Will WalMart End Up Crushing Amazon?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In Tuesday's Best Buy: Dead and Dangerous Money, I quoted something TheStreet's retail savant Brian Sozzi brought up in a recent Real Money article:

We are witnessing something very, very interesting at Best Buy (BBY) that could be used as a template for other retailers that have implemented ship-from-store capabilities for online orders ...
Ship-from-store is shaping up to be a formidable threat to Amazon.com (AMZN), as large-box retailers clearly outnumber the online giant in the number of distribution centers -- whoops, I mean retail stores.

I expanded on that in my Tuesday piece, but wanted to address it -- a bit more objectively -- here.

Granted, I'm a geek about this type of thing, but it is a pretty darn fascinating dynamic. The notion of physical retailers constructing all of this infrastructure for one function (traditional shopping) only to wind up using it, increasingly, for an until now unanticipated purpose (fulfillment of online orders). As the process (and real estate) shakes itself out, you have to question the veracity of the "success" some big box names report. There's no doubt that sales and, in some cases, an entire strategy simply fell into their collective lap.

Just like Facebook (FB) missed mobile, physical retailers missed online. Now they're playing catch up. But they're not as nimble as Facebook, therefore transition happens more slowly in retail than social media. And it's certainly less reliable. Facebook's playing in a new space, amicable to change. Retail, even amidst Amazon's disruption, remains far more entrenched. But it is what it is; we (or I) can lament what physical retail did wrong all day long. Now they're here pushing online and something, at some point, has got to give.

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