Shopping this year offers a lot more options for retrieving the goods than in years past.  People ordering online can choose to pick the items up in a local store (works well – I’ve tried it) or have the goods delivered to their car in the parking lot (I’m looking forward to that option).

And, if it’s clothes that they’re ordering, they can arrange to have them set up in a fitting room in the local store.  Or there’s a full range of free-shipping options, some that take a page from Amazon’s book and offer guaranteed next-day delivery.  The retailers who reported in a recent WSJ article indicate that they’re offering a wide range of delivery choices to allow shoppers to acquire their purchases in what ever way is most convenient.  And, of course, there’s an upside for the merchants, as well, when shoppers retrieve items from local stores – shipping costs are much less and this retrieval method also has a tendency to reduce customer returns.  Not to mention the advantage of getting customers into the stores, where there might be additional purchases made.  Blake Nordstrom, co-president of the company store, says that: “Fulfillment years ago was done in bulk and just from a store point of view.  Now, it’s about niches.  It’s about anywhere the customer wants to be able to buy it or return it.”  Although shopping in a store is no longer the preferred way for many shoppers, that remains the most profitable transaction for retailers.  Online sales are expected to increase this year in the U.S. by 15% from last year, to $124.1 billion; and holiday sales are expected to rise by 4.8% to $721 billion.  The new methods of merchandise retrieval are beneficial to some retailers, such as Macy’s who says that customers who pick up their orders in stores tend to spend an additional 25% while there.  Target is making six fulfillment options available this holiday season.  And other retailers, like Nordstrom, have introduced a service called “Get It Fast,” for the LA service area offering next-day delivery for orders placed by noon.  Or shoppers can pick up those orders in front of four designated department stores.  It’s a whole new world for delivery this holiday season.

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