Shopping Centers Today

NOV 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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38 S C T / N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 rocers, discounters and others are zeroing in on an Internet- based strategy that offers ease and convenience even as it drives traffic to physical loca- tions: click-and-collect — also called "buy online, pick up in-store." Still, major questions remain about the best way to provide this service, experts say. Should pickup points be located inside the store, thereby forcing time-pressed shoppers to exit their vehicles, cross the store threshold and, ideally, make impulse purchases on the way out? Or should retailers prioritize ease and speed by having salesclerks carry purchased items out to waiting cars? And will the rising volume of click-and-collect orders force retailers to make big changes to store layouts and even to rethink the basic approaches to their supply chains and inventory management? Or will setting aside a few parking spaces or installing one or two lockers be enough? The likes of Kroger, Sprouts Farmers Market, Target, Walmart and Whole Foods are racing to answer these and other questions. "There's a lot of testing going on right now in a lot of different areas, and it's unclear as to how it will all shake out," said Joseph McKeska, president and co-founder of Oak Brook, Ill.–based Elkhorn Real Estate Partners. "Everybody is trying to develop a business model that is attractive to U.S. consumers and that offers flexibility. The challenge is to find something that can be implemented across varying income levels in a way that, ultimately, is profitable." But as chains experiment with new approaches that involve autonomous vehicles, robots, order-selection machines and the like, they are often simultaneously running well-established and fast-growing programs for click-and- collect, McKeska says. Last September Walmart began taking grocery pickup orders at its 2,000th location (in Fayetteville, Ark.). By the end of the year, Walmart's free grocery pickup service will be available at 2,140 access points across 430 markets — making it available to nearly 70 percent of all U.S. households, according to the company. Rollouts such as these are beginning to change the behavior of a growing segment of shoppers, observes Ivy Z. Greaner, COO of Downers Grove, Ill.–based InvenTrust Properties, which owns and/or manages nearly 80 outdoor shopping centers, primarily grocery-anchored. Greaner says she has made site visits and watched with interest as drivers wait for orders at pickup spots in Kroger parking lots, or as customers collect groceries from lockers or customer-ser- vice areas inside urban and city-center Whole Foods stores. "Customers are definitely using click-and-collect," Greaner said. "Is it everybody? No, but it's surprising how quickly some consumers have adopted this." By Joel Groover Retailers bet big on click-and-collect programs g

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