The debate over retail’s future is once again at the forefront this peak season as former holiday heavyweights like RadioShack struggle while shoppers turn online to Amazon and others. But people who are asking if the future of retail will be online or off are focusing on the wrong question. The truth is, the lines between digital and physical commerce will continue to blur as the role that technology plays only increases.


The vast majority of retail sales still occur in brick-and-mortar stores, and this holiday season will be no different. But in a very strong indication of the blurring lines, 92 percent of consumers reported they will use online resources to research items and make purchasing decisions, according to a report by business consulting firm AlixPartners covered in Retail Dive.

AlixPartners’ report shows that companies miss the big picture if they approach retail from an “either/or” perspective instead of employing an omni-channel strategy. Even if one channel appears to garner more financial success, the unseen reality is that retail’s many existing and emerging forms contribute to each other’s success.

Providing comprehensive and easy-to-navigate experiences in both the digital and physical world will influence buying decisions regardless of where shoppers choose to ultimately purchase. As a result, we’re seeing two new types of consumers emerge: “webroomers,” who research products online before making the final purchase in a physical store, and “showroomers,” who examine products in a physical store before buying them online. According to HuffPost, 78 percent of consumers have “webroomed” and 72 percent have “showroomed” within the past year, showing that eCommerce and physical stores actually complement each other’s sales. And the growing pervasiveness of mobile, where shoppers can research or purchase products anytime and anywhere – whether they’re sitting on their couch, or perusing the aisles of their favorite store – brings both sides of the retail coin even closer.

“…this holiday season we’ll continue to see the worlds of online and offline retail collide.”

Emerging technology’s impact on retail is constant, and this holiday season we’ll continue to see the worlds of online and offline retail collide. With an end-to-end approach to eCommerce that bridges both the digital and physical world, Newgistics is in a unique position to help retailers take their minds off technology so they can get back to what they do best – minding the store.

To learn more about how Newgistics can help retailers with an omni-channel approach, please visit: www.newgistics.com.