Will Technology Kill Brick-And-Mortar Retailers?

by MR Magazine Staff

I am on the record as a drone optimist, and I think it holds the potentially to change retail significantly. In 2013, I defended Jeff Bezos’ promise that Amazon will deliver packages by drone, concluding that “in the grand scheme of things I think drones delivering packages is going to be more of a reality than skeptics are imagining”. One criticism of the potential for 30 minute drone delivery, recently voiced on twitter by James Surowiecki, is that this would require “an incredible number of warehouses located near major population centers (and therefore on expensive land) full of in-stock merchandise”. But as Ars Technica’s Tim Lee cleverly pointed out, this massive network of warehouses basically exists already in the form of Walmart’s nearly 5,000 stores across the U.S. So while we don’t know exactly what form drone delivery will take -flying, driving, warehouse to home, truck to home- there is a tremendous potential for drone technology to play an important role in reducing shipping costs and time. As I wrote in 2013, “If one path does not work, there are a variety of ways to try, many which we probably aren’t even thinking of”. So given my optimism about drones, why don’t I think this will destroy brick-and-mortar retail? One important data point is that the e-commerce revolution hasn’t done this yet. Read more at Forbes.