Fab Now Offers Made-To-Order Products, A Physical Retail Store

The e-commerce site for everyday design wares is going analog with a new brick-and-mortar retail store–one of a few new tricks the company’s founders are testing as they attempt to conquer the world’s design market.

Fab’s brand has become as synonymous with the term “pivot” as the e-commerce company’s founders want it to be with “design.” In three years, Bradford Shellhammer and Jason Goldberg have taken Fab through two failed gay-centric ventures and a successful flash-sale e-commerce business, expanding to 28 countries and about 600 employees along the way.


So, naturally, the pair decided the time was ripe for another pivot.

Goldberg and Shellhammer unveiled the big details–“Ikea and Amazon big,” according to the duo–behind the company’s next step last night, including an overhauled suite of web and mobile apps; new lines of “Exclusively Fab” products forged by an in-house design team of about 10 Fab-brand product designers and partners such as the Andy Warhol Foundation; a new “Designed By You” option for shoppers to custom-order products; and the company’s first physical retail store in Hamburg, Germany.

The pair also announced Fab has acquired Massivkonzept, a German online custom furniture maker. Massivkonzept’s custom-order tools will anchor the new Designed By You Fab channel, an outlet where shoppers–just in the EU to start–can order products to their exact specifications. Shellhammer says Designed By You will start off with mostly wood products, such as tables and shelving, as well as some upholstery and modular seating options.

Custom-order products will complement Fab’s new push for its in-house designed products, which will initially include mostly textiles and tabletop items, but will soon also include luggage and furniture, Shellhammer says. He adds he expects to see 3,000 in-house designed products go to market by the end of the year.

Sample materials for custom-ordered products, as well as other Fab wares, will also be on display at the company’s Hamburg showroom, the first of multiple physical stores that will open this year (including a second store in Germany, Goldberg confirms). He also says Fab will experiment with various store concepts to evoke the same delight and kitsch of its online shopping experience. There’s no word of a U.S. store yet, but considering Fab’s international sales skyrocketed to 40% of its total in April, it’s not too surprising the company has its sights set on maturing its global brand.

Fab also recently announced its first design competition.


All of these bring Fab closer to the founders’ ultimate goal: to become “the world’s #1 design store.” What does that mean? For starters, Goldberg believes “with certainty” that Fab will hit “double” its 2012 sales, which means the company will total roughly $300 million.

[Images courtesy of Fab]


About the author

Christina is an associate editor at Fast Company, where she writes about technology, social media, and business.