General Question

Hobbes's avatar

What will always need retail stores?

Asked by Hobbes (7355points) November 25th, 2008

Online shopping has cut into the necessity for a lot of products traditionally sold at retail outlets. This of course affects movies and music particularly, but it’s possible that in the future, retail stores could become wholly or partially obsolete for some consumer goods. What products, besides food, will always require or at least strongly benefit from retail distribution?

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24 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

Lap dances.

jtvoar16's avatar

In my option? Anything that cost more then 60$. If I am going to buy something online, I would much rather see it in real life, then trust what the internet has to say about it. I have seen so many camera lens online for uber-cheap, but will never buy them unless I have used them before, ether in a store or borrowing it from a friend.

But then again, if people buy clothing online, I don’t think there will be retail stores in twenty years.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Retail will always exist because of impulse buying and the immediate need for things, like a new dress and pair of shoes before 7:00 pm tonight. It’s interesting that online shopping is really an updated version of catalog shopping from 100 and more years ago. Only instead of Wells Fargo making the delivery, it’s the UPS truck.

jtvoar16's avatar

I have been pondering this question and thought: “I bet there will still be stores, but they would be more like warehouses, where if you need something really bad, you would order it online on your phone, then pick it up at the warehouse if you need too, if not, they ship it.” I could see that being a viable plan.

girlofscience's avatar

fancy dress stores

bythebay's avatar

Would you classify grocery stores in this category? I think most people will always want to see & touch their food before purchase. I do know that grocery delivery is very popular in some areas though.

laureth's avatar

Even food is being bought on the internet nowadays, but some perishables are hard to ship. Milk, lettuce.

Poor people don’t necessarily have the Internet to order from, or the cash to pay for ever-increasing shipping charges. And there will be more poor folks in the future, as I call it.

Pets. You can ship baby chickens and bees in the mail, but that’s about it.

Gasoline, nail polish remover, turpentine, or anything else that is flammable or toxic like that.

Impulse purchases. Alcohol, cigarettes, and other age-qualifying items. Firearms.

MrItty's avatar

Groceries – never buying food online, and waiting for it to be shipped to me.

Clothing – have to try on clothes to insure style and size are both “right”.

Cars – have to test drive a car, make sure it feels right as you sit in it.

basp's avatar

I’ll never buy clothes on line. I want to try them on before I purchase anything. Also, pricey items….. If I am going to pay a lot of $$ I want to see what I am buying.

jsc3791's avatar

Wedding Dresses – don’t most people want to see/touch the dress for their wedding?

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I can see more online commodity grocery shopping happening, and a return to specialty produce and butcher shops. It sounds like retail is going backwards 100 years. Perhaps short margins and chain retail is proving not to be totally efficient. Given the inevitable rise in oil prices again, big box retailers may have a tough time staying competitive, as transport costs factor into pricing.

steelmarket's avatar

The entire brick store future depends upon the coming developments in telepresence. When you can have the in-person shopping experience by simply putting on your VR glasses and gloves, brick store will die out – with exceptions, mostly as noted above. Good comments, @Prufrock.

Snoopy's avatar

If someone w/ my tecnological level of expertise (read: limited) has become comfortable shopping online…I would suspect there will continue to be a shrinking of the big box retailer.

Car dealerships, for example, waste an obscene amount of space. Why not routinely have all the models available, w/ all the features to go to to a dealer to see and feel….and then click/pick…build your car online? This is done in a limited fashion, but I would like to see this done routinely.

@laueth Even things that have age limitations are already sold online…wine, pharmaceuticals, gun parts and flammables.

rockstargrrrlie's avatar

A lot of people still need to see and try on clothing, especially since there is no real standardization in women’s clothing sizing. During my six years working in a kid’s clothing store, I was surprised by how many people have no idea what size clothing their daughters actually wear.

Snoopy's avatar

@rockstar…well I will agree w/ you there. It isn’t that I don’t know how big my kids are….but one brand’s 5 might be another’s 6, might be another’s small.
Standardization would definitely help.
I tend to be brand loyal, so that makes online clothing shopping easier..

laureth's avatar

@snoopy: but you can’t send them through the U.S. postal service. Maybe UPS is the wave of the future, eh?

galileogirl's avatar

Very little as it turns out.

Not food-you can shop for food online without sending “away”. In the late 80’s I worked for San Francisco Grocery Express. The customer could place an order and get a delivery window 4 hours later. Place your order @ 1:30 and get delivery between 6–8. We delivered all groceries, we had a connection w/nearby butcher, delivered flowers (grocery store quality) and each week we featured a local restaurant and delivered selected meals from them. For the holidays we delivered full dinners , this was before the supermarkets did. This concept was way before it’s time because most people didn’t have home computers, but today I shop online through the local supermarket. In the future I can see grocery distribution centers with regular routes like UPS.

As far as clothing goes we already have places like QVC which sells different kinds of clothing but are very standard in their sizing. Between Land’s End, Hanes, and QVC, I haven’t shopped for clothing in a brick and morter store for 5 years. One time I found myself in a rehab hospital far from home without enough appropriate clothing. I got on line and 48 hours later I had 3 outfits I could wear for physical therapy.

Just like Walmart can demand certain specifications for their products because of their buying power, there is no reason a clothing distributor couldn’t.

Most big ticket items could be purchased on line or have a small area showroom.

The same could be said of tailored clothing and wedding dresses. The measurements could be taken and a limited # of styles available in a display room. It is pretty much like that now except there are crazy numbers of choices. Think about inputting the bride’s honest dimensions and you can try out every stle of dress w/online model.

I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t buy on line.
There is almost anything from Amazon and most big dept stores do online sales.

MrItty's avatar

No one is saying that “no one” will buy these things online. We’re saying that there will always be a market for these things in B&M stores, because there will always be at least some (in my opinion, a majority) of people who are not willing to buy them online.

augustlan's avatar

A lot of the time, I’ll pick out something in person, write down whatever info I need about it, and then search for the exact item online to get a better price, or different color. If I wasn’t able to see/touch/try on the item in person first, I’d be pretty hesitant to order it online. However, excellent and easy return policies make a difference there, too. The more that return policies like those used by Zappos and Landsend are adopted, the more things we’ll be willing to take a chance on. Off hand, the only thing I think we can be sure of is that there will always be 7–11s!

Hobbes's avatar

Also, when I said food, I was mainly referring to restaurants, as a main part of what you pay for is the ambience, convenience, and specially prepared food.

laureth's avatar

@augustian – however, I don’t think there’s too much of a profit motive for people to keep brick/mortar stores open so you can go in and fondle the merchandise, just to buy it somewhere else…

Snoopy's avatar

Interestingly, I heard this AM on NPR that of all the items purchsed on the internet, the majority are apparel and shoes.

I would have thought it would have been electronics….

Aliza's avatar

I just don’t buy shoes or clothes online anymore. I like to know it fits right and feels right. You can’t do that online. Land’s End is good with keeping the information of their customer sizes etc, but it still isn’t the same – you can’t try it on and look in the mirror…plus shopping is fun!

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