Home » 2020 Coronavirus » The End of Bricks and Mortar Stores is Nigh as Online Shopping Enters a New Era in The Coronavirus Economy

The End of Bricks and Mortar Stores is Nigh as Online Shopping Enters a New Era in The Coronavirus Economy

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by John Brian Shannon

Those who fail to change with the times become obsolete. Just ask the dinosaurs.

Some dinosaur groups morphed into new species that allowed them to continue to live and procreate in a changed environment and we see examples of them today in our world; Today’s birds are descended from Pterodactyls, today’s crocodiles from Stegosaurus, and today’s kimono lizards are descended from Squamata (Megachirella wachtleri) which is the father of all lizards and snakes on the planet today.

The species that didn’t adapt quickly to the then-changing conditions on the Earth, died. And the ones that did change, changed slowly, consequently they exist on the Earth in smallish populations unlike their ancestors which had until then, enjoyed total dominance on this world.

If science isn’t your thing, you might look to anthropology (the study of human societies and cultures and their development) for some examples of this rule and you’ll see those that couldn’t adapt got left behind.

One example of this is the Indus Valley civilization which flourished from 7000 to 1900 BC. Although we see traces of their existence in archaeological sites, they are no more. Another example would be the Mongol civilization (1206 to 1294 AD) Seen any lately? More recently, we witnessed the end of the German Nazi Party circa 1945.


Prediction: Businesses that Don’t Learn to Sell Online (Successfully) Will Fail within 24-Months – Everywhere on Earth

Any retail store — including grocery stores — that don’t evolve quickly enough to meet the demands of the new ‘Coronavirus economy’ are sure to fail. And I have no sympathy for them. None whatsoever. ‘Change with the times or die’ is the nature of all commerce.

There’s no excuse good enough to not have a robust internet e-commerce site and multiple redundant delivery systems for your business, as every business owner knows about the internet, everyone knows how e-commerce websites work, and they’re not that expensive to create.

Indeed, you may have purchased something online, whether it was a hat, golf balls, or enough furnishings to equip your new office tower. (The link points to STAPLES.UK which has a sophisticated website that makes it easy to order any business related product or service quickly and efficiently. With STAPLES.UK shipping is free on orders over £36 and in most cases you receive your order within a couple of days of ordering) That’s the kind of commitment required to meet customer expectations in the new Coronavirus economy thereby allowing those businesses to thrive and prosper well into the 21st-century.

It isn’t difficult to create and maintain an online e-commerce presence. Yes, it takes a little work, but nothing too onerous. And yes, it does cost a little money to set up and operate, but again, those costs should be considered as part of the normal cost of doing business in the 21st-century.

It’s nothing but utter laziness if your company isn’t selling at least fifty per cent of its goods or services online in the 21st-century. It’s so easy to do. But it needs true leadership — which isn’t about nice-sounding speeches in shareholder meetings or at the company Christmas Party — it’s about the kind of leadership that gets it done by the end of the year, not by the end of the company, if you take my meaning.

If you think things haven’t changed profoundly, you’re not looking hard enough.

Many businesses want to get you into their store so you’ll be tempted to purchase so-called ‘impulse buy’ items — things you wouldn’t normally buy, but because you walked past an appealing display you were tempted to purchase. If your business model depends on that you’re already halfway to insolvency, because whether you like it or not, the old ways of doing business are already gone. Not next month, not next year, but now.

The old days of people milling around at the weekend and walking into your store by chance and buying things are over. The Coronavirus economy is here, and it isn’t going away. Ever.

Many people will catch the Coronavirus bug over the coming months and the ones that don’t die of it will become immune to that strain of the virus. We’re presently at COVID-19 (SARS Coronavirus 2019 variant) and there will no doubt be a COVID-20 (Coronavirus 2020 variant) and a COVID-21, and a COVID-22, etc., until the end of time.

“There are three to five emerging diseases every year, and only by luck and the grace of God that they don’t turn into pandemics each time.”William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance

At the moment, COVID-19 is killing one to two per cent of those who contract the virus. But that’s a temporary situation until the virus mutates (and all viruses mutate) whereupon it will become more deadly — and those who’ve contracted COVID-19 may, I repeat may, have some immunity to a newer version of the virus. Fifty per cent immunity is typical among SARS virus survivors when a new version comes along, but you still get ill, and you still ‘go down’ for a few days, and you can still pass the new variant to others who breathe the same air as you. And the same holds true among MERS survivors.

