Does “brick and mortar” retail have a future?

A provocative discussion at RetailWire about the impact of e-commerce and mobile technology on the future of brick-and-mortar stores. The writer’s premise (which I do not completely agree with) is that the personalization and empowerment of new technology make “status quo” retail a thing of the past. I say it depends on the type of store and product category:

I agree that “smart” mobile technology is changing the retail landscape, but I also agree with the conclusion that “physical retail” is here to stay. Yes, you can buy a book digitally while riding on the bus and start reading it on your mobile device…but there are still plenty of merchandise categories that demand physical interaction even if they are bought through e-channels. You can’t wear a sweater on your smartphone, nor can you use an iPad to toast a bagel…yet.

As long as consumers still want to “touch & feel” merchandise before they buy it, and as long as they enjoy the social interaction of shopping, there is still a big role for physical stores. And as long as customers clamor for value and convenience in some of their shopping trips, the importance of “unique and memorable experiences” may be overstated.


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