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Going forward, many Top 500 chain retailers are counting on growing their e-commerce sales for a very simple reason: They're trying to remain relevant with consumers in a fast-changing digital world where more consumers are shopping by tablet computer, pulling out their smartphones at the mall to comparison shop for the best deal, and sharing their shopping likes and dislikes with family and friends over Facebook, says Kent Allen, principal and founder of The Research Trust, a San Francisco-based e-commerce and retailing industry research firm.
"The Great Recession from a few years ago should have taught retailers they don't need as many stores as they once had," Allen says. "Today consumers aren't just automatically heading to the mall. Instead they are using their computer or smartphone to research who has the best inventory at the best price and then making the purchase online with an option to have the merchandise sent to their favorite store."