Brick and mortar stores using ecommerce tricks

An article in the Wall Street Journal (August 12, 2015) titled “Web retailers Teach In-store Tricks” describes Macy’s display of one item each of swimsuits, with shoppers using an app to get their size to try on. Freeing up the shop floor from the inventory and getting the specific size desired by the customer suggests a replication of the e-commerce efficiency in a brick and mortar world. Similar ideas apply at Bonobos, where customers try on styles but order from a website and get home delivery, and target where patio furniture can be tested but have to be ordered for home delivery. While the flexibility to try on or test but delayed delivery helps retailers reduce inventory costs, does it also place them closer to e-commerce companies and thus subject to “shop and switch”, thus further decreasing their competitiveness ? Will such offers be more appropriate for private label products where the retailer is the only purveyor of that product ? Will the increased variety, and reduced shrinkage, associated with the decreased inventory on the floor, enable a greater customer reach and thus increased retailer profitability ?

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5 Responses to Brick and mortar stores using ecommerce tricks

  1. Kyle Harshbarger says:

    Isn’t this what Tesla is doing?

    The big thing these retailers need to do is either sell an expensive product or a very customize-able product that must be tried-out or tried-on before purchase. I don’t see a swimsuit meeting this criteria, but I do see furniture meeting it. However, furniture stores have been doing this for a long time (the ones that don’t have a closing sale every year).

    Retail’s main advantage is still on-demand shopping.

  2. Sarath Suresh says:

    Even though more brick and mortar retailers are joining the club of shifting towards e-commerce, the competitiveness of an e-commerce firm is primarily the low price that it provides a customer.As a result unless and until the stores are able to match up with that, the customers will end up trying at the store and conveniently order from an e-commerce site which offers a better deal.

    A customer who walks in to a store wants to try out the outfit, feel how it looks on him and then decide on a purchase.Hence as much as an avid shopper myself, i will be disappointed to not to be able to try out the size i want to and a virtual reality can never match the touch and feel.Hence, by adopting such measures the store might not be actually gaining on competitiveness but losing on its core competencies of giving that touch and feel experience to the consumer.

  3. Aniket Garg says:

    As the stores go for giving its customer omni channel experience. It is tough for them to keep the prices same across the channels. To offload the demand at store perhaps they can give incentives to customers where they get the selected products delivered at their home at cheaper price. Won’t it be fantastic to get your items delivered to you at a cheaper price!! Customers will have to pay a small premium to buy the item at store. That way customers can decide what’s important for them. The data generated from this model can be further used to make it even more better.
    This way stores can drive more sales and get into win-win situation!!

  4. Rashmi Tiwari says:

    The article highlights a very important trend being witnessed in the retail industry. While e-commerce firms are giving the brick and mortar stores a tough time with their price competitiveness and convenience factor, brick and mortar stores still have a strong key differentiating aspect which is the look and feel advantage. As long as they can maintain and strengthen this aspect, cutting down on store inventory to reduce costs, especially in times when the rental prices are soaring, seems to be a viable option.

    How sustainable is this strategy, however, is yet to be seen. An interesting counter-view has been highlighted in the article: The article says that contrary to the perceived opinion that customers use the showrooms to try on things and ultimately turn to e-commerce to buy has been challenged. Surveys have shown that the “reverse showrooming” (researched online and then bought in store) phenomenon is still more widespread than showrooming (tried in store and bought online).

  5. Zimi Surana says:

    The above point can be viewed from two lenses. First from the customer point of view, one of the key differentiating factor which gives an upper hand to brick and mortar stores even at relatively higher prices than an e-Commerce platform is the touch and feel advantage. Many customers till date are not really comfortable ordering a product online without physically seeing the item. If a hybrid model as suggested above is put into place, it will be a boon for the consumers.
    The second lenses suggests a lean inventory model of the retail store. This model can be implemented to give customer a first hand experience of the product and at the same time give high cost reduction in terms of space required, logistics cos of transfer of product from warehouses to showrooms and human resource requirement. Also, this is a smart move towards omni-channel strategy. A blend of the above two may be the next thing for retail stores.

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