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When e-commerce home decor giant Wayfair opened its first store after dealing with recent employee layoffs, one question remained: How would it work?
Which Furniture Store Pays The Most
Wayfair and its colorful circle logo are everywhere these days: on boxes opened by Bobby Burke last season.
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, hover over photos of your high school friends’ kids in Facebook sidebar ads. Its common refrain is “Wayfair, you’ve got what I need!” — may be embedded in your subconscious.
It was also in the news. In June, Wayfair faced protests from employees who walked out of the company’s Boston office to protest the employer’s sale of cribs to a government contractor that supplies detention facilities at the U.S. border. The breadth and focus of coverage of this issue shed light on just how big the company is. Everyone knows what Wayfair is.
Or are they? Even if you order furniture from a website, you may not be able to tell exactly what it is. Brand? Market? Something else entirely?
Wayfair sells more than 14 million products across five websites. It also has 80 “house brands,” which aren’t really brands, but act as a way to categorize and market products to a particular decorative aesthetic. He doesn’t manufacture any of the products he sells, instead using a drop-in model. When customers place an order, Wayfair buys the item from one of its 11,000 suppliers and then ships it to the customer, but this happens in a variety of ways.
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In 2018, it sold about $7 billion worth of products and made a total profit of about $1.5 billion. But the company isn’t profitable because it spent $2 billion in operating costs (more than a third of it on marketing) to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. However, its sales are increasing every year and it is winning repeat customers.
The market for affordable furniture and decor is limited to a few entities, and in the age of Instagram, decorating trends change faster than you can say shiplap. Shoppers have come to rely on retailers with large selections like Amazon, Overstock, Houzz and Wayfair for home decor and, increasingly, furniture, as waiting for quick delivery has become the norm. Wayfair became a behemoth due to the dot-com bust of the early 2000s, the changing nature of online shopping and an increasingly global supply chain. He emerged as a leader among his peers. But it can be very confusing for consumers.
Wayfair is more than just Wayfair.com. It also owns Joss & Main, AllModern, Perigold and Birch Lane. Wayfair.com is the go-to site for most of the company’s offerings, from furniture to appliances to the hilarious one-person sauna that went viral. Other sites offer less merchandise, but they are free-themed. AllModern is contemporary, while Joss & Main and Birch Lane are distinct and unconventional. The newest site, Perigold, is more upscale, but seems to be aimed specifically at someone with a castle and/or villa. (Looks like a $27,000 twin bed set, priced under $32,000.
In addition to Lifestyle Brands, products are grouped into one of Wayfair’s 80 house brands sold exclusively on Wayfair.com. “The goal of our brands is to curate this wide range of choices and create an environment where you can understand what style is all about. [It’s] to make the shopping experience easier,” says John Blotner, Wayfair’s head of private label, visual media and new suppliers.
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There’s Loon Peak, Bungalow Rose, Laurel Foundry Modern Farmhouse, Winston Porter, Andover Mills, Brayden Studio, Breakwater Bay, Lark Manor, Millwood Pines, Gracie Oaks, and Beachcrest Home, all of which appear to have been generated by the name generator. . The latest, published a few days before the parade, is called Hashtag Home. It’s colorful and, as the name suggests, social media friendly.
According to Wayfair’s May earnings call, more than 70 percent of its sales come from house brands. The remainder of the sale is items not folded under the house brand umbrella. For example, you can find Safavieh rugs sold under the Safavieh name. However, to confuse things further, Safavieh also offers Wayfair items that end up in the house brand category.
I bought two house brand Breakwater Bay Peralez nightstands that came in Safavie boxes. Nowhere in the listing does it say that they were produced by Safavieh. When you click on the Breakwater Bay “brand” page, it’s described as follows: “Whether you live by the sea or inland, Breakwater Bay brings nautical style to any space.” All of this is great for Safavie, which can sell its products in a variety of settings, as Safavie president Arash Yaraghi explained to me. The company has name recognition, so Safavieh can sell things to people who are looking for Safavieh, as well as people who are looking for nautical bed tables and don’t know or care who made it.
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In traditional retailers, house brands, also known as private labels, are usually produced by an outside company, then packaged and sold to resemble the authentic brand. The store makes higher profits and customers get cheaper prices than outside brands. When you order something from Target’s house brand Threshold, it comes in a Threshold box with Threshold branding and a distinct look. It’s all compatible. Anika Sharma, an adjunct professor and marketing specialist at New York University’s Stern University, says, “It’s important that the packaging communicates with the consumer.”
This does not apply to Wayfair home brands. All of these brands have proprietary digital photo treatments that make them attractive and easy to shop for, but the branding stops once you’ve ordered it from a beautiful digital page. Wayfair doesn’t care if you remember something from Breakwater Bay or Bungalow Rose. “We always want people to say Wayfair,” says Blotner. “I wonder if people will say in the future that Bungalow Rose is a great brand?” Maybe, but I want customers to say, “Man, it’s so much easier to shop at Wayfair.”
It is Williams Sonoma Inc., which owns “lifestyle brands” and “home brands” Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn and West Elm. It would be interesting to compare with a company like But it’s not quite the same. William Sonoma, Inc. All of the brands are unique stores with their own aesthetic and merchandise. While the same manufacturers may make furniture for both stores, you won’t find the exact same table at Pottery Barn and West Elm, or find these products at any other retailer. This does not apply to Wayfair and its sites that offer certain products. These products can often be found on competitors’ sites, often at different prices.
“The vast majority of Wayfair products come directly from the factory or import warehouses. Wayfair buys it [in the U.S.] from a reseller, and then, in most cases, that reseller ships directly to the customer’s home,” said furniture industry analyst Jerry Epperson. (That started to change as Wayfair installed its own warehousing system, called CastleGate, to help suppliers get items to customers faster.) Basically, Wayfair uses a classic shipping model and doesn’t have its own merchandise.
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Wayfair decides what merchandise to sell and sets the price for everything, just like any traditional retailer. The money you pay for, say, my Breakwater Bay tables, goes directly to Wayfair. But then Wayfair buys the tables from the supplier at a lower, pre-negotiated price—in this case, Safavie.
Quartz first reported in 2017 the phenomenon of one substance with many names and prices. Any retailer can buy from the same suppliers as none of the designs are exclusive. Aside from a few brands like La-Z-Boy, consumers aren’t familiar with furniture brands, Epperson said. So sellers can brand them however they want. (Like Zara and fashion, you can find knockoffs. For example, this Pottery Barn leather desk sells for $1,200; Wayfair has a similar desk for $285.)
Here’s what it looks like: Bungalow Rose Bargas 6-Light Empire Chandelier with wood beading, $369.99, $369.99, $369.99 at Wayfair.com. But it’s also available on JossanMain.com, one of Wayfair’s lifestyle brands, as the Bargas 6-Light Empire Chandelier, with just one image. At the time of this writing, it costs $359.99. At one point I saw them listed for $359.99 and $362.77 respectively. I also did a Google image search and found it
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