Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

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Super S
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Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by Super S »

I have noticed a disturbing trend recently where Brick-and-Mortar retailers are doing more sales/specials which are online only, while rarely if ever offering comparable sales in their retail stores. This is especially noticeable right now, and I am seeing this with both big-box and small stores. I do check websites for items, but when going in to the stores, sometimes there is no special and the items are at full retail, and when pointing out the difference, the managers generally will just say to buy it online and are unwilling to make an adjustment. Only once did a retailer match their own online price. The worst offenders are those offering clothing. It is a hassle to order when unsure of your size, and often it's a hassle to do a return. While I have shifted to online ordering for many things, I only buy clothing from known brands/sizes I wear regularly. I won't buy other clothing without trying on first.

I have a feeling that some of these stores are sealing their own fate for their physical locations, and we are going to see some disappear as business drops off at physical locations as people avoid them due to higher prices, while others will go online only. Some really need to focus on ALL aspects of how they do things.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by veteran+ »

Super S wrote: November 29th, 2023, 6:50 am I have noticed a disturbing trend recently where Brick-and-Mortar retailers are doing more sales/specials which are online only, while rarely if ever offering comparable sales in their retail stores. This is especially noticeable right now, and I am seeing this with both big-box and small stores. I do check websites for items, but when going in to the stores, sometimes there is no special and the items are at full retail, and when pointing out the difference, the managers generally will just say to buy it online and are unwilling to make an adjustment. Only once did a retailer match their own online price. The worst offenders are those offering clothing. It is a hassle to order when unsure of your size, and often it's a hassle to do a return. While I have shifted to online ordering for many things, I only buy clothing from known brands/sizes I wear regularly. I won't buy other clothing without trying on first.

I have a feeling that some of these stores are sealing their own fate for their physical locations, and we are going to see some disappear as business drops off at physical locations as people avoid them due to higher prices, while others will go online only. Some really need to focus on ALL aspects of how they do things.
Saliently expressed!

Thank you, I have noticed the same!

I need to touch, feel, smell, try on and check quality. So much of the stuff I am forced to buy online is junk and does not match the photograph or the stated quality and function.

As stores get smaller and smaller and have less and less variety one is forced to go online.

It is now the reality and I don't like being forced to comply but.......................C' est la vie!!!
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by Super S »

veteran+ wrote: November 29th, 2023, 9:09 am

Saliently expressed!

Thank you, I have noticed the same!

I need to touch, feel, smell, try on and check quality. So much of the stuff I am forced to buy online is junk and does not match the photograph or the stated quality and function.

As stores get smaller and smaller and have less and less variety one is forced to go online.

It is now the reality and I don't like being forced to comply but.......................C' est la vie!!!
It's not just the small stores. A couple such as Fred Meyer and JCPenney have some pretty large stores, but do things like not offering anything past a 2XL on most items.

I have had to gamble with ordering shirts I need for work a few times. A couple of online retailers had 3XL shirts that were severely mis-sized to where I could not get them on. It was a hassle to return at one online retailer.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by Brian Lutz »

And then on the opposite side of the spectrum there's Micro Center, which has a website and does actually sell some stuff on there (emphasis on some), but basically every major special they run is available only in physical stores, even on items they also sell on the website.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by Super S »

Brian Lutz wrote: November 29th, 2023, 6:08 pm And then on the opposite side of the spectrum there's Micro Center, which has a website and does actually sell some stuff on there (emphasis on some), but basically every major special they run is available only in physical stores, even on items they also sell on the website.
This is how a brick and mortar retailer should be in my opinion. Have SOME items available online, but make sure your stores are well stocked with a good variety of items.

It is really annoying when, as an example, I can go to one of the larger JCPenney stores at Southcenter, and find that their men's big & tall section (or lack thereof) is no better than the 50,000 square foot store at Kelso's Three Rivers Mall.

I have a Fred Meyer nearby which used to have an excellent big & tall selection until they decided to no longer stock anything bigger than a 2XL, and reduced options further when they last remodeled.

