Custom framing startup Framebridge is opening two retail stores

For a long while, you couldn’t swing a bag of cats around without hitting a retailer looking to create a digital presence. Now, the inverse is growing in popularity, with many digital-first retail brands looking to set up a brick-and-mortar shop.

The latest is Framebridge, a custom framing startup that has raised more than $67 million. The company is launching two new retail stores in the D.C. area, one downtown and one in Bethesda.

“We’ve tested a number of pop-ups, and there were people that had been to our site several times but wanted to see us in person,” said founder and CEO Susan Tysan. “At our pop-ups, average order values were 40 percent higher than they were online.”

The storefronts will still send orders through to the company’s production facility, which will ship final products to end-users. But for folks who come in the store, the hope is that the experience is hyper-similar to using the website.

Framebridge first launched in 2014 with a simple premise: take the pain out of custom framing. The startup lets users browse framing options on the website and see exactly what the piece would look like via website or app. Once the user chooses a frame, Framebridge sends a shipping label and materials to the user, who then sends it to be framed in the Framebridge framing center.

Putting the process online was one step, but bringing down the price was the real innovation here. Through some automation and a refined in-house production process, Framebridge is able to promise customers that the most they’ll pay through the service is $199.

That may sound steep, but folks familiar with the process of getting art framed know just how expensive it can get.

In fact, founder and CEO Susan Tysan came up with the idea for Framebridge after her own harrowing attempt to get four national parks posters framed. Many hours and $1600 later, she decided to shake up the framing industry and has gone on to raise upwards of $67 million from investors like T. Rowe Price, New Enterprise Associates and Revolution.

With the store openings, Framebridge hopes to bring the same simplicity to brick-and-mortar. The company integrated a new POS that allows users to have a nearly identical experience to that of the web and app storefront, allowing them to see their art on screen before they purchase. Plus, the pricing for each frame in every size is clearly marked right on the counter so no customer is ever shocked by the price tag at the end.

Tysan says that the strategy around launching two stores was to learn as quickly as possible. One store is larger and downtown, whereas the other is slightly smaller and in the suburbs, giving Framebridge the chance to see what works in various environments.

Tysan also mentioned that they’ve put particular effort into making sure the stores are beautiful and inspiring, rather than intimidating.

“The reality is that performance marketing continues to get more expensive and real estate is getting less expensive,” said Tysan. “Framebridge is a distinct category that makes senes offline. And even in my own painful experiences getting things framed before, I didn’t ever hate that it was offline. I hated that it was expensive and intimidating.”

The 14th Street store downtown, located at 1919 14th Street NW in D.C., is opening today at 11am ET, with the Bethesda location, 4806 Bethesda Ave, opening in April.

This post was originally posted at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/zAS4GJT6FXA/.

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