Hybrid Commerce Is More Feasible and Crucial for SMBs

Walmart is launching a new white label delivery service called Walmart GoLocal, which will give smaller retailers access to the growing Walmart delivery service. This is good news for smaller retailers who have struggled to expand from brick-and-mortar into ecommerce or vice versa.

More options for delivery signals that the growth of hybrid commerce is being taken seriously by big names, who recognize that customers want a variety of options for shopping. This is especially important as small businesses encounter supply chain and logistical problems in today’s environment

What is hybrid commerce?

Hybrid commerce is when a brand combines the use of retail space, an ecommerce site or app, and delivery or shipping services to give customers access to their products in the ways that serve them the best. While hybrid commerce looks different for every company, it does require the careful coordination of inventory, shipping, and human resources across the various spaces. And it requires companies to be more tech-focused than a conventional retail space.

But the expansion from solely brick-and-mortar or ecommerce into a hybrid workspace also brings with it the opportunity to appeal to a wider audience and take advantage of the benefits of both systems.

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Big names like Amazon and Walmart investing in hybrid commerce

Like many trends, hybrid commerce has been practiced by smaller retailers for years, but big brands have just recently bought in, which lends credence to the viability of the trend. Just recently, Macy’s published their plan to overhaul their supply chain to better support an omnichannel experience. And companies like Amazon and Walmart, who have dabbled in hybrid commerce for years, are wading in even deeper.

Amazon announced recently that it is expanding into department store-style retail spaces for their AmazonBasics brands of clothing, electronics, and furniture. In addition to their dominant online store, Amazon has invested in spaces that bring them closer to hybrid for a long time. In the past few years, Amazon acquired Whole Foods and launched the Amazon Fresh delivery service. They’ve also opened retail spaces for Amazon Books and Amazon Go. A department store-style space doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Walmart just announced that it will white label its last-mile delivery for smaller retail spaces. Walmart GoLocal will help smaller local businesses who want to invest in delivery, but don’t have the startup resources to devote to a dedicated fleet. 

Walmart has been investing in all sorts of last-mile tech tools, including drones and autonomous vehicles to help ease the problem of last-mile delivery, which costs companies an average of $10.10 per package delivered, according to OptimoRoute. This is a major expense for most small businesses, who would either need to cut into their margins or significantly raise their prices to expand into shipping services.

Retailers have to live in both worlds to compete

Despite the significant logistical and technical problems of building a hybrid commerce space, today’s small retail businesses have to cater to in-person and online sales to compete. A retail space is important because there will always be people who want to touch the merchandise before they purchase. But online, delivery, and social media marketing cannot be ignored. This broadens your appeal to an audience outside of your local area.

But there are now a lot of options to help improve how small retail businesses can build their hybrid commerce including drop ship, wider shipping options from the big delivery services, listing on Amazon and in Amazon warehouses, and Walmart white label delivery services. 

Tamara Scott
Tamara Scott is Managing Editor at TechnologyAdvice and SmallBusinessComputing.com, where she guides content strategy, writes vendor and buyer content, and maintains high editorial standards among content creators across several properties.

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