Entering the final stretch of the 2013 holiday shopping season

_81H2649.jpgGoing into the final weekend before Christmas, millions of Americans are panicking about last minute shopping and making certain that no one has been left off their lists.

For online retailers, the deadline is even tighter because there are fewer days for gifts purchased electronically to arrive on doorsteps via FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service.

John Talbott, associate director of the Center for Education and Research in Retailing in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, also has been busy this holiday shopping season, observing and commenting on all the activity.

Talbott is one of the experts quoted in an article today on U.S. News and World Report’s web site, “A Survival Guide for Last-Minute Shoppers.”

He believes that traditional retailers have been closing the gap with online retailers this Christmas.

“An interesting phenomenon is that brick-and-mortar retailers have learned how to play the game,” he says. “Traditional retailers like Kohl’s, Macy’s, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods are now playing the e-commerce game very well.

“The reality is the Internet is now as much a part of how these retailers interface with their consumers as their stores. In all the cases listed above, e-commerce is by far the biggest ‘location,’ if you will, for all of these players,” he adds. “These stores are essentially now using ‘showrooming’ techniques to display goods to consumers and are indifferent about whether the consumers buy in their stores or on their website.”

Talbott says traditional retailers have learned that their stores also can be used as warehouses in order to build capacity for online sales. Inventories are being shared between stores and e-commerce divisions, resulting in better asset efficiency and higher levels of customer service.

Many shoppers — perhaps some of you in the next few days — will shop online at web sites for top brick-and-mortar retailers such as Walmart and Target and then arrange to pick up their purchases at the stores.

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