This article was published on April 30, 2013

Fab’s 3rd pivot takes on Amazon with physical stores, exclusive products, redesigns, EU expansion

Fab’s 3rd pivot takes on Amazon with physical stores, exclusive products, redesigns, EU expansion
Harrison Weber
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Harrison Weber

Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.

Back in December, Fab CEO Jason Goldberg detailed his company’s plans to pivot “towards a new model that [it is] not yet ready to reveal publicly.” Now, following various predictions and financing speculation, Fab has revealed the following news: it has acquired Massivkonzept, a Hamburg, Germany-based startup which sells custom-built furniture online; it is launching an exclusive line of products, dubbed “Exclusively Fab”; it’s debuting physical Fab stores; it’s expanding into France; and it’s launching a redesigned site, with iPhone and iPad redesigns on the way.

Phew. Let’s break this down

New Stats

During a private press event at its New York headquarters, Fab shared a number of new stats, including that it has sold 7 million products in 22 months. Fab also shared that it is selling one product every seven seconds, and that 33 percent of Fab’s sales are mobile. Goldberg says his company will double its sales this year to $300 million.


After purchasing FashionStakeCasacandaLlustre and True Sparrow, Fab is announcing its fifth acquisition in less than two years. While the financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, Fab has acquired Massivkonzept, which Goldberg described as the “leader in online custom furniture.” He went on to share that the company has a 30 person team, is profitable, but has worked with just 7,000 customers to date.

The purpose of this acquisition is crystal clear, as Massivkonzept will be immediately rolled into a new customization area of the site, named “Designed by You.” Unfortunately, this new product will only be available in Europe for the time being. Despite furniture making up just 5% of Fab’s total sales, Fab believes that “the furniture market is ripe for disruption.”

Fab Stores & Expansion

Yes, Fab is expanding into physical spaces, starting with its first store in Hamburg — a byproduct of the Massivkonzept acquisition. At a press briefing yesterday, Goldberg and co-founder Bradford Shellhammer kept quiet about the timing of a US-based store, but they did confirm that there will be more than one fab store this year and that they will test other markets outside of Germany.

New Fab Announcements 4-29-13 .090

Digitally, Fab is also now expanding into France, bringing the company’s total reach to 28 countries and nearly the entire European Union.

Exclusively Fab

Playing into the new Designed by You customization line, the “Exclusively Fab” initiative takes a three-pronged approach, involving hand-made, regional items discovered by Fab; designer collaborations, where Fab handles the manufacturing of goods created by external designers; and “Designed By Fab,” a collection of products designed and produced in-house.

With the Designed By Fab collection, Shellhammer confirmed that Fab has hired an in-house design team to create these products, and that the company is also working with freelancers. Goldberg claimed that Fab has quite a bit of data on the types of products consumers want, and that it’s looking to fill in the gaps in its marketplace.


As shown in the images below, Fab has redesigned its site with an emphasis on large imagery and simplified the navigation. With this new design, Fab now has 10 different product sections and new sub-categories, a ticker of trending products based on Facebook connections, and a Fab Outlet section for discounted items.

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 7.59.15 AM

Here’s a screenshot of the site’s previous design, for comparison:

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 9.16.21 PM

In addition, Fab has added the ability for designers to create their own pages, mimicking the storefront-like profile found on sites like Etsy. This plays directly into the company’s push to build out a marketplace of design-centric products.

Fab announced that new iPhone and iPad apps are on the way, and may be released in a week. Of course, we will update you with the details on these releases as we hear more. Until then, here’s a preview:

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 8.08.50 AM

It’s Third Pivot

During the presentation, there were constant comparisons to Amazon and IKEA — reinforcing Fab’s goal to expand rapidly. Fab’s vision since 2011, according to Goldberg, was to “be the global brand synonymous with design” at an “IKEA and Amazon scale.” Goldberg said that Fab now surpasses the total number of products which IKEA currently sells, and called Amazon the first wave of e-commerce. Clearly, Fab believes it will dominate the next wave.

Fab has major ambitions to take on Amazon…

Fab is a company famous for changing directions. Back in early 2011, Fab shuttered Fabulis, its gay social networking service, to pivot into a design flash sale site. That transition went quite well, but since then, the company has slowly shifted into an “everyday design retailer.” Goldberg calls that change Fab’s second pivot. Today’s news, obviously, represents yet another important transition for the company.

Last year Goldberg stated that Fab’s third pivot “will be gradual,” and that it will focus on “delivering the best customer experience in the world for discovering everyday design. We’ll offer even more unique products supported by an even better experience.”

As we reported at the end of 2012, Fab has seen rapid growth on mobile devices, and its inventory has grown well beyond 15,000 products.

Fab has major ambitions to take on Amazon’s catalog of nearly every product in existence with curation at a massive scale. We’ll have to wait and see if Fab’s third phase will surpass the success of its last two pivots.

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