For Retailers, E-Commerce Meets In-Store with Click-and-Collect

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Marrying digital commerce with bricks and mortar has been a challenge for retailers since Amazon showed up and changed the game. But after years of trial and error and new innovations in online and mobile shopping, brands have finally found a way to make it work. 

Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second-largest grocery chain, is now following rivals Tesco and Asda into the world of click-and-collect, enabling customers to purchase online in the morning and pick up their items at locations in seven different subway stops on the way home from work. In addition to providing more convenient options for its one billion-pound online business, there are benefits for its partner, too. Transport for London, aka the London Tube, is hoping to bring in £3 billion ($5 billion) by renting out spaces across its 270 stations to the grocer.

And in the US, Target is hoping to catch up to competitors by making big investments in digital, including Store Pickup, its own click-and-collect service that allows shoppers to order goods online and then pick them up in-store the same day.[more]

Target is also testing same-day delivery service in Boston, Miama and its hometown of Minneapolis, and is expanding its subscription service that launched last fall to give consumers free, scheduled delivery of favorite essentials so consumers never run out of what they use most, and is pushing its coupon app Cartwheel, which it launched in beta last year.

The big digital push will hopefully allow the big-box retailer to recover from the massive data breach it experienced over the holidays, regain consumer trust and get back in the game against Walmart, Google. Also helping matters on that front, Target just named its first chief information security officer: Brad Maiorino, who held a similar position at General Motors.

Amazon, meanwhile, is even testing delivery by drone and reportedly “preparing to launch a digital marketplace for local services, pushing into turf currently occupied by companies like Yelp,” according to Mashable

eBay has been putting a lot of effort behind its own local delivery service, eBay Now, for two years, including a high-tech test in New York with Kate Spade Saturday. But, according to VentureBeat, the service, which allows users to order products from partner retailers like Macy’s with delivery by courier within an hour, is experiencing some serious growing pains.

The e-commerce giant has reportedly scrapped its international expansion plans to concentrate on its existing US markets (San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., New York, Chicago and Dallas), but its financial woes are so serious that the whole service may be shut down.

• Connect with Mark on Twitter: @markjmill

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