These retailers are beefing up their stores to survive a new era of shopping — and it's paying off

Business Insider/Jessica TylerTarget is investing in its stores, and it seems to be paying off.
  • The retailers who have found the most success lately have beefed up their stores to make them more amenable to shoppers who mostly purchase things online.
  • Walmart,Target,Nordstrom, and Kohl’s all reported strong earnings results in the most recent quarter after launching new initiatives to blend e-commerce and in-store shopping.
  • The move to beef up the in-store experience seems to be paying off for these retailers.

There is a growing divide between retail’s winners and losers – and the answer may be in the store experience.

Target,Walmart,Nordstrom, and Kohl’s were among the more successful retailers in the quarter. Target posted its strongest same-store sales numbers in 13 years, and traffic was at its highest since it started reporting the metric in 2008. Walmart, Nordstrom, and Kohl’s reported a same-store increase of 4.5%, 4%, and 3.1%, respectively, beating analysts’ expectations.

What these retailers all have in common is that they have all recently launched new initiatives to better blend e-commerce and in-store shopping. Kohl’s, for example, launched a program to allow customers to make Amazon returns in-store, while Target and Walmart both offer several different options for picking up orders.

Find out what these retailers are doing to keep up in a new era of retail:


Nordstrom

Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

In April, Nordstrom opened a new men’s store in New York that combines in-store services such as tailoring, shoe shining, and food with high-tech digital ordering and returns systems.

Customers can choose to buy items online and pick them up in-store, or reserve up to 10 items in advance on the Nordstrom app and have them ready and waiting to try on in the store’s fitting room.

There is also a handy returns system by the entrance of the store that allows shoppers to nip into the store, scan their receipt, and insert the items into a box.

“The level of transparency you have for fashion – where you can buy it, where you return it – has never been greater. You’re really in control as the customer. As merchants, we need to have that functionality, that capability, otherwise, literally in seconds you can go somewhere else,” Blake Nordstrom, the company’s co-president, told Business Insider at the store opening in April.


Target

Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

Target has been investing in its stores, opening smaller locations in urban centres, rolling out new partnerships and private-label brands, and doubling down on e-commerce, an area where it has lagged behind its competitors in the past.

It is also focusing on ways to make it easier for shoppers to load up their carts without worrying about how to get their purchases home.

One new service, which is reserved for Target’s urban locations, allows customers to have their purchases shipped home that same day for a flat fee of $US7. It’s $US25 extra for larger furniture pieces.

Another service allows customers to buy products on the app and have them brought out to their car by a team member.


Walmart

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Walmart is taking its competition very seriously. In the past year, Walmart has launched or tested several new technologies to keep up in its race against Amazon.

It’s expanding its grocery-delivery service nationwide, developing a technology that can predict the shelf life of products, and is reportedly in the process of creating a store with no cashiers, similar to Amazon Go. Walmart has built pickup areas in 1,800 of its stores, with plans to expand it further in the near future.


Kohl’s

Madeline Stone / Business Insider

Kohl’s is fending off the threat of Amazon by embracing it into its own business. In 2017, it partnered with Amazon to bring sales kiosks into its stores, and it started offering in-store returns for items ordered off its website.

According to research by the firm Gordon Haskett, since the partnership began in October 2017, total visits to Kohl’s stores with Amazon’s return program outperformed nearby stores without the program by about 8.5%.Moreover, these stores also drew in a higher proportion of new customers.

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