Shoe stores struggle to fight online competition
Retailers are turning to new strategies, such as in-person pick-ups and returns of online purchases, to keep customers coming back.
Remember the Yellow Pages slogan, "let your fingers do the walking"?
While retail stores may have benefited from those telephone listings in the past, they’re now finding themselves threatened by consumers at home who let their fingers do the typing -- on their way to online purchases.
For example, why wear out your feet looking for shoes when you can purchase them on a website?
Macy’s reportedly saw its same-store sales rise by 2.5% over the recent holiday shopping season -- but its online sales were up more than 50%. And the National Retail Federation says overall non-store sales grew by 11.1% over the holidays.
"Shoppers are a lot more conscientious," Macy’s shoe salesman Nelson Springer told CNN. "People know what they want, and they want it for as cheap as possible, and they think the place to get that is online."
Brick-and-mortar shoe retailers are facing increasing competition from online rivals like Shoes.com, a subsidiary of Brown Shoe Company (BWS) , and Zappos -- which was acquired by Amazon (AMZN) in 2009.
But footwear and accessories retailer DSW (DSW) says they're rising to the Internet challenge by taking a double-barreled approach -- keeping an eye on store sales while increasing their Web-based business.
DSW spokeswoman Christina Cheng tells the Columbus Dispatch that partnering with the online supply-chain management firm VendorNet helps it fill online orders or orders from other stores.
"If you happen to be in a store and they didn't have your size,” she said, “they can look up the store within the nearest proximity and complete the sale for you from that location in a seamless transaction.”
At the same time, online companies are finding ways to accommodate their consumers who want to purchase online, but pick up or return goods in person.
Last year, VendorNet started using point-of-sale Advanced Store software from NCR (NCR), linking its in-store, third-party and online inventory “to meet demand for integration of web, brick-and-mortar shopping.”
“This twist in the evolution of shopping highlights opportunities retailers have to turn their stores into the ultimate merchandise lockers,” said an NCR press release, “by integrating their online and in-store inventory and offering in-store pick-up, return and exchange services for online orders with NCR Advanced Store.”
Retailers are also trying to accommodate their employees who are losing ground to Internet shopping trends. Macy’s, according to CNN, is letting its salespeople complete online transactions for its in-store shoppers “so that the customer gets the online price and the salesperson gets the commission.”
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The American Family Association is asking shoppers to avoid the chain because the holiday isn't mentioned in advertising.