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December 10, 2015

Futuristic Shopping

SingPost Further Blurs the Line Between Online and Brick and Mortar

As if online shopping hasn’t already disrupted the retail landscape, innovation keeps blossoming. Brick-in-mortar retailers continue to adopt new business models in order to compete in an increasingly digital world.

We live in a time where Amazon is outselling physical retail stores during the busiest shopping days of the year. Traditional retail giants like Macy’s are using distribution centers to support its e-commerce. Walmart has even invested in using drones for delivery services. This back-and-forth disruption between online and offline retailers provides better price points and deals for consumers. But, what could possibly be next?

Singapore’s postal service provider, Singpost, recently revealed its plans to create a mall that combines online and offline shopping under one venue. The project will take 17 months to complete and designed to house 25,000 square meters of retail space spread across five levels. Located at Singapore Post Centre, the purpose of this “futuristic” new mall is to increase consumer choice, convenience and overall shopping experience. The concept is quite simple in theory. Online retailers will use storefronts to provide ordering, delivery and pickup services. Customers can come into a store, try out a product then order in-store for home delivery. This could potentially revolutionize the retail industry – again.

It is actually a more formal example of what retail analysts call “showrooming” — when savvy shoppers go to a brick and mortar store to test size and look of an item and then go home and surf the Internet for the best deal possible.

In the U.S. this year, consumers are projected to spend $105 billion in online holiday shopping.

Online retailers have still not been able to duplicate the sensory capabilities to actually see, feel and touch merchandise in a four-dimensional setting. As a result, online brands such as Amazon and Google have opened physical stores in the past year. Meanwhile, brick and mortar retailers still are saddled with higher operations costs and, in turn, higher retail prices for consumers.

Yet, perhaps Singpost is trying to offer the best of both worlds and will truly blur the lines so that retail is no longer a fragmented industry in which each company must be defined as either a brick and mortar OR an online retailer. Why can’t they be both?

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