Automated entry: Inside Joybird’s store expansion strategy

Direct-to-consumer furniture designer and retailer Joybird has expanded from e-commerce into brick-and-mortar locations in recent years, including this showroom in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — Direct-to-consumer furniture designer and retailer Joybird, part of the La-Z-Boy family of brands, is upping its retail game online and in person.

The eight-year-old brand has four stores with more coming, and has incorporated automation as part of its online strategy.

“There’s been a focus to make sure we stay true to our roots in the digital format. Utilizing automation and making sure we reach our customers where they are on social media platforms and Google,” Gerardo Ornelas, Joybird’s general manager, told Furniture Today. “The strategy of the future is focused on reaching new customers, and a lot of that has to do with the new channels we’re entering around retail.

“We have a retail expansion strategy, and we’re going slow into new markets,” he continued. “The second pillar is about creating brand awareness, ensuring new customers learn about the brand. When they do, we find we have great brand champions within our customer segment.”

To date, Joybird has opened four stores in the major metros of New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles, with more cities in the offing, and it also has dedicated spaces in Nebraska Furniture Mart’s stores in Dallas and Kansas City.

“We’re excited to expand into the new markets of San Francisco, Seattle and Austin this year,” Ornelas said. “These cities are vibrant cultural centers, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to become a bigger part of their communities.”

Ornelas said the stores have helped expose Joybird to a wider audience, which is part of the company’s plan for growth.


While officials note most consumers first experience Joybird online, the ability to  interact with products presents more opportunities to create brand awareness.

“It’s been a great experience so far. We’ve taken a slow approach to our expansion into small-format showrooms with a keen focus in offering an omnichannel experience,” Ornelas said. “Most of our customers still experience Joybird for the first time online.

“To be able to offer the touch and feel, and the sit test for our customers in-store is another opportunity for us to create more brand experience and awareness in the market for new customers who may not have considered buying online,” he added.

Help from the team

Having the experience of seasoned retailers like those at La-Z-Boy has helped Joybird fine-tune its approach to brick-and-mortar. They’ve also been helpful in other areas as well.

“In regard to retail, merchandising and the company as a whole, there are a lot more resources we’ve been able to tap into,” said Gifty Walker, Joybird’s director of merchandising and sourcing. “They have such an established team and network in terms of supply chain and procurement. We’d always been super lean and sometimes stumbled our way through. But now we can lean on them, and they can guide us in those ways. It’s been super helpful.”

The product assortment includes wood and upholstered furniture for every room, outdoor products and lots of home décor categories, with more in the works. Walker, who’s been with Joybird since the beginning, said it’s important for the brand to have placement in as many categories as possible, as each customer presents a unique sales opportunity.

“We started with outdoor a few years ago, and it’s been a huge success for us, so we’re really expanding that category. We’re also very focused on upholstery, but we’re rounding into more office and dining and other smaller categories,” Walker said. “We have a strong focus on décor because people often buy big-ticket items from us and come back for a finishing touch, like a rug. Or, maybe they’re not ready to buy the sofa but just need a rug or an ottoman.

“We’re also navigating what stories we can tell through existing categories,” Walker continued. “How do we educate and inform people around our intentional focus on sustainability and weaving that into our brand story? Social responsibility is important to our customers. We also have cross-brand and designer collaborations, so there are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline.

Smart shopping

On the online side, Joybird has recently tapped into automation, using smart shopping as a key aspect to e-commerce, using automated signals to better serve ads beyond the shopping ad format.

Recently, Joybird worked with Go Fish Digital to run a 10-week test with Google’s Performance Max campaigns and came away with a roadmap to greater online success.

Melissa Spaulding, senior PPC strategist at Go Fish Digital, said the results that came from using Performance Max showed a return on investment that went far beyond what was anticipated. Key benchmarks from the test included a 95% lift in revenue at a 40% higher return on ad spend.

Categories that had the highest return on advertising spend during the test included dining, media and storage, and décor, while sofas and chairs also exceeded expectations.

She said, moving forward, Performance Max will continue to play a major role in Joybird’s online operations.

“We are feeling positive that the Performance Max campaign will continue to drive revenue growth in paid advertising through 2022,” Spaulding said. “Our team will also be taking advantage of any new features that are released and will be collaborating with Google on strategy.”

Ornelas said having a strong performing online platform in addition to a growing fleet of stores means customers can experience Joybird how and when they want. With that in mind, he said it’s key to make sure those experiences are the best they can be.

“We bring it all together with the idea of a great customer experience in our physical channels and digital channels,” he said. “That goes back to investments and how our customers are experiencing us.

“It’s making sure the website operates just as smoothly on a mobile platform as it does on desktop, and of course, there’s been a lot of focus on making certain we tie it all up through great customer service.”


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