With 1,008 physical stores in operation, Best Buy has a robust online segment as well. And although the retailer has undertaken store closings in recent years, it has outlasted all other serious challengers in the area of electronics. “Best Buy, despite all odds, has won the fame in electronics,” Kniffen says. “They are the last man standing.”
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Macy’s was an early adopter of omni-channel retailing, and Terry J. Lundgren, executive chairman of the retailer, who will retire in 2018, is credited with coining the term. Online activity accounts for about 22 percent of the Cincinnati-based retailer’s total sales.
Macy’s might have branded omni-channel as a retailing practice, but Seattle-based Nordstrom is considered the inventor of it, Kniffen says. “Nordstrom did it first, with free shopping both ways,” he notes. “You could buy online, pick up and return to the store.” Everything the retailer is doing through omni-channel retailing is working reasonably well on the store side, he adds. “They’re in a tough space, but it is still working for them.”
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At this point, the San Francisco-based retailer has achieved a virtually perfect balance of online and brick-and-mortar retailing. As of third quarter 2017, Williams-Sonoma derived 52.6 percent of its total revenues from online sales, according to a company financial release. “They have truly gone all the way,” Kniffen says. Goldberg adds that Williams-Sonoma understood very early on consumers’ behaviors related to omni-channel retailing.
And the company is going farther. In mid-November it acquired Outward, Inc., a 3-D imaging and augmented reality platform for $112 million. The technology allows users to visualize merchandise, like furniture, in their homes. This technology might allow shoppers to prescreen furniture purchases for now, Kniffen says, but he adds that it could soon apply to a range of items found in specialty stores, including apparel.