The furniture retailer Wayfair was among the first e-commerce sites in its industry, and its first-mover status continues to inform the ways that it expands its value offerings to appeal to online shoppers. Rather than play around with augmented reality or virtual bots just because it can, Wayfair seeks to implement cutting-edge technology to enable its customers to find value and personalized assistance as they seek ways to make their residences into true homes.
On its own website and app, the company offers “virtual concierge” services, by allowing shoppers to play around with available products, moving them on a virtual backdrop to experiment with how they might look if put together in their own living room. If they are not quite to the point of picking out particular furniture items, they can select a decorating style to get inspiration. Or they can upload a picture of a piece they’ve seen elsewhere and loved, and Wayfair will search its inventory to find something similar.
Beyond its own sites and apps, Wayfair maintains a strong presence on social media and readily facilitates purchases. On Instagram for example, it posts appealing arrangements of furniture and accessories in a room. When browsers click on an item, the simple move takes them directly to a purchase page. That page also lists the other, coordinating items at the bottom, so if they want to get the entire look, it is easy for shoppers to do so.
On Facebook, its goal is more focused on expanding its reach, so the videos it posts are often silly and fun. Rather than conventional lamps or tables, these videos tend to feature Wayfair’s more innovative furniture offerings, like Murphy beds and hammocks. Aligning the unconventional furniture with quirky, entertaining videos helps Wayfair establish its brand image in a way that appeals to many social media users.
These easy access formats resonate especially with Wayfair’s intended audience. Because it sells modern furniture at a relatively low price point, its main consumers are younger shoppers, often seeking to furnish their first homes. In addition, it does not maintain any physical stores, so it has to find ways to reach these consumers through channels that they use regularly.
1. Is it sufficient for Wayfair to stay online, or should it consider becoming an omnichannel retailer? Defend your answer.
2. Wayfair offers extra services but doesn’t necessarily charge higher prices. How does it manage to achieve this value position?
Source: Suman Bhattacharyya, “How Wayfair Is Personalizing How You Buy Your Furniture Online,” DigiDay, August 2, 2018; Dominique Jackson, “8 Standout Social Media Marketing Examples from 2018,” Sprout Social, May 29, 2018; “Wayfair Social Media,” entry for 10th annual Shorty Awards, https://shortyawards.com/10th/wayfair-social-media