You’re in your flannel pajamas, nestled snugly into the couch, laptop and credit card in hand. Perfect. You’re ready to go shopping. (This post is brought to you by The Rubin Group’s New York Retail Insurance programs)
The allure of online shopping is undeniable. You don’t have to leave your house, or trudge through mall crowds and overflowing parking lots only to find out the pair of shoes you wanted isn’t available in your size. But consumer online shopping habits have hurt the brick and mortar stores.
Known as “showrooming,” many customers check out products in stores and then buy them online at sites such as Amazon or Zappos, where they often can find cheaper prices. Now, according to a recent New York Times article, many retailers are responding by combining the two previously incompatible elements; turning their stores into extensions of their online businesses.
Retailers have added web return centers, pickup locations, free shipping outlets, payment booths, and even drive-through customer service centers for online sales. Wal-Mart lets shoppers pay for online products in cash at their stores, to appeal to customers without bank accounts or credit cards. More than half of the company’s online sales are now picked up at Wal-Mart stores.
Nordstrom offers buyers the option to order online and pick their items up in the closest store. They also combined their online and offline inventories, so if Nordstrom.com is sold out of a particular size, but a store still carried it, the store would ship the item to the e-commerce customer.
The shift is so significant, some online only retailers have started opening up pick-up options at physical retailers.
What do you think of the switch? As a retail owner, do you think the online shift is here to stay, or the new synthesis of online and in-store retail options? We’d love to hear from you.
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