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The On-Line Shopping World

I had a debate with some friends on the weekend about the future of shopping. Will the retail stores still exist in the future? Will the on-line revolution change our shopping experience forever?

There have been any number of reports recently citing the phenomenal growth in internet commerce, and certainly my experiences have been mostly (see my February 10th Blog) good.

There are many people that will always need to touch and feel the item they are buying. There are many who enjoy the hustle and bustle of the shops and there are those who find joy in the act of shopping.

On the other hand, there are many who would avoid shopping at any price! The trip to the mall being akin to some kind of torture! There are also people that are "matter of fact" shoppers. They do it because they need something, take no pleasure from it ... just do it!

The on-line shopping experience is changing ... retail store with on-line virtual models that show how things will look on you. The catalogues are complete and easy to search. Its easier than searching through a large store and all from the comfort of home. To be able to shop last minute for birthday presents and have them delivered (even thousands of miles away) is particularly useful for those of us with family in other countries.

One of the biggest concerns in on-line shopping has to be security. The latest news that there have been breaches in security involving debit cards is particularly disconcerting. There are stories every day about identity theft, I think every level of government has website information on the issue. It appears to be an ongoing battle with bad guys finding new ways to hack in and cause grief.

So ... does the internet spell the end of the retail store as we know it. Despite the security challenges I certainly don't think that is the case. I do think the landscape is changing, competition is more fierce and we may see some hybrids pop up. I could see a demand for stores that are a warehouse (requiring cheaper space than a retail outlet) with a nice internet catalogue browsing area. The power of the internet search, the immediate touch before buying and instant gratification to the shopper. Hey ... maybe that could be "The Department Store" of the future.

Meanwhile ... the average "do it yourselfer" is still going to be found at Canadian Tire or Home Depot on a Saturday morning, even though both have pretty good on-line shopping websites!