Apocalypse, ashmocalypse. Last year, that was all we heard about retail. The constant refrain went that eCommerce hastened big retail closures. (The hype got so tired, we resolved to stop using the A-word.) Yet, while eCommerce sales boomed again in 2017, brick-and-mortar still took the lion share of sales. Far from displacing traditional retail, it seems that eCommerce grows it.
2017: eCommerce Grows Again
First off, a word about online sales. eCommerce grows every year as it has since it became a household term. For example, the US saw online sales increase by 15.8% from 2016 to 2017. However, that still represented just 9.1% of all US retail. Moreover, that percentage is only a point higher for global retail.
Retail: No More Single-Channels
So going by sales figures alone, brick-and-mortar retail still reigns. Admittedly, brick-and-mortar retailers shuttered at record-breaking levels last year. However, there were many reasons. These included the fact that big retail chains relied on a single-channel model that simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Thus, as eCommerce grows, it doesn’t end retail. Rather, it ends a particular retail model based on tons of floor space and lots of foot traffic. So, as we (and others) see it, eCommerce refines retail.
Retailers Need All the Channels
So why does the brick-and-mortar still reign? Ultimately, it comes down to the human need for a full-sensory experience. However, consumer behavior will keep forcing retailers to “fuse” their online and offline worlds. In fact, as a retailer’s eCommerce grows, its brick-and-mortar stores tend to grow too. Consumers will shop with flexible retailers who offer buy online and pickup in store, among other things. Thus, these days, it always comes back to a retailer’s ability to adapt to the omnichannel.
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