Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

When Stores Become Mini Distribution Centers

The pandemic didn’t necessarily lay the groundwork for changes in retail, but it was a disrupter for sure. In-store, there are more cashless transactions and curbside pickup. For the short term, success will require adapting.

Within our retail division, we recently completed a Best Buy store that flips the traditional concept. This hybrid model drastically reduces the sales area by offering floor models for viewing and storing all inventory in a much larger attached area. The front space is the showroom and the back is a mini DC, which serves both in-store and online customers.

We also added a larger curbside pickup area to accommodate these changes. This type of store can deliver online orders in a matter of hours, rather than days, cutting shipping costs in the meantime. This helps them compete with the online giants by being more nimble. For the customer, they are offering a “frictionless” physical shopping experience. They can see the item in-person if they wish, or cut down on wait times to receive an item they ordered online. Everyone wins.

As we emerge from the pandemic, it will be interesting to see how plans continue to evolve. If there is one thing you can count on, it’s more change. Good.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.