Can Wayfair fend off the bigger guys?
Niraj Shah, Wayfair’s CEO and co-founder, is confident that elevated demand for home goods and furniture will continue even as pandemic restrictions ease. He’s even more confident his platform will be able to defend its turf against larger competitors chasing the burgeoning home opportunity.
Mr. Shah told analysts on Wayfair’s first-quarter call that, early in the pandemic, consumers first focused on sprucing up home offices and home schooling environments but “this demand surge very quickly extended across the many, many classes that we sell, a phenomenon that has persisted through today.”
Even as demand for travel and entertainment are returning, the pandemic has “fundamentally increased the share of wallet customers will spend on their homes in the future and the amount they will spend online,” he said.
The shift toward remote work and thirst to entertain in upgraded or new homes is also expected to stoke demand.
On the call, an analyst asked about competitive threats for Wayfair as Amazon.com reportedly is launching a furniture assembly service and big discounters and home improvement chains invest in home amid a booming housing market.
Mr. Shah said Wayfair’s custom-built platform specifically addresses the needs of shopping for the home. “Shoppers need inspiration through relevant content, discovery through a wide assortment and confidence that is built through strong merchandising, fair prices, reliable delivery and effortless customer service,” he said.
Advertising on the platform addresses the browse-oriented customer shopping journey of the home category. The site makes use of accentuated product imagery, video and other visual assets, important elements to selling home products online. “If you look at the merchandising that we’re doing and what we’re doing with imaging and rendering imagery, there is still significant differences of us versus the large competitors we have,” said Mr. Shah.
Finally, Wayfair stands out for its logistics that includes 17 warehouses across North America and Europe, as well as its WDN middle- and last-mile delivery service that handles bulky delivery turned down by common carrier networks.
Mr. Shah said the larger retailers’ logistical networks are often being optimized for grocery or one-hour delivery but not for the home category, adding, “we’re specialized on this category.”
- Wayfair Announces First Quarter 2021 Results – Wayfair
- Wayfair Inc (W) Q1 2021 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
- Amazon Plans Furniture Assembly Service to Catch Wayfair – Bloomberg
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will strength in the home goods category continue post-pandemic and is Wayfair ideally positioned to take advantage of the momentum? How would you rate Wayfair’s strengths and weaknesses versus its larger competitors?