Mar 07, 2014

Has the era of physical storefronts for tech products come to an end?

In the past few years, we have seen Circuit City pass into the ether, Best Buy face serious challenges to its survival, and now Radio Shack is closing thousands of stores. Have we reached the point where a physical storefront is not only unnecessary, it has become a liability?

Yeah, the days of the big tech retailers are probably drawing to a close. There may still be niches that can survive, but a lot of people will simply buy online and skip going to those kinds of physical stores.

Of course Apple has certainly gone in the opposite direction with the incredible popularity of their physical stores. But they do also sell quite a bit online, so they seem to have the best of both worlds.

 It’s certainly a difficult time for brick and mortar stores. They have much higher overhead than most online retailers, and yet have to match or nearly match the prices online retailers can offer. Many people go to stores, look at the products, then order them online, sometimes while still at the store. With many states imposing sales tax on internet purchases now, there is less of a price advantage than there used to be, so that should help physical stores be more competitive. In the end, brick and mortar stores must offer customers a reason to shop there, whether that is excellent service, ambiance or something else.

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