Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Story of Unstoring.

The enD of The ShoP AS We KnoW iT !

One of the first products to be sold on the Internet was a pizza. That was in 1994 and the provider was an international restaurant chain called Pizza Hut. One year later Jeff Bezos took up the idea of online retailing. He started by selling books online on amazon. com. The sales channel faced a wall of scepticism. Who in the world would order books online when they could buy them in a shop? Fifteen years later the answer is clear: lots of people, and more every day. A comparatively young trio of Apple, Google and Amazon are in the process of forcing 500 years of printing and its distribution channels to adopt new business models. This development is already in full swing in the music industry and has the potential to turn conventional retail upside down. The triumphal advance of the Internet and e-commerce is changing the way in which the world gets its information, exchanges views and ideas, and shops. There is no sign that this momentum is about to change. The launch of user-friendly Internet browsers in the mid-1990s triggered the race for ever cheaper and more powerful terminals; since then, the story of retailing has been an ongoing process of steady revision. Bypassing the shop.

Unstoring denotes a development that short-circuits the classic retailer. It is a future that could render shops superfluous – if they refuse to change. The reality is that digital technologies are increasingly part of the real world. The clear distinction between online and offline, between virtual and real, is blurring as the two universes merge. But what will happen to conventional shops when more people use the (virtual) pixel shopping cart than the conventional (real) wire cart? When sales migrate off the retail floor, it is time to reinvent the retail store.

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