A recent piece on the HBR blog takes an interesting position on the future of retail. The post mentions that eCommerce has seen its surge, and brick-and-mortar won’t get hurt that much more. Along with several other commenters on the blog, I respectfully have to disagree. It’s not, as the article points out, that eCommerce is “eating retail”, but it is certainly altering the meal plan.
The author goes on to state that physical store traffic will decline and that they may become pick-up points for online shoppers. I think that’s right on the money — and it points to the importance of being omnichannel. This in itself holds fairly big change for retail in the near future. I published a blog a few months ago on disappearing brick-and-mortar that outlines changes to the physical retail footprint that could be disruptive not only for retailers, but for brand manufacturers, too.
In fact, some brand manufacturers are considering going direct to consumer even if it angers their retailers because physical retail’s impact has been softening over the past decade due to eCommerce. I recently spoke to the CEO of a manufacturer who was being challenged by the need to go direct in order to own the relationship with the end customer. He understood the challenge of carefully building that direct channel while not angering retailers, but he also saw the future. A future that includes less direct influence from brick-and-mortar retailers, but could creatively leverage brick-and-mortar to provide a valuable omnichannel experience.
As I mentioned in my previous post here are lots of creative ways for retail and brand manufacturers to work together. Some of the traditional methods will go and new models are definitely here with more on the way.
By looking at changing consumer behavior as well as the behavior of parties that participate in the retail supply chain, it’s pretty clear that change is here and more is on the way. To say that eCommerce is not eating retail might be correct, but there is significant change occurring.
Omnichannel to Brick and Mortar. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.