Wayfair said its opening its first full-service physical store this Wednesday.
The home-decor online retailer, which is known for selling lighting, rugs and furniture, is opening the location at the Natick Mall outside of Boston, where the company is headquartered. The company, which announced plans for the new store in March, already operates an outlet store in Kentucky that’s connected to its warehouse there, and this month also opened four pop-up stores in malls around the US.
With the new store, Wayfair is adding to a growing trend of online sellers diving into more brick-and-mortar retail as a way of introducing their brands to new customers and allowing buyers to test out their products before making a purchase.
Amazon has created dozens of stores, including bookstores and Amazon Go convenience stores. It also purchased Whole Foods and now runs its 500 grocery locations. Other smaller retailers joining this trend are Casper, Bonobos and Warby Parker.
While these new stores offer fresh, popular brands for mall operators, the broader physical retail market has faced a difficult downturn, with hundreds of stores closing and several retailers going into bankruptcy, in part because many more customers are shopping online.
The Wayfair store, which will take up 5,436 total square feet, will include hundreds of items for in-store purchases, including living and dining room, bedroom and kitchen products. The Wayfair Home Bar will offer free design advice and give a customer a chance to digitally style a room in her home and then see it in virtual reality.
Also, people can test out the company’s Custom Upholstery program to try out hundreds of colors and fabrics on pieces of furniture.
Spokesman John Costello said Tuesday the company had no additional plans to share on whether it will open more full-service stores.
Ben Fox Rubin