The business, which is on track to beat last year’s turnover of $500 million, has recently signed a deal with UK-based supermarket Tesco that will see it extend Wayfair’s reach into the UK by offering an expanded range of home goods through Tesco Direct. This, says Wayfair cofounder and chief executive Niraj Shah, offers the Boston, MA-based company “an unparalleled global channel to reach millions of new households in the UK”. Wayfair currently offers 20,000 products on Tesco Direct and plans to increase that number to 60,000 by end of the year.
In addition to its presence on the Tesco marketplace, Wayfair also operates the UK website Wayfair.co.uk, which the company says is seeing “rapid growth”. Although the websites of the UK and US operations look similar, there are some subtle—and not-so-subtle differences. Let’s start with the homepage.
Below the main banner is another dynamic image next to the “shop by category” section designed to show the breadth of the range. Moving further down the page is a gallery of recent press, with Wayfair showcasing its coverage in Coastal Living, Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful. Both sites have a similar space for company information such as about, my account and “info & policies”. Notably though, the US site features more social media than the UK website with a link to its Facebook page, Twitter stream, Pinterest page and Google+, as well as the Wayfair blog. The UK site only mentions Facebook and a measly 938 fans, compared with the US website’s 50,993 likes.
Both sites operate a dropdown menu from the main horizontal navigation on the home page, but I noticed the menu is divvied up slightly differently on each site. Mirroring the boxes below the main image, the UK site repeats most of the categories along the top nav bar, adding more and special offers at the end. The US site has the same number of categories along the top, but when a user hovers across the site, it’s evident that the product choice on the US website is much, much broader.
Let’s go shopping
To start my shopping journey I headed for the search bar, placed above the main nav bar on both pages. Both sites make use of predictive search, bringing up options as I type (towel rails in bathroom; towels in bathroom; paper towel holders in kitchen, and so on). Reassuringly, both sites have plenty of options to filter down the search even further on the left-hand side.
Where the UK site falters is in the copy—especially for higher value items. Here’s the copy for the “Julian Bowen Supra Sofa Bed in Black”, priced at £222.98:
• Supra range
• Black fabric
• Closed sitting position: 79cm H x 197cm W x 88cm D
• Open sleeping position: 38cm H x 197cm W x 99cm D
Supra Sofa Bed in Black, 79cm H x 197cm W x 88cm D, Weight: Unavailable
Product Category: Sofas
Type: Sofa Beds, Sofas
Upholstery: All Fabric
Now compare it with the US approach, here for the “Ave Six Mainstreet Sofa”, which costs $302.99:
Make an eye-catching change to your home with this classic Mainstreet Sofa in Seaweed. The Mainstreet Collection from Avenue Six brings us a contemporary line inspired by a classic design. This sofa brings fashion and elegance including solid wood legs and plush foam filled cushions. With its durable fabric detailed design, and sturdy arms this sofa is up to par with the fanciest of rooms. Its combination of style and price make this piece a great option to complement the current décor of any home or office.
• Available in Woven Seaweed and Cream fabric
• Stylish solid wood legs made to match the most elegant of room setups
• Covered in a high performance, easy care fabric
• RTA design for convenience and easy shipping
• Frame constructed of a sturdy kiln dried hardwood
• Dacron wrapped foam cushions for ultimate comfort
• Tools included for quick and easy assembly
• Dimensions: 32" H x 49" W x 29" D
• Avenue Six Limited Warranty (for details click here)
While it’s accepted that there is no one-size-fit-all answer to how much copy is the right amount, I think we can all agree that the way the US site describes the item is more likely to educate, reassure and convince potential customers to part with their cash.
Overall, while the UK site still has some catching up to do—certainly when it comes to product description and depth of range—Wayfair UK is on the right tracks to overtake its home-grown rivals with a site that ticks many boxes.--MT