The battle of bricks, clicks and logistics

Retailing is becoming a multi-front war, with online retailers adding on-the-ground capabilities such as same-day delivery, while brick-and-mortar merchants ramp up their online efforts.

Storefront e-commerce

Cady’s Alley, a picturesque stretch of historic brick buildings along the old C&O Canal in tony Georgetown, has become a “pop-up bazaar” for a group of online retailers looking for a physical presence during the holidays.

Jeff Bezos: Come fly with me

Whether Amazon ever gets its fleet of delivery drones off the ground or not, Bezos’ message was that he is focused on building a scalable distribution and delivery platform for the future of e-commerce, not an updated Pony Express.

Virtualizing brick-and-mortar retailing

Ebay is now using its knowledge of retailing basics to apply technology to virtualizing the inventory for its same-day service, where it can deliver far more bang for the technology buck than simply automating the order-taking process.

UltraViolet finally gaining luster

Barnes & Noble’s effort with Nook Video represents the first time a major retailer has sought to deploy UltraViolet strategically, rather than as merely a nice-to-have add-on to DVD purchases.

Today in Connected Consumer

Back in the e-commerce 1.0 days, there were high hopes among brick-and-mortar retailers that the bricks-and-clicks model would make them competitive against pure-play e-retailers. Those hopes were mostly unfulfilled, however, as e-retailers were able take advantage of cost savings and the lack of sales taxes on web purchases to grab significant market share. Things have only gotten worse for brick-and-mortar merchants with the emergence of “showrooming,” in which consumers use mobile devices to buy products online that they see in stores. But bricks-and-clicks may be making a comeback. EBay is courting brick-and-mortar merchants to get them to set up virtual shops on its e-commerce platform in a bid to take on Amazon. Starbucks’ $25 million investment in mobile-payment processor Square could also signal the start of a rush by brick-and-mortar merchants to stake claims in the mobile payment space, which could help connect them with broader e-commerce opportunities. Congress may also give brick-and-mortar shops a big boost soon if proposed legislation to allow states to tax online sales goes through.

Tied to the drive

Though sales of new games through brick-and-mortar retail channels are falling rapidly, game publishers, including the major console makers, have an incentive to prop them up as long as possible. No corner of the media content business has survived the transition from analog to digital distribution with its analog pricing power intact and there’s no reason to believe game publishers will fare any better.