Wayfair – From a Nursery Based Start-up into a Global Leader in Home Furnishings

Wayfair – From a Nursery Based Start-up into a Global Leader in Home Furnishings

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In 2002, two Cornell University Bachelor of Science graduates, Niraj Shah and Steve Conine, created the CSN Stores. The name was coined from a mix of their initials. The company started running the racksandstands.com website selling storage furniture and media stands.

Before running CSN Stores, as Wayfair was initially known, the two entrepreneurs had launched other companies such as Simply Mobile & iXL, an international consulting firm. After starting with storage furniture and media stand sales, CSN Stores, as referred to at the beginning, added additional garden and patio suppliers in their range in 2003. This included three more web stores plus dozens of workers before relocating from the Boston, Massachusetts nursery they had been operating from, which belonged to Steve Conine, into a new office in Boston’s Newbury Street. By 2013, Wayfair’s Chief Executive Officer was Niraj Shah, and Conine was the Chief Tech Officer and Chairman.

By 2005, the company had expanded in terms of products offered, including dining, kitchen, institutional, office and home decor furniture, diverse materials, home improvement items, bath and bed materials, lighting and luggage. Four years after its launch, the company had surpassed the $100m (around £75m) mark in sales.


By 2007, CSN Stores had grown enough to expand and venture into other markets, particularly between 2007 and 2010. The company started by expanding across the United States before looking out of the country. Around 2008, the first shipments to Canada began to sell within the U.K. after opening a London office. In 2008 the company was also ranked as the number one company among the fastest-growing Massachusetts e-commerce companies in the Boston Business Journal and the fourth fastest-growing among private companies.

CSN Stores started looking into German and Australia in 2009. The company also moved to the 177 Huntington Avenue headquarters in Boston and occupied about ten floors before launching Joss and Main by 2011-a private sales member’s only web store.

Nine years after its launch, CSN Stores had under its wing 200 webshops, mostly niche shops with specific products such as everyatomicclock.com, strollers.com and cookware.com. At this time, it became apparent CSN Stores needed to direct all the millions of original traffic within one site while unifying the company’s aesthetics. Thus CSN Stores received a rebranding by both Conine and Shah and renamed Wayfair.

Around June 2011, marketing of the new brand started earnestly. The company raised funding for this from four firms; Spark Capital, Harbour Vest Partners, Great Hill Partners and Battery Ventures to $165 million (around £124 million). The official launch of Wayfair was on September 1st 2011, with the consolidation of the various niche websites already completed into Wayfair.com, apart from All Modern and Joss & Main. Wayfair Supply was launched in 2012 to be a one-stop shop for Wayfair institutional, government and business customers. The company bought Dwell Studio in New York City to galvanise modern family and home furnishings.

Through pre-IPO financing, the company was valued at over $2b (£1.5b) as it received $157m (around £118m) in the pre-IPO sourcing of finances led by T. Rowe Price in 2014. Through an IPO offering at the New York Stock Exchange, Wayfair raised more than $300m (around £225m). By 2016, Wayfair had become the top web-only home furniture retailer nationwide and the 33rd U.S. largest web retailer.

In terms of revenue, Wayfair made $380m (£285m) in 2010, while in 2011, the revenue surpassed the $500m (£375.1m) mark, more than $600m (£450.1m) by the end of 2012, more than $900m (£675.2m) by 2013 and more than $1.3 billion (£0.98b) by 2014.  As of 2015, Wayfair’s net revenue had hit $2.25b (about £1.69b), with first-quarter net income for 2016 at $747.3m (approximately £560.66m).

Currently, Wayfair provides 7 million products to its customers from thousands of suppliers across the company’s unique brands, from Joss & Main, Dwell Studio, Birch Lane, and AllModern to Wayfair.com. By March 31st 2016, Wayfair was already employing over 4600 people throughout its operations in Boston, Massachusetts, Europe, and North America.

European expansion

The first foray of Wayfair, then CSN Stores, into Europe, started in 2008 with an expansion into London, UK. By 2009, the company had entered the German market and hadn’t stopped its European expansion. In May 2016, Wayfair took its giant product offering and global presence into Galway, Ireland, at the European Operations Centre. After the opening of the Galway operations, over 160 jobs are expected to be created to work within a new Tuam Road facility of 30,000 square feet in terms of space.   Full-time job positions at Galways by Wayfair will attract many benefits, such as employee discount purchases, commuter tax saver advantage, medical insurance, tuition reimbursement, bonuses and equity.

With future expansions and growth in mind, Wayfair has also recruited Michael O’Hanlon as the Vice President of Government & Industry Relations and the Vice President of Corporate & Business Development within the same company.  With the unveiling, Michael is expected to spearhead Wayfair’s government relations issues and strategy and continue collaborating with industry leaders, regulators, policymakers and legislators from local, state, to federal levels.

Wayfair Experience

Wayfair is perhaps one of the most profitable and fast-growing home furnishings and online decor retailers globally due to its unique customer experience. It has over 7,000 items and brands in its thousands and goes the extra mile to help customers find the best product at the most proper price. Their customer service is noteworthy, while extensive selection is one of the conveniences of shopping at Wayfair online.

From being founded on a shoestring budget by two high school and college friends in 2002 to a billion-dollar company, the journey of Wayfair into the echelons of online shopping for home decor and furnishings has been a phenomenal story of success and robust growth. No one remembers the company started with only one website under a CSN Stores title and grew to over 250 different sites, each selling unique products, from birdhouses to barstools, before being incorporated into one major brand under Wayfair.