Wayfair names new head of brand planning
Wayfair on Tuesday announced that Ezra Englebardt joined the company in June as chief of brand planning. He is tasked with establishing the company’s creative strategy for flagship Wayfair and sub-brands AllModern, Birch Lane, Joss & Main and Perigold.
Englebardt was previously VP of brand planning at Bai Brands, and before that was a strategic planning director at MullenLowe, with clients ranging from the hospitality industry to the financial sector, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Wayfair last month reported that second quarter direct retail net revenue rose 48.8% year over year to $1.6 billion and that active customers rose 34% to 12.8 million as of June 30. The quarter marked the largest year-over-year direct retail dollar growth in the company's history, CEO and co-founder Niraj Shah told analysts, according to a conference call transcript from Seeking Alpha. But net loss in the quarter was $100.7 million.
Wayfair enjoyed a revenue spike from its first-ever one-day sale in April, giving it the largest single revenue day in the company's history, executives told analysts last month. More broadly, its marketing is paying off: From July last year to June this year, the retailer's direct traffic rose 66%, according to a report from digital intelligence firm SimilarWeb emailed to Retail Dive in July.
But the online furniture retailer still struggles in many ways, mostly under the weight of the expenses of logistics and advertising, and difficulties reaching scale. Over the last four quarters, Wayfair "has not been able to surpass consensus [earnings] estimates," according to Zacks Investment Research.
The logistics of online furniture sales are particularly difficult because customers can't see or touch merchandise before they buy, which leads to higher returns on goods that are already expensive to ship. Post-purchase solutions firm Narvar has found that, on average, 40% of those buying apparel and home goods online at least occasionally buy more than they want to try things out at home.
While furniture sales are increasingly moving online, there's plenty of competition, including legacy players like Pottery Barn as well as new entrants. Amazon in November launched two furniture brands, Rivet and Stone & Beam, Target's new Project 62 furniture line and eclectic home brand Opalhouse are part of that retailer's renewed commitment to differentiated merchandising, Walmart this year updated its online furniture site and La-Z-Boy in July acquired online furniture startup Joybird.
That makes branding key for Wayfair, though that's a tricky task in an era when the democratic nature of social media has increasingly interfered with retailers' messaging.
Correction: An earlier version of this story's headline misstated Mr. Englebardt's role. He is Wayfair's new head of brand planning.
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