A new role for physical stores

One of the problems faced by traditional store operators is stock management. It’s almost impossible to hold the right stock in all the stores without rapid (and expensive) stock replenishment logistics, holding safe (ie excess) stock levels in stores OR facing out-of-stock situations and disappointing customers. None of these options does your business any good.

Retailers moving toward Omni-channel operations are faced with a range of solutions to this age-old retail dilemma but the key lies in changing the role of the store from a prettied up warehouse, to a display suite where buying decisions might be made, but where the transaction may not take place and the merchandise is not actually handed over. Such an approach changes the role not only of the store, but also of the store staff.

Bonobos (www.bonobos.com) opened “guideshops” that allow customers to try the merchandise with the help of a ‘personal guide’. If you’re happy with your choices, you order from the website and your selections are shipped to you free.

The cost of free home delivery is offset by a reduction in deliveries to stores, the elimination of holding and returning dead stock and a vastly reduced floor space requirement. All of these can be further magnified by introducing digital merchandising which we talk about elsewhere.

Of course it’s also possible to provide a premium (rush) delivery option at a cost.

It took an online apparel retailer to show how it can be done: now it’s time for traditional retailers to reconsider with the role of their stores.

This might be revolutionary thinking in say fashion, but home delivery options have long been offered in bulky goods (Harvey Norman still takes up to 8 weeks for furniture deliveries believe it or not).

Outside of bulky goods, and these days supermarkets, it’s still all too rare to see home delivery offered. Many physical store operators seem to be intimidated by home delivery. But there’s no doubting the fact that it’ a major focus for may of the leading retailers around the world and will become increasingly ubiquitous.