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Shipping from stores lets Walmart offer faster delivery of online purchases "at very low cost," said Joel Anderson, president of Walmart.com.
The retailer saves money on fees it pays to carriers such as FedEx and UPS because delivery distances from stores are much shorter.
The strategy is helping some retailers that until recently were left for dead by investors concerned about the competitive threat from Amazon.
Best Buy, the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S., was labeled a "Big Box Zombie" on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine last October. In December, the stock hit a decade low of $11.20, valuing the company at less than $4 billion -- about 3% of Amazon's market capitalization.
But Best Buy shares have more than tripled this year on optimism about a turnaround plan led by new Chief Executive Hubert Joly.
The plan focuses on "turning its store base from a cost liability to an offensive weapon," Gary Balter, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said.
A crucial part of this is ship-from-store, which Best Buy has rolled out in about 50 locations.
Joly sees it as a way to generate more online sales by avoiding situations where shoppers search for a product on its Web site and are told that it's not available.
Best Buy gets about 1 billion online visits a year and in 2% to 4% of those cases shoppers cannot buy products because they are out of stock in the company's e-commerce warehouses. But in 80% of those cases, Best Buy has the products in one of its physical stores.
"Unlocking this potential is an enormous opportunity," Joly said earlier this year.
Shipping online orders from Best Buy stores could generate an extra $5.8 billion in sales and $168 million in profit next year for the company, according to Balter's estimates.
Other retailers that have started doing this in recent years include Target, Nordstrom, Macy's, Lowe's, Gap, Dick's Sporting Goods, Ann Inc. and Finish Line.
Physical stores will play a crucial role in driving online sales in the future, says Doug Anmuth, an analyst at JPMorgan.
It's increasingly important as Amazon builds its own fulfillment centers closer to customers. In California, the company is constructing several giant warehouses one to two hours' drive from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Amazon already delivers packages in two days for free through its popular Prime subscription. The company is also testing same-day and next-day delivery through its AmazonFresh grocery business in Seattle and Los Angeles -- challenging retailers on location, as well as price and selection. (continued...)
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