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After a horrible first half of the year, retailers are going high-tech to rescue the back-to-school season.Traditional department and discount store chains are trying to win over shoppers — and compete with online titan Amazon — by converting their brands...

Retailers turn to online shopping to rescue back-to-school season

After a horrible first half of the year, retailers are going high-tech to rescue the back-to-school season.Traditional department and discount store chains are trying to win over shoppers — and compete with online titan Amazon — by converting their brands...

Retailers turn to online shopping to rescue back-to-school season

After a horrible first half of the year, retailers are going high-tech to rescue the back-to-school season.

Traditional department and discount store chains are trying to win over shoppers — and compete with online titan Amazon — by converting their brands into omnichannel retailers that make it easy for shoppers to buy online, in-store or from a mobile device — and move seamlessly among all three options.

“Growth … looks different today,” said Brett Biggs, chief financial officer of Walmart, at an analyst presentation in June. “It’s still about comp sales and … building stores.

But now it’s about mobile e-commerce … fulfillment capabilities … and developing new services.”

The back-to-school season generates an estimated 18 percent of annual sales for apparel retailers, second only to the holidays’ 19 percent, according to Cowen & Co.

While the National Retail Federation expects back-to-school and -college sales will jump substantially, to $75.8 billion this year, every dollar will be hard won. Stores are under pressure not only to generate strong sales, but to turn a profit while offering the speed and convenience customers expect.

However, most retailers will face the challenge of implementing a tech upgrade for millions of customers without a hitch.

Cutting shipping time from two days to one, for example, can add 30 percent to a retailers’ cost, said Kumar Venkataraman, a partner in consultant A.T. Kearney’s retail practice.

The majority of back-to-school shoppers plan to visit traditional stores; however, the crowded aisles are losing luster. Nearly a third of shoppers surveyed by Deloitte said they’ll buy online and pick up in-store instead.

Millennials in particular prefer shopping online because of free shipping, as well as not having to “deal with people” — or even wear pants — according to a survey by mobile commerce platform BrandingBrand survey.

Here, a look at new omnichannel efforts by major chains.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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