Anabell Trejo
CEO and Co-Founder
Startup Contributor

Still Not Dead: Reports of Retail’s Demise are Premature

By Anabell Trejo | Tue, 01/26/2021 - 09:35

With the appearance of technological advances, the demise of the retail industry, with its shopping malls and physical stores, became a very popular theme in the media over the last 10 years.

In those years, it was common to read headlines that announced, “Retail is dead,” or, “The retail apocalypse is coming.”

Yet, at the beginning of 2021, the retail industry continues to grow, brands are committed to having a physical space where they can attend to their customer’s demands. Even those companies that started as online natives, today have evolved their business model to add physical spaces to sell their products.

So, why isn’t retail dead after all these years? Why do brick-and-mortar stores still exist?

Transformation of a Traditional Industry

The universal law of energy conservation states that, “energy is neither created nor destroyed, it is only transformed.” Retail and the buying process reflect this principle. The industry is transforming but it is a long way from its apocalypse.

The creation of online shopping has promoted consumerism and has won popularity as the new option to address the needs of shoppers in 2021. This boosts the importance of the shopping experience and brand awareness for brick-and-mortar stores in positioning their products in an increasingly competitive market.

Beyond considering online stores as an aggressive competitor, however, e-commerce has pushed the retail industry to evolve, implement technology and innovate in finding new ways to continue attracting customers.

Experts on the purchasing process are convinced that retail will not die. On the contrary, the evolution dictates that the main players in the industry that are growing today are those companies that figure out how to adapt to these changes through omnichannel strategies.

What these “new retailers” are doing well is listening to their customers and rethinking how consumers purchase products by integrating digital media and social networks as relevant assets to their sales process.

Is the Retail Industry Going to Die?

Experts have pointed out that by 2040, retail and e-commerce will occupy the same percentage of market share for brands.

We can conclude that retail has not died, nor will it die. It will merely need to transform and adapt to new consumer habits and the technologies that will emerge. Why? Because purchasing processes are related to our own human development. We need to feel, see and touch what we are going to acquire.

A relevant factor that brands should consider from this year onward is that they can no longer afford to ignore technologies that help them streamline processes at their points of sale.

The omnichannel nature of retail is pushing retailers to have better control of their businesses, from specialized stores that need to capitalize on sales opportunities to department stores or supermarkets that must take a close look at their inventories.

With e-commerce, it is easy to know how many potential customers an online store has, the purchase conversion percentages, the impact of marketing promotions, and above all to know in detail the purchase process of each user; in this area, physical stores are at a disadvantage.

The brands that lead their sectors above their competitors will be the brick-and-mortar stores that incorporate technologies that allow them to identify potential customers or even how much money they are missing out on by losing sales opportunities with each customer who visits an establishment.

Undoubtedly, as the world changes, so will retail. And this is happening now.

Photo by:   Anabell Trejo