Wayfair’s brick-and-mortar strategy takes shape

Online resource to open its largest standalone store in Chicago suburb of Wilmette May 23

WILMETTE, Ill. — The opening of Wayfair’s largest store in this Chicago suburb on May 23 represents the latest step in an ongoing brick-and-mortar store strategy the online resource has developed around the country.

At 150,000 feet, the Eden Plaza store is more than 10 to 18 times the size of the company’s other branded retail locations around the country, offering consumers what it describes as “a one-stop shop for all things home — including furniture, home decor, housewares and home improvement products, for any style space or budget.”

An artist’s rendering of the Wilmette, Illinois, store set to open May 23

It also has an onsite restaurant called The Porch where customers can dine as part of their shopping experience.

Like other locations under the Wayfair and its other specialty retail brands, the store aims to create a shopping experience in local markets for existing and new customers alike, allowing them to see and experience products in person versus just browsing online.

However, at 150,000 square feet, the product mix will be much larger than the other branded stores, which range from 8,000 to 15,000 square feet in size, the company told Home News Now.

Its other branded locations include four Wayfair Outlet stores in Greensboro, North Carolina; Deer Park, New York; San Marcos, Texas; and Florence, Kentucky.

It also has three stores under its AllModern brand in Lynnfield and Dedham, Massachusetts, and Austin, Texas; three Florida locations under its Birch Lane brand in Boca Raton, Sarasota and Tampa and two under its Joss & Main brand in Burlington, Massachusetts, and Oak Brook, Illinois.

Niraj Shah

During a recent conference call regarding its Q1 results, Niraj Shah, chief executive officer, co-chairman and co-founder, told analysts, “We’re excited about the launch of the first large format Wayfair store,” adding that it’s in a dense suburban area “which would be where we would find a great population of our customers. It’s a 150,000-square-foot store, and we think that size allows us to take the breadth and depth of what Wayfair represents and have it come to life.”

“We’re obviously very excited to see what the sales performance is and then how it plays out,” he added, noting that the approach has been to launch a small number of stores for each of the brands over the past couple of years. Thus, as a new player in the brick-and-mortar realm, it will take time for each store to develop a clear track record in their respective markets.

“One of the reasons we’ve approached physical retail in this organized and methodical way — we’re only launching a couple stores for each of our brands, and then iterating to make sure that we really dial it in before we then scale — is to make sure that the unit economics work the way we expect, that the customer loyalty that it engenders and creates, which would be both online and offline, works the way that we would expect, and we don’t necessarily expect that you get that right out of the gate,” Shah said during the call.

As the company’s latest financials do not currently appear to break down the actual performance of physical store versus online sales, Shah indicated that the company will provide more information on the dynamic between Wayfair’s physical and online presence in the future.

“Over the quarters to come, as we start to get data, we’ll share what we’re finding, but we’re very excited about the launch of it,” he told analysts.

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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