Wayfair, the Boston-based seller of home goods, said this week that it will open its first full-service physical retail store in early fall. The store, which will be located in the Natick Mall in Natick, Mass., is designed to extend the way Wayfair customers shop. Customer service and home design experts, for example, will be in-store to offer free design consultations to shoppers (as are available via Wayfair's online interior design service). Consumers will also be able to immediately purchase products in-store and have orders placed for delivery to their homes. In addition to the Natick Mall location, Wayfair will open four pop-up shops later this summer. The pop-ups will offer an immersive experience for consumers to interact with the brand, giving visitors the ability to shop a curated selection of products for in-store purchase, including decorative accents, wall décor, and seasonal pieces.
Total Retail's Take: This isn't Wayfair's first foray into the world of brick-and-mortar retail. The company previously operated a pop-up shop at the Natick Mall during the 2018 holiday season as well as a second pop-up shop at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J. In addition, Wayfair recently opened an outlet store connected to its Florence, Kentucky warehouse. Wayfair is following in the footsteps of other digital-native brands that have dipped their toes — for the most part successfully — into the world of brick-and-mortar as a way to boost sales and let shoppers touch and feel products. Online mattress seller Casper, for example, announced plans to open 200 stores in the next couple of years. And online clothing brands Bonobos and UNTUCKit expect to open more shops, too. With regards to Wayfair, the concern I have is how will the company will go about curating the products its sells on its website and fitting them into a freestanding store. After all, Wayfair prides itself on being the world’s largest online destination for the home, with more than 14 million items sold on its website across categories such as home furnishings, décor, home improvement, and housewares.