What is happening in the world today should give us pause; enough pause to wonder whether or not the changes wrought by the misinformation superhighway are good for humanity. These days we communicate with others by iPhone, iPad, Mac (and the assorted Windows PCs and Android phones) using text, FaceTime, email. Efficient communication, yes.
Is efficiency all we’re after? Face to face communications seems to be an affliction that is spreading. I read that shopping malls are closing up because they don’t have enough customers. Where are the customers going? Clicks. And clicks bury bricks.
Physical stores will always exist. Well, maybe always. Always is a long time but these changes which turn malls and shopping centers into ghost towns seem to be growing. These days I can shop almost anywhere online to purchase almost anything I want with little more than a click to my Mac’s mouse or a tap on the iPhone or iPad’s screen. I can get reviews from online retailers and reviews from brick and mortar retailers. Often, especially on Amazon, the reviews are better than those from stores that have doors.
This is not a conspiracy whereby Apple, Google, Amazon, and the rest of the online world are conspiring to eliminate stores and doors from our shopping lives. Amazon wants to buy Whole Foods and get into the food game. Apple makes more money than anyone with good old fashioned stores in malls.
Face to face communication in the buying process is important, but how long before that face comes up on our iPhone, iPad, or Mac screens vs. us tooling through traffic to get to a store? Almost every online shop I visit these days has a click-to-chat service. I’m willing to get their dress code isn’t the same as those working in the stores.
Despite being behind the curve a few years, Apple Pay has taken off of late, showing up in more retail stores but now online as well. In Whole Foods, Macy’s and millions of other stores worldwide I can buy with a tap to my Watch. But now I can buy online and use Touch ID finger print sensor on a MacBook Pro, my Watch, or iPhone.
Retail clerks would seem to be on the way to becoming an endangered species.
Will all brick and mortar retail establishments go out of business? No, of course not. But many are suffering because of online sales, and that trend toward buying online with a few clicks or taps vs. driving to the mall or nearby strip malls and walking around for a few days to get what you want is a diminishing activity for too many humans.
The handwriting is on the wall, but we’ll know it’s really bad when Apple’s own retail stores begin closing down because there isn’t enough traffic to keep them open.