CSN Relaunches as Wayfair.com
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, September 16, 2011
BOSTON - Online retail powerhouse CSN Stores has relaunched itself as Wayfair. com, consolidating its more than 200 product sites into one megasite with 4.5 million items and 5,000 brands.
The company called the move a "major strategic development." After nine years of building sites named for categories, such as BedroomFurniture.com, Cookware.com and Luggage.com, it said the new Wayfair.com represents "a comprehensive catalog of everything for the home into one recognizable and robust branded destination."
The retailer is on course to top $500 million in sales this year from furniture (its largest business) and other categories.
Niraj Shah, CSN and now Wayfair CEO and co-founder, said that while the company has had years of success selling through its category sites, consumer surveys have sown the majority of its customers don't realize the company's size and breadth. Many are unaware it has other sites offering other products with the same great pricing and service.
Wayfair's customer base has been continually growing, he said.
"Our biggest opportunity is not going to be that single, one-off transaction," Shah said. "It's going to be really building a relationship with that customer so they can keep coming back over and over.
"We felt like unless we can start telling them who we are in a much more articulate manner, we're never going to get there. The problem is the niche-site strategy is not very effective for telling that story."
Shah added that the new site also has a "more consumer-friendly name, an attractive logo and layout, and a technically advanced site platform - upgrades that give customers faster, more enjoyable, and memorable shopping experiences all in one place."
Wayfair.com - which has a new tagline, "a zillion things home" - will expedite searches for items while also giving consumers broader browsing ability to view other home-related categories, including furniture and décor, cookware, lighting, tools and flooring.
The single category sites with be phased out over the next four to six months, Shah said.
In June, CSN raised $165 million in funding from private equity firms Battery Ventures, Great Hill Partners, HarbourVest Partners and Spark Capital. That funding, which the company called a "first round," is supporting the transition to Wayfair.com, as well as "appropriate acquisitions, and other plans for corporate expansion in the U.S. and globally," officials said.
Ask what expansion might be ahead, Shah said there are a few "buckets," including moves that would facilitate more speedy international expansion, help add products to its North American offerings, or improve Wayfair's customer experience, operations and logistics.
To accelerate and manage its growth, the company said it plans to hire as many as 200 additional people by year's end, after more than doubling its staff in the past two years. With the additional hires the number of employees will top 1,000.
Wayfair.com offers styles for all budgets, the company said. In loveseats, for example, choices include a traditional piece from Skyline for $449, a casual style from Rowe for $1,470, or a modern settee from Knoll for $3,823, with all three shipped free.
"Our mission is to become the favorite place to buy anything for your home," said Steven Conine, Wayfair's chairman and co-founder. "Based on our selection, strong service and competitive pricing we think this is achievable. We also keep our selection fresh by adding tens of thousands of new items each month."
Beyond Wayfair.com, the current brand AllModern and its first flash sale site JossAnd- Main.com will remain intact.
Wayfair spokesman Chuck Casto said CSN's Get It Near Me - a marketing program designed to drive traffic to local stores - will not change, except it's now called "Get It Near Me powered by Wayfair."
Wayfair said that in the past two years as CSN Stores, the company has grown more than 50% annually. Furniture/Today estimates CSN generated furniture, bedding and accessories sales last year of $230 million and total sales of $380 million.
Wayfair is headquartered in Boston with an operations and distribution center in Ogden, Utah, and another distribution center slated to open in Hebron, Ky., this fall. It has international offices in London, Munich and Galway, Ireland.