2020 has been a singular year. The current state of affairs shows that the world can indeed be paralyzed given a significant global concern. This year, many businesses were forced to shutter their doors and move their business to the online realm. For businesses unable to do this, their survival most assuredly has come into question.
With that in mind, we must ask ourselves, are bookstores an endangered species?
In this article, we will answer that question while also shedding light on some important considerations for booksellers.
The Online Marketplace
For years now, the migration from traditional sales and distribution channels to online ones has been highlighted by increasing customer preference. However, 2020 has shown that the world can certainly survive by relying almost entirely on online, digital marketplaces. While the world is still not quite at a point where a total online marketplace can replace a traditional one, the trend is clear. It is only a matter of time before the world goes entirely digital.
Traditional Bookstores Will Eventually Become a Thing of the Past
While it’s hard to predict when this could actually happen, it’s safe to say that traditional bookstores will disappear at some point. In particular, the main point here is that traditional bookstores will have a hard time competing with totally digital sellers. The biggest difference ultimately boils down to overhead. Traditional retailers have much higher overhead than digital ones. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before most publishers and bookstores migrate the bulk of their efforts to the online marketplace.
Now, it might be somewhat unreasonable to think that traditional bookstores will disappear altogether. Yet, it is logical to assume that traditional sellers will go the way of the dinosaurs when the world economy is ready to migrate to a fully digital marketplace.
Customer Preferences Will Be the Deciding Factor
As much as companies would like to move to a digital marketplace, ultimately, customer preferences will be the deciding factor. In particular, if customers want to continue shopping at brick-and-mortar shops, these will continue to exist. Naturally, we can assume that they won’t be quite as ubiquitous as -they are now. Nevertheless, if customers want to shop in person, bookstores will always have a place for folks.
The Customer Experience
The biggest factor driving the current state of retail is the customer’s experience. Retailers must now ensure they can provide customers with a singular experience. In particular, the in-person shopping experience must surpass the online one. Consequently, retailers must find ways to entice shoppers to seek bookstores. Otherwise, the online shopping experience may prove to be far better than the in-person one.
What does this mean for bookstores?
It means that bookstores need to offer a shopping experience that cannot be replaced by online channels no matter how good the online shopping experience may be. Thus, bookstores will need to find new ways of making customers come to bookstores even when it’s much more convenient to order books from the comfort of home.