As the e-commerce world continues to erode market share from the brick and mortar retailers, I believe there will be a saturation point. I recently had a personal experience of how these two worlds can collide or, from another standpoint, work together. Prior to my son’s August wedding, my wife decided to shop on the internet for a dress, shoes, and accessories… I didn’t realize my porch could handle so many packages. This is a classic situation where she was buying different styles, colors, and sizes. The great news is that she did find what she was looking for, but she also required a quick and easy return process. Most of the brick and mortar retailers that she purchased these items from via the internet had local stores in our community. Some had to be shipped back to the non-store retailers, often because it was a requisite of their return policy.

My wife had a great experience in this return process… very simple and easy. We keep hearing that all of the brick and mortar retailers will go out of business. I would argue that they are in a highly competitive position relative to Amazon or eBay. They are being financially challenged with operating large footprints in the retail area but are close to the customer and offer great convenience. In the early 70s, FedEx launched a highly successful overnight service in the US. This model was driven on the notion of convenience. Customers will pay more for convenience. There has been a lot of attention on getting deliveries in one day (via truck or drone) but I think the real winner will figure out how to get the product in on to two days at a reasonable cost. More stores are deploying “Store to Consumer” shipping strategies in order to minimize shipping cost (zone 2) and a quicker delivery. The USPS has worked well in meeting this local delivery need.

At the end of the day, the consumer wants a “convenient experience”. It was very clear from this experience that the e-commerce world offers more choices in products, which provides an advantage to them, especially in terms of customer satisfaction. The retailers that capitalize on both their e-commerce and brick and mortar infrastructure will be in a market leadership position.

Michael J. Ryan is the Executive Vice President – Parcel Solutions at Pro Star Logistics and has over 25 years of experience in the parcel industry. He can be reached at 708.224.1498 or Michael.ryan@prostar.com.

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