Flushed with success, DTC challenger Who Gives a Crap is poised to venture beyond the digital world for the first time.

In April, the Aussie loo roll supplier, which made more than £40m last year in UK sales, will roll out a six-strong range into bricks-and-mortar retailers. It will feature four and eight-packs of bog paper, plus kitchen roll and toilet tissue SKUs – all charmingly packaged in the style of Who Give a Crap’s online offer.

While listings are still to be confirmed, the brand sees it as a logical next step. “The vast majority of consumers aren’t buying their toilet paper online,” MD Emily Kraftman told The Grocer this week. “If we want to achieve those really big goals in terms of getting people to shift to a more sustainable choice, then we want to be where our consumers are.”

That makes a lot of sense – especially considering the post-pandemic slowdown in online grocery sales. Many small DTC players are struggling to keep up volumes. And even the biggest players are taking stock. Just this month, Tesco scaled back its plans for a network of urban fulfilment centres in the UK, while Aldi announced it would wind down home delivery of general merchandise ‘Specialbuys’ and wines & spirits.

The challenges are highlighted in latest ONS data, which found the UK’s proportion of volume sales online fell to 25.4% in December from 25.9% in November. That came after the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the performance of more than 200 brands, reported UK online retail sales plunged 12% in the year to April 2022.

In light of all that, Who Gives a Crap’s latest decision, therefore, looks shrewd. And for more than one reason. First, its retail presence will help the brand grow while providing protection from further digital decline. Second, it will serve as a tool to attract new DTC subscribers from the UK’s growing legion of eco-conscious shoppers.

That second factor, in particular, is driving trendy household suppliers of all stripes to expand from the internet into the high street.

Take Smol, which makes sustainable goods across cleaning, laundry and dishwash. “There are a lot of people who prefer to trial Smol before committing to a subscription,” says CMO Hilary Strong. Which is why the brand recently rolled into Sainsbury’s.

Other household challengers – such as Spruce, Bio-D and Homethings – have similarly targeted traditional retail to buoy their core online service. The advantage of doing so can be seen clearly in the personal care market, where Harry’s shaving and Wild deodorant are going great guns.

And for the new converts they attract, moving on to a DTC subscription has advantages of its own. For a start, they need never worry again about running out of laundry detergent or kitchen roll.

Then there’s the value of buying in bulk. Who Gives a Crap’s poshest lavvy paper, for example, works out at as little as £1 per double-sized roll, for a box of 48. You’d have to spend more than £70 in Tesco to get roughly the same amount of paper in Andrex’s fanciest range.

That’s a lot of product to load in your trolley – a reality that underlines the further upside of home delivery. After all, carting huge piles of bog paper out of the local supermarket is so 2020.