ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation


02.23.15 by Carrie Johnson
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I love reading our Wallace blogs. Everyone writes about interesting experiences and hobbies. In thinking about this, I decided to write about my favorite hobby – shopping. I am a self-professed shopaholic. I’ve even taken vacations centered solely around going shopping in a new fun city. Of course it is all centered around spending time with friends, seeing new and interesting places, and going out to dinner at great restaurants. Who wouldn’t like that? Thinking about my favorite hobby made me think about how on-line shopping has (or maybe hasn’t) altered the shopping experience.

Soon after the first on-line stores became successful, I started seeing articles about the “death” of brick and mortar stores. On-line shopping was new and exciting at the time and full of potential. It was great to be able to shop late at night or whenever you had time.

In hindsight, I think the prediction of this “death” was premature. It failed to take into account the experience of shopping. There is something to be said for the ability to touch, feel, see and try out products before you commit to buying them. There is also a social aspect that you simply don’t get sitting at home shopping at a desk. Shopping on-line just isn’t stimulating. Plus, I love the instant gratification of getting it right then and not having to wait several days for an order to arrive.

I think the future of retailing will be a combination of creative in-store sales and on-line shopping. The most savvy retailers have evolved and use both types of shopping to complement each other. They have found that it helps to connect to their actual customers by having a physical location where they can promote their products, but also allow users who want to purchase on-line to do so. Some retailers have elevated the experience of shopping, so it isn’t about the products as much as it is a tourist attraction.

Great retailers have also found that locating their stores in areas with other amenities works well. An increasing number of lifestyle centers have been popping up all over the United States and I think will continue to do so. These centers provide an interesting mix of pedestrian friendly shopping, dining, movie theaters, grocery stores, and sometimes even have local dentists and doctors for a one-stop trip.

An interesting twist to all of this is that several previously on-line only stores like Amazon have opened physical stores. They aren’t traditional stores, but stores nonetheless. They key is that they feel that they need to provide an in-store experience to remain competitive.

This is all very interesting. Physical stores and on-line shopping will no doubt continue to evolve. I, for one, look forward to seeing what the future holds!

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Carrie Johnson, PE, SE


Carrie serves as Chair of the Board on Wallace Engineering’s Board of Directors. She received her Bachelor of Architectural Engineering and Master of Architectural Engineering…

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