E-commerce, and online shopping in general, has proven to the slayer of brick-and-mortar retail. It wasn’t that long ago that large companies like Sears, JC Penny, and Kohl’s, considered companies like Jet and Amazon to online competition only, and not a major threat to their overall livelihoods. Likewise, retailers in other industries thought that online shopping and e-commerce would never become an entrant into their market. The food industry was the one area that companies like Amazon had been trying to break into for years, rather unsuccessfully I might add. Let’s face it, consumers like going to the market and picking out their fresh fruit and veggies, and there will always be certain people that you simply cannot convince to buy “everything” online. This is precisely why the Amazon purchase of Whole Food is signifying a major shift in the e-commerce market share of the overall retail pie. We are seeing brick-and-mortar stores with minimal to no online presence begin to experience plunging stock prices and panicked investors. Kroger and Costco have almost no online presence, and both rely on an impulse buyer of sorts. Now that Amazon has purchased brick-and-mortar stores in Whole Foods, we are starting to see the lines blurred and the E-commerce players doing a reverse pivot into the tangible market.
Online shopping has allowed us the freedom to browse and purchase from the comfort of our own homes and at any time of day or night. While ordering products to be delivered via the postal service, or other carrier, has been around for decades, online shopping marks the dawn of a new era wherein talking to, or otherwise working around, human beings is a thing of the past. Traditional stores and massive amounts of inventory create a lot of unnecessary overhead with costs that are passed through to the consumer. The consumer is having an easier and more pleasant shopping experience and they are paying less for it, which begs the question, just how many brand name stores will we see close in 2017? Troubled retailers like Sears have confessed that they doubt the ability to survive much longer, and have sold off most of their income generating assets just to stay liquid long enough to mount a turnaround. Then fast fashion retailers like Wet Seal have filed bankruptcy because they simply can’t compete with the even faster paced online fashion stores and their low overhead costs. This, on top of the new stores emerging in this brave new world, has created a shopping landscape where you can get just about anything, anytime, anywhere. For example, you can order pet food online from a site Amazon, or you could book a room with Motel 6 for an upcoming trip. Online shopping is perhaps the single most impactful consequence of the internet age, other than the internet itself of course! We are witnessing the dawn of a new era, and a paradigm shift that may prove to be more prevalent than even autonomous vehicles.