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Why Traditional Retailers Have the Checkout Blues

RMI Executive Director Kirthi Kalyanam speaks to the Christian Science Monitor in this in depth article focused on how COVID-19 pandemic has made 2020 an inflection point in the rise of online shopping at the expense of physical stores, a shift on par with the postwar boom in shopping malls.

Now in the pandemic era, retailers like Target are working on making ordering online and picking up at the store a seamless process. And that could be just the start. Other hybrid models will emerge, especially as retailers wring delays out of the system, says Kirthi Kalyanam, executive director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University in California.

Christian Science Monitor Cover Story - "Why traditional retailers have the checkout blues"

Amazon, which already provides free two-day delivery to Prime members, now offers one-day delivery nationwide for a fee and same-day delivery on select items in several cities. Its Amazon Fresh grocery service lets shoppers pick a two- to three-hour time slot for delivery.

Stores will increasingly become places to showcase products rather than to stock inventory, says Mr. Kalyanam. Online retailers will re-create their online persona in a physical space: Think Apple stores or Lululemon. And consumers will have multiple ways to buy their goods. Stores might not even carry inventory, but promise to deliver your purchase from a nearby warehouse in a half-hour.

“Fast forward three or four years, you’re going to have ... five, six different big, familiar ways of shopping,” says Mr. Kalyanam. “Shopping as fun will come back, and bricks-and-mortar will be stronger than ever before for shopping as fun.”