I'll be attending the UCLA Anderson Forecast The Death and Life of Retail in America on September 27. What is happening in retail is nothing short of a revolution. Online sales have earned almost 50% of the incremental growth in retail. Store closings are anticipated to exceed the 8000 previously reported and may hit 9000. To put that in perspective, there were "only" 2000 closings reported in 2013.
What does all this mean for your business? How about the proposed Amazon-Whole Foods merger? Many grocery stores assumed their industry was immune from online competition. I'm sure the taxi industry thought the same thing – until Uber pulled the rug out from under them. IBM is still retrenching after Amazon poached their cloud computing business (winning a $600M contract from the CIA). Who expected an online book seller to morph into the world's most aggressive computing platform, logistics platform, and potentially robotics and AI user? (This last part is purely speculation on my part.)
Even if you are unconvinced that your slice of the economic pie will not be impacted by disruption of your production or channels of distribution, consider this: the retail sector employs nearly 16 million people and occupies about 7 billion square feet of space. Retail is one of the largest employers in the U.S. As those jobs disappear, that income stream dries up, and physical location no longer serves as critical a role in the buying decision or everyday habits of consumers, what other effects will that have on your customers, supply chains, distribution models?
Send me a note if you'd like to attend the conference, or look here for follow-on notes after the 27th.