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With Wayfair’s annual ‘Way Day’ deals event coming later this week, we take a closer look at how the online furniture retailer works.
From transforming bedrooms into makeshift offices to kitting out gardens for socially distanced visits, millions of Brits redesigned their homes in 2020 – and the obsession with home decor and interior design is showing no signs of dying out this year.
With lockdowns restricting high-street shopping, online retailers have been flooded with customers. And as an online furniture specialist, it’s no surprise Wayfair saw a surge in sales.
But what is Wayfair and are its products and customer service any good? Here, Which? explains how the online retailer works and gives a sneak preview of some of its best ‘Way Day’ deals.
What is Wayfair?
If you’ve searched online for homeware, furniture or items for your garden recently, you’re almost certain to have come across Wayfair.
Put simply, it is a giant home retailer. A search for ‘lamp shade’ yields over 5,000 results; there are over 3,000 results for ‘sofa’ and a whopping 14,000 for ‘rug’. So if you like choice, it’s a very good bet, but it can be a little overwhelming. Thankfully there are decent filters you can use to narrow your options.
The American retailer has actually been operational in the UK since 2008, but the recent boom in online furniture shopping has led many to discover it for the first time only recently. When we asked our Twitter followers if they’d made their first ever Wayfair purchase in the past year, one in five said they had:
Have you bought something from Wayfair for the first time in the past year?
— Which? Money (@WhichMoney) April 20, 2021
You may also have heard of Wayfair for a somewhat stranger reason. As the BBC reports, Wayfair made headlines last year when it was the subject of a bizarre, false conspiracy theory that trended online.
- Find out more: 9 ways to get your garden guest-ready
Is Wayfair any good?
Before we get into the Way Day deals, let’s cut to the chase: is an online trip to Wayfair really worth your time?
Every year, Which? surveys thousands of shoppers to find out which retailers are the best on the high street (or internet), and which should be avoided like farmers selling magic beans.
We ask people to rate everything from product quality and availability to customer service and value for money, and crown the winners as Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs).
But although Wayfair didn’t make it as a WRP, it still scored a respectable 73% in our survey. Customers’ favourite thing about Wayfair was the variety of items it had for sale, rating it five stars out of five for product range/availability.
It also scored well for its delivery service and warranty/guarantee, but on other measures including aftersales service and all-important product quality it scored an average three stars.
So how does this compare to competitors including Ikea, DFS and Dunelm? To see how Wayfair fared in our league of 47 homeware and furniture retailers, visit our best and worst shops guide.
When is Way Day and what are the best deals?
‘Way Day’ is Wayfair’s annual big sale, like the equivalent of Amazon Prime Day, and this year it runs from 28-29 April 2021 – that’s Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Full details of the sale will be revealed at Wayfair.co.uk when it begins, but Wayfair has released a sneak peek at some of the deals you can expect.
The five biggest reductions we know of are below (links take you to the item details on Wayfair’s website). Note the discounted prices will be live on 28-29 April:
- Marissa five-light drum chandelier, from £189.99 to £89.99 (53% discount)
- Trinity two-seater love seat, from £489.99 to £284.99 (42% discount)
- Westerleigh height-adjustable standing desk, from £589.99 to £350.99 (41% discount)
- Arabelle three-seater clic clac sofa bed, from £729.99 to £463.99 (36% discount)
- Bonifant power loom blue/white rug, from £216.99 to £137.99 (36% discount)
Nearly all of the products that we know are being discounted appear to be exclusive to Wayfair, so we’re unable to price-match them against competitors.
We would advise that even if a deal looks attractive, you shouldn’t let it sway you into impulse buying. It’s important to think carefully about whether you need something and how you’ll pay for it before you take the plunge, especially with big-ticket items like furniture.
We can’t say whether it’s the case with Way Day, but we’ve found that many retailers’ Black Friday deals are not actually the best of the year. In fact, once items have been discounted, they can end up being discounted by the same amount (or even more) later in the year.
- Find out more: are Black Friday deals real?
How does Wayfair work?
Wayfair is an online store that sells products from external suppliers. Unlike, say, Ikea, which manufactures and sells its own furniture, Wayfair sells products made by other companies, many of them exclusives.
The way the brand names display on the Wayfair site can make it look a little like an online marketplace such as Amazon or eBay, but it’s not: if you order from Wayfair you are buying from Wayfair itself, not the supplier.
This could make life more straight forward if you want to return an item or something goes wrong, as you’ll only have to deal with Wayfair.
- Find out more: your online shopping rights
What is Wayfair’s returns policy?
Wayfair has a 30-day returns policy, but if you want to return a non-faulty item because you’ve changed your mind or it’s not quite right for your space, you’ll have to cover the cost of returning it.
Depending on what you’ve bought, this could potentially cost up to £50, which gets deducted from your refund, so do bear this in mind if you’re ordering something like a sofa that you’d ideally like to try before you buy.
As with most retailers, items must have their original tags and packaging and be in a re-sellable condition to be accepted.
What if the item’s faulty?
We’ve heard several anecdotal reports of shoppers being refunded for items that weren’t as described, or were faulty, and being told they can keep the item rather than Wayfair arranging for them to be sent back.
That’s great if the colour wasn’t quite right but it’s still a decent item as you effectively end up with a freebie. However, if the product is damaged, think twice before accepting the offer as you don’t want to end up spending time and money getting rid of it yourself.
Wayfair told Which?: ‘We offer cost-efficient resolutions for our customers depending on their item and need. Depending on the issue with the customer’s product, the next steps will be clearly communicated.’
- Find out more: your rights for online shopping returns
Will Wayfair open high street stores?
At the moment Wayfair only sells online, but when we asked if it planned to open physical stores it did not rule this out.
It said: ‘We do believe there is value from an omnichannel approach. Brick-and-mortar stores can offer e-commerce companies new and engaging ways to bring their brand to life and can serve as another marketing channel.’
Wayfair did launch a store in a US shopping mall in 2019, but it closed just over a year after opening.
If Wayfair does decide to open high street shops in the UK in the future, it wouldn’t be the first time an ecommerce giant has done so. Amazon has recently launched its first Amazon Fresh convenience stores in London, which have hit the headlines due to their lack of checkouts.
Can you ‘buy now, pay later’ with Wayfair?
You can pay for Wayfair products using credit or debit cards, Paypal, Apple Pay or via buy now, pay later firm Klarna. Wayfair says Klarna is ‘proving extremely popular with our many customers who are looking to stagger payments more comfortably’.
But you should exercise caution if you do use this option. Our research into buy now, pay later platforms like Klarna has suggested they can lead shoppers into spending more than they can afford.
- Find out more: how buy now, pay later firms encourage impulse buying
This story was updated on 27 April to add the section entitled ‘How does Wayfair work?’. All other content remains unchanged.