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Cash and carry supermarketThanks to readers David Singer and Ken Corneliusen for pointing out that Circuit City is already offering a form of local fulfillment. They call it the "Express In-Store Pickup option" and it lets you buy online and pick up your purchases at your local Circuit City store "almost immediately". Express In-store Pickup allows you to complete your purchase online and pick up your product at a local Circuit City store near where you live. Circuit City has obviously concluded that local fulfillment is good for the customer and also good for them. As a customer, you pay no shipping charges for your purchase, you have the flexibility of picking up your purchase at your convenience, and your purchase is immediately available for pickup after you have completed your purchase online and received your order confirmation page.
Looks like Circuit City has also thought through the entire process — end-to-end.
If you used a credit card for your purchase, only you or someone you authorized is able to pickup the merchandise. The Customer Service Counter will ask you for your order number (which is on the order confirmation page you printed from the Web site after your purchase), your photo identification (just like at the airport), the credit card you used to pay for the online purchase, and your signature acknowledging receipt of the product. All of this is perfectly reasonable and good business practice.

As for location of the store, the Circuit City Web site will take you to a page where you can select up to three stores in your area based on your zip code. For some larger TVs, Circuit City will choose the three closest locations that have your product selection available so you don’t have to — they must have store-level inventory available online. Your merchandise is placed aside in the store for 14 days after you received your order confirmation.

It isn’t exactly 24×7 but it would be hard to complain about Circuit City hours: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 10 a.m . -9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. This is a really good offering and I again thank David and Ken for telling me about it. Circuit City has set the bar high and I suspect many other retailers will pick up on the idea. It is one step closer to on demand e-business.