Want To Start A Successful Web Company? Leave Off The .ComBy: Amanda Crum - April 10, 2012
There’s a little web-based company you’ve probably never heard of–but which has anything your heart desires (related to home goods) and will undoubtedly show up in web results when you get specific with your search–that is on its way to becoming a billion dollar earner, and it’s due in part to their almost anonymous web presence.
Wayfair.com is an all-encompassing mother company for many hundreds of small niche companies and is the largest online-only retailer for home decor, furnishings, and improvement items in the U.S. But it wasn’t always so; for years the company struggled to find their place in a rapidly-growing market. After being inspired by a small startup company which exclusively sold birdhouses, the creators of Wayfair–Niraj Shah and Steve Conine–decided to take a risk and become the home of similar businesses, all catering to very specific needs. Within a short amount of time, they had over 200 online stores under their wing, including AllSwivelBarStools.com and HotPlates.com. A staple of their business practice is that 90% of their products are shipped directly from the supplier, which means fewer costs on their end and a huge selection of products, which is paramount in a niche-based company.
But all those .com’s detracted from the company’s goal, and at trade shows the duo began telling potential suppliers the company name was CSN Stores, leaving out the part about being exclusively web-based.
“It’s actually just our initials mixed together,” said Shah about the name. “We knew it wasn’t a very good consumer name, but we did it for the supply chain. We’d be talking to suppliers at a trade show for 15 minutes before they realized that we were actually 100 percent Internet. By that point, they could tell that we seemed pretty credible. If our name was something dot-com, we wouldn’t have even gotten a chance to chat with them.”
Last year they rebranded, changing the name to Wayfair and incorporating all those websites into one; their hope is to make Wayfair a name consumers remember and type into their browser, rather than being a business based on an accidental find. And with sales crossing the $500 million mark in 2011, the self-funded company seems to be well on its way to becoming a well-known destination.