After connecting celebrities and athletes, the Aura Smart wants the ring to become a staple accessory. This week, Aura took a big step toward becoming a national brand by announcing that its smart ring will be sold through Best Buy.
Aura was founded in Finland in 2013 and launched with a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 – since then it has sold over one million rings in 98 countries. With sensors, the ring tracks several daily health parameters such as REM state, activity levels and resting heart rate. The company has raised a total of $148.3 million in funding to date and has amassed a cult following among wearable tech and security enthusiasts.
The company’s profile has increased over the past few years, particularly in the NBA They bought 2,000 rings For gamers living in the 2020 bubble. The company’s ring has gathered celebrity fans such as Jennifer Aniston, Kim Kardashian and Prince Harry. Released in 2021, the generation 3 model achieved more sales than all previous versions. Now, Aura is ready to court major tech customers through a major retail startup. Ura rings are sold at over 850 Best Buy locations as well as retail websites.
Fifty of these stores will have an 11 x 11 foot Oura store-within-a-store featuring video displays and sizing equipment. The rest of the Best Buy stores offer standard Aura items. So far, customers can check out with their purchases at only 250 of the total locations, while another offers home delivery.
“The brand has built over the past decade through word-of-mouth,” Doug Sweeney, Ora’s chief marketing officer, told Modern Retail. “We were primarily a direct-to-consumer brand.”
Bringing Aura to life in stores
“When we started thinking about which retailers to partner with, we constantly came back to Best Buy,” Sweeney said. He added that one of the biggest selling points for Ora is that 70% of American households live within 10 miles of a Best Buy. “It has been a leading global electronics retailer for decades and provides a great experience.” Best Buy is also carrying more lifestyle and wearable technology; By the end of 2022, the retailer He started to carry Fitness tracker brand Wip.
Like many DTC brands entering retail for the first time, the new offline presence is meant to increase brand awareness among key audiences. But like many mass-market brands, Sweeney’s concern about efficiency is the biggest barrier to entry for customer input, which can be overcome with in-store displays.
“It’s important to test the product because it sits on the finger all day,” Sweeney said. Aura rings start at $299, with models costing up to $549 for select styles and such as rose gold.
To ensure correct sizing on the website and minimize exchanges, Aura sends customers a sizing kit of several plastic models and recommends that they wear the model to sleep before confirming their size with the company. So Aura had to figure out how to recreate that size item in stores.
The company decided not to display actual rings for testing, Sweeney said, due to the number of display models required in multiple locations, as well as the need to frequently adjust or replace rings due to wear and tear on the sales floor.
“We created about 10 prototypes with Best Buy before we settled on the final sizing device,” Sweeney said, “where customers can put their hand in to get the right finger size.”
To prepare for the start, Sweeney said he had an auraHe was getting the products into the hands of Best Buy employees and training them on how to talk about Aura and all of its features and benefits. Sweeney said the company has spent time building its merchandising strategy to reflect all the content and services offered on the Oura site. In addition to streaming video content, Best Buy visitors can explore and scroll through the features of the Oura app to understand what an Oura membership can offer.
Customers who purchase their ring at Best Buy are onboarded through the Oura app to begin using the device. “The roadmap on the software is very deep as we build more features,” Sweeney said. “Bringing customers into this ecosystem is a key part of our business.”
Focus on cooperation
While Best Buy is Ora’s first major brick-and-mortar play, the company has been experimenting with retail concepts over the past few months.
Last December, the brand partnered with Japanese retailer Softbank to sell the rings at seven brick-and-mortar locations in Japan and at Softbank’s select online store. In the year In 2022, Aura partnered with the Therabody brand, which offers Aura ring sizing and ordering at more than 20 Therabody wellness centers.
Collaborating with designer brands was another area of focus. Last year, Aura released a limited edition ring with Gucci, which has since sold out. The Designer Edition costs $850 and includes a lifetime membership to the Oura app.
Brand partnerships like these will continue to be a big part of Ura’s growth strategy. “There’s a lot of partner activity that we’re looking at on both the hardware and software sides,” Sweeney said. “There will be more collaboration down the road.”
Retail consultant Rebecca Kondrat says it makes sense for a brand like Aura to enter a large tech-focused retailer like Best Buy.
Additionally, Kondrat added, the recovery from Covid has shown us that people are willing to pay for their own health. “The customer base that walks through Best Buy is highly qualified to purchase Aura,” Kondrat said. “Then there are customers who intend to buy online but have to go through the hassle.”
Kondrat As with online jewelry brands, size is often a deterrent for customers who want to feel and try on an item before pulling the trigger on an expensive purchase. And so, a brick-and-mortar presence solves some of the pain points to convert more people into Aura users. In this case, Kondrat likened Oura’s store-within-a-store design to Apple’s Target presence.
As Aura Court becomes a more mass market customer, the company plans to continue to expand its offerings and offerings. “I think we’re going to reach a wider audience with this launch,” Sweeney said. But he is still a person who is interested in health and being healthy.
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