With e-commerce making up an increasing share of retail sales year over year, it seems a natural choice for retailers across categories to invest in. However, there are some retail experiences that seem to just not translate online: chief among them, off-price and dollar stores. When it comes to discount e-commerce, strategies differ. TJ Maxx has sold online since 2013, but the parent company’s Home Goods brand does not, and it brought Marshall’s online just last year. Challenges involved include replicating the “treasure hunt” experience online, as well as managing unpredictable inventory, and a low average unit price that often makes the cost of shipping and operations not worth it for the retailer. They also can’t totally replicate the usual e-commerce experience: on TJMaxx’s e-comm offering, for example, users cannot search or sort by brand. Meanwhile, as other retailers come online, Burlington is getting off. Despite store growth and a 10% year-over-year sales increase, eCommerce made up only 0.5% of the business. Without truly seamless omnichannel technology to bridge the store and online experience, off-price retailers will likely continue to forgo e-commerce and its related operational headaches: managing inventory, listing products, cost of fulfillment and shipping, etc. Dollar General is investing in strategies like BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store) and a mobile app, which can streamline the omnichannel shopping experience. The company reports an estimated 45% of shoppers use some of its digital tools, and it’s working thus far if you go by Dollar General’s good yearly fiscal outlook. Both Target and Walmart have also found success via BOPIS – according to a report by Coresight research, “about 50% of U.S. consumers who use BOPIS have picked up goods from Walmart in the past year, and about 34% have done so at Target.”
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