We live in the Information Age where statistics show that almost 50% of the global population has access to the Internet via one or more devices such as mobile, desktop, and laptop devices. Furthermore, the advent of the mobile device platform like mobile phones, tablets, and a combination of these two devices more commonly known as a phablet, can be seen as a primary driver of the online retail sector.

Therefore, the question that must be asked and answered is: “Is the online shopping phenomenon negatively impacting the brick and mortar retailer’s ability to stay afloat?

eCommerce retailers versus traditional retailers

Before we look at answering this question, let’s look at the primary difference between these two seemingly juxtaposed business entities.

In summary, an eCommerce store is an online store, usually developed by specialist website design agencies like LinkHelpers Website Design Company. It has a virtual presence and not a physical presence, and its shopfront is usually a website and not inside the window area of a physical store. Typical online stores display their products on a website via photographs and detailed descriptions. Shoppers purchase these products based on what the product looks like and not what it feels like.

Juxtapositionally, traditional brick and mortar retailers do not necessarily have an online presence. They sell their products from one or more physical locations that attract potential buyers. Additionally, products displayed in an actual building allow shoppers the opportunity to exercise all of their tactile senses when determining whether to purchase the product or not.

It must be noted at this juncture that there is a third type of retail store that can be considered the most successful retail business model in our modern economic climate. Succinctly stated, this model combines both the online platform as well as the brick and mortar store located in one or more physical locations.

The destruction of the brick and mortar store by the rise of online shopping paradigm

Now that we have a clear understanding of the primary differences between the virtual shop and the physical store, let’s look at the impact that eCommerce can have, and is having, on the brands restricted to a physical presence only.

At the outset, it is vital to note that there are no simple answers to this conundrum. And, by way of a spoiler, the retailers that operate in both the physical and virtual realms simultaneously are the organisations that are most likely to grow their brands and increase their sales figures.

Another salient point to note is that the type of retailer and the target audience is services is also relevant here. For example, a local hardware store that offers products for the construction sector is not going to derive significant sales numbers from deploying a global eCommerce site.

Simply stated, the cost of transporting building materials like doors, and window frames across the world is prohibitive. On the other hand, an eCommerce site that supports and targets the local consumer will go a long way towards giving this retailer the edge over its competitors who only have a physical store. In the same way, this retailer will have an advantage over a similar brand who just operates in the virtual realm.

Final thoughts

Even though it seems that online retailers are destroying the companies who operate traditional brick and mortar stores, this is not an accurate reflection of the modern retail industry. While it is true, that virtual businesses might hold the edge over organisations that only have a physical presence, the retail model that is most likely to success going forward, is the one that combines both a physical and online presence.


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