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.
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“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.