It has already swept some companies under the rug, such as RadioShack, and greatly threatened others, including Best Buy. Business chiefs in retailing and marketing, including Kathryn Bufano of Bon-Ton Stores, want to make sure they can help their companies come out on top.
“The retailing business is evolving, and in the department-store sector, the influence of e-commerce and the Internet is very strong,” said Bufano, the head of Bon-Ton, a Midwestern chain of 273 stores, told CEO Briefing. “We’re being careful and mindful to understand how shopping habits are changing in the department store as in retail in general. We intend to change and evolve with it.”
But while discount merchants are reorganizing to promote Internet ordering of goods that customers go to the store to pick up, right now the emphasis at Bon-Ton—whose chains include Carson’s and Boston Store—is on using an online platform to optimize the experience of the customer once they’re already in a Bon-Ton outlet.
Called “Let us find it,” this initiative helps Bon-Ton store employees “fulfill the desire of the customer when she’s in the store,” Bufano said. “We’ll find whatever she’s looking for from any location within our [physical] footprint and our e-commerce facility and get it to her. That’s our big push this year.”