It’s the Amazoning of America. Online shopping has put such a major dent in sales of brick and mortars that something has to be done.
“We are living in the age of the customer, and you can either fight these trends…or you can embrace them,” said Joel Anderson, the chief executive of Walmart.com. “We have a lot of assets, but they’re only assets if you embrace the trends of the customers.”
Walmart, as well as stores like Macy’s, Best Buy and the Container Store are rethinking their big box locations form the inside out. Less and less square footage is being dedicated to merchandise. More and more real estate is going to service customers’ online buying habits. For instance, stores like Sears are adding Web return centers, pickup locations, payment booths and even drive-thru windows for online sales.
In April, Walmart began a service for cash only customers. Here’s how it works. The shopper orders merchandise online from his home and pays for it at a store when they picked it up. Today, Apple lets customers place orders online and pick up items within a day at a selected location, to avoid hefty shipping charges. Big box electronics stores like Best Buy are doing the same.
This shake up in the way big box outlets are meeting this emerging need is also impacting e-commerce venues. Online companies like Blue Nile and eBags are now shipping to physical locations like Toys “R” Us, so that their customers can pick up items near there homes instead of having them shipped.
The Internet continues to reshape how people shop, share and network. A better understanding of your customer’s shifting shopping habits will not only change how you market your brand, but will refashion how transactions are made.