Follow in the footsteps of other digitally native brands that have gone click to brick like Bonobos, Warby Parker, Framebridge and Tuft & Needle, Wayfair this week opened its first physical store in the Natick Mall in Natick, MA, outside its Boston headquarters.
This trend is an acknowledgement by online-first sellers that despite the rapid growth of ecommerce and the closing of thousands of retail stores in recent years, there is still considerable value in letting shoppers see, feel, touch and test items in person at a physical location.
Amazon is no stranger to this movement, having opened dozens of locations including Amazon Go, bookstores and Amazon 4-Star locations. This of course is in addition to 500 Whole Foods stores, where among other things you can pick up Amazon orders at lockers.
Wayfair has an outlet store at a fulfillment center in Kentucky, but this is its first full-service location. It has also opened up four pop-up stores this month in malls. The Natick location featured a Wayfair pop-up last holiday season, as did another mall in Paramus, NJ.
“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,” said Niraj Shah, CEO, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, when the plan was announced in March. “We look forward to inviting our customers further into the world of Wayfair, welcoming them to step inside our newest shopping experience guided by the knowledgeable support and expertise of our in-store design team.”
As it has done for its online offerings, the Wayfair store features the ability to view how pieces will look in a customer’s living space via virtual reality, and a Home Bar has experts offering free design advice. However, customers will not be able to bring returns to the new store.