January 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Matt Pillar, Editor In Chief
A 26-store department store chain enables explosive e-commerce growth by deploying robots in its new fulfillment center.
C.J. von Maur founded the department store that bears his last name nearly 140 years ago. If he could somehow manage a visit with the modern von Maur family, which still runs the chain today, he’d probably take pride in the business’ steady growth. His single store has expanded to 26; plans for a half-dozen more are in the works. He’d certainly be pleased that the family’s focus on customers borders ridiculousness — its hallmarks including an interest-free charge card, free shipping, and free gift-wrapping on everything it sells. But how would C.J.’s descendants even attempt to explain the Internet, which accounts for as much revenue as some of their best-performing stores? Assuming he could possibly get his mind around that, how would C.J. react to the family’s new e-commerce fulfillment center, which is run by robots?
E-Commerce Sales Soar, Unexpectedly
Melody Westendorf, COO at von Maur, has been with the company for 15 years. She was there in 2005, when the retailer quietly flipped the switch on its first e-commerce site. With absolutely zero promotion, von Maur had its first Internet order two minutes later. That was telling of things to come.