Black Friday could have a whole new meaning in just a few short years.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have feared for a long time that E-commerce retailers like Amazon will replace them. Their fears are certainly not unfounded, but online only retail is less likely than you think.

If in-person stores alter their perspective of purchases from sales to experience, they might just survive.

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image of Black Friday Scrabble tiles for article Happy Black Friday! Brick-and-Mortar Won't die if Retail Makes These Changes
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Spare Your Brick and Mortar Store From the “Retail Apocalypse”

The decline of IRL retail shops is not due simply to e-Commerce sites such as Amazon. The overdevelopment of malls in the U.S. and a shifting priority in expenditures contributed, too. But many retailers feel cloistered with only 2 options to combat their oncoming mortality.

Some stores plan to eliminate all in-person locations and go all online. Others, such as Petsmart, are expanding their portfolio with acquisitions of successful startups like Chewy.com. The investment in a different business in a similar market is smart, but there is more that traditional retailers can do to stave off their demise.

They can simply blend online and offline shopping experiences in a way that fits the changing perspective of shoppers in today’s world.

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Apple Event | CNET

Early Adopters Of New Perspectives Will Flourish

Because most people still make use of both online and in-person commerce, brick-and-mortar stores aren’t in hot water yet. As things trend toward automation, however, retailers like WalMart may find themselves floundering.

Instead of panicking and trying to compete with companies like Amazon, brick-and-mortar stores need to shift their focus. What does it mean to buy a product at a store in real life? Consider online booksellers vs. places like local bookstores.

I can read reviews online about the latest John Green book to get a better idea as to why I won’t like it. But at a local bookstore, Murder By the Book, I can have a surly store associate extol its virtues and many vices to me in humorous detail. This makes the buying experience just that: an experience. Brands like Apple are getting ahead of this curve.

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Vending Machines in Japan | Wikimedia Commons

Retail Spaces With More to Offer Than Just “Stuff”

Apple unveiled its plan to construct “Town Squares” in September of this year. This trend away from buildings that happen to have goods is part of the changing perspective of the buyer. A new model focused on multifunctional, integrated stores is gaining currency.

Spaces with event areas, classrooms, community centers, showrooms, and studios such as Apple’s Town Squares will become the norm. They offer experiences and more value-add for today’s consumer.

Moreover, automated updates such as the proliferation of vending machines further require an adoption of this new perspective. As a result of their use in Japan, rural and underserved areas now have “round-the-clock” retail options. That’s a game changer (even against the e-commerce platforms).

Will All Shopping Be Online Only In the 2020s?

Since the purpose of retail is changing, one must wonder if only luxury brands will feature in-person stores and showrooms. Interactive spaces with couture fashion brands and high-end appliances could eventually replace Macy’s and Sharper Image.

But places like H&M or Club Monaco could survive thanks to a mix of robust online sales and a distinct shopping experience. As we move into the next decade, retail is no longer the final destination for purchase. The actions of searching for and buying a product as simple as a pair of shoes becomes kind of like buying a car or a work of art in a gallery: a one of a kind experience.

However, we could easily see human help being relegated to luxury stores. Why? Because those may be the only outlets with enough profit to keep up with the unreasonably high overhead of maintaining employees and retail space.

What are some other ways that brick-and-mortar stores can avoid bankruptcy and dissolution as we move into an automated and digital future?

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