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Wayfair launches supplier boutiques

Kara Cox, Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, June 24, 2013

 Wayfair.com has developed boutique pages like this one as part of a program for suppliers of furniture and other goods to get their brand message out to the e-commerce retailer’s 10 million-plus monthly visitors.Wayfair.com has developed boutique pages like this one as part of a program for suppliers of furniture and other goods to get their brand message out to the e-commerce retailer’s 10 million-plus monthly visitors.

BOSTON — Home furnishings ecommerce giant Wayfair.com has launched an advertising program on its website, creating boutique pages and related display ads for suppliers of home furnishings and other goods.

The retailer said the program is designed both to build brand awareness for suppliers and to drive Wayfair's consumer traffic - visitors who are unwilling to buy big furniture items online - into bricks-and-mortar stores.

Wayfair has opened space for supplier display ads that are strategically positioned on category and other pages on its site. Once the consumer clicks on an ad, it takes her to a "custom boutique page" on the site, where a supplier can tell its story with high-resolution images, videos and text, as well as links to social media outlets and dealer locators.

"Brands spend a lot of time and money creating great assets to tell their brand story, and we have the ability to make sure those assets actually get seen by a large volume of in-market customers," said Michael Beaulieu, Wayfair's associate director of media solutions.

The cost will vary based on the extent of ad impressions, but the range is about $15,000 to $20,000 per quarter and includes the boutique page as well as the ad exposure, the company said.

And just like Get It Near Me - the geo-targeted retailer ad program launched in 2010 that's designed to draw consumers from the Wayfair site to local bricks-and-mortar stores - the newer supplier program is also designed to tap into Wayfair's heavy volume of consumers.
The ecommerce retailer said it's getting more than 10 million visitors and more than 100 million page views a month, significantly more than any single supplier could hope to draw to its own website.

"Our core business is ecommerce, but we only convert 2% of our visitors into customers," Beaulieu said. "The other 98% are going to buy in a local furniture store. It's not that we lost the sale. The reality is the visitor was just using our site as an educational tool to figure out what to buy in a store."

That's where both Get It Near Me and the new supplier pages come in.

Some 150 retailers are now advertising under Get It Near Me, said Mike O'Hanlon, vice president of corporate and business development at Wayfair.com, including about 16 Top 100 companies. They typically pay on a per-click basis with the cost ranging from $100 a month to $3,000, depending on the geographic radius from which the retailer wants to pull Wayfair visitors.

The supplier program, meanwhile, has launched with three companies signed on - Hooker Furniture, Hillsdale Furniture and Quoizel lighting.

In addition to a click on the display ads, a search for the brands in the main search bar on the Wayfair home page also takes consumer to the boutique pages, where they can continue to shop.

Wayfair said the program is open to all suppliers, including those who are not selling through the site.

Why not just send the clicks directly to a supplier's own homepage? O'Hanlon said there are too many visitors who may want to learn more about a supplier but aren't ready to make a complete jump off the Wayfair site, so the boutique pages keep them put.

However, as they move through the boutique page and get more interested, they have the option of clicking on a "where to buy" button, which does take them to the supplier's dealer locator.

Beaulieu said suppliers can think of Wayfair as a publishing vehicle. In the past, retailers and suppliers pumped most of their marketing budget into newspapers, TV commercials and the like. Now the consumer they're trying to reach is online, he said.

Wayfair is getting a large share of this digitally savvy consumer who Beaulieu called "contextually and intentionally correct," meaning they're prequalified, interested in the items they're seeking out and intending to buy.

Wayfair, which also sells kitchen, bed and bath and other items, did $600 million in sales last year, and 2013 first quarter sales were up 40% over the same period a year ago.

The company doesn't break out sales by category, nor would is say how big its ad business is today.

"We are looking to grow the publishing business working with brands and retailers, but our core business focus is e-commerce," Beaulieu said.

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