The unprecedented global events of the past two years have accelerated a process in global retail that has been underway since the earliest days of the internet. That process is the steady transition away from brick-and-mortar storefronts and locations by leading brands.
This shift is impacting the future of our high streets and changing consumer habits markedly, the reasons behind which we’ll explore below.
When you’re shopping for regular day-to-day items like groceries, you rarely have to turn to specialized stores to find the products you’re after. But suppose you wanted to shop for a niche item, like a new computer, or a pair of skis. In that case, you would need to look up where the nearest specialized store stocking those products is in relation to you, and travel to it.
When there, you would then also be beholden to the rates, and prices and stock of that specific outlet. For the majority of the past 100 years or more, this has been an unavoidable fact of life.
The arrival of the internet signaled a sea-change in people’s spending habits when it comes to specialist products. While there are still good reasons to make the trip to a physical store, as you’ll get to benefit from the knowledge of the proprietor, and also get to try out and inspect the product you’re interested in before buying, for many people shopping online has enabled them to access products they would never had had the chance to otherwise.
Specialist stores online typically ship their products internationally, meaning you can seek out and access the world’s leading suppliers of the items you’re interested in, wherever you are. While this advantage may seem negligible for a resident of New York City, that same person living in rural Alaska may have a different opinion on how significant a change this is.
Greater Variety Available
Another key factor that heavily benefits online brands offering goods and services is the unlimited space afforded by their digital context. For example, if we look at the gaming sector we will find that the world’s largest physical casinos exceed 500,000 square feet in surface area. This is the equivalent of almost nine football fields.
While this is of course an enormous space, in reality the average casino is much smaller. What’s more, even those gargantuan gaming venues would struggle to fit in the range of games offered by leading online platforms were they to be converted into physical machines and tables.
VegasSlotsOnline, for example, has established itself as one of the world’s leading real money casinos online, and is able to offer a far more diverse range of games than even its largest brick-and-mortar equivalents.
Not only does this platform provide recommendations for the full complement of classic titles, from roulette to blackjack, but gives its patrons access to over ten thousand diverse and engaging slots titles.
This bewildering number of choices is a trend we see replicated in other sectors also. Take the world’s leading web-store, Amazon, for example. While the largest department stores have been known to stock over 150,000 distinct items, Amazon lets its customers choose from a staggering 12 million.
Most Competitive Prices
When you’re shopping on the high street, you often encounter costs that are inflated for a number of tangible reasons. For example, a physical store has to pay bills on rental and energy, cover licensing agreements and often contribute to upkeep of its immediate surroundings. These costs often get passed on to customers.
With an online store, while costs still do exist – from hosting, to payment processing fees, the overheads are much smaller, resulting in lower overall costs.
Additionally, it bears noting that the global ecommerce space is home to around 24 million businesses, making it a significantly more competitive market than your local high-street. This is fortunate for the consumer, as competition drives prices down.
Online stores have to compete with providers operating in diverse markets around the world, meaning that you often get close to the global market rate for a product you’re interested in online, especially if you’re willing to shop around.
Add to this the numerous benefits afforded by online coupons and other discounts, and meaningful savings typically emerge from opting to go online rather than in seeking out deals on the high street.