has partnered with a company to open its US division in February and ship to American customers from Los Angeles. While the brand has solid wholesale partnerships, Bonner said she wants to offer customers faster shipping and capture a larger part of the market through direct-to-consumer.
At the moment, products are being shipped all over the world from Australia, which Bonner described as “a roadblock” when it comes to dealing with shipping costs, customs and delivery times.
After opening Homebodii’s first pop-up store a year ago, Bonner realised that bricks-and-mortar stores provided exclusive, intimate shopping experience that couldn’t be replicated online – this is especially important for the brand, as many customers are brides.
The new store offers a personalisation station as well as mind, body and soul workshops.
“Customers want that one-on-one, tactile experience where they can select the fonts, see the different fabrications, the linens and the cottons. We started the business on the Gold Coast, so it made sense to open our first boutique at Pacific Fair,” Bonner explained.
Bonner described Homebodii as “a joyful brand centred around life experiences”, where customers often come in to enjoy a glass of Champagne while buying pieces for their bridal party, their honeymoon or a new mum at the hospital. The plan is to open more stores in Sydney and Melbourne in the next two years.
While some online retailers may dismiss physical retail as expensive and unnecessary, Bonner believes it’s worth investing in creating an omnichannel experience and is looking forward to expanding her bricks-and-mortar store network.
“There is always going to be a place in retail for that hands-on experience, especially when you’re dealing with brides. They often order six to 12 months out from their wedding. It’s an important purchase for them,” she said.
“Customers spend a lot of time trying things on in our store. We can have a customer [stay for] 50 minutes in our stores while we serve them, making sure they have the right garment.”
Bonnor has also found it rewarding to build relationships with her customers and listen to their thoughts on the brand’s different textiles and pricepoints.
As she said, “You can’t get that feedback on a review forum.”