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Retailers Trying Some Online Alternatives

A number of experiments are currently underway by big-box chains to leverage their real estate and ally with Internet companies to better compete with e-tailers.

Among the former, Best Buy is reportedly carving out some space for Samsung adjacent to its mobile departments to herald the arrival of the Galaxy S4. The new Samsung mobile shops would be similar to the chain’s Apple sections, featuring special signage and live demos, and would also carry tablets and other smartphone models. The first wave of Samsung stores will supposedly hit the most heavily-trafficked Best Buy stores within a month, followed by a national rollout later this year.

Meanwhile, a number of retailers including Target, Staples, Office Depot, Toys “R” Us and Walgreens are working with Google to test a same-day delivery service in San Francisco dubbed Google Shopping Express. The pilot, which began in October, is now seeking Bay Area “testers” who would receive six months of free, unlimited same-day delivery of online orders dispatched by third-party couriers.

San Francisco is also the site of separate same-day delivery pilots by eBay and Walmart. In addition, the latter will also begin testing in-store lockers in a dozen Superstores this summer that will allow customers to pick up their orders without waiting in line for a clerk to retrieve them from storage.

Amazon was first out of the gate with a locker program that delivers small items to lock-boxes at participating Staples, 7-Elevens and other locations.