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The Battle of the Clicks and Bricks – Who Wins?

We currently live in a digital age, and E-commerce companies are doing everything possible to win the market share of online consumers. Retail transactions are now being conducted at the speed of a click.

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There is a vast global war going on between brick-and-mortar companies and online companies. Technology is currently developing at a breakneck pace, and many consumers are now harnessing the potential of these technologies and using them to shop for their basic needs. We currently live in a digital age, and E-commerce companies are doing everything possible to win online consumers’ market share. Retail transactions are now being conducted at the speed of a click. Consumers are forever seeking ways to make their shopping experience super easy. All these changes are happening right before our eyes. Things we could only have imagined yesterday have become the sure realities of our today.

Who knows what technological mysteries that tomorrow will unfold? Come to think of it, Amazon received its FAA approval for their Prime Air drone delivery fleet service as written by Annie Palmer on CNBC. Soon, maybe AIs will be knocking on our doors to deliver our purchased products after we buy them virtually. Or, maybe, the sci-fi life of Star Trek, “Beam me up, Scotty!” Would be the way of traveling and sending packages across the world—who knows the possibilities of tomorrow?

The war between brick-and-mortar retail and E-commerce has gone from just warming up to red hot fierce. In this battle, there has be casualty companies that could not stand the heat leading to many closures. More is yet to come as the future unfolds. The E-commerce and brick-and-mortar war continues to rage; a battle between “bricks and clicks.”

Brick-and-mortar Companies

Clothes display in a brick-and-mortar fashion store

In the United States, an ample number of store chains and local stores that were started between 1920’s and 1950s have become defunct since the late 1960s. Many of the stores were either liquidated or consolidated as others were declared bankrupt and gone out of business. One of the brick-and-mortar retail companies still pushing onward to stand is Wal-Mart whereas other defunct retailers such as Circuit City are coming back as online stores. The brick-and-mortar store went bankrupt only to be revived online. Furthermore, some bookstores (e.g., Borders Books and Music, HastingsEntertainment, Crown Books, Encore Books, Atlantic Books, etc.) have closed after consumers change their reading habits. With today’s technology, instead of people buying books at a brick-and-mortar bookstore such as Borders, many have chosen to buy books online as other goes for downloading digital prose.

Online stores are fast edging out brick-and-mortar companies in the retail business. As mentioned above, one of the giants still standing in the battle field is Wal-Mart, Inc. Its almost becoming a dual battle between two main giants—Amazon and Wal-Mart. The giant online store Amazon is fierce in its operations—literally using innovation, technology, and the power of the cloud to demolish all that stands in its way. They provide the same products without paying local taxes and other complications faced by physical brick-and-mortar retail stores. However, Wal-Mart is in dead pursuit of the Amazon giant as it maneuvers to become more flexible as it innovates not to lose its retail competitive edge. The Targets, Albertsons, Dollar Generals, 7-Elevens, etc are also trying to evolve to stay alive in the fierce battle of the clicks and bricks.

E-Commerce Companies

Online Vs. Physical Store—what is the best retail shopping outlet for finding or buying goods, products and merchandise

E-Commerce companies across the world have enabled many consumers to buy goods more efficiently through the Internet. Products are purchased and delivered on time to customers, which is very convenient and reliable when compared to taking a shopping trip to the local store. The E-Commerce retail companies refer to companies that are rising and using technology to effectively and efficiently run their business operations. Some of these companies include Alibaba Group, Amazon.com, eBay, Shopify, JD.com, Rakuten, and Flipkart. Speaking of Flipkart, in trying to stay on top as a big player in retail, Wal-Mart acquired 77% of Flipkart for $16 billion-the world’s largest ecommerce deal. In trying to stay relevant, Wal-Mart has made many other acquisitions—all trying to battle Amazon.

In most cases, E-commerce retail companies are operated in major cities across the world including in the United States, China, India, Britain and many others. Therefore, E-commerce companies are striving to be the best in comparison to their on ground competition. Generally, they provide product descriptions and videos online. Consumers who have interest in these products view the goods and purchase them if it appeals to them. These customers have their products delivered sometimes on the same day or tops a couple of days down the road, and this is an added advantage for the E-commerce retail companies.

E-commerce Edge Over Brick-and-Mortar

ECommerce pulls a lot of weight

Many E-commerce giants such as Amazon have drastically disrupted the market. The phrase, “the age of Amazon” has become the buzz in every home on a global scale. Traditional shipping companies were struggling, however, with the growth of E-commerce companies, deliveries to residences have increased year after year. In a close look at today’s consumers, they desire fast and affordable shipping for quality products. Hence, they turn to E-commerce retailers instead of the brick-and-mortar retailers who are likely to charge more. Furthermore, E-commerce companies offer residential, holiday, large packages, and long distance deliveries at affordable rates across the world and in this case, clients can continually buy more goods online and have them delivered to their doorsteps. In recent times, many Americans have gotten used to products being delivered to their homes including furniture and even groceries. The E-commerce market keeps growing and winning over many brick-and-mortar companies while forcing others to adapt to the new system to sell goods online.

Strategically, E-commerce companies such as Amazon are securing storage containers in different apartments in some cities where customers can pick their packages after they are dropped by delivery drivers. The system has improved delivery efficiency because dropping packages in one parcel locker saves time and resources rather than delivering to ten doorstops. The system has helped Amazon deliver ten times more packages in a short time. Also, they have adapted drone systems in different countries where items ordered online are delivered in times as short as thirty minutes. As we saw above, Amazon has secured its FAA permit to deliver by drones her in the United States. However, they are still carrying out tests to perfect this service before mass launch.

The emergence of COVID-19 in the Fall of 2019 helped E-Commerce companies to increase their market share astronomically. For instance, Amazon is reeling in billions of dollars and is becoming stronger than ever during this pandemic period. As a result of social distancing and the global lockdown of 2020, Amazon and many delivery service companies became the essential workers that delivered purchased products to customers. Wal-Mart grew strong in these times as they got sold out of survival essentials daily. This was bricks flexing its muscles as they own close to 5000 stores just in the continental United States. This has also triggered Amazon to compete against Wal-Mart by making its own acquisitions and pushing to start building brick-and-mortar stores across the United States.

It is evident that E-commerce companies is winning in many aspects of this war over brick-and-mortar retailers leaving many of them on the verge of bankruptcy. However, the likes of Wal-Mart are leveraging the power of the bricks to stand and fight the Amazon and E-Commerce rage. Correspondingly, E-Commerce companies have attracted more customers by delivering high-quality goods in a short period of time. E-commerce companies are striving to be the best. As a result, they are upgrading their systems, which enables them to offer better services to their customers. Struggling brick-and-mortar retail companies should consider adopting new methods of marketing in order to retain their businesses and market share. Improved means of transportation and communication will make it all possible. We sit and watch what the future will unfold as it pertains to this global retail struggle in the battle of the clicks and bricks.

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Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze is an entrepreneur and the Founder, CEO, Editor-In-Chief of Oaekpost, LLC, a U.S.-based online media company and the parent organization of www.oaekpost.com. He is a multi-niche writer with a wide range of interests in various genres. Agom-Eze is based in the Greater Seattle Area, Washington, and can be reached at ogb@oaekpost.com.

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