Niraj Shah, cofounder and chief executive of Wayfair, discussed the rapid growth of the Boston-based home furnishings site and how he envisions its path to profitability. The e-commerce site has $6.7 billion in annual revenue and employs 14,000 workers globally. In an interview for the Globe’s Bold Types video series, Shah explained how the company has been building supply-chain infrastructure to speed up shipping and compete with Amazon.
“Today, we have over 14 million square feet of logistics space, and we continue to expand that aggressively . . . A meaningful portion of what comes out of those buildings is next-day delivery,” he said. “And then the rest is basically two-day delivery. And so we have a very fast network, and as we grow, it automatically becomes faster and faster. Each incremental location we open gets us closer to customers”
Shah talked about how the company’s origins as an online storefront challenged traditional furniture suppliers. But a generic name — CSN Stores, a combination of Shah’s and cofounder Steve Conine’s initials — and a Newbury Street address offered them a degree of respectability following the dot-com bust of the early 2000s.
Shah talked about how he and Conine, in one of the boldest moves of their careers, decided to merge over 250 online storefronts into Wayfair in 2011.
“The reason it was risky is that building those 250 different websites had led to the successful outcome where we were that $500 million business,” Shah said. “But what we also had come to the conclusion was that there was a huge opportunity to be the leading, winning platform for home.
“But we knew to do that it required building a brand — even though we were putting the existing model we had at risk.”
Less than two weeks after filming this interview, the Globe broke the story that Wayfair employees were planning a walkout over the company’s decision to sell beds to a government contractor that operates camps on the US-Mexico border where migrant children are detained. The Globe was onsite the day of the protests and continues to report on the issue.
In the weeks since, we asked Wayfair executives to comment about their position on-camera, but they declined. Last week they provided this statement to the Globe:
“Our business is built on our ability to bring diverse groups of smart, talented people together to solve complex problems. We have taken the same approach with this issue and are constructively engaging with our employees. We are encouraged by the dialogue and are excited for the ideas and solutions that we land on together.”
Producers: Anush Elbakyan, Shira Center/Globe staff. Video Editor: Anush Elbakyan/Globe staff. Camera: Anush Elbakyan, Caitlin Healy, Shelby Lum/Globe staff.
Bold Types is a newsroom series presented by Koch Industries. The advertiser had no editorial role in the content production.