There has always been a big debate surrounding the effectiveness of bricks and mortar retail versus online retail. From catalogues to vast online stores, there has always been a deep-seated fear in both the construction industry and retailers that have built their brand on the high streets.
With closures of high-street stores, increasing desertion rates of high-street properties and the domination of stores like Amazon, it has only looked like doom and gloom for bricks and mortar stores, but the truth is, there is now a form of high-street resurgence which is bringing more retailers back onto streets worldwide.
Since stores have migrated online, the competition has become almost untenable and now, many retailers cite that they simply cannot survive without boots on the ground in shops. It’s easy for established brands to get swallowed up in the vast online environment that faces shoppers, let alone small brands.
The competition is not so much fierce, as Amazon and eBay will always hold the aces, but simply so vast. When operating online, any store, even one producing the best goods at the best prices, can be ignored totally. On the high-street, though, high-quality stores with reputable goods aren’t hidden from shoppers. Whilst retail construction has been dented in the last 5 years, we are now experiencing a new normal where physical interactions have been re-emphasised.
Launching a brand on the internet alone is incredibly difficult as much of the online search environment is dominated by those which hold the highest rankings on search engines like Google. For retailers, this means only one thing, they must keep their high-street presence in order to generate leads, customer interactions and loyal customer bases to help funnel consumers into their online stores.
Even Amazon raised a few eyebrows recently when opening a physical bookstore in Seattle, something they surely didn’t need to do, so why did they do it? The bottleneck in online e-commerce competition is pushing people back to the streets.
Keeping it personal
Physical interactions are irreplaceable. High street stores are actually getting bigger, more impressive and more intricate, providing a lease of life for construction in retail. Whilst big cities are already brimming with retail buildings, more sites are being converted into shopping centres and often, shops and other organisations are willing to pay for the most attractive, practical and innovative designs.
Large shops like department stores also need accompanying car parks, their own offices and other infrastructure so whilst retailers get big online and on the high street, there is a domino effect that means the construction industry has to provide more space for business operations in retail. Huge shopping centres are still hugely popular destinations and will always remain so and their enormous sizes is sure to keep plenty of fuel in the tank for brick and mortar store construction.
Warehouse space at a premium
Firstly, one thing which is vitally important to take into account is warehouse and storage space. Just because a business operates online doesn’t mean they don’t need infrastructure and often, these warehouse spaces need to be bigger than any shop. With companies like Amazon stocking millions of items, the construction industry has had to step-up to fill a gap in warehousing demand.
Modular building contractors are quickly erecting the necessary warehouse spaces quickly to meet this massive demand. Not only are these warehouses huge, but dispersed throughout almost every region. As online retailers grow, so must their back-end and it’s not just warehouses that are increasing in demand, but head offices, depots, repair centres and regional offices too. The largest organisations are too large to keep their platforms entirely online and need physical spaces, whilst the smaller ones are too small to keep their platforms online because of the immense competition. In either circumstance, buildings are required.
An unerring requirement
Overall, retail will always need bricks and mortar stores, so whilst there has been somewhat of a dip in their construction, the void has been filled by the need for warehouses, offices, depots and other back- end infrastructure. Brick and mortar stores provide valuable face to face interactions which help keep big brands respected and small brands buoyant.
Physical stores are returning in force and even large retailers like Amazon are realising the positive publicity that can come with running a top store. For the construction industry, there is no longer a black and white debate about online retailers removing a chunk from their operations as the landscape is simply shifting.
With general retail spaces vastly expanding, it looks like back-end infrastructure will increase hugely and the construction industry can embrace this new horizon with modular buildings that can be erected to meet a swiftly evolving demand.