Wayfair has no problems selling furniture, home décor and housewares online, and is now turning to physical stores to broaden its customer base. After opening an outlet store and testing holiday pop-up locations, Wayfair is opening a full-line store this fall in Natick, Mass. The change of direction is not without risks.
“To work, Wayfair will need more stores and will need to make them an integral part of their business rather than just showrooms,” says Neil Sanders, managing director of GlobalData. “I am not sure that the business model, as it is currently configured, will support this.”
Others see Wayfair’s move into physical stores as a logical extension. “We have seen this time and again in the fashion space: An online-only retailer opening a bricks-and-mortar store, then starting a rollout of more of them,” says Charles Dimoy, vice president of marketing for OrderDynamics. “For Wayfair, the big opportunity is to leverage omnichannel retailing to reduce returns and give customers a great experience with their furniture.”
Build.com offers an augmented reality feature that allows shoppers to view products in 3D and perform such functions as turning light switches and faucets on and off. Build.com says about 1,700 products have been given the AR treatment, and about 5,000 shoppers a month use the feature. The company has found that AR users are, on average, twice as likely to return to the site or app as are non-AR users. They are also less likely — by 22 percent — to return items. In addition, customers who have used AR are its highest lifetime value customers and have the highest average order value.
“When customers can test out products in context, it increases their confidence in their purchase and greatly increases the likelihood that it fits what they’re looking for,” says Eric Weber, chief experience officer with Prolific Interactive, which worked with Build.com on its AR feature. “That has a direct impact on conversion [and]return rates, as well as customer loyalty and retention. Retailers will also be able to sell their higher-priced items that would previously be perceived as too risky to buy online.”