Wayfair Will Open a New Furniture Store 

(Bloomberg) -- Online furniture retailer Wayfair Inc. will open a physical store in its home state this year, the latest e-commerce company looking to impress customers with showrooms and displays rather than just websites and Facebook posts.

The store, scheduled to open later this year in Natick, Massachusetts, will “bring the Wayfair brand to life in an engaging format to delight customers with convenience and ease,” the Boston-based company said Tuesday. People will be able to buy products in the store or order them for delivery to their homes.

Online retailers have increasingly recognized that a lack of physical stores is constraining growth. The move by Wayfair is another example of a phenomenon dubbed “clicks to bricks.” In-store purchases represented 87 percent of the $250 billion U.S. shoppers spent on furniture and home goods last year, according to Wayfair. The company said its new store will include designers to help people make choices.

Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc. purchased Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in 2017, after 10 years of trying to lure grocery shoppers online showed few results. Eyewear retailer Warby Parker Retail Inc., mattress seller Casper Sleep Inc. and clothing retailer Bonobos Inc. have all opened stores that give customers an opportunity to see and try merchandise before buying.

The furniture industry is especially tricky for e-commerce given the high cost of shipping large, heavy items to people’s homes. Amazon, which sells mostly small goods, has built specialized warehouses for bigger items. High delivery costs are weighing on the entire industry as customers grow to expect free shipping, said Jaime Katz, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Service.

“Shipping used to be a revenue center because you could encourage shoppers to add things to their carts to get free shipping, but that’s not the case anymore,” she said. “E-commerce just isn’t as profitable as stores.”

Wayfair has a discount outlet at its Kentucky warehouse and the company said it plans to open four temporary “pop up” locations this summer.

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