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The Days of Retail’s Future Past

Rebel Staff,

Madonna once said “We are living in a material world.” Even more so, we are living in a digital age. With mass amounts of information available at our fingertips, it’s not hard to imagine digital becoming our permanent future. Let’s circle back to last year’s Rebel take on how businesses have adapted through the Covid and commerce economic landscape.

The Death of Retail?

Okay okay, the Grim Reaper hasn’t quite come for brick and mortar completely. But, he’s lurking in the shadows. One by one, your favorite stores at the local mall get picked off, and you start to wonder if the time it took to drive there was even worth it. When looking at trends for e-commerce vs. retail, it’s easy to notice a steady rise in brick and mortar businesses closing. 

Why is that?

The pandemic has proven how much can be done online. In 2020 alone, more than 12,200 stores in the U.S. closed as e-commerce soared. But the decline isn’t only due to the pandemic; it just sped up the process. More than 9,300 stores closed in 2019 — a consistent incline from years prior. Getting so accustomed to using technology as a replacement for many in-person procedures has led us astray from how things used to be. 

So, can retail make a comeback? With vaccines rolling out and a tentative light at the end of the tunnel, it’s worth asking the question. Many surveys have concluded that a lot more people are willing to shop online, especially after the pandemic. It’s important to note that though brick and mortar visitation may be on a decline, retail is certainly not disappearing. Retail has and will continue to evolve through the digital landscape. 

The Future of E-Commerce

With social media playing such a core role in our lives, it’s not surprising that lines of social media and e-commerce are blurring. Name a more iconic duo, I’ll wait. 

Features such as shoppable ads make online commerce easy and accessible for consumers. Instagram recently made huge strides in the commerce landscape by adding Instagram shops, shoppable posts, and Instagram live shopping to their interface. Shoppable ads have even found their way into the realm of video. And it’s no secret that video marketing is a powerful way to engage your audience and market your products. So, why not implement interactive strategies that transport your consumers directly to your end goal? An example: Pop-up tags on videos for efficient tap-to-purchase.

Brands continue to emulate the unique proposition of retail locations in a digital world. This is seen heavily in the beauty and fashion industries as online retailers add features such as virtual try-on tools (we’re talking about you, Sephora). Companies continue to evolve and use tools to eliminate some e-commerce hesitation, for instance, not knowing how the product will actually look. 

Companies have learned to incentivize the choice of shopping online. Many have added perks that entice consumers to shop, like free shipping or coupons, when you make a purchase online. Digital promotions and coupon extensions such as Honey, give consumers a personalized experience designed to offer the best products for the best price from the comfort of their own home.

Blue “add to cart” button on a black computer keyboard.

Rebel made an important remark last year about businesses dedicating their time, attention, and resources to improve onsite consumer experiences. Businesses certainly were not shy in adopting digital strategies to personalize and tailor online experiences. Let’s take a page out of the largest e-commerce company in the world’s book (or Kindle rather). 

Amazon pioneered the road to success for e-commerce sites. They highlighted the importance of being where your customers are. Amazon capitalized on this immediacy of technology and used consumer data to act on buying decisions with a swiftness that is hard to beat. Like most businesses, Amazon uses digital marketing tactics to tailor their platform to their consumer’s needs; and their customers’ online shopping satisfaction keeps them coming back for more. 

Amazon’s mastery of omnichannel marketing allowed them to hold strong in the world of e-commerce. Brick and mortar businesses, who have recognized these customer-centric strategies, made more moves to integrate their customer experience among all of their channels. Businesses are adding more value to their consumers by selling online or strengthening their omnichannel strategies, and it’s forever changed the way we shop.

In a time when e-commerce was new, it was perceived as a substitute or adage for traditional commerce. Today, E-commerce is just commerce. 

At its core, commerce is a transaction or an exchange. People make transactions every day of their lives, big or small on all platforms. As businesses continue to build their commerce strategies, they shouldn’t isolate themselves into one form of trade. The best ways to scale revenue are going to come from recognizing which assets to leverage for which goals and constantly diversify and expand your revenue streams. To move your business forward, one must think forward.

Staying Above Water

So, why am I igniting this conversation about retail’s future when I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow? Because we are living in a time of rapid change. As soon as we’ve adjusted to the next big thing, the world has already moved on. As a society, we continue to push in a direction that seeks substituting the human mind and human interactions. Though this can be a scary thought, it’s also an incredibly fascinating one. 
With each change, we must use it to prevail and add to our own unique proposition, or else we may just become another brick (and mortar) in the wall. Right now, the world of e-commerce is bigger and more competitive than ever. Paying attention to customer needs, developing deep customer relationships, consistent branding, and of course razor-sharp digital strategies will help your business stay at the top of the food chain. Rebel is here to help your business stay on the cutting edge of digital commerce. We won’t let you sink.