BIG BIG BOX
It’s going to happen sooner or later. Mark my words. Go into a “drug store” like CVS or Walgreens and it’s no easy matter discovering the pharmacy section. That’s because they’re selling everything else from milk to laundry detergents, toys and greeting cards there. Enter a Target store and after picking up a vacuum cleaner, shoes and a wall decoration you can head over to the grocery section and do the week’s food shopping for the family. Drive into a gas station and after filling up you’re able to head into the attached convenience store to pick up soda, snack food, magazines and canned goods. Dollar stores know few limits either, though limited to the dollar price tag. There you’ll discover an ever-changing inventory of seemingly everything.
What’s going on? Commercial boundaries have been breached. Retailers are encroaching on one another Cannibalization cannot be contained. So where will it lead? The answer couldn’t be more obvious. Watch for the store that, under one roof, will offer just about every product category on the market. That’s right. Every item both large and small that you’ve ever shopped for will be there out on the floor or on the shelves. Consider it retailing on steroids, superstores supersized. Nothing like it has every appeared on the retailing landscape.
This new establishment will occupy an immense area, somewhat shy of 250 acres and will be, as a consequence, located in suburban or exurban areas. Miles of shelves inside, together with open floor selling spaces, will present shoppers with just about every consumer product in creation. Any listing here would be notably insufficient, could not possibly include all that will be available. For example, there will be automobiles and tires, furniture, carpeting, groceries, cosmetics, toys, party goods, games, sports and camping equipment, household appliances, computers, electronics, shoes, bicycles, medical equipment, men’s women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, books, etc., etc. – altogether hundreds of thousands of items.
Logistics hold the key to success. How do you display all the products and move people around this vast shopping expanse? Though every product category will be available, not all brands of that item will be on display (though they can be requested). Indeed only a single sample of each product will be on the shelf or selling floor.
Located in the center of each aisle you’ll find a track upon which a continuous train of moving benches advances slowly and circulates through the store (together with some express routes to the outer reaches). People will ride along and be able to get off at any time or place to examine products. Each customer receives a hand-held computer to record the item number he wishes to purchase or to request assistance from sales advisors stationed throughout the facility.
Inventory is stored in cavernous storerooms underneath the store and will be gathered together and directed to a specific car bay outside the store. The shopper need only pull in to this location, pay the bill, have his purchases loaded into his car, and drive off (larger items being transported separately or delivered).
Major players in the field are, no doubt, at this very moment, working to perfect this major innovation in retailing. Soon enough, “One STOP Shopping” will assume new meaning for the American consumer.