Macy’s Fights Amazon By Turning Stores into Shipping Centers

After a bruising fight during the past year against Amazon, officials from Macy’s realized they needed more warehouses to ship their on-line purchases from. Then it hit them. They’ve got 800 buildings, far more than Amazon will ever have, so why not use them?

Now a new move to build shipping centers has turned the back rooms of 292 Macy’s 800 stores around the country into de facto distribution centers. When someone orders a black pair of women’s shoes size 5, a worker will stroll out into the Macy’s sales floor, find the item, and bring it into the back and ship it. Since the buyer lives close to the store, the shipping is peanuts. And in some cases, the shoppers come to the store and pick up their order in a yellow plastic Macy’s bag.

While Amazon uses robots to fetch items and bring them to people in their cavernous distribution centers, and the machines never fail to read exactly what book, or what size and color, the item should be, the story in the WSJ by Dana Mattioli hinted that Macy’s is taking on a Herculean amount of labor and a lot of frustration. People aren’t as good at finding thousands of items a day as the mobile robots are.

A Macy’s executive explained why this move makes sense when he cited a special Chanel perfume that went on sale on their website only, and sold out in just one day. Yet stores across the country had to discount the fragrance to get it off their shelves. The policy of taking hot-sellers off the website once they were gone left lots of unsold inventory, and now, they can find anything people want to buy from their own store shelves.