Doom-sayers have been predicting the end of the physical retail shop for some time now. Although it’s true that many retail merchants on the High Street are scrabbling for survival, others are learning to adapt in a new world. That’s what life, and business, is all about; adapting and evolving.
The Rise of E-commerce
A recent report from Forrester, the e-business and channel strategy gurus, predicted that online retail sales will hit $294 million dollar mark in the US this year. That’s roughly 9% of all sales in the whole country. Moreover, Forrester suggests that this will increase to 11% by 2018. The e-commerce sales in UK are expected to grow by almost 50% over the next five years to over £50bn in sales by 2018.
Such developments are only natural. After all, a website is available 24/7, offers a huge amount of choice at prices that are often lower than their physical retail equivalents, as well as free shipping in many cases. Convenience is the key here, and that is a massive incentive. So can we glean from these stark facts that physical retailing is a dinosaur heading for extinction?
The New Physical Retailing
Although it has been predicted that $150 billion dollars will be spent online in the US up until 2018 that still leaves a predicted 300 billion to be spent in the shops and malls. That’s hardly an extinction. What is more, savvy retailers are moving with the times. The old concept of shops is on the way out, but new ones are arising to replace them.
Physical shopping is not just about the acquisition of goods, it also fulfils a social need that is hard-wired in the human psyche. We love to browse and the opportunity to ‘Try before you buy’ is still a big incentive for getting us out on the streets. So the future will be one in which virtual and physical shops not only coexist but even form a synergistic relationship. Shops will become more like showcases for goods and locations where experts can be consulted on a one to one basis and where special, individually tailored, customer specific designs can be created. Don’t write them off; shops will rise again.