Physical Stores and Locations or Not?

When internet sales began to evolve, many were saying that it would be the “death of many stores”. While we see online businesses thriving and certain physical stores not so well, it does make you wonder if this is true. However, we see new trends like you saw in the videos where Amazon and Alibaba are reinventing the store experience and feel physical stores are integral to retail; and that younger generations are drawn to the shopping mall.

But then again, there are companies like Carvana that sell cars without a physical dealership in town (you shop online and the car is delivered or you pick it up). Also, there are physical stores like Walmart, who added an e-commerce component but are replicating programs that Amazon has such as their prime membership program.

Last, COVID prompted a surge of online shopping even for items that typically were not bought online. Is this a temporary trend for during the Pandemic for safety or has this shifted consumers’ desire to shop a certain way permanently?

Right now, it seems digital native retailers and traditional retailers are looking at each other closely to mimic what the other offers to customers.

Discuss where you think we will land in the future of shopping; the role e-commerce will play and whether we will have physical stores or not.

Here are some thought starters: (note: you are not required to answer all of these points, they are there to help start the conversation; feel free to use these points below at your discretion).

  • Do we need and desire physical stores? Even after COVID is under control and it’s safe to be out in public, will consumers want to remain doing most their shopping online or will they crave to get back out into physical stores?
  • Is having a store more critical or needed for certain industries or types of products?
  • With retailers striving for that omni-channel experience, do physical stores have a role?
  • For online, do we need new delivery models (ways to get the product to its destination)?
  • With online not really having any geographical boundaries (like the Carvana example or even Amazon), does this cause issues or is good for business?

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