I was never very good at high school chemistry but I do remember hearing about the principle that wherever there is a void, things will come along to fill it. I’m sure it has some fancy technical name but as I said, science was never my strong suit.
But whatever it’s called, it will be the principle that will guide the retail business over the next five to ten years. The void created first by the decline of physical retailing as e-commerce exploded, and then accelerated by the Covid pandemic will create the most fertile, wide-open landscape for retail rebirth and reinvention we’ve seen in generations.
What will it be like? I haven’t a clue. If I did, I’d empty out my meager 401k and invest it all in some start-up. I’m sure that $147 will make a big difference to somebody.
But make no mistake about what’s coming. There is tons of empty retail real estate out there just waiting for new companies to occupy it. Landlords and mall operators are going to be especially open to generous terms to anybody who they think has potential. There will be incredible leeway for start-ups and new formats to come along and give it a whirl.
On the digital side, the new technologies now emerging — driven by artificial intelligence and ranging from 3D to virtual reality — are going to radically change the face of e-commerce. The possibilities are endless.
Joining the two parts together are all the omnichannel capabilities that have been developed this year. Be it curbside pick-up, BOPIS, same day delivery or any combination of these things, they are making all kinds of new things real.
We’ve seen this before: the post-World War II boom forever changed the face of physical retailing. The tech boom half a century later did the same thing online. Now it’s time for another new era.
Maybe I’m being a bit optimistic…but I don’t think so.
Award-winning Journalist & Consultant for the retailing and home furnishings industries with extensive business media experience in both fields.