By the end of 2017, some thousands of brick-and-mortar stores were set to shutter, a number far greater than 2016. Comprised all categories surpassing the previous peak in 2008 — the beginning of the Great Recession — to claim the most closures in a single year.
Such figures, if consolidated, makes sense and gives us the big picture, but to reach the solution is far from sufficient. The reason for the closure of many retail stores is not just people buying less — it's because people are buying differently. The needs of users have changed. Online retail commerce went up by 16% in 2017 and the number is expected to grow even faster in 2018. Case in point here: This means for a retailer to fully engage with the modern consumer, it must also double down on digital.
The only exception to this so far was healthcare. It is a high-risk, high-trust vertical, which requires zero-error transactions, completely replacing caregivers with technology poses many challenges. However, it is poised to change too.
The rise of online retail commerce
Things are fast changing, the waves of innovation across all of the online commerce was first witnessed when online retail first emerged. This period has opened the door for health care to enter into an entirely new form, one that blends humans and technology in a new and better way.
During the nascent stages of online retail, the goal was to make more commodity goods available for purchase on the internet, a model pioneered by digital companies such as eBay and Amazon.
It seems surreal to know how radical the journey has been with a countless selection of brands and price transparency without having to go into a store, or just pick up the phone or interact with a person. This fundamental shift soon became a new normal. But, too many companies started selling the same brands, resulting in very little differentiation among vendors.
Then came the next wave of retail commerce. As internet started to become mainstream and 4G networks becoming the norm this wave soon began to take shape. This revolutionary phase increased the dependency on the internet. This involved using the power of the internet to break down supply chains while doubling direct interactions with the consumer. Instead of offering consumers a catalog of diverse brands, new companies began selling products under their own brand creating emotionally resonant stories around them. Offering consumers a sense of connection and engagement became a key factor for a retailer’s online success and this set a new tone of expectation for people in terms of what they wanted from online retail companies.