In my presentation on Wednesday, I explained that Wayfair intends to be the number one destination for furniture and home goods. Based on our wonderful visit on Friday and on research I didn’t have the chance to share last week, I wanted to take the opportunity to go into more depth about two other ways that Wayfair is separating itself from the competition in the home goods market.
First, a (very) brief recap on Wayfair:
Wayfair is an e-commerce furniture retailer founded as CSN Stores in Boston in 2002. Niraj Shah and Steve Conine, the co-founders, now serve as CEO and Chairman. Wayfair is the most popular online store in furniture and homewares by e-commerce net sales, but threats to growth from Amazon and traditional furniture retailers like William-Sonoma are imminent. As I explained Wednesday, Wayfair must continue to solidify their brand, improve shipping, and curate the best furniture shopping experience to come out the clear winner on furniture.
Based on Friday’s presentation on the CastleGate Fulfillment program, it’s clear that Wayfair is investing heavily in their shipping and delivery experience. On Friday, I was blown away by one feature that I hadn’t come across in my research leading up to my presentation: Real-Time Delivery Tracking.
Day of Delivery Tracking
One of the biggest problems for consumers purchasing furniture online is receiving their order. Just like with cable installation, furniture delivery often requires customers to spend the day waiting at home for a delivery window that could span the entire day. This is the cause of massive amounts of frustration, and no doubt leads to the telecommunications industry being rated in a survey as the worst provider of customer service behind the government, which is not often lauded for its efficiency.
As Wayfair delivers more and more furniture, it would be of paramount concern to avoid being lumped in with telecommunications companies when it comes to customer service in the home. To combat this issue, Wayfair launched Day of Delivery Tracking. The feature sends customers an email or a notification from Wayfair’s app on the day their order is being delivered with a link to track their package. From there, they’ll see a map of their Wayfair driver’s location, number of stops left before their delivery, and an estimate of when their driver will arrive at their home, all in real time.
This is a major innovation for Wayfair that Associate Director of Business Intelligence, David Aaron called “The Uber of home delivery”. Being able to track an order right down to the driver’s location takes the stress out of receiving large furniture deliveries and will contribute to solidifying Wayfair’s position as the leader in online home furnishing. The feature was available in ten markets upon launch and is continuing to expand.
Unfortunately, at this time, the feature is only available for items shipped through the CastleGate Fulfillment program. While this covers Wayfair’s best selling items, it does not contain their full catalog. One can imagine customer frustration stemming from expecting to have this feature available and then realizing that it is not possible to track all Wayfair items in this manner. As such, to go further in customer satisfaction, Wayfair may look to expand this feature to a much larger portion of its inventory.
Another way that Wayfair is separating itself from the competition is it’s Design Services. I mentioned Wayfair Design Services briefly in my presentation last week, but I’ll go into more detail here.
Just last month, Wayfair rolled out it’s new Design Services platform. Wayfair Design Services gives customers a brief survey about their needs, style, and budget, and then pairs them with a professional interior designer that can recommend concepts, designs, and products from Wayfair and other retailers.
Currently, two packages are offered, Lite and Classic. For the $79 Lite package, customers get a design concept, shopping list, and 30 minute phone call with their interior designer as well as unlimited online messaging. For $149, customers get all of this plus a room and floor plan and a 60 minute phone call as part of the Classic package.
This is another important step for Wayfair in creating an excellent consumer experience on their site. Customers who are not very design savvy now can access professional designers to assist them with making purchases from Wayfair without ever leaving Wayfair’s site or mobile app. Besides the added benefit of creating a new stream of revenue and improving customer experience, the survey preceding customer use of Design Services and all the interactions that customers have with the designers provides Wayfair with more data on consumer preferences and budgets. This sort of data is highly coveted by the company and is used to further improve their online experience, as we learned from David Aaron on Friday.
Now, with Design Services, Wayfair can assist customers throughout the entire furniture buying process. From the beginning, Design Services helps customers decide which products and designs align with their goals, and AR allows them to envision these products in their own home. Once they place their order, Day of Delivery Tracking makes receiving their shipment seamless. All of these features combine for an unparalleled customer experience in online furniture retail.
After our visit to Wayfair on Friday, I’m impressed by their commitment to improving consumer experience and excited to see what features they roll out next.