Retailers can respond by harnessing existing store locations and forging relationships with outside distributors.
Subscale retailers do have options. For some, third-party fulfillment relationships are becoming critical—these providers not only bring the required network and distribution capabilities but can also help manage the product proliferation that is a natural consequence of rapid online growth. Other retailers, integrating existing brick-and-mortar locations to fulfill online orders, are using stores for pickup and delivery or converting underperforming stores into mini-distribution centers. Meanwhile, these retailers are enhancing the way they share information and integrate inventory across the full network of stores and distribution centers.