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Wayfair sells 14 million products. Here’s what its first-ever store is like

Consultants will offer free design advice and help you pick custom upholstery for your furniture.

If you’re outfitting a new home, there’s a good chance you’ve popped onto the Wayfair website. But it can get overwhelming scrolling through the 14 million products the retailer sells. If you’re in the Boston area, you’re in luck. Wayfair has just opened its first-ever brick-and-mortar store with a curated selection of products and consultants on hand to help you design your room.

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Wayfair has grown quickly since it launched in 2002: it now generates $8 billion a year and has 14,500 employees. But unlike its competitors in the furniture space, like Ikea, West Elm, and Crate & Barrel, Wayfair does not specialize in a particular aesthetic or price point. It’s a great platform if you know exactly the kind of furniture you’re looking for to decorate your room, but if you’re looking for inspiration, it’s a little harder to navigate the Wayfair website.

[Photo: courtesy Wayfair]

This 3,400 square foot store in Natick Mall, a few minutes drive from Boston, is organized to help consumers who are earlier in the design process and may find the gargantuan Wayfair catalog unwieldy. It is equipped with a Home Bar, where customers can get free design advice from consultants.

There’s also a “Room Planner” area, where customers can work with consultants to digitally re-create rooms and then decorate them with Wayfair furniture. Then, they can see the room in virtual reality at full scale, allowing them to virtually step into the room they just designed. The design will be saved so that customers can log into it when they get home, to pick up where they left off, or make purchases. It is also possible to customize some pieces of furniture on the Wayfair website. Otherwise, the store is set up like any other furniture showroom, with various rooms of the house staged with hundreds of pieces of Wayfair furniture and sections where you can pick up decor items. If a customer sees something they like, they can purchase items off the shelf or can have pieces delivered to their homes.

It’s yet another example that brick-and-mortar retail is far from dead. It’s just undergoing a transformation. In today’s world, physical needs to complement the online shopping experience, and this appears to be what Wayfair had in mind when it built out this store.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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