Almost everyday, I come across marvellous sounding articles detailing reasons why brick-and-mortar stores are as good as dead and buried. Those articles have good points,

Why E-commerce Will Not Kill Off Brick-And-Mortar Stores

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Almost everyday, I come across marvellous sounding articles detailing reasons why brick-and-mortar stores are as good as dead and buried. Those articles have good points, but clearly do not take into account a key factor about human nature.

Human nature is very physical. That means that no matter the convenience of an online store, there will always be times when the individual prefers to walk into a real store and touch, feel and investigate items for himself before making a purchase. Take a situation in which someone wants to make a phone purchase, for example. He has a number of phones in view and isn’t sure which one to zero in on. He has sifted things down to a handful of options that are similarly specified. Walking into a physical store and handling or seeing them for himself is a good way to make a final choice.

We also forget the leisure and social angles to shopping. Or window shopping. Sometimes, I walk into stores more as a leisure activity than as a chore. I go to feed my eyes and senses in the company of friends. And who doesn’t know that shopping is more fun when done as a group activity?

This whole e-commerce thing reminds me of the hilarious nature of the tons of virtual dating activities that go on everyday. While you are busy sexting and exchanging sweet things with that person via Twitter DM, WhatsApp or Facebook Chat, guess – at the end of the day, it is the person who has physical access to him/her that enjoys the warmth of hugs, kisses and the rest of the shebang. So much for virtual dating or whatever else we choose to call these things. They can only complement, but never will fully replace the real deal.

Yes; brick-and-mortar stores will be impacted by e-commerce, but no-one should make the mistake of thinking that some e-ice age event is about to happen to send them to the Jurrasic era. Human beings will ALWAYS need physical interactions. That is the way we are. While some corner shops and deparmental stores will close up, to be sure, there will be enough demand to keep a handful of others running profitably.

Current brick-and-mortar stores can position themselves by setting up an online presence from which their customers can make purchases when convenience is required. They may need to streamline their operations a bit, but they need not have to fear that their physical stores will be wiped out. At least, not all of them.

Even telecom operators, who are driving the ‘e’ and mobile commerce streams keep having to open brick-and-mortar stores and customer centres. That is a response to human nature – the need to walk into a location, sit, interact, and sift. That need will never die.

E-commerce will not wipe out physical stores, same way online dating will not wipe out nights out in the arms of a lover. At the end of the day, the ‘e’ is only a compliment to all that we do. It will never be a complete replacement.

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  1. Mr Mo does it again! Interesting, Brilliant, Perspective. Want to add that the success of e-commerce depends a great deal on internet penetration which is a bit weak at the moment. Nonetheless, the field is big enough for Konga, Jumia, Addide et al.

  2. Nice one Yomi. It may take a while but e-commerce will catch up and overtake brick and mortar if it’s not already done so globally. With regards to the ‘physicalness’ human nature, e-commerce businesses are learning to emphasise customer or consumer experience to shopping. So e-commerce is just not about shopping anymore, it is now more about customer experience. An example is my online shopping website The case of Comet and HMV in the UK are prime examples of what can happen if you depend too much on the ‘human nature’. In some of these things, perception is stronger than reality as you may well know. Just a thought.

  3. thought provoking.

    At the end of the day, the ‘e’ is only a compliment to all that we do. It will never be a complete replacement.

    I rather think the opposite is the case here!

    Convenience is often a key factor in deciding who / where to patronize.

    the faster paced our modern lives become, the more likely it is that e_commerce will gain grounds.

    And I am not just talking about Nigeria here where the basic infrastructure is decrepit.

    You will OCCASIONALLY love to smell, feel and window shop. There will be items you have to hold physically to decide (e.g, a shirt), but items that do not belong to that class will increasingly be e_sold.

    In a metropolis like Lagos, who in hus right mind would want to wade through MADt traffic to go purchase an electronic item when he can haver it delivered to his doorstep by, say, Joomia?.

    In some jurisdictions, e_shopping is definitely predominating, and it can only get more prevalent.

    No, physical shops will not disappear, but they will get progressively irrelevant.

  4. I’ve posted twice here and neither of my comments have showed, even though they initially appeared!

  5. Online stores need to evolve,

    You go to some online stores and they don’t even have the picture of the item they want to sell.
    They need to even go beyond pictures and look at having videos with a short work through of the product, am talking of real life video here not computer generated adverts,

    They need to find ways to replicate the in store experience.

  6. The thing is this….as everything else that has become our way of live, e-commerce will take its chief place in trade and then we will begin to back-paddle to bring back the old ways/styles/forms just like in fashion, culture, values, standard of living etc! There will always be a bridge that stops us from crossing over completely and the point of this article is one of them.

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