Brick-And-Mortars Are In Trouble, But They Can't (And Won't) Die

For years now, the technology world has been sounding the death knell for brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers and even online retailers reason that technology customers are too knowledgeable of the deals available online and see no reason to head to the store to pick up a product. Instead, they can have it delivered to their home in no time.For that reason, just about everyone believes that technology brick-and-mortar stores will eventually go extinct. A host of companies have tried to be successful in that market, like Circuit City, CompUSA, and others, and they have all failed. Now Best Buy, the company that helped put tons of competitors into the ground, is starting to lose its footing.

Surely, Best Buy's fall would lead to the end of the tech brick-and-mortar, right?

Think again.

Like it or not, we still need brick-and-mortar stores that carry all of the tech goodies you're after. Although early adopters are more than willing to watch a couple of videos on the Web or check out a product page and plunk down hundreds of dollars for a device without even seeing it in person, the mainstream consumer isn't like that. And the mainstream consumer isn't going to change.

[aquote]We can debate the advice consumers get from Best Buy, but they still like having it[/aquote]

The typical consumer wants to go to a place like Best Buy and touch the product they're considering. They also like to ask sales folks for information on alternatives to see if they're getting the best bang for their buck. And although we can debate the quality of the advice they're getting from places like Best Buy, they still like having it.

Will that save a store like Best Buy? It's impossible to say. A couple of years ago, I might have said that Best Buy has a long and profitable future ahead of it. But with the recent turmoil and continuing trouble attracting customers, I'm not so sure any longer. There is a chance that Best Buy might meet an early demise, similar to the way its predecessors did.

But just because Best Buy might take a nosedive, it doesn't mean that the brick-and-mortar is dead. Another company will crop up behind it with a unique take on tech sales, and all will be right in the world again. It's the longevity factor that has proven an issue with today's technology retailers.

Still, it's not a good idea to count out brick-and-mortar retailers. I won't sit here and debate the fact that brick-and-mortars are more expensive than online counterparts. And in terms of convenience, there's simply no comparison to online stores. But for the vast majority of customers that want to take products for a test drive before determining once and for all if something is right for them, they're incredibly necessary. And for that reason alone, they're not going anywhere.