In fact, I suggest that perhaps later this year, there will be people who haven’t yet caught the COVID-19 variant (and therefore have no immunity to subsequent COVID versions) and may contract a (likely more serious) COVID-20 version (which has yet to appear) and die within days or hours of contracting that new and more robust virus.

There will be people who contract both COVID versions at the same time, sorry to say.

There will be people who haven’t caught either variant and they will be ‘sitting ducks’ by simply walking into a store or subway landing with hundreds of other people, and thereby catch one or both viruses in the same week. And there will be people who catch the normal flu and while their immune system is barely coping with that, they’ll catch one or more SARS or MERS respiratory illnesses. They won’t last long and they’ll know it from Day One.

And that’s why most people will choose to dramatically and permanently alter their shopping habits, gravitating towards online shopping — instead of them playing Russian Roulette with their life every time they walk into a store or onto a train platform. Once people comprehend the enormity of the Coronavirus economy and the implications thereof, the ‘bricks & mortar store’ model will be dead.

Now, if you’re a serious fly fisherman or fly fisherwoman (for example) you’ll need to visit a bricks & mortar store at some point to do a few casts with a selection of rods and reels before you decide which one to purchase. Other situations may apply, as not everything can be easily purchased online.

In the near-future, well-managed stores will sell MORE goods and services online than they do now from all sources combined — and their staff will deal elusively with the Fed Ex driver and perhaps one in-store customer per day who needs to try out that rod and reel combination, or who needs to try-on that dress before purchasing.

Some stores will prosper as never before — and the ones that don’t accept a new business model will fail. Just as it should be.


Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of the Way!

If you’re a business owner presently without a robust online e-commerce site, it’s time to pick up that phone today and get a new e-commerce website built. Otherwise, you’re gone by the end of the year, IMHO.

The retail world is about to change more profoundly than at any time since the first electrical grids appeared, when grid-powered heat and light in stores suddenly allowed workers the opportunity to shop at the end of their workday.

Some of you already and clearly see this new paradigm, some will realize it in the coming weeks, and some will cling to their horse and buggy thinking until the day they reach the Pearly Gates.

Regardless of when you see it, or whether you like it or not, change is coming to the retail world. Better get ready, as it’s going to get rough for businesses that don’t evolve to meet the demands of the new Coronavirus economy.


Related Articles:

  • World Health Organization Coronavirus Situation Reports webpage (WHO)
  • World Health Organization Situation report 25 March 2020 available here

2 Comments

  1. Tim Walker says:

    Other possible cultural changes:

    An emphasis on telecommuting
    An emphasis on videoconferencing

    Which might be relevant to Brexit. I understand that services have been a growing part of the UK’s exports.

  2. Hi Tim,

    I strongly agree with you.

    Further, I believe that this Coronavirus is just the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way that people live, work and play.

    Communications of all kinds are going to need to improve dramatically, as is the software to run such systems.

    In the future that I expect, every telephone call will be a video telephone call, and a ‘classroom’ will always be comprised of students (at home, except for final exams) who are all on video with each other and with the teacher/instructor, and most meetings like the G7 and G20, etc., will be held by videoconferencing… and so much more!

    The survival of the human race will depend on it as there’s no way we can take 100-million deaths every year due to associated SARS and MERS and other contagious/highly contagious respiratory diseases.

    Not to be alarmist, but I think we’re already there, just that it hasn’t dawned on people yet. And we saw how slowly the world leaders reacted (at first) when confronted with a real problem — the first ‘real problem’ since WWII, or the Berlin Airlift, or the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the Cold War generally, or ozone layer depletion.

    It took an extra 2-weeks for this generation of leaders to ‘ramp-up’ to recognize the seriousness and scale of this problem — next time (I predict) we won’t have 2-weeks to dither and delay while leaders try to wrap their heads around the problem.

    Although this may, at first, seem an odd quote to toss in here, I believe that citizens aren’t the best ones to decide what the future may look like, because their thinking tends to be very linear, and not geared towards (realistic) advancing systems and procedures by a quantum leap at each crisis point in history: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” — Henry Ford

    Governments, social media companies, communications/IT companies… they are the ones that know what their capabilities are, the average Joe doesn’t know what could be done. Therefore, I lay the responsibility for coming up with finding the solutions for the new COVID economy, to them. And they better deliver, or we’re as good as gone.

    Thank you again for you insights here at Letter to Britain!

    Cheers, JBS

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