“Ship from store”: The latest bandwagon

Today’s RetailWire discussion centers on the trend toward “ship from store.” That is, brick-and-mortar retailers using their store locations to fulfill web orders, not just selling goods to visiting shoppers. I think the trend is positive but still depends on great merchandise content, and I don’t see it as an immediate threat to the Amazon model. Here’s my point of view:

I agree that the “ship from store” concept is a leap forward for brick-and-mortar retailers, in the sense that they will be able to leverage their inventory and expenses more effectively. But customers who visit their local department or big-box store will have the same expectations about customer service standards as before — along with the ability to “touch and feel” the goods. Brick-and-mortar stores need to ensure that they do not starve customer-centered payroll while managing the logistics of turning themselves into mini-fulfillment centers.

In the meantime, Amazon still has huge competitive advantages in breadth of assortment and pricing that no single brick-and-mortar store can compete against. And it continues to develop new “store within a store” concepts to target emerging growth opportunities — so I wouldn’t lose sleep over the Amazon outlook anytime soon.

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