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Welcome to Retailing 2.0

[LA Times, June, 2010]

Today’s consumer is a multichannel shopper and consequently demands the same conveniences the web offers when shopping in-store. With the latest trend coined “Retailing 2.0,” traditional brick and mortar stores are changing the way they do business to better meet the needs of shoppers while also remaining competitive with Internet retailers such as Zappos.com and Amazon.com.

When Kohls and J.C. Penny shoppers can’t find what they are looking for at their local store, they are given the opportunity to buy online by using in-store kiosks. Even Macy’s, almost a perfect example of a classic ” department store,” has responded to drastic increases in online sales over the last few years by replacing its standard cash registers with Internet friendly registers that allow employees to place online orders for customers in-store.

Though offering great conveniences for customers, the trend is also in line with current economic concerns. Processing online orders costs much less than leasing retail space and staffing an army of sales clerks. For these reasons and others, it comes as no surprise that many retailers are building up their e-commerce strategies.

Gap, Inc. is expanding its e-commerce store to Canada and Europe this fall, while Ann Taylor Stores Corp. is expanding online selection, implementing a quicker and more convenient checkout process, and adding personalization capabilities on-site.

As explained by Forrester Research, retailers must improve their multichannel strategy in order to satisfy changing consumer demands. A study recently released by the firm predicts that by 2014, U.S. online retail will reach nearly $249 billion.

Read the full article here.