Retail shopping is dead in the water

The writing is clearly on the wall. Watching my 78 year old mother the other day proudly ordering her new router online, having it delivered, and self-installing it the next morning (as the ‘old’ one had a faulty on/off switch) has now fully convinced me of that.

It’s not hard to see the problem… congested roads lead to towns and cities where shopping on the ‘High Street’ is still no different to what it was in the 1950’s – save for the new brands which have constantly replaced the old, and then in turn get replaced themselves. It’s just a tedious, dull and quite frankly boring, cycle which is finally running out of pedal-power.

Why would anyone choose to go shopping in the real world, when with a mere tap on glass you can search a myriad competitive options and prices and then have your selection delivered to you, from and to the comfort of your own home, the very next day? It’s a no-brainer, right?

Yesterday’s High Street has become today’s Low Road.

Retailers aren’t doing an awful lot to help themselves either. They’ve simply remained steadfast in regurgitating versions of their typical mundane offerings whilst blindly hoping that all other issues would go away, before sliding into obscurity, irrelevance and ultimately death.

Quick: think of your favorite retail brand and tell me you haven’t checked it, plus it’s competitors, out on the internet?

Until bricks and mortar outlets realize they need an EPA to fight against the online retailers IPA, this sad and sorry bunch will continue to disappear. The Instantaneous Price & Availability of the ‘click’ retail world needs to be matched by an Experiential Price & Availability offering in the ‘bricks’ world, if classical retail is to survive, and once again thrive.

It’s a bit like the way the old fashioned cinemas of yesteryear have disappeared. Why would anyone pay a premium today to consume expensive snacks and drinks amongst herds of inconsiderate noise-makers, screaming kids and assorted seat-kickers to watch something you can stream at home onto a massive screen in your living room? Traditional retail as it stands is no different.

Take shopping malls, once considered desirable for their uniqueness in the 1970’s where they offered the only available range of stores and products, meals and ‘something for the family’ by way of entertainment are which are now merely monuments to the mundane – yet they still keep being built by developers as if they represented some form of relevant retail experience. They don’t, and won’t, at least not until or if they are massively remodeled and redesigned to suit the consumers of tomorrow- not yesteryear. Rows of assorted shops, fast food restaurants and cinemas built in a Tuscan style with a fountain thrown in simply don’t cut it as exciting any more!

Forget my mother, for a moment, and consider my youngest daughter – who’s about to leave the family nest and set up an apartment of her own. She’s about to buy an entire range of bedroom, kitchen, living room and entertainment items for herself. Now, guess how many retail stores is she planning on shopping at? You’ve got it. None. Nada. Nix. In favor of clicks. Every single item she wants and buys will be ordered online. She may even order-in her favorite take-away whilst planning her purchases.

Traditional retail… needs to wake up and smell the skinny latte. It faces death by a thousand clicks.