(You can add it anywhere to the Op-Ed, would fit best at the end)
Although brick-and-mortar shopping seems here to stay, it has definitely been threatened by the online shopping model. As Wallace points out, more than half of American consumers prefer to shop online, and almost all (96%) of Americans who have any Internet access have made an online purchase. Most Americans (80%) have ordered something online in the past month (Wallace 1). The number of Americans who prefer to shop online is even greater for young people, with 67% of Millennials preferring online shopping to going to a store. The reasons for preferring online shopping include convenience and time savings, although Millennials do spend about six hours per week shopping online (Wallace 1). Online shopping with major retailer like Amazon also makes it easy for people to buy everything they need in one place, all without leaving the comfort of their home or office. In fact, the rise of online shopping as the go-to model for Millennials, Gen-Xers, and even older Americans has meant the demise of many small retail stores, as Amazon.com and other major online vendors has driven them out of business. Online sales are also growing for almost all retailers that started out first as brick-and-mortar stores, such as major department stores (Gilreath 1). The result of online shopping has been a tremendous transformation in consumer behavior.
Interestingly, though, a reverse trend seems to be happening to prove that online shopping is not leading to the demise of brick-and-mortar stores in general. While the big retailers like Amazon have been instrumental in phasing out â€œmain streetâ€ type establishments, that trend was already taking place with the likes of Wal-Mart. Perhaps more tellingly, Amazon has recently done the reverse by opening its first brick-and-mortar store (Gusoff 1). Amazon opening an actual brick-and-mortar store is probably the biggest sign that brick-and-mortar is here to stay. Consumers want personalized service in some shopping situations, even if they will combine their brick-and-mortar or in-person shopping with shopping online. The reasons why consumers will still use, or in some cases even prefer, shopping in a brick-and-mortar store is they want to touch, feel, or try on a product (Gusoff 1). Most retailers like Amazon are also learning that they need both a brick-and-mortar presence as well as an online one to truly remain competitive in the long run.
As Gilreath points out, nearly 85% of all retail sales still take place in stores (1). The major retailers from TJ Maxx to Target are synchronizing but also segregating their online and in-person shopping experiences so that consumers have incentives to use both. For example, a person might find that the pants they want are only available in the brick-and-mortar stores, or that they will receive a 25% discount for buying the same product online. Depending on supply and demand, the incentives will regularly change as the retailer makes decisions based on issues like warehousing capacity, market trends, and consumer behavior.
Online shopping has meant greater choices for consumers and better competition. Consumers can browse any number of retailers and instantly check prices online, whereas they cannot do that as easily in person. With apps that perform instant online price comparisons, though, a consumer can easily do online and brick-and-mortar shopping at the same time. Using technology tools to enhance the shopping experience means that more and more people will use whatever method is best for them, whether the goal is to save money or purchase the most unique item they can find on the market. Gilreath claims, â€œreal stores arenâ€™t dyingâ€”theyâ€™re just changing,â€ (1). Indeed, the stores that will continue to succeed and remain competitive are those that will combine the best of online shopping with the best of brick-and-mortar experiences.
Your readers might have seen some of their favorite stores shutting down, assuming that their demise was due to online shopping. While this could have been true in some cases, the demise of the brick-and-mortar store cannot be blamed on online shopping per se, but to a lack of ability to respond to change. â€œTo say that digital commerce is killing off physical stores is lazy thinking and a half-truth,â€ (Thau 1). Companies that responded well to technological advances remain viable, such as Nordstrom, which has a thriving brick-and-mortar as well as online presence. Brick-and-mortar stores are also necessary parts of the marketing mix for many companies, who maintain costly retail addresses specifically for the purpose of solidifying their brand. For some stores, their brick-and-mortar presence has become experiential in ways their online stores cannot be. The prime examples would be the Apple store, which allows consumers to interact with the products in person.
In the recent Amazon purchase of Whole Foods, the nature of global commerce in general shows why small businesses are the ones that may have the most difficulty competing in the online environment. The Amazon takeover of Whole Foods overshadowed other similar events such as Nordstrom purchasing Haute Look, an online vendor (Thau 1). Purchasing an existing online vendor pressents several advantages to the brick-and-mortar establishment, such as allowing it access to a readymade information technology infrastructure, databases, architecture, and even customers. The confluence of online and brick-and-mortar shopping also offers new hope for the small business owner and fledgling entrepreneur. The success of Etsy and other independent retail online shopping centers has simply shifted the locus of shopping for independent and one-of-a-kind items. As more and more Millennials come to eschew mass-market and fast-clothing options, they will also demand that their favorite Etsy vendor open an online branch in their communities. Online shopping is great for everyone: for the consumer, for the small business owner, and for the major retail giant.
Gilreath, Dave. â€œOnline Shopping Hasnâ€™t Killed Brick-and-Mortar Retailers.â€ ABC News. Retrieved online: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/online-shopping-killed-brick-mortar-retailers/story?id=50367943
Gusoff, Carolyn. â€œOnline Retailers Turn to Brick-and-Mortar Stores as Shoppers Seek Personal Service.â€ CBS New York. Retrieved online: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2017/08/21/online-retail-brick-and-mortar/
Thau, Barbara. â€œFive Signs that Stores (Not E-Commerce) Are the Future of Retail.â€ Forbes. Retrieved online: https://www.forbes.com/sites/barbarathau/2017/06/27/five-signs-that-stores-not-online-shopping-are-the-future-of-retail/#472f87ae4641
Wallace, Tracey. â€œEcommerce Trends: 147 Stats Revealing How Modern Customers Shop in 2017.â€ Retrieved online; https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-trends/
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