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Wayfair gets into the swing of home services

The home furniture and decor e-commerce company teams up with Porch.com to offer handy services for customers.

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Wayfair has turned itself into a go-to place to buy big and bulky home furnishings online. But, what if you don't know how to install that remote-controlled ceiling fan or put together that 60-inch double bathroom vanity piece?

Hoping to make it easier for folks to do home renovations using the Web, the Boston e-commerce company on Tuesday teamed up with Seattle startup Porch.com, which helps people find local handymen, electricians and plumbers. Now, Wayfair shoppers in Porch's 15 markets will be able to connect with professionals for needed installation, furniture assembly or plumbing when making a purchase.

"We want to build the absolute best destination for home," Steve Oblak, Wayfair's general manager, said in an interview. "To do that we believe we have to have a comprehensive plan."

The deal points to continued development in the burgeoning market of online handy services, with Amazon launching its Home Services last year to compete with Angie's List, Pro.com, Yelp and others.

But, even with all the new players in household services and renovations, Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman said all the online offerings combined are still tiny compared with the size of the total market.

"You put all the competitors together, and we've barely scratched the surface," he said.

The partnership is the first under a new Porch program to integrate its services with retailers both online and in-store, and more of these kinds of tie-ups will be coming this year, Ehrlichman said. Porch is already a partner with home-improvement retailer Lowe's, helping its customers connect with local workers including painters and landscapers.

Porch right now is available in the markets of Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Houston, Washington, DC, Chicago, Phoenix, Orlando, Denver, Austin, San Bernardino and Raleigh.