The future of shopping. Is retail dying?

E-commerce has been growing at high rates over the last decade and it seems only a matter of time when the last brick and mortar store will close in favor of e-shops. But is it really what would happen down the road? Will e-commerce ever overtake retail?

Online shopping is on the rise and does not stop growing. It is predicted that e-commerce will reach a 17,5% share of sales in 2021. More and more people are preferring to shop from home laying on the couch in their pajamas. In fact, 64% of customers stats that they’d make a purchase online rather than go to a store and 15% are shopping online weekly. Not only it saves a lot of time but the Internet also gives customers more options as they can browse a couple of different shops at once.

Due to the growth of e-commerce, a lot of retailers are closing some of their brick and mortar stores. It becomes more unprofitable for companies to sustain physical stores as more and more customers are deciding to shop online. This year H&M chain plans to close 160 stores worldwide and to concentrate more on e-commerce. Another fashion giant Forever21 filed for bankruptcy and now is selling its products online. With the popularity of such e-stores as Fashion Nova and Zaful, low-price retailers have fewer and fewer chances to survive.

Although it is most visible within fashion, electronics and makeup industries, e-commerce is spreading into other market sectors. Among other things, people are more willing to buy groceries online. Amazon, Walmart, and numerous subscription box services are giving busy and carless people an access to low-priced, fresh and quality produce. Currently, 52% of Americans shop for groceries online and it pushes food retailers to turn to e-commerce in order to satisfy their customers' needs.

Mobile commerce

One of the factors of the e-commerce growth is the fact that more and more people are using their phones to shop. Smartphones are versatile devices that allow users to find the right information in a matter of seconds and browse different sources at once. Thanks to phones people can shop smarter by choosing the offers that are right for them in terms of price, brand and delivery options. 

The fact is, that while buying in store is still the most popular option, customers frequently search for more information about the product or compare prices online. It creates the need for the companies to be where their potential clients would go for the additional information. Brick and mortar store aren’t the first step in most customers’ journeys anymore, the search engine is. And if you take into account how much time an average user spends on one’s phone, it is safe to say that a lot of those searches come from mobile device.

Nowadays, most brands have their websites suited to smaller screens, some develop their own mobile apps that allow users to buy products in few taps. The demand pushes companies to give their customers more shopping options that makes the trip to the physical store look less appealing.


On the other hand, it is possible that brick and mortar stores will never die. Some customers still are preferring to see and try on the product in real life instead of ordering it on the Internet. Besides that, for many people stores are the optimum choice of delivery point. 

However, more and more companies are starting to treat their physical stores not as a sale places but rather as a showroom for their products and a pickup location. New technologies, like augmented reality, allow customers to check out items without the need for the company to store huge inventory. Because the visit to the store is a common step in a buying journey, even if not the last one, companies still want to give their customers the opportunity to try the product in real life.

Most showrooms won’t let the customers to actually purchase a product there. Its main purpose is solely to present the item and its uses in a way that would make the client to buy it later online. Showrooms also are a perfect marketing tool that gives companies more spots to advertise their products in places where customers will be the least distracted. Besides that users love to interact with brands on the Internet and showrooms are an unusual way to bring that online experience in real life and make it even better with the opportunity to physically touch the product.


The retail is not dead yet and probably will never be. While a lot of products can be sold online, some are just not suited for the e-commerce and require the brick and mortar stores for customers to visit. However, the shift towards e-commerce has already started and the future of physical stores is undoubtedly uncertain. 

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