My shifts vary and mail order is not always convenient, especially when the last leg of a delivery is turned over to USPS, which has become very unpredictable with delivery times and sometimes does not deliver the mail until 9:30 PM.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by BatteryMill »

McDonald's is a strong example as most of their celebrity meals can be accessed only through the mobile app.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by buckguy »

I'm guess that your problem is because of the stocking algorithms they use. Those applications use turbo-charged versions of regression and various clustering or classification analyses. Regardless of the number of datapoints, they can handle, they don't like small numbers, esp. if they are inconsistently observed.

The smaller store probably has a clientele that's either pretty homogeneous or has varies in ways that are consistent over time. For large or very small sizes they may get the small but very consistent numbers of overtime and so they are stocked accordingly. A bigger store is going to have more variation and it will be more random than the small store---drawing from a larger area, getting customers from other stores, probably more occasional shoppers, etc. The small number items/sizes probably are way less consistent and the algorithm just seems random variance and puts them in with another class of size or simply treating them as random error. If the algorithm is supposed to "learn" over time and respond to changes in demand, the numbers may not enable it to recognize change.

The methods that get lumped under Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning may reveal some things that simpler methods don't, but fundamentally, they are very likely to just recreate the conditions under which they were introduced. The tendency for chains to have A and B stores or to stock small town and metro stores differently probably doesn't change. The tendency for these methods to preserve that status quo under a variety of circumstances, e.g., screening employment applications, is pretty well documented already, but there are plenty of cheerleaders for this stuff and the businesses that supply it have gotten very rich.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by mbz321 »

I mentioned this in another thread, but Target seems to be in this position. Special online prices/promotions for Pickup/DriveUp orders, but how is that going to draw people into the store to get them to spend more? It seems absolutely backwards to me. (To be fair, Target will match the online prices if you ask at checkout, but it's still an annoyance).
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by storewanderer »

mbz321 wrote: December 4th, 2023, 8:11 pm I mentioned this in another thread, but Target seems to be in this position. Special online prices/promotions for Pickup/DriveUp orders, but how is that going to draw people into the store to get them to spend more? It seems absolutely backwards to me. (To be fair, Target will match the online prices if you ask at checkout, but it's still an annoyance).
This has been happening with the drugstore chains too. They had lower prices on their websites if you did pick up (especially Rite Aid and Walgreens). In recent months they've done a lot of website price increases but if you are at a store in a high price zone the website is still quite cheaper than the store. For instance some pick up I did with Rite Aid using the 35% off pick up code they did I noticed the items on the website (OTC type items) were still 0.50-$1 less on the website than in the store. There was one item I did that was 0.50 more on the website than in the store but the 35% off code they did around Black Friday more than made up for it. They also routinely have promo codes for pick up orders usually with some kind of minimum purchase. For instance Rite Aid around Black Friday was 35% off pick up orders $30 minimum but that is based on full prices before coupons or buy 1 get 1 free, also their 35% off discounts before a coupon is applied. Walgreens was 25% off most of last week. Walgreens gives you the 25% off after coupons but for subtotal purposes if they have a minimum you can apply it before coupons (like a $25 order with $8 of manufacturer digital coupons - the 25% off $25 minimum code will work but you'll get 25% off $17).

Then there is CVS.com who has a 30% off pick up orders code no minimum purchase. I have found in many cases the CVS.com pricing is higher than my local stores so you have to watch with that operation. CVS gives you the 30% off after coupons/extra buck redemption also so it isn't very generous.

Target.com if you do a shipping order involving a lot of consumables/food/drug/pet you can reset your store and the prices will change and for a ship order you will pay the prices from whatever you set as your "pick up" store. I recently did a ship order and the prices were all different depending what I set my pick up store to (even though I was doing a ship order). I set it to a store many states away and my total dropped by 20%+. Some other stores my total would only drop by maybe 5%. If I set it to a store in say San Francisco then my total went up 10-15%.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by Romr123 »

That's an interesting observation about Target. I go between stores in Coachella Valley, CA and Detroit, MI, and do pickup in each. I can add items (generally from past orders) to my cart and when I display the cart the pricing updates (lower in Michigan than CA) to reflect where I'm picking up. That also seems to work regarding bags (charged in California) and bottle deposits (higher in Michigan on carbonated drinks, lower in California but on everything carbonated/noncarbonated); as well as with eggs (CA has the SEFS requirement, MI does not).
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