Of course the Covid crisis has accelerated the collapse of businesses that already had weak balance sheets, especially those that were trying to operate in the 21st Century as they did in the last one, and those lamenting the demise of the department store model have simply witnessed a 15+ year long car crash.

The recent and inevitable collapse of 'Debenhams' is but one story amongst many. 

Of course they rolled out the high rent argument just like all the others slow to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour.

It's the 'more shopping moves online'  bit that gets me, it sounds as if this is something new when in fact it's simply another example of an industry constantly playing catch up because it failed to understand and address the inevitable.

What we see are these previous household retail brands being snapped up by the online pureplay leaders like ASOS and BooHoo.

Traditional retailers that failed to recognise the potential impact of eCommerce have been seeing casualties for well over a decade, this isn't something new, it isn't a fad, it isn't about cannibalization as some of them told me many years ago, it's about having the 3 wise monkey syndrome in the boardroom, not listening to the consumer, and frontline employees, and not reacting quickly enough to what they can evidence.

So, is eCommerce as we know it impenetrable to disruption?

Today's generations know nothing other than the free to access, free to use, lo-cost, no-cost digital world that many from previous generations still find somewhat bewildering.

Especially in multi-channel retail.

The next wave of disruption doesn't require them, or your furloughed employees to invest in the next 'digital' big thing, it doesn't require them to bolt new tech onto old tech, it also doesn't have the patience to wait around for decades or a few more years for you and your team to think about how to adjust and adapt.

One of the key reasons brands feel the need to ‘collaborate’ with bright young ‘social influencers’ is because they probably understand the landscape better than the media buying agency and the client. 

They're seen as authentic, and more than likely clients want access to their followers. 

Real people (you/me & consumers) tend to pick up on something that's 'liked' or 'shared' via our friends, family and business acquaintances, as such we have greater trust in what they recommended over the corporate message.

We do this because we have been programmed to be cynical when it comes to advertising, so we look for affirmation from the circles we trust.

The next wave of disruption has been happening for some years now, and in particular in the context of this post for online/offline retailers Covid simply accelerated the inevitable. 

It's called 'social media' and if you still think its just a place to 'advertise and promote' your brand then you're in for a very rude awakening.

At no time in history has it been easier and cheaper to set up a business, if I understand the digital medium better than you I already know I don't need a database, I don't need to spend huge amounts of my budget and resource on advertising, and I can gain access to your incumbent and future customers.

I can create conversations that will make them think differently about why they should do business with me over you, and I will 'listen' to them because you don't.

This change has been further accelerated by furloughed employees investing in all that paid free time whilst working from home and turning their digital and social media skills into a side hustle to top up the income and then finding;

"hey, this could be the start of a real business for me because I'm not sure if my employer can afford to take me back after all this".

Today, thousands of people like these have managed to nip away at your business on all manner of social platforms without you even being aware of it.

This is the talent that has been sat in your business for ages, yet you seem to have missed the opportunity to unlock it because you don't really understand social platforms like they do.

Nearly a million businesses in the UK and around the world can now set up a single online store to sell products, with no fee, on Facebook and Instagram

The initial stage of the Facebook Shops rollout has been brought forward and extended because of Covid-19.

The stores will appear on business pages, Instagram profiles and through targeted ads.

The company has already used a no-fees approach in its Facebook Marketplace for personal classifieds. So, if you thought that eCommerce was a game changer for retail then compared to this it will be a mere blip in the timeline of the commercial multi-channel retail landscape.

eCommerce - what was that?