E-commerce is transforming retail real estate, and yet the most drastic changes may still be ahead.
For millennia, retailers have used stores to physically show their wares. When customers decided to buy something, money changed hands, and they took their purchases home. In this long-standing model, stores occupied a prominent position in the supply chain.
But stores have traditionally served other functions as well. They were warehouses for storing inventory and receiving shipments of new merchandise, logistics hubs where you could deliver products directly into consumers’ hands and process their returns, and brand-reinforcing marketing vehicles in which salespeople could answer customers’ questions amid design, merchandising, signage, sounds and smells that enhanced the experience.
Today, these separate functions are breaking apart.
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