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Online Home Goods Store Wayfair Opens Its First Physical Store

Wayfair, the online home goods company, has opened its first physical store near Chicago in the US. 

In an interview with CNBC, the CEO of the $12 billion company revealed that the 150,000-square-foot megastore is in Wilmette, Illinois, and opened in May. Niraj Shah, who is also the company’s co-founder, told the news broadcaster: “If you think about the categories we’re in, they’re typically very visual categories, or very tactile, or, you know, considered purchases, because it’s reasonably expensive and you’re going to put a lot of care into picking the right item.

“Depending on what purchase someone’s making, they may prefer the in-store experience and getting to work with an associate. Or they may want to discuss financing or want design help, and we can provide all of those experiences. We provide them online as well, but sometimes, in-store can be either more pleasurable or more effective.” 

CNBC adds that this opening reflects a wider trend and Wayfair is joining other brands including cosmetics company, Glossier, in opening physical spaces. It reports that online-only companies have been forced to evolve because of competition from Chinese companies including Shein and Temu; but also because privacy rules have made direct marketing more complicated. The Pandemic had a huge impact on sales as has the cost of living crisis and maintaining an often free returns policy continues to sting.  “Wayfair’s retail ambitions come as online-only companies look to plot their next phases of growth in a landscape that has evolved since their companies were founded, making it harder than ever to run a profitable e-commerce business”, CNBC states.

Shah promised more large-format stores in the interview; and this is part of a wider reversal of fortune for physical stores. In 2022, for the first time in five years, there were more new openings of stores than closures. This was according to Coresight Research’s US and UK Store Tracker Databank

Liza Lefkowski, Wayfair’s vice president of merchandising and stores said of the new store: “You’ll see furniture, you’ll see the marketplace, which is very decor centric, but we have home improvement, which includes large appliances, kitchen cabinetry, tile, doors, hardware, you’ll also see housewares, small electric, there’ll be storage and organisation. You’ll see a number of categories outside of furniture, but that are very core to your home.”



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