Wayfair.com, formerly known as CSN Stores, has created a profitable business with more than 200 sites dedicated to home goods and furnishings. All of these micro-sites are now under one umbrella, forming a mega-site that is gearing up to take on the likes of retail giants like Amazon, Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report)and Target (TGT - Get Report).
|Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah|
Niraj Shah and Steven Conine started CSN Stores in 2002, around the same time Amazon first started churning a profit.
"The idea was to focus on online retail, but in category others at the time weren't really covering well," Shah told TheStreet.E-commerce was littered with start-ups that were trying to sell cheap books, electronics and DVDs, but few were focusing on the home goods market. After launching Racksandstands.com, Shah and Conine continued rolling out these dedicated sites with domain names like Bedroomfurnituredirect.com, Strollers.com and Everyatomicclock.com, which culminated in about 200 sites, 4.5 million items and 5,000 brands. Now Wayfair.com, which officially launched as the rebranded site in September, is a compilation of all of these sites, carrying 1,900 kitchen faucets, 1,000 dog beds and 1,300 bedroom sets. The company defines home goods broadly, offering staples like furniture, decor, housewares and home-improvement merchandise, as well as pet items, luggage and outdoor recreation goods like kayaks and canoes. While the offerings in home goods are abundant, Wayfair.com stops short of trying to be all things to all people, refraining from featuring apparel, electronics, books, movies and music. "We only want to participate in categories where we can offer the customer the best experience," Shah said. "First and foremost we are focusing on home. I don't want to say we would never go beyond this, but right now we have a long list of things we want to do in home." "By just focusing on home we can do things that other retailers don't do because their focus is broader," he continued. "Amazon's experience on their site is tailored to certain categories and goods, which are different than the ones we are in. Their home offering, it's not bad, but there are a set of costumers that would prefer to shop in a different way."