UPDATE: Aug. 26, 2019: Wayfair this past Wednesday opened its first permanent location at the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts. In addition to offering complimentary design consultations at its Wayfair Home Bar, the new store will allow customers to digitally design a space through virtual reality technology, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
“Consumers can visit the Wayfair store for inspiration, select from hundreds of items available off-the-shelf, and shop Wayfair's full catalog of 14 million products across every style and price point, all with the helpful support of trusted design consultants at every step,” Wayfair Chief Product and Marketing Officer Ed Macri said in a statement.
- Wayfair on Tuesday announced it will open its first full-service retail store in early fall at the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts, according to a company press release.
- The company says shopping in the store will be a "seamless, connected experience," and shoppers will be able to buy directly in-store or have items shipped to their home. Customer service and home design experts will also be available for complimentary design consultations. Additional details will be released in the early fall.
- The digitally native furniture brand will also roll out four pop-up shops later this summer. The locations have not yet been released.
Wayfair's foray into physical retail comes after the apparent success of two pop-up shops, including one during the 2018 holiday season at the Natick Mall, which is a short drive from the company's Boston-based headquarters. The company also operates an outlet connected to a warehouse in Kentucky.
“With the opening of our new retail store, we are offering our customers a new way to enjoy Wayfair’s exceptional shopping experience as we continue to transform the way people shop for their homes,” Niraj Shah, CEO, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, said in a statement.
The holiday pop-up stores helped boost the company to record fourth quarter growth. Wayfair direct retail net revenue rose 41% to $1.99 billion. That kicked up its full-year 2018 net revenue by 44.7% to $6.7 billion.
The company is still growing significantly online. Active customers rose 37.9% year over year to $15.2 million, as of Dec. 31, but advertising expenses are also rising. For the full year, advertising expenses were $774 million, compared to $550 million a year prior. As is the case for many digitally native brands, Wayfair's cost of acquisition for new customers is likely rising, which is one major reason to get into the brick-and-mortar business.
Even businesses that previously swore they'd never go physical, like Everlane, have taken the plunge. Over the next five years, digitally native brands are set to open 850 stores, according to a report from commercial real estate firm JLL. Notably, Casper is building out 200 stores and Adore Me is plotting up to 300.