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Retailers blur the lines

Big online retailers are augmenting their digital presence with brick-and-mortar spaces; what this means for the rest of us
By Lauren Carter
Published: February 13, 2015
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A guy walks into a store ... Sounds like the launching point of a great joke. And, just like a joke, there are many possible outcomes. Leaving aside the punch line, our potential customer could be there for a number of reasons: to browse and buy, to compare posted store prices with those he finds on his smartphone, to return something ordered online to a physical customer service desk, or to use an in-store kiosk connected to the retailer’s website to purchase an item and come back for it after he hits the local TGI Fridays for lunch.
 
Whatever action our fictional shopper takes, he’s clearly the model of today’s consumer. Today’s shoppers have a lot of options opening up in terms of how they access the goods they want to buy. They are integrating the digital and physical shopping realms in surprising and various ways, and every retailer—even the online giant Amazon—needs to diversify its reach to follow suit and help consumers get what they want, when they want it.
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