With the advent of e-commerce, analysts predicted stores would go out of business. More than 20 years later, they still have a place in the retail landscape. And even more so than before.
In June 2017, Amazon spent 13.7 billion dollars to acquire the 460-store, organic supermarket chain Whole Foods. In the U.S., nearly 90% of retail sales still occur in brick and mortar stores. In this “phygital” era, stores remain the hub of unified commerce. “It's likely that brands will re-examine the makeup of their networks, resize their shops and test new models (pop-up stores, corners, show-rooms…) but the store is, counterintuitively, more vital that before ecommerce”, explains Nathalie Echinard, Retail Business Unit Director at Cegid, provider of software and cloud services for specialty retailers. This makes sense, given its new role. The store acts more and more like a logistics hub: click & collect, store-to-store, store-to-web… It's a place where customers come to pick up items ordered online from the store team or from lockers, but also where sales associates pick, pack, and ship orders placed online. This is a balancing act that requires accurate inventory control and agile software.