Retailers need both online and physical presence to survive: Former Macy's CEO

  • Former Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren says 9 times out of 10 across all retail, including food, consumers are still choosing in-store shopping over online.
  • "We're going to see most of retailers, all of retailers, having both," he says.
  • Having an online presence in addition to a brick-and-mortar store helps shoppers research where they want to shop before entering a physical store, Lundgren says.

The trick to surviving the current retail disruption may not be as simple as moving your shop online, said former Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren. Instead, Lundgren said, retailers today need to have a presence in both worlds.

"Neither one or the other is the way consumers shop today," Lundgren said during a "Power Lunch" exclusive on Thursday.

Lundgren was in Tucson, Arizona, on Thursday for the annual Global Retailing Conference, where he said data revealed that in 2017, only 10 percent of sales across all categories, including food and retail, occurred online.

"People are definitely choosing, nine times out of 10 transactions, to do it in a physical environment," he said. "That's going to go to 89 and 88 [percent]. But it's not going to go to 50 [percent] overnight."

"We're going to see most of retailers, all of retailers, having both," Lundgren added. "You can do both, and you have to do both."

Lundgren, who also served as executive chairman for Macy's board of directors, pointed out that Macy's, known for its brick-and-mortar stores, is the fourth-largest internet company in the U.S. And e-commerce giant Amazon has brick-and-mortar options for shoppers, such as a bookstore in New York and a grocery store in Seattle.

An online presence in addition to brick-and-mortar stores also helps shoppers research where they want to shop before entering a physical store, Lundgren said.