A false belief remains among many people, that the days of brick-and-mortar shops are numbered, and the future lays just in the online space. They cannot be more wrong.
While the matter of fact is that online shopping grows every year, we should not interpret the whole situation based just on one merit. Only because e-commerce rises as a whole, it does not necessarily mean that physical retail suffers severe damage. Oversimplification in this matter is quite common. Media like to fall for this kind of ‘apocalyptic-clickbaitish’ headlines, as long as it gains enough attention.
But what does the data show? When using the US retail market as the ultimate benchmark, the latest dataset from the year 2017 was pretty clear. For each company closing a store, there were additional 2.7 opening stores. The year 2018 was no exception, and the positive trend continued.
Every retail sector, except for department stores (which recorded an equal amount of closed & opened stores), has shown net openings. That’s what we have for a bigger picture, to prove that constant ‘retail apocalypse’ fearmongering doesn’t have a solid data-based ground.
Also, there’s something much more striking – a recent rush of investment flow coming from online-only brands into physical retail. Many innovative brands who used to operate just on the online scene announced physical stores openings with pretty aggressive plans against competitors. Most of those newcomers already disrupted the retail as we know it. A very significant proportion of recently closed stores weren’t phased out simply because of customers’ lost desire for in-store shopping. Most of them didn’t keep the pace and were crushed by innovative and more experience-appealing brands.
The latest essence of current physical retail disruptors is a combination of innovative marketing campaigns, technological equipment which makes the shopping more seamless, and trained staff. Making customers so engaged and loyal to a given brand, that they will more likely visit a store personally than just make a purchase online. That’s the ultimate goal of those firms, which are now fully realizing the potential of physical retail.
The race to revolutionize the old fashioned in-store shopping experience is on. What we’re looking at is a retail revolution, not the apocalypse.