Wayfair Partners With Sherwin-Williams on Content Push

Online Retailer Saw Record Sales Gains During Holiday Season

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Online home-goods retailer Wayfair is linking up with Sherwin-Williams to produce content that will push color on the site -- allowing users to search for items that match the color of their room and leveraging the paint-supplier's technology to recognize colors in product images.

The pairing will be one of the largest for the Boston-based company, which has partnered with magazines like HGTV and Coastal Living and brands like Bose and Serta.

"It's going to be a little more prevalent and persistent than some of the other stuff we've done," said Michael O'Hanlon, VP-corporate and business development at Wayfair. "It's a longer-term partnership where both sides are quite invested in making it really beneficial."

He declined to reveal the budget behind that investment, and said the length of the partnership is open-ended.

The landing page for Wayfair's content partnership with Sherwin-Williams.
The landing page for Wayfair's content partnership with Sherwin-Williams.

"If you think about our site experience, color is a big important factor," said Mr. O'Hanlon. "And Sherwin-Williams is an authority on color. We're using their authority to help with the navigation and discovery experience on our site."

The partnership also puts Sherwin-Williams in front of Wayfair's 17 million unique monthly visitors, Mr. O'Hanlon said, connecting the brand with people who are interested in home improvement and may be inspired to paint.

Wayfair, which saw record sales gains during the holidays, has relied heavily on content partnerships like the one with Sherwin-Williams to draw in consumers since it rebranded about four years ago. The retailer reported a 51% increase in overall gross sales across its five brands which include Wayfair.com, Joss & Main, AllModern, Birch Lane and DwellStudio and including third party sellers, during the five-day period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Formerly called CSN Stores, the company was born out of the consolidation of more than 200 shopping sites into a single brand called Wayfair, which took place in September 2011. "Overnight our site went from being a site that was extremely transaction-oriented … all about getting people to the product and to checkout as quickly as possible … to a much more inspirational approach," said Mr. O' Hanlon, who joined the company in 2006.

Most people who visit Wayfair don't buy anything on the site. Mr. Hanlon said about 1% of visitors make a purchase, while the other 99% visits the e-retailer for inspiration. The rate is so high because people are less likely to buy big-ticket items like a mattress or couch online, he said. While most of Wayfair's more than 2,000 employees focus on improving that conversion rate, his team's priority is to think like a publisher and establish the company as a resource for inspiration.

In other words, it's a slow burn. Mr. O'Hanlon aims to drive more traffic to the site through partnerships that expand its reach to home-improvement shoppers. Then, it's all about gaining their trust and keeping them interested until -- voilà -- a purchase is made.

"If folks are coming to us for research and inspiration and we provide that to them, that's actually a really good outcome," said Mr. O'Hanlon. "The next time they think about buying something, they'll think back to us."

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