Online Furniture Seller Wayfair Opens Its First Physical Retail Store
Image Credit - Wayfair
25 April, 2024

Online Furniture Seller Wayfair Opens Its First Physical Retail Store

For the first time ever, Wayfair is stepping into the real world with a huge 150,000 square foot physical retail store. The new location will open on May 23rd in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, Illinois at the Edens Plaza shopping mall.

This flagship brick-and-mortar store marks a major shift for Wayfair, which has operated solely online since its launch back in 2002. While the company has experimented with a few small stores for its other brands like AllModern and Joss & Main, this is the first full-line Wayfair storefront.

So what can shoppers expect? The space will be divided into several distinct areas, including:

The Dream Center to test out mattresses

Market Square to browse decor, essentials, and textiles

The Design Studio for free interior design advice

The Porch café, modeled after IKEA's in-store restaurants

There will also be special opening weekend deals and family activities, though details haven't been revealed yet. After that, the Wayfair store will keep regular hours of 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday and 11am-7pm on Sundays.

The move to open a physical outlet comes as Wayfair has struggled with slowing sales and high marketing costs. "Wayfair's online business has been tremendously successful at generating sales. Unfortunately, it is not profitable because of the amount of marketing that has to be done to attract and retain customers," said Neil Saunders, retail analyst at GlobalData.

Wayfair's CEO Niraj Shah admitted the company "went overboard in hiring during a strong economic period" during the pandemic's online shopping boom. But with inflation squeezing budgets, demand for big-ticket furniture purchases dropped off sharply.

"It's basically a recognition by Wayfair that people shop in an omnichannel way, and like to visit stores as well as use online," Saunders said of the new physical retail space.

A good example of belief in brick-and-mortar retail locations is Walmart, which is growing the number of its physical stores across the US.

While it remains to be seen if the single store can turn around Wayfair's fortunes, the company is clearly hoping it provides a "halo" effect promoting more online sales. Saunders speculates a successful debut "could be the start of wider physical expansion for Wayfair" down the road.

For now, online shopping will remain the primary way to buy Wayfair furniture and home goods. But the new Illinois store offers an enticing opportunity to experience the brand's affordable style and top sellers in person for the first time.