Brick and mortar retailers – you know, the dinosaurs doomed in an increasingly digital world – have been unleashing an old weapon to preserve the species: their stores.
From Wal-Mart Stores to Nordstrom, retailers over the past few years have been pushing forward with ways to integrate online and physical shopping, with stores emerging as an asset rather than a liability.
And the strategies don’t necessarily have to be terribly complicated. One approach that has gained widespread acceptance is letting customers buy products online, then go to a store to pick them up.
Doorstep delivery is convenient. But it often costs extra, and it can take a few days. Buy online and pick up in store – for free – and you can put your hands on that new cashmere sweater or Keurig coffee maker almost immediately.
“It’s huge,” Lee Peterson, an executive vice president with retail consultant WD Partners Inc., said of the spreading phenomenon, pioneered by Wal-Mart and Best Buy five years ago and now being adopted across the industry.
Kohl’s Corp. tested in-store pickup for online purchases in 2014 and recently rolled out the service nationwide.
The Kohl’s store on Sunset Boulevard in Lexington has been providing the service for a couple of months, said area manager Chris Andrews. “It’s a pretty smooth process so far,” he said of the retailer’s largest volume store in the Columbia area. Packages generally arrive within a couple of days of customers placing their orders online, Andrews said.
“It’s a big part of e-commerce for retailers going forward,” Peterson said. “It’s also a great way to compete with Amazon. … Consumers would rather get it now.”
Staff Writer Clif LeBlanc contributed.