Like many of its newer online competitors, Wayfair is doubling down on brick-and-mortar by opening its first permanent store. The Natick, Massachusetts-based outpost will open its doors to shoppers this fall.
The store will offer a "new way" for consumers to shop the brand, according to Niraj Shah, CEO, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair. On a recent conference call with analysts, Shah compared the value of a storefront to the value of a TV ad that tells a story in a way that online text ads cannot. "We think stores and in-person interaction, considering the breadth of what we offer and the high-touch service experience we offer, we think there are certain things you can do in a store," he said on the call.
Wayfair, which generated $6.8 billion in net revenue last year, is in good company. A host of direct-to-consumer retail startups are expanding by opening their first stores as customers expect brands to be able to meld the online experience with a physical shop. Wedding company Zola is currently running a pop-up shop in New York City through April, while lingerie seller Lively and sneaker brand Greats both opened stores last year.
The Wayfair shop will have home design experts available to chat with shoppers for consultations and provide recommendations. The store will allow consumers to immediately purchase some products. That is unlike some newer stores run by DTC brands in which customers can order, but not take home, merchandise.
Wayfair plans to have promotional content across various marketing channels to promote the effort, according to a spokeswoman.
In the last few months, the Boston-based retailer has been dipping a toe in the physical realm with a series of holiday pop-up shops meant to build buzz and build consumer engagement. Wayfair will continue the trend by opening four pop-up shops this summer.