Retail

Stein Mart Plans Amazon Locker Rollout; Dressbarn Stores To Close

Stein Mart

Brick-and-mortar retailers are joining forces with Amazon in moves that could help bring shoppers into their stores: Stein Mart, for instance, announced this week that it plans to roll out Amazon Hub Lockers at stores in 28 states.

Through the service, Amazon customers will be able to tap into secure delivery at almost 200 of the retailer’s locations.

“We are thrilled to offer this innovative delivery experience to Amazon customers while introducing new shoppers to Stein Mart,” Stein Mart Chief Executive Officer Hunt Hawkins said in an announcement. “Customer service and convenience are top priorities at Stein Mart, and the ability to give both to Amazon customers was a big factor in our decision to introduce this program.” The company said that shipping to the lockers at its locations is “easy, secure and available at no additional cost.”

To use the pickup option, Amazon customers can choose a locker at a nearby Stein Mart as their shipping address at checkout. When their packages are ready for pickup, they will receive emails along with barcodes that they will use to retrieve their packages when store locations are open. Stein Mart said the lockers will be available by early June, and the move also stands to benefit Amazon. Patrick Supanc, the eCommerce retailer’s worldwide director of lockers and pickup, said in the announcement, “Rolling out Amazon Hub Lockers with Stein Mart is a great opportunity to provide a seamless shopping and delivery experience for our joint customers.”

Stein Mart is not the first retailer to serve as a physical location where online shoppers can pick up their purchases.

News recently surfaced that Amazon is rolling out an option called Amazon Counter whereby shoppers can pick up their packages at staffed counters of British and Italian retailers. The eCommerce retailer is teaming up with Next Plc, and has forged similar tie-ups with Giunti and other merchants in Italy.

Amazon reportedly chose Europe due to the high penetration of eCommerce as well as the demand for click-and-collect options. “There is a strong tradition of click-and-collect in both the U.K. and Italy and the plan is to roll Counter out further across Europe,” Supanc said in a Bloomberg report earlier this month. It was also reported that the offering’s aim is to bring shoppers to Next’s stores, as many U.K. merchants are losing sales to eCommerce.

From Next in the U.K. to Stein Mart in the U.S., brick-and-mortar retailers are working to become a place for shoppers to pick up their eCommerce deliveries — while potentially driving traffic to their stores in the process.

In Other Brick-and-Mortar News

Ascena Retail Group is planning to shutter approximately 650 Dressbarn locations. While the company stated that the decision to close the stores wasn’t easy to make, CFO Steven Taylor in a press release, “Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment.” Shoppers, however, will still be able to shop in the retailer’s stores and online, as the closures won’t immediately occur. Ascena Retail Group also owns apparel chains Ann Taylor and Loft.

The retailer also noted that employees will be informed about the decisions as to the timing of specific store closings. Dressbarn has been around for more than 50 years, but the retailer has been challenged when it comes to growth. Shoppers are looking to fast-fashion merchants such as H&M and Zara as well as off-price chains like TJ Maxx and Ross Stores. Amazon, too, is still taking a large share of the online apparel market.

In other news, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. is acquiring Boomerang Commerce’s Retail Analytics platform to sharpen its focus on retail technology. The system will bolster merchandise and data-driven pricing assortment decisions across the company’s businesses. While the acquisition encompasses technology and tools for the Retail Analytics platform, it doesn’t include customer contracts or related confidential information.

Lowe’s Chief Information Officer Seemantini Godbole said in an announcement. “One of the key components of our transformation here at Lowe’s is to modernize our technology. Pricing and assortment planning have been identified as strategic areas in need of modernization. And when we find the right assets available to buy and advance our strategy, we’ll do that.”

On another note, Office Depot is reportedly experimenting with coworking. The retailer was said to be creating three spaces for coworking within existing stores. The spaces reportedly have private offices, hot desks and conference rooms that are said to be less costly than the likes of WeWork and Workbar.

Office Depot’s move into coworking could be significant, as the retailer has more than 1,300 stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with 30.2 million square feet of real estate.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.

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