Wayfair Inc. is expanding its reach into the physical world with the launch of two pop-up physical stores for the holiday season. This is the first time Wayfair will operate pop-up shops.
The 400-square-foot pop-ups will allow shoppers to browse home goods products, and then place orders for next-day or two-day delivery. Wayfair will have more than 300 SKUs of tabletop and housewares products, which is just a sliver of its roughly 8 million SKUs available online. The same products will be available at each store, says a Wayfair spokesman.
“We are featuring bestsellers from our online catalog with a touch of holiday décor,” he says. “Our goal is to showcase a variety of categories, from bedroom and living room, to categories such as renovation.”
The shops will also have a “how-to” section that features more than 100 fabric swatches so shoppers can touch and see what the fabric would look like if they want to purchase an upholstered piece.
Wayfair’s customer service and home design employees will also be at the shops to recommend products and show shoppers how to use its online design services, which matches shoppers with an interior designer to design a room with Wayfair products.
“Building on the success of our television advertising and direct mail, this pop-up experience is yet another way we are deepening engagement with customers beyond our online presence,” says Ed Macri, chief product and marketing officer at Wayfair.
The two shops will be open Nov. 1 through Jan. 2, 2019, and will be located in Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts, and the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. Shoppers will not be able to make online returns to the pop-up stores.
The retailer would not reveal if it would extend the pop-up’s timeline post holiday season.
“We’re always testing and learning from new ways to engage with our customers,” the spokesman says. “While we have no further plans to share at this time, we’re excited to meet a segment of shoppers offline and see how they respond.”
Wayfair is the latest retailer to announce pop-up stores for the holidays. Web giant Amazon.com Inc. and Good Housekeeping magazine have teamed up to open a pop-up shop inside of Minneapolis’ Mall of America for three months. The pop-up shop will allow shoppers to browse 40 Good Housekeeping-curated products and then buy them off of Amazon.com.
Even though Amazon and Wayfair are largely online retailers, their presence in the physical retail is noteworthy, says Tom Buiocchi, CEO of ServiceChannel, a provider of software to manage contractors.
“For the last decade, the story in retail has been one of sales moving inexorably online,” Buiocchi says. “But a new generation of companies is making brick and mortar cool again, and they come from an unlikely place: the internet.”
In addition, 1-800-Flowers.com Inc.-owned retailer Harry & David plans to open 20 pop-up retail stores during the holiday season, in addition to operating its 40 year-round stores.
Plus, Party City plans to operate 50 pop-up toy stores from September through the holiday-shopping season to take advantage of Toys R Us’s absence. If all goes well, the retailer will likely expand the format next year.
Wayfair is No. 13 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, Amazon is No. 1, 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. is No. 66, and Party City is No. 283.