Could this be the beginning of the end for offline shopping?

Last Update: July 05, 2021

In or Out?

In one of my recent blog posts 'Is traditional marketing on its way out', I raised the question that digital transformation has heavily impacted the world of traditional marketing and could that spell the end of the age old newspaper, tv and radio advertising that we've known and loved for decades?

As we all know, Covid-19 threw a major curve ball to retail face-to-face shopping resulting in mass closures of thousands of physical stores in a series of on/off lockdowns across the globe. The result? Mass virtual shopping.

Those brands who already established an e-commerce space had an advantage and there was a surge among retailers who had to jump on the bandwagon and grab the opportunity to innovate in the digital space in order to remain sustainable.

eCommerce - yay or nay?

In a May 2021 Report by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), the stats on e-commerce since the pandemic began were staggering. Online retail sales increased from 16 to 19%, jumping to US$26.7 trillion - this includes business to business (B2B) and business to customer (B2C) sales.

According to Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics, "These statistics show the growing importance of online activities. They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,”

What was even more interesting in another report was that buyer demographic and product choice were also influenced by the health crisis. Here are some facts:

  • Persons most likely to have increased their online purchases - tertiary educated and female consumers;
  • Categories with the largest growth of active users - electronics and ICT products, DIY gardening tools, pharma and health care products, cosmetics, personal care, food and beverage.
  • Payment options for online shopping - China: mobile payments like WeChat Pay or Alipay; Switzerland: unique preference to be invoiced.
  • Home delivery was the preferred option across countries, with consumers in the Russian Federation preferring to pick up their orders from a physical store.

The end of the old or the beginning of the new?

So the trillion dollar question remains - does digital transformation mean the end of offline shopping for bricks and mortar stores? Question #2 - Will the acceleration of e-commerce due to the pandemic, hasten the demise of physical stores?

One train of thought is that consumers will continue to do online research about products. They will still want to go to a physical store to have a look and feel and there will still be a point of sale, but the function, buying behaviour and process may be very different to what it has been or even what it is now.

Covid-19 has presented an opportunity for many smaller retailers to develop an online presence. Offline retailers lack HR, budget and the systemss to navigate the online space. However, the opportunity remains for these smaller SMEs to join bigger companies such as Amazon, while larger enterprises, like department stores and supermarkets, will want to up their online presence themselves.

Ultimately, offline shopping will likely have a new format and may be influenced by where consumers live and what obtains in that part of the world. Interesting times ahead for affiliates as we seek to grow our businesses, diversify in some instances and venture into new territories for some based on the ongoing trends in consumer buying behaviour.

CassiOfTroy may very well be on to something as 'Changing the Script', may become the norm in more ways than we can imagine. Time will tell.

Thoughts and opinions on this topic would be welcomed.


Cheers!

Maria
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Scott157 Premium
Thank you Maria for your very well written perspective on how digital transformation has impacted our lives...and especially as consumers forced to adapt to online shopping, as a result of global shutdown of physical stores due to the covid-19 pandemic.
I see a continuing trend toward online shopping, and with that said, a shift in attitude toward purchases made by shoppers. It's a sad reality to face as a retailer to know that consumers can shop for whatever they want, and find what they are looking for at a bargain price, compared to what they would pay at their local store. Out of curiosity I browsed online looking for a new pair of glasses and make a long story short, ordered a pair, with prescription lenses, for only $75.00! And could I purchase a similar pair of glasses from my local optical retailer at that price? Absolutely not.
It's an interesting time right now to learn more about the world of affiliate marketing and working online...as the technology ball of this digital transformation you speak of continues to roll and become more advanced by the day. And thank you again for your thought provoking read.
Scott
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Brongsugah Premium
Hello Scott. Thank you for reading the blog and providing great insight. The example that you used with your glasses is a case in point. Look at that! Which is precisely the reason that online shopping will continue to grow exponentially and where affiliate programmes that aid in promoting SMEs and a myriad of products and services, will continue to rise. As I've said before, physical stores will have to up their game because this competition definitely favours digital. Best wishes.

Maria
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Newme202 Premium
Maria, awesome information and quite thought provoking.

Honestly, I believe that whatever is happening, offline shipping will always be there.

There has 5o be a balance of both and yes it is rather concerning that everywhere I now turn, all my favourite stores are now more!

But I truly believe that they will be back, it is all because of the uncertainty of what is happening at the moment.
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Brongsugah Premium
Hello Simone. Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes I do believe the period of uncertainty that has pervaded over the last 16 months has impacted the shopping environment tremendously. Hopefully, things will begin to settle soon and we'll see what all the changes have brought about. Interesting times ahead for sure.

Maria
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Newme202 Premium
Definitely
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Debbi26 Premium
It seems like offline shopping has been struggling for a while. I know some of our malls look like ghost towns and there has even been talk about turning them into apartment type housing for seniors which I think is a unique and kinda cool idea. In any case, I'm wondering if COVID has put the final nail in the coffin. Many additional businesses have closed their doors and people seem to be doing ok. Either way, I think our future here is getting brighter.

~Debbi
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Brongsugah Premium
Hello Debbi. It's been the same in these parts. Many shops have had no choice but to close their doors. It's been a real struggle for many business and mall owners. Additionally, we've had lockdowns and curfews so even if some retailers went the route of alternative delivery services, that too had to be curtailed due to government-imposed restrictions. Hopefully, as things begin to lift, we shall see a new resurgence of innovative business models. Time will tell.

Maria
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Only1Hugh Premium
It feels like we are in the midst of a digital transformation revolution. Old business models are being trashed. Former ways of communication, logistics, marketing, operations, financing and much more are all being asked to adjust to new ways of doing business. With stay-at-home employee productivity up in some quarters serious corporate real estate continuance questions are being asked in the C suite. Making the shift seems unavoidable if you intend to survive and thrive.
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Brongsugah Premium
Well said Hugh. Clearly you've been keeping up with the digital transformation revolution. Agree on all fronts. It is inevitable and as business owners, it is in our best interest to keep up with just how much digital has changed the way we do business and what and how consumers are demanding. Making the shift is a no-brainer IMO.
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Only1Hugh Premium
I love DT. One of the tools I like to think I can further develop for my engine.
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