How Will CSN Stores Fare as Wayfair?

As many of you know, Thursday, September 1st marked the launch of Wayfair.com, a site that consolidates all of CSN’s 200+ stores into a single ecommerce site. Follow along with me as I analyze this rebranding and decide once and for all whether the people over at CSN have been snacking on Smart Food and drinking Smart Water. In other less corny words, was their decision to become Wayfair an intelligent one? In order to make some conclusions about the move,  I’m going to look at what the branding transition might be like from 200+ domains to one as well as the shopping behaviors of CSN’s audience that might have lead them to make the merge.

Brand Recognition

In an article by TechCrunch we hear that CSN will keep the domain names of its 200+ site until their traffic is insignificant:

“Niraj Shah, CEO and cofounder of CSN Stores, tells me the company will keep the domain names for a period of time during the transition, but that they’ll consider selling them off when the time is right (meaning when traffic drops down low enough for the extra visitors not to matter all that much anymore).”

But just how long will this take? To find out, I looked at the UVs over the past year to some of the top CSN sites to see at what point they are in their growth and how substantial their pool of visitors was in the month of July.

It’s very clear from these charts that the products offered by CSN stores are extremely seasonal. People are more likely to move in the fall and need household items and then go on to purchase household gifts throughout the holidays. Because these sites are at the beginning of the upward seasonal trend, there’s no chance that they will lose visitors quickly and drop off the individual domains in the way that Niraj Shah alluded to. I wouldn’t get your hopes up for buying the domains any time soon!

But what does this mean for Wayfair.com? Well, it’s obvious that each of the brands above has been successful in their own branding, drawing in a significant amount of unique visitors each month. Though this might make the integration a gradual process for CSN, the company could not have chose a better time to launch Wayfair.com. Now, at the beginning of their season, they will be able to use the surge in traffic to each of these sites as a way to redirect the greatest amount of people to Wayfair.com.

CSN Stores Shoppers Love Department Stores

While the large CSN stores are highly specialized and don’t seem to compete with each other, they do have very similar incoming and outgoing shopping. For instance, both Bedroomfurniture.com and Cookware.com have a substantial amount of visitors coming from and leaving to Amazon.com and Overstock.com, both a part of our Mass Merchant and Department Stores category. When I took a look at all incoming traffic for the month of July, I found that Mass Merchant and Department Stores actually made up 8.23% of referrals to Bedroomfurniture.com and 11.76% of referrals Cookware.com. Take a look at our infographic of the distribution of incoming traffic for Cookware.com:

So what does this tell us? Well there’s always the possibility that shoppers are checking out mass shopping sites first and then settling in on more specialized CSN stores to find their specific needs. Maybe the Targets and Macys of the world are too broad for shoppers looking for cookware and bedroom furniture. Well, our next set of data disproves this theory. If you look at the outgoing traffic for Bedroomfurniture.com, 12.11% of it is to Mass Merchant and Department Stores. Even more so, 18.55% of outgoing traffic to Cookware.com is to sites in the MMDS category. Yikes! Keep in mind; a large percent of this traffic is actually reaching Csnstores.com, meaning shoppers are looking even more broadly at the company to begin with.

With all of this data in mind, I would say that CSN is certainly doing itself a favor by creating Wayfair.com as a one stop shop. Though they’ve built up each brand individually and made a name of quite a few, hopefully the dissolution of these separate names won’t prove to be a road block. Wayfair has certainly picked the most strategic time to launch as the individual sites are at the beginning of their seasonal upward trending. With enough effective communication, the transition into one location should be easy and convenient for shoppers who evidently are already shopping the most from “One Stop Shops”.

In our next post on Wayfair we will look at the entire list of CSN stores and use our data to find the number of people who are cross-shopping between the individual stores. By doing this we hope to analyze CSN’s collective audience to see just how big the Wayfair audience could really be.  In the meantime, what do you think about Wayfair? Do you think they will lose out on a considerable amount of Unique Visitors to the brands that have successfully spoken for themselves for some time now? Or do you think the benefits of harnessing their large pool of shoppers who seem to prefer the mass merchant style store will significantly aide in overcoming any obstacles?

About Jen Duguay:
Jen Duguay joins Compete to take on all things social media. She comes from a social issue background, most recently having worked for the Social Innovation Forum, the venture philanthropy arm of Root Cause, a nonprofit research and consulting firm. Jen's interests include singing, marketing, running, art, making guacemole, and using social entrepreneurship to tackle world issues. She has spent time in Belize and the Dominican Republic working on microfinance initiatives and recently traveled to Kenya where she studied the public healthcare system. Follow Jen @jenduguay on Twitter.