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It’s the End of Retail As We Know It: How Can Marketers Adapt?

Hal Conick

The rise of mobile devices has ensured retail will never be the same. Companies must deliver a new customer experience or risk falling into the retail chasm.

“Apocalypse.” “Meltdown.” “Disaster.”

These are the words used by analysts, journalists and industry professionals to describe the retail industry in 2017. In the first three months of 2017, five department stores—Macy’s, Kohl’s, Dillard’s, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom—collectively lost $4.6 billion in market value, per analysis from Bloomberg and Financial Times. Nordstrom was downgraded by J.P. Morgan after executives at the retailer said bricks-and-mortar sales hadn’t been so bad since 1972.

In addition, industry stalwarts Macy’s and Sears have closed hundreds of retail shops. Nine companies filed for bankruptcy in the first three months of the year—tied with 2016’s year-end total— The Atlantic reports. Meanwhile, e-commerce—namely Amazon—has boomed, making life easy for the casual shopper. Anyone who questions Amazon’s dominance can look at this startling number: 81.7% of e-commerce growth in the third quarter of 2016 came from Amazon, increasing its own revenue 26.7% quarter over quarter​, Internet Retailer reports.

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Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at hconick@ama.org or on Twitter at @HalConick.