In an effort to get more products to more customers, Macy’s expects to see 292 of its department stores work double duty as fulfillment centers for online orders just in time for the holiday season.
“We will use the inventory of 292 stores to fulfill online orders when we are out-of-stock at our fulfillment centers,” said Jim Sluzewski, Macy’s spokesman.
According to the plan, if Macys.com’s distribution center is out-of-stock of a particular item, the online order can still be fulfilled by using another Macy’s store elsewhere in the country, unbeknownst to the consumer. This tactic could save time and shipping costs for the consumer and prevent Macy’s from putting some items at retail stores on clearance since it could be sold at full price to a consumer looking online.
“What this will do is drive sales but it should also help us improve our margins,” Sluzewski said.
A few years back, Macy’s unveiled a “search and send” fulfillment plan where if one store was out of a particular item, the order would be fulfilled at an online fulfillment center and shipped to the consumer’s home.
In 2011, Macy’s added to that by turning 23 of its stores into “store-to-store-to-door” fulfillment centers where other stores fulfilled an order request made at a different Macy’s location. Through the search and send tactics, Sluzewski said, Macy’s shipped 7 million items to customer’s homes last year alone.
“The goal is to be there for the customer no matter when or how they shop,” he said.
So what happens if there aren’t any fulfillment stores that could take care of an online order? The consumer will never know since Macy’s policy is to immediately pull any out-of-stock item off its site, Sluzewski said.
Don’t expect to see a big hiring boost at Macy’s; Sluzewski said only a handful of additional hires might be needed since current employees who stock the floor will handle the online fulfillment aspect.
“There are some modest workforce increases,” he said, but the number will vary by state and store size.
Sluzewski said as of mid May there were 150 fulfillment stores in action and that number is expected to double by Nov. 1.