Offline Retailers Attempt to Match Online World's Service
By David A. Utter
After many years of wanting one, I finally picked up my first Kindle, Amazon.com's e-reader device. I didn't go to a physical store to look one over or choose which model to get. Instead I relied on both the company's multitude of product reviews and its well-established customer service practices to make this otherwise sight-unseen purchase.
Millions of other shoppers make similar choices with their online ecommerce retailers of choice each day. Free shipping was a massively huge success this holiday season in getting shoppers to buy online; analysis firm comScore credited the Free Shipping Day promotion of December 17th with delivering over a billion dollars in spending that day.
As online consumers, we've come to expect superlative levels of customer service, as consumer-friendly policies need to overcome our normal trepidation at spending money with an otherwise faceless entity. The underpinning of such service comes at a decidedly unsexy but critically important level - inventory management.
Reuters showed how big names with long histories are trying to catch up to the Amazons of the world. Macy's has now opened three facilities dedicated solely to supporting its online presence at macys.com. The latest building can hold a million pairs of shoes (we'll pause a moment while our more sartorially conscious readers recover. Deep breaths, folks.)
Executives at places like Macy's, Best Buy, and Home Depot recognize the evolution in shopping habits. Online shopping, though a fraction of overall retail at 7 percent of retail sales, has been forecasted by Forrester Research to reach $327 billion or 9 percent of retail sales by 2016.
Such online awareness could be an offline boon. Brick and mortar retailers already offer an ideal and secure pickup spot for ecommerce orders made through their sites. With getting shoppers in the door always a critical goal for marketing endeavors, linking online shopping to in-store pickups makes marketing sense.
About the Author
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. Find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.
About the author:
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.
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