When Online & the Real World retail collide = Clicks & Mortar ?

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When it comes to Retail industry, there doesn’t seem to more right and wrong answers and more contradiction and “I told you so” – even the experts tend to agree and disagree at the same time.

Common perceptions include:

  • Online only stores can not compete with Bricks and Mortar store
  • Brick and Mortal stores must have an ecommerce presence in order to survive
  • Ecommerce solution must only do deliveries and no collections
  • Online stores must have cheaper/ better/ different specials than the Bricks and Mortar stores

So when the Online world and the real world collide – you expect to see friction and sparks. Those two world should never meet right ?

Wrong.

Walmart is trying a new concept – just in time for the Holidays and the Christmas shopping. The Walmart.com retail store where their customers can come into their shop but only shop from their Website. Confused ?

Walmart has taken up two sites in major shopping malls in Southern California. In each temporary store, they don’t  have their usual wall-to-wall packed shelves of merchandise, but what they do have are dozens of computers connected to the Walmart.com website. Each store has also product displays and demo units of their most popular line items such as Blue-ray players, Video Games, TVs and Toys. The concept for these stores is that customers have the ability to touch and feel their products and learn how safe and convinient it is to shop on the Walmart.com site. No items are sold at these stores all purchases are done online.

The stores also acts as collection points for customers who have ordered items online and would like them shipped to these temporary “.com stores” or they can choose to have the items delivered to their home (as usual) or they can even collect their purchases as any of the Walmart stores. As an incentive, all the deliveries or collections are free too.

Initially, this sounds absurd but when you look at the concept, it makes perfect sense. Walmart is able to attract new customers who might not have shopped online before because of the fear-factor and at the same time they offer existing customers yet another services from Walmart in an area where their is no physical shop. It’s a win win.

Yet another out-of-the-box thinking from Walmart who, at a relatively cheap price, have opened up two stores whose main aim is to educate customers on the benefits of shopping on their online shop.

Walmart says they will pilot these two sites as a test throughout December.

Personally, I can see no reason why Online can’t meet Real World – perhaps call is Clicks and Mortar ?

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