The mail order catalog in its classic form is mostly dead, thanks to the internet. Given time and more technological advances, even retail outlets will soon be out of fashion as well. Nowadays, anything and everything can be purchased over cyberspace, and I think that’s a great thing.
What does this mean for city-dwelling humanity? The changes will seem small and inconsequential at first, but these alterations to their lifestyles will be cumulative, slowly transforming the way we do things. I’ll put on my futurist cap for this piece and put into words what I think will be inevitable for human society.
Conventional Retail Will Cease to Exist
It won’t be long until the large malls will be mostly service and entertainment centers, with retail being isolated to only perishable items like food or drink. Other minor consumable items like cigarettes will be dispensed via vending machines, as it is is not cost-effective to still have people sell these items directly.
There will still be offline places of trade and commerce, but as I mentioned above, it will be comprised of certain services that can’t exactly be delivered to your doorstep (premium spa treatments, dental work, etc.), and along with that, entertainment (live concerts and shows). To me, that’s a welcome development as malls and other places of business won’t be as cluttered and crowded. Just about every necessity can be shopped for in the comfort of your home, and you rarely ever go out for the purpose of errands.
Goods WIll be More Affordable
With more of the actual buying and selling happening online, the costs of the business will actually go down significantly. You won’t need as many people running the operations of a storefront or a retail outlet. Instead of an actual store with a handful of employees, you could just have one or two people running the website.
Costs from advertising via the conventional tri-media (print ads, radio, television) outlets won’t even be an issue, especially with the smaller entrepreneurs. Online advertising is considerably more affordable, and if you really do excel in your business, good word travels much faster over fibre optics.
It won’t matter if you’re actually operating from an old warehouse in a run-down area of the city (or in your parents’ basement); if your website is snazzy and navigable, you have a responsive customer support service, and you deliver on-time, it’ll be likely that you will do well.
The internet does not sleep. Stores will always be open, and if one store does not have what you want to purchase, there are literally thousands of other places to look. The only current hindrance is that most delivery services don’t work round the clock (receiving and delivering, anyway), but I’m thinking that there will be companies that will raise the bar on this as well. Already, I’m already imagining small flying (hovering) delivery drones that can receive or deliver most small items…
The Future is Bright, and It’s Mostly Here
Many of the elements needed for this vision of online commerce to happen is already here. There are just a few pieces left to be filled in, and most of them have to do with logistics. Once those technical challenges are solved, we will have such a grand global symphony of goods being bought and sold over the electronic ether; capitalism super-streamlined!
About the Author
Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and works with many specialized online marketplaces such as Rock & Dirt, NextTruck Online, Trade-A-Plane, and Tradequip International.
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