May 8, 2012, 10:28 AM

Macy’s ties stores more closely to the web

By year-end, it expects to equip 300 stores to fulfill web orders, the retailer says.

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With its customers showing they like shopping both online and in stores, Macy’s Inc. is taking several steps to tie its physical stores more closely to its e-commerce operation, Brian Leinbach, senior vice president of systems development and field services, said at a supply chain technology conference yesterday.

“90% of our customers research online at least occasionally before purchasing in a store,” Leinbach said in a presentation Monday on Macy’s “omni-channel” retail strategy at Manhattan Associates Inc.’s Momentum users’ conference in Orlando, FL. Leinbach described omni-channel retailing as the way consumers research and shop across stores, web sites, mobile commerce and social networks. Macy’s, No. 14 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, operates retail chains and e-commerce sites under the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brands.

Among the ways the company is improving omni-channel retailing is through the expansion of in-store Wi-Fi to all 840 stores under the retailer’s Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brands; the Internet access ensures that consumers and store clerks can use smartphones, tablet computers and kiosks as shopping tools in those stores.

The company also plans to have by year-end 300 stores capable of handling fulfillment of online orders. Leinbach declined to provide more details on how it would modify stores to handle fulfillment.

When shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for in a store, Macy’s will offer a new “search and send” service that will enable store clerks to determine if a desired product is available for pickup in another company store or arrange to have it shipped to a customer’s home from either a store or a distribution center.

Macy’s, which uses Manhattan Associates’ warehouse management technology, operates eight distribution centers and is opening a 2-million-square-foot distribution center this summer in Martinsburg, WV, to fulfill online orders in the eastern United States.

Macy’s is adding new warehousing and fulfillment capabilities at a time when its online sales are growing. Web sales increased 40% last year over 2010 at Macys.com and Bloomingdales.com, Leinbach said.

Presentations on fulfillment strategies at the Internet Retailer 2012 Conference & Exhibition will include “Managing inventory in a hyper-fast world,” by speakers Daniel Yen, CEO of MovieMars.com, and Sean Cook,CEO of ShopVisible LLC.

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