The Great Debate: Is eCommerce Killing Brick And Mortar Stores?

There was a debate late last year over at ZDNET weather or not eCommerce is killing brick and mortar stores.

Opening Statements

Brick and mortar will be largely a cultural anachronism

Jason Perlow: As much as it bothers me to say it, clicks are absolutely killing bricks. No, it won’t happen overnight in some kind of apocalyptic mass extinction event — but anywhere between ten and fifteen years from now, the makeup of what we call “brick and mortar” today will be largely a cultural anachronism.

Will Brick and Mortar disappear entirely? No. We’ll always need certain types of walk-in retail, and some types of businesses will be more resistant than others. Just like the Crocodilians survived the big ‘ol asteroid 65 million years ago, we’ll still need places like Walgreens and maybe even Target or Wal-Mart.

But ten years hence retail footprint will be a shadow of its former self at best, and heavy competition from online will force only the strongest and most customer-oriented brick and mortar businesses to survive, with the inevitable consolidation of some of the largest businesses to follow.

The dinosaurs didn’t go extinct overnight. And there are reptiles that still live today that aren’t much different than ones that lived in the Cretaceous. Similarly, the most robust brick and mortars will still be with us ten or twenty years from now. But the weak or unadaptable will not survive.

Brick-and-mortar shopping spirit will remain alive and well

David Gewirtz: No, e-commerce is not killing brick-and-mortar. Changing business models are hurting some retailers, while others are thriving.

This is not new. For more than a century, retailers have had to change with the times or lose their customer base. Whether it was the big fight in the early and mid-20th century against chain stores (there was actual legislation), or the cries in the later 20th century against so-called Big Box stores and WalMart, or the backlash against online music distribution and Amazon-like e-commerce, there’s always been change and pushback by those threatened by change.

As long as there are pepper-sprayin’ mamas willing to dive head first into crowds of WalMart shoppers in order to score cheap XBox 360s, the full-contact, hands-on, brick-and-mortar shopping spirit will remain alive and well.

We would like to ad some of our own observations based current events found in the news. We know that Walmart is opening hundreds of new stores over the next two years; Google is going retail by opening retail stores. There are rumors out now that Amazon is looking to open up its first retail location.

Lets keep the debate open, what do you think?

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