The Failure to Adapt: The Rise of Digital Storefronts

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I don’t need to sit here and tell you digital storefronts like Amazon reign as the most popular shopping sites, and I definitely don’t need to tell you how they put many brick-and-mortar stores out of business.

Sure, some businesses are barely clinging on to life–Sears comes to mind–but many retail stores have fallen at the feet of online shopping. I mean, take a look at what’s happening to book stores right now; Amazon is eating into their profits, putting them at the risk of going out of business.

So, with book stores being at the risk of failing due to the continuous rise of online shopping, I’d thought it would be a good time to look at why these businesses tend to fail in these situations.

A Failure to Adapt

The main reason businesses like Sears fail is due to a lack of adaptation on their part. Think about it; Sears had every chance to stay a big company, but they failed to adapt to the shifting landscape that e-commerce and digital access was bringing.

Book stores are going through the same situation right now, though I can’t necessarily put all the blame on these stores. With Sears, the failure came from bad management and a failure to adapt. On the other hand, book stores are victim to separate issue: the lack of need for brick-and-mortar bookstores.

A Shifting Landscape

If you surveyed a group of people who do a plethora of reading and asked them if they prefer digital or physical copies of books, most will likely say physical. However, there’s no denying that the move to digital makes reading much more convenient. For example, my Kindle can hold hundreds of books, all easily accessed by a few taps of a screen. Have you ever tried to lug around more than 8 books without breaking your back? Yea, it sucks.

Just like most other areas of life, the move to digital has turned some brick-and-mortar stores from a necessary visit to an occasional visit. There’s nothing these businesses can do against it except adapt to the digital landscape, but even then, why would I use Barnes & Noble when I could just use Amazon and the Kindle store?

A Lack of Need

In the end, a lack of need is the sole reason why these businesses, well, go out of business. Retail stores can adapt to the online landscape, book stores can go digital, groceries can start being ordered online and delivered to your door same-day, etc., but this doesn’t change the core of the problem, which is the increasing lack of need for physical stores.

Of course physical brick-and-mortar stores won’t become extinct–even if they were, we’re not close to it in the slightest–but the need for them is becoming limited to specific activities or items, such as groceries or automotive parts.

In fact, I’d argue the only reason Amazon hasn’t taken over every sector of retail is because of security reasons and a lack of wanting to adapt on the customer’s part. When I go to Walmart to buy my groceries, I don’t have to worry about my information being skimmed during a transaction, whereas I tend to go through the trouble of enabling my VPN on Chrome whenever I log into Amazon, much less going through a transaction.

Conclusion

Brick-and-mortar stores are at no risk of becoming extinct in the next few decades, but as products shift to the digital side, stores are as well. Even fast food restaurants are resorting to kiosks or online ordering instead of ordering at the restaurant itself, proving that technology makes things that much more efficient.

There will be many more Sears, and many industries will fall victim to a shifting landscape. Either they will adapt and get in line with the new ways, or they will fail.

Photo by Adrien Olichon from Pexels