Retail shopping as we know it will soon be gone with the wind

“Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a civilization gone with the wind.” — Ben Hecht

(Cover Photo: Christmas gifts in Germany| Tricia A. Mitchell)

Retail shopping at brick-and-mortar stores is set to decline at an exponential rate.

Vast shopping centers with equally vast parking lots, all the way down to small family-run stores are on the cusp of being replaced by a digital marketplace where items are purchased online and delivered by drones.

An article in MIT Technology Review today covers research coming out of Switzerland on a carbon-fiber cage that will crash-proof aerial drones and their cargo.

The wire cage will protect its flying contents from:

  • power lines
  • trees
  • bird strikes

For entrepreneurs and small businesses, these accelerating technological developments in automated delivery will dramatically reduce the need for a retail store near their customers.

From food to clothing, the shopping cycle will increasingly be completed by consumers within their own homes.

Drone Towers

For a glimpse of the future, have a look at a recent filing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The online retail giant Amazon has submitted patent applications for ‘bee-hive’ drone towers that will have hundreds of deployable drones.

Stationed in cities around the world, Amazon drone towers will fly your purchases within moments of clicking the ‘buy’ button.

Leisure Shopping

Critics of this new paradigm will point to the culture of leisure shopping and the desire to spend weekends physically touching items before purchasing.

The current strength of the economy certainly seems to be filling shopping malls with people. However, the emerging reality is that leisure shoppers are increasingly searching online for the items they see in person.

If they decide to buy the items they see, they tend to buy from a digital merchant — often on their phone while standing in a competitor’s store!

The next Great Recession, which we are unfortunately overdue for, will only cause more people to shop less — online.

New Virtual Realities

In this new reality, storefronts will become large touch screens attached to buildings and home-based virtual reality will offer the chance to see and ‘touch’ retail items.

With this in mind, entrepreneurs and small businesses in the retail sector must start building an online store that fits this new reality.

From content strategy to purchasing and final delivery, the successful retail small business will need to think virtually — or risk being gone with the wind.


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