(Image courtesy of Wall Street Journal)
The Webb Schools

Opinion: Are brick-and-mortar retailers dying?

You might have heard the troublesome outlook for brick-and-mortar stores that they are doomed to fall with the rise of online shopping. This prediction is not unprecedented as e-commerce has grown in recent years. 

Even with the recent Nike ad of Colin Kaepernick advocating to step out of one’s comfort zone, people have ironically not stepped outside the comfort of their homes as Nike’s main surge in profits was from online stores. It seems today that, more than ever, brick and mortar stores are beginning to crumble like they were predicted to at the start of the new decade. However, recent news may look to reverse this progress

In September 18 of this year, Bloomberg released an article detailing Amazon’s plans for 3,000 cashier-less convenience stores. With an emphasis on convenience, shoppers only need their phone to begin shopping in one of these stores.  Once they scan their phone, they can enter the store and grab whatever they want. Cameras and sensors record their purchases and instantly charge their account, thus eliminating lines, a major benefit of online shopping. They write that the first store cost “more than $1 million in hardware alone.” Amazon’s plan to open 3,000 cashier-less stores by 2021 seems to be a bit far fetched with such a staggering price tag. With Amazon’s new stores integrating the benefits of online shopping into physical shopping, we may see these stores taking a new turn on an old and new business model.  

amazon go badge Opinion: Are brick and mortar retailers dying?
(Image courtesy of Cnet)

Physical stores have been around forever, but online stores have only a couple of decades under its belt. However, already in these decades, advantages and disadvantages emerge. Online shopping’s main benefits include missing checkout lines and avoiding much effort.  For example, amazon requires little wait. The shopper only needs to click add to cart and checkout.  The time it takes for shopping on amazon is near zilch, making it one of the greatest e-commerce giants.

Furthermore, the effort required is similarly nonexistent. All one needs through online shopping is a computer and chair; they don’t need to move anywhere. Obviously, this raises issues on exercise and movement, but still, the convenience offered in online shopping is undeniable.

Then, there are also clear risks to online shopping. First, with our increasingly digitized society, the possibility for hackers to infiltrate these online shopping sites and harvest shoppers’ personal information is more realistic than ever. With the recent Facebook hack, online security rises on the list of pressing global concerns. On the other hand, with brick and mortar stores, cameras around the area can quickly pick up shoplifting, a power deterrent against crime.

Regardless, I find Amazon’s plan to be an interesting prospect. It merges their own successful e-commerce model with an empirically-proven traditional one. However, hacking these stores is still a possibility, and there isn’t much convenience in traveling to one of these stores as opposed to shopping online. On the other hand, it integrates a lot of benefits too, like no checkout lines and having a social hub for user connectivity. Thus, I am rather curious to see how the public will react and how the stocks concerning Amazon’s cashier-less stores will fluctuate.

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