Retail is dead… long live etail!
It’s amazing how etail has exploded over the last five years.
The big players like Top Shop and Debenhams have been losing out to stellar upstarts like Asos and Cult Beauty.
The number of etail-only businesses has more than doubled from 6,700 in 2008 to 14,400 in 2012, while in the process creating about 72,000 jobs in the sector as a whole (Cebr research for Royal Mail).
All this, despite a recession which has not only decimated the public’s buying power, but also their willingness to get further into debt.
Cynics point out that the whole e-boom is heading for an e-bust along the lines of dot-bomb in 2002; that the artificially low interest rates have created a false economy which allows non-viable companies to trade, at the expense of their long established high street cousins.
Advocates point to the rise in the use of digital appliances and communications, which has facilitated a permanent change in buying habits.
Does it really matter? Back at university my thesis was on ‘Mail Order Marketing’ and I cut my teeth in the fast growing world of direct mail. ‘How we buy things’ has always changed, and will continue to do so.
Etail is not the first revolution I have lived through, and I don’t expect it to be the last.