Converting retail stores into mini-fulfillment centers is a more cost-effective way to expand the distribution network using existing facilities that are already close to where customers live.
In the early days of E-commerce, most retailers drew a hard line between their online sales, inventories and their brick-and-mortar operations. While this may have helped some companies ease their transition into E-commerce, it soon became apparent that customers wanted a more integrated experience.
Customer demand has spurred greater integration of in-store and online shopping. This omnichannel approach has become most apparent with retailers that are using their own physical store locations to fulfill online orders.
Approaches vary depending on the retailer. In some cases, online orders are shipped to the store from a distribution center for pick-up. In others, customers can purchase directly from the in-store inventory. Some retailers allow customers to order an item from one store and have it shipped to a closer location. Target is shipping packages to consumers from its stores; and so is Walmart, which is also having store associates deliver packages with their personal vehicles.