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The Reason Brick and Mortar Retail is Dying


The average cost of real estate in New York City ranges from $1,350 to $1400 a square foot. The average distance to a store in Owen County, Kentucky is thirteen miles, and the range of products is not impressive. The principals of business in the free markets of the United States require organizations to have little overhead if they want to maintain competitiveness. The need for entry into larger markets and reduced cost are the impetus of the boom in online marketing and sales. The days of haggling with a salesman or rushing to the store on the big sale day are quickly becoming distant memories in an economic demographic where good deals are only a few keystrokes away. There are many who say brick and mortar retail is dead.

Abraham Maslow developed a theory identifying the psychological motivations behind human behaviors. Each of the five profiled levels provides strategic guidance for reasons a business owner would be interested in establishing a business platform on the internet and forego the risks associated with brick and mortar buildings.


The highest need that motivates a person, according to the theories of Maslow is the need for self-actualization which consists of things like morality, creativity, problem-solving, and more. If these drivers are influential to the products you sell than it is undeniable that you will have success. When a construction worker needs to know how a specific tile is cut or laid, they can go through the trouble of visiting a brick and mortar company which takes time and money out of a busy schedule. If this problem can instead be solved with a point and click of a mouse through your business and the results are superior or at least comparable than the online presence is a benefit. Problem-solving is an art and is a function of every business. A product or service is the focus of the business and a consumer only makes those purchases to satisfy a need. As the saying goes, it is all about building a better mouse trap. It does not matter if you build the best mousetrap in the world if customers do not know about it and can’t find it. A useful website platform with a good online presence solves both issues.


There was a time in our economic history when going to the mall to make a purchase implied wealth and class in some areas. Now, when you go to the mall, there are often empty units and overpriced products. The interests of consumers are changing, especially in light of a shrinking economy and increase of inflation. Esteem from the perspective of achievement and confidence are now coming from the ability to provide for your family and be wise in the marketplace. People have always enjoyed getting a good deal, but it is finally a trend that even the wealthy are embracing. Esteem is coming from buying products that are in a sense politically correct. The internet has made it possible for users to overcome geographic obstacles allowing consumers to buy with their conscience instead of what is within reach. Customers do not feel the social pressure of their body types when they go into an undergarment store when they just click “buy” on an internet site. They do not feel awkwardly misplaced in a boutique when they just want to browse. They do not feel cheap when they go into a discount store and use a credit card for a one dollar purchase. The internet has resolved a lot of buyer imposed ambiguous barriers.

Love and Belonging

The benefits of making an order that comes in a wrapped and sealed package include privacy and no fear of judgment from others. Freedom from embarrassment is priceless for many individuals who may be curious but are also fearful. Buying a surprise birthday gift is so much easier when you can make a purchase from anywhere at any time and have it delivered to any place. Appealing to the needs of intimacy, friendship, and love are best done through reputation. The unspoken benefit of an online presence is the artificial control the business has over its image. There aren’t a thousand locations with ten thousand personalities at a point of sale that may unfairly tarnish the image of a company. The website is an opportunity to have one type of relationship presented in a very precise way. Establishing a relationship with a consumer who respects you will build a reputation and client base that will be faithful for the long haul.


With a challenged economy and the rise of global threats people are becoming less interested in leaving their homes. You cannot be carjacked from your computer or lose your wallet in the checkout line. The days of going into a store for one thing and leaving with three hundred items are dwindling as consumers gain control of the buying process. While buying on the web has developed its own set of security risks, companies are finding ways to overcome them and consumer spending has maintained confidence. In terms of electronic security, it is brick and mortar businesses that have suffered the largest breaches in the market. Online businesses have gained the trust of buyers as millions of transactions happen every day.


The lowest level, physiological, is a consideration of the lowest common denominator of all needs: food, air, water, clothes, and shelter. Because these are very basic needs, it has taken time for grocer retailers to break into the market of ecommerce, but it is starting to take shape. There are challenges in this area due to the difficulty of managing inventory with an expiration date and the limited scope of practicality for service across the entire United States. Larger chains of retailers have discovered the benefits of online retail, and have developed mixed models offering a combination of sales tactics that provide customers with the option of online ordering for local pickup and the brick and mortar traditional retail. As more and more consumers purchase through online vehicles, the costs of inventory and shipping management from thousands of locations will lose their appeal as the online costs of business are realized for the savings they truly offer.

Brick and mortar is not dead and will never truly be completely dead, but it will not be long before the majority of business is conducted online. With the roll out of devices that allow you to purchase instantly through an application on your phone or tablet while businesses find ways to reduce their overhead, the online gambit of competition will drive the consumer to the place where their needs are best served throughout each of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

The writer, Ray Donato, runs a small subscription-based ecommerce website who entered into online business after having gotten frustrated with a traditional brick-and-mortar store. To facilitate his billing process, he contracts with Fastspring®. You can learn more about Ray by visiting on Google+.