What “tech” world did you grow up in? Half a century ago, our grandparents would have laughed at the thought of their jobs being replaced by robots and machines. But in this day and age, we are actually living it.
In fact, the rise of e-commerce businesses has led a number of big companies to operate predominantly online and shutter a majority of their once-thriving retail locations. Here’s a look at some of the biggest brick and mortar businesses that have been taken over by the internet.
Nowadays, it’s getting harder and harder to visit a local bookstore to pick up a copy of your favorite author’s new book. The reason being? Your local bookstore doesn’t exist. These days, less than 10 percent of books are sold through independent bookstores. That’s right, the majority of books today are now purchased online via dominant online players like Amazon.
Of course, 21st-century bibliophiles can still purchase any number of hard-copy books at national retail chains like Borders. However, it’s no secret the internet has intervened and made it easier for people to access, purchase, resell, share and even download books almost instantly. In particular, ebooks are convenient for people across all industries, since they can be easily downloaded to any smartphone, tablet and/or laptop.
2. Video Rental Stores
Movie buffs who want to “make it a Blockbuster night” unfortunately have to go a different route to find new releases. Within the last decade, video rental stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video have ceased operations entirely, forcing moviegoers to catch new releases and old-time favorites from streaming services like Netflix and via automated retail kiosks like Redbox.
Due to the sheer convenience and ease of Netflix, Blockbuster eventually shut its doors for good. Instead of borrowing one or two movies per week like the good old days, the internet has made it possible to access thousands of movies instantly.
3. Call Centers
The days of calling a customer service line and interacting with a live agent directly may soon be numbered. While companies will always need some form of human assistance in the back end of operations, interactive voice response systems and omnichannel capabilities now rule the roost, with these platforms now able to handle a slew of customer support inquiries.
Of course, live agents are still in need and desired through cloud contact centers, which are similar in every way to a traditional call center, but whose employees can handle operations remotely. Moreover, contact centers operating 24/7 in the cloud help to reduce overall business costs, decrease customer wait times, and provide quicker responses and resolutions.
4. Travel Agencies
In the not-too-distant past, individuals and families who wanted to book a vacation getaway relied on a travel agency to handle all the fine details. From booking flights to handling accommodations, the local travel agency was a godsend for travelers who weren’t able to check out different flight options and compare prices online.
These days, however, people are more inclined to use travel sites like Expedia or Travelocity to help them plan their next trip. In fact, 39 percent of all travel was booked online in 2016. Indeed, the ease of hopping online via a smartphone, tablet or laptop to book a flight, hotel and rental car can be done from the comfort of virtually anywhere in a matter of minutes.
The Rise of E-Commerce
As you can see, while the internet over the past few decades has all but replaced a number of brick and mortar storefronts, it’s also made business operations more efficient and customer-friendly. And although the shuttering of once-popular storefronts all but means the end of an era — and something not many of us could have previously envisioned — the rise of e-commerce businesses is definitely something we can’t live without now.