Is Brick and Mortar Committing Suicide?

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Much has been written over the last few years about e-commerce’s displacement of traditional brick and mortar. As do others, I believe that traditional brick and mortar has its advantages, and when combined with effective e-commerce can offer an unbeatable combination.

That being said, I am beginning to wonder if traditional retailers are working to commit suicide. Truth be told, there should be no amazon.com as Barnes and Noble should have owned that space, but arrogance or ignorance prevented it. Borders has already succumbed. Now I see other traditional retailers taking actions that make no sense.

My wife has decided to buy a new bathing suit for the summer. As it’s a clothing item, she would prefer to try it on before buying it; so she’s not inclined to buy it online. She therefore went to our local Macy’s to see what they had. The answer: nothing. They informed her that location did not carry bathing suits and she would have to try another store about 10 miles away, as they carried them. She went to that mall to try them.

When she arrived she was informed that site did not carry them either, and she would need to try a larger Macy’s about 5 miles away at another mall. As she was in the mall already she decided to try Penny’s. She was a big fan of the new Penny’s, which I have written about before. However, that Penny’s is gone and when she went into the Penny’s now, she did indeed find bathing suits. The problem was there were hundreds of them crammed into a space for about 20. This made shopping difficult so she gave up and left.

She drove down to the 3rd Macy’s and this time they did indeed carry bathing suits. The problem was their display was like Penny’s: hundreds of suits crammed into a small space. A sales person did ask her if she was finding what she was looking for. She asked how that could be possible given the random assortment and crammed space. The sales person shrugged.

My wife is now going to buy her bathing suit online from an online store that makes returns easy if it does not fit right. Meanwhile the brick and mortar stores will continue to bemoan their fate: self-inflicted as it is.

Mitch

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