By Matt Pillar, chief editor
It’s a big year for 530-store Bealls Inc. 2015 marks the retailer’s 100th anniversary of brick-and-mortar retailing, and this October it will celebrate the 1st anniversary of e-commerce operations for its outlet banner Burkes Outlet.
Lest you label those banners laggard for their late-blooming foray into online sales, it’s all part of the billion-dollar enterprise’s omni-channel plan. “Bealls Inc. has operated an e-commerce site since 1998, but it was a strategic decision to limit our outlet store business to brick-and-mortar,” says Roy Fung, e-commerce director there. “Our outlets run a completely different business model than our department stores,” he explains. “Our outlet merchandisers focus on opportunistic buys of off price merchandise, so there’s significant fluctuation in inventory, and when that inventory hits the shelves it’s here today and gone tomorrow.” That model created concerns about e-commerce execution; by the time buys were made, inventory was allocated to stores, and products were loaded to an e-commerce site, the company feared the kind of inventory management discrepancies that would surely let consumers down.
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