Let's be honest with ourselves, physical retail adopted the homogenisation and the blandness of 'corporate multiple retailing' long before the internet and Covid kicked it in the balls.

People today don't have to go to your website, in fact it's probably one of the last places to go to, they also don't have to be interrupted with your intrusive adverts. 

They can block out your digital intrusions across multiple devices, they have greater control over how/if you can use personal data,.....as a result inertia is very much with them, not you!.

The modern consumer is extremely demanding and also very impatient with a brand, the 'I want it now' generation' is what is driving these changes via the global adoption and take up of social media platforms.

In retailing’s first era of exploitation, beginning with the US mega stores of the 1950s, ‘successful’ retailers relied on their buying power and aggressive negotiating to bring whatever product they could to the market. 

They sold relentlessly through rapidly expanding shop estates. They were on every high street, in every mall. This worked spectacularly in product hungry, demand driven markets.

Physical accessibility won.

But later, as supply outstripped demand, when it came to actually producing products and delivering services that the customer wanted, and preferred, then these ‘distributors’ had no recourse, no plan B. They were unable to shift from their one-dimensional, initial margin, mind-sets, and processes.

Here we are, less than a couple of years after the peak of lockdown. Less than a couple of years after the stella rise of ecommerce market share, and the adoption of every app and touchpoint available to engage with digital retail and diverse home delivery services.

So, here we now are, with some of the biggest names in pure-play retail suffering, losing sales and profits eroding, scrambling to maintain any kind of customer loyalty and retention. Everyone from Amazon and Zalando, to ASOS and Boohoo are struggling to make sense of their retail models. source VMUnleashed.com

However, this is not a battle of channels. The best pure plays will survive and flourish again. The unfit physical retailers will become casualties of the next few difficult years.

Very few companies purposely set out to 'disrupt' themselves. In my experience they are always in a constant state of what I would call 'protectionists ignorance' which in simple terms means let's keep doing what we've always done, so it's no surprise that most disruptive innovation comes from external sources.

What if the next biggest threat to your brand/company didn't come from an existing recognised industry competitor, what if that next threat came from the many thousands of 'micro' influencers operating across social media?

Gen Z, Millenial's, or any other media agency diced and sliced consumer 'targeting' buzzword that describes people who disrupt the status quo have already disrupted it, these are the people who are already driving the next wave of retail via 'Social Commerce'.

And now we see the same story as ever, but with a digital twist. ‘Successful’ pure-play retailers who have been dumbing down on retail, confusing retailing expertise with the domination of distribution, visibility, and accessibility touchpoints.  

"Sadly, for them, customers do not actually buy SEO rankings, or wear millions of Facebook likes. Nor do they buy over-hyped, un-attractive products, or wear, unwearable garments delivered like rags in cocoons of plastic".

This is not the death of pureplay, or physical, or any retail channel. It is the demise of poor retailers and their naïve angel investors, who only ever see retail as the domination of distribution channels.