A Single Retail Store

Alex Muir wrote an article about having only one brand left in each retail category. Although Alex lives in the United Kingdom, it's a pretty interesting idea and one which has a chance of becoming true.

Online retailers are preferred by consumers over the brick-and-mortar store. But as humans we still appreciate tactile sensations. I enjoy playing board games, even though there are digital versions, because of the tactile experience. Video games simulating the game, don't give me the same joy.

Physical stores will always exist. In addition to the tactile sensations, people want the ability to buy now and not wait for delivery. This is an interesting dilemma between the online and physical store.

My generation is known for having little patience and wanting immediate gratification. We max out credit cards because we don't want to save to purchase something. But why do younger people spend more money online than older generations? If the younger generation can't wait to buy something, why are they comfortable waiting for the online purchase to be delivered?

The younger generation is comfortable doing online price comparison for larger items and because of Amazon, they can automate many regular purchases like toliet paper and soap. But they may be more hesitant to buy things like clothing and shoes.

People will always want to try things on before purchasing. Returning things through the mail can be painful. Some startups are getting around this by allowing you to order more than one size and then returning the rest. I predict large online retail stores, like Amazon and Walmart may start doing this soon.

If what Alex is predicting, only one physical store per category, becomes true Walmart may displace all of those physical stores. We may soon live in a time where the only physical store is Gargantucorp. A few major cities, such as San Francisco, will resist this by using there money to vote for smaller shops, but, the rest of the country may not have this luxury.

The Internet has completely changed the way the world works. It's often hard for my daughter to understand movies more than 15 years old, I have to explain to her that things didn't always work the way they do now. I wonder what it will be like when she has to explain to her kids what the world was like.


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Written: December 28, 2012