Killed by the Internet

I'm such a geek that I read MaximumPC, a magazine for people that build their own PCs (which I do, by the way). Anyway, each month they publish a list and I wanted to share this month's:

Eight Things Killed by the Internet

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  1. Encyclopedia Salesmen -- haven't seen once of these since Encarta was released.

  2. Newspapers -- no need to brave the cold in your robe.

  3. Bulletin Boards -- cork futures are way down thanks to eBay and Craigslist.

  4. Video Rental -- DVD by mail is barely hanging on. I love my Roku!

  5. Faxing -- goodbye curly paper!

  6. Yellow Pages -- still valuable as a doorstop.

  7. Checks -- I've been using online bill pay since 1996!

  8. Stamps -- reserved for Christmas and birthday cards only.

The internet has certainly caused some changes, but notice that retail stores did not make the list. They are alive and kicking. While e-commerce has been growing at a phenomenal rate, overall store openings have grown as well, despite tough economic conditions. I don't know of any brick-and-mortar retailers that closed stores and moved completely to the web. In fact I see just the opposite -- its more likely the pure-play e-commerce retailers decide to try opening some stores (like Dell, Gateway, and maybe someday Amazon).

Note: Circuit City did not close stores in favor of e-commerce. They sold their website to an established e-commerce company that simply used the brand. If you look closely, CircuitCity.com is just a rebranding of CompUSA.com and TigerDirect.com.

Retailers know that the internet complements their physical stores. The key is finding the right way to interact with customers over both channels so synergies are achieved. Buy online and pickup in the store, or order online when the store is out-of-stock are great examples of the channels working together. Now we need to think about how the mobile channel fits into this ecosystem. How can mobile phones be used to enhance the customer experience and sell more stuff? Tesco, Amazon, Sears, and Best Buy seem to be leading the way.

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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