The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that retailers including Walmart and Target are "staffing stores differently in an effort to meet new competitive challenges," understanding that they need to expand the use of labor for e-commerce fulfillment purposes.

Examples:

• "Target said it now sources 80% of its online orders from stores, not warehouses. At the Brooklyn store around 80 workers handle internet orders, collecting products from shelves or putting items into boxes in the backroom for delivery.

"Target retrained the bulk of its 300,000 year-round U.S. workers over the past year, giving them new titles and responsibilities. The Minneapolis, Minn.-based retailer hopes to mold each into an expert for a specific area of the store such as the beauty department, toys or online fulfillment to offer better customer service and use labor spending more efficiently."

• Walmart, the country’s largest retailer by revenue, has also asked more staff to stock goods during the day in recent years, though only in a minority of the retailer’s 4,700 U.S. stores, a spokesman said. The Bentonville, Ark., company uses stores to fulfill its online grocery orders and is increasingly relying on stores for other types of e-commerce orders, although most are shipped from dedicated warehouses.

KC's View: While it clearly is important for stores to have enough people working to handle fulfillment of online orders, it seems to me that it would be a mistake to under-staff the bricks-and-mortar component - because the people who actually come into the store won't want to be treated like second-class citizens or an afterthought. If they end up feeling that way, it may just reinforce the idea that actual stores are irrelevant.