A World without brick and mortar businesses

Lennu Keinänen Written by Lennu Keinänen - Nov 11, 2013

Imagine what the world would be like if there weren’t any traditional stores. The world is moving in this direction, and even though there are many physical businesses that may be incomprehensible to consider the end of, the reality is probably quite far from it.

Everyone gets food from the local supermarket. It’s easy to think this way but decades ago grocery stores provide better customer service. For example, 30 years ago the local grocer delivered our family’s groceries to our door (and he knew how much milk we drank in a week). He recorded each delivery in a small booklet and our account was settled once a month. What would happen to domestic supermarkets, if online supermarket giant Tesco decided to establish a large logistics center in the middle of Finland, selling high quality fresh produce and offering home delivery? My hunch is that many customers don’t enjoy going to the supermarket, that they would willing give it up, in fact, for this type of good service they would be ready and willing to even pay a little extra.

What about sports equipment? Many sporting goods stores have become more like clothing stores and equipment like skis, tennis rackets, etc. have limited selections. The Internet is full of choices, buying guides, product comparisons, videos plus inexpensive shipping costs. If the local sporting goods stores are unwilling to offer a range of products they are in essence forcing consumers to shop online. Check out German sporting goods store, Sport Conrad they have a variety of skis and related specialty items such as skins (raise your hand if you even know what you do with them!).

Speaking of clothing stores, there is no real need for physical stores anymore. Current technology allows online business to provide measurements, and for me to find clothes that fit, or order tailor made clothes without having to run to the stores. You can get custom made jeans and shoes (Left Shoe Company) by visiting their store to get measured, select the design, color and other characteristics of an item, and finally order and pay online. Why in the world should I run to dozens of stores when I can get custom made apparel delivered directly to my closet? Sure, I understand that clothes are nice to touch and feel. Future stores could be more like a showroom, displaying a large selection of different styles, but only in one size. You can see how the clothes look in person and select a couple of sizes to take home and try on and decide what to keep. Does anyone else have an accumulation of clothes in their closet that aren’t as great at home as they were in the store? I do.

Online retailers always need shipping and delivery services and that’s why logistic companies are obvious winners. These services still need a lot of improvement like offering set delivery times, delivering to different locations, and delivery costs, and I hope for a change. Think about how convenient it would be if the delivery company instead of trying to deliver to an empty home would call in advance and set a delivery time and deliver it to where you are whether it be at home, at work, or at the parking lot of a grocery store.

Why is it then that everyone doesn’t go online? Sure, there are many things I would like to check out before buying. In my opinion what’s more important than that is the ability to find items that I want - whether it's skis with skins or a customized laptop bag in my favorite color. Here’s a challenge to physical storeowners: think seriously about how to take full advantage of the Internet. Changes are sure to come – will you be the ones making the changes or the ones sitting on the sidelines watching as the world changes?

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