August 3, 2012

MUSE: Get your shoes & news here!

I'm a huge fan of science fiction. When done with respect for both science and fiction, it exercises a writer's imagination to the extreme. Using what we've learned about human behaviour so far, how can we project it into the future? The possibilities are endless, yet not entirely unpredictable. We are creatures of habit. Then again, we are amazingly adaptable. Never a dull moment.

Projecting into the near future is not that risky - humans are pack animals, and generally follow the herd. That's why all my spidey senses (as one my friends calls her premonitory insights) are telling me that the retail scene is in for big changes. Are you still a consumer resisting Internet purchases? There will always be security issues, but don't forget - we used to let the Fuller brushman into our homes to sell us cleaning supplies. We buy stuff from garage sales without any thought to where it's been. I bought a car over the phone, and buying my latest home took me all of two visits and 20 minutes.

So it's good news that retailers are starting to think "out of the box." Alternate ways of shopping should bring down prices and might make it easier for small start-ups to compete against big business. There's really no need for "brick and mortar" stores anymore, even though they will probably survive as an echo for a long while -- for the same reasons some of us want to hold a book made of paper and cardboard, people still like to see and touch before they buy.

The new reality is this: Whatever you buy in a store, you can now get over the Internet. It saves the seller the cost of buying and maintaining a building (prime real estate in most cities), displaying inventory on expensive shelves (limited by space) and staffing a store with salespeople, security guards and cashiers. The dynamic is already evolving, with "help yourself" shopping (think Ikea, Costco), automated check-out stations in grocery stores, and with the success of Amazon, Dell and other online retailers who meet the needs of busy consumers without a geographical location.

Click here for the full story of a fashionista who is taking it to the streets.

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