September 28, 2011
‘Click and mortar’ strategies address need for retail speed
Despite its convenience for shoppers, e-commerce inevitably falls short on one key metric: speed. Sometimes even overnight shipping isn’t fast enough, with consumers seeking the immediate gratification that brick-and-mortar shopping brings and increasingly less inclined to wait patiently, as we recently noted. “Once the offering is ubiquitous, speed will be the killer app,” Noam Paransky, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon Associates, told RetailWire.
One way to speed things up is to bypass the mail delivery system and let shoppers pick up items themselves, sometimes within less than an hour of ordering. Big-box retailers including Sears, Walmart, Best Buy and Home Depot have adapted their operations to fulfill online orders in-store or in new fulfillment centers. Shoppers save on shipping charges and can rush time-sensitive missions, while retailers save on labor and benefit from a simpler delivery model. Toys R Us recently opened its first online-only fulfillment center and started a “ship from store” program to get items out faster. And Amazon is looking at adding a pickup option, testing out drop-off lockers at brick-and-mortar spots (including some 7-Eleven and Rite-Aid stores, as well as shopping centers in London).
The in-store fulfillment model is particularly attractive, as it helps retailers capture more of the rapidly expanding mobile commerce market. Customers can purchase via mobile and avoid long waits upon arrival. Moreover, by accessing consumers via mobile and in-store platforms, research shows that retailers see average purchase values increase.
Speed and ease are key, not only online but in-store at pickup. The next step in e-commerce will be for retailers to create seamless experiences that effectively bridge the virtual gap from site to store.
Image credit: mjb84