Will Online Retail Exist in the Future?

18 Jul 2014

Will there be eCommerce in the future?  Yes, you might be confused, but it’s a serious question.  Listening to a presentation this afternoon by Paul Greenberg, the Executive Chairman of the National Online Retailers Association, made it clear to me that online retail in its current form will be gone in the near future.  The reason is very simple, online and offline commerce will simply become Retail.  Let’s be honest, when was the last time you were truly offline anyway?

As brick-and-mortar retailers continue to embrace the need for eCommerce platforms, the online aspects of retail will simply be an extension of the traditional retail offering – and it works in reverse as well. InStitchu, a pure-play eCommerce menswear company realised a segment of their market needed a showroom, and Neiman Marcus, a US retailer invested millions to provide customers with a unified, multi-channel shopping experience in store, online, and on mobile.  You can see where this is going, online and offline are merging into hybrid combinations that fit customers, not retailers.

Innovation in technology continues to enable retailers to compete across multiple channels without the massive costs associated with previous omni-channel strategies. Most eCommerce platforms can be up and running in days, and it is truly the traditional retailers who are dragging their feet.

The future is still uncertain, but talking to and listening to retailers and experts from around the world today has me convinced that the retail industry has already changed, and both eCommerce and traditional retail must adapt or face a grim future.