Whether it’s corner shops, supermarkets, specialty stores, department stores or entire shopping arcades – it seems as if no store will remain untouched by the digital upheavals of our time.
In many cases, the process of digital transformation is presented as a threat: Consumers would have access to cheaper online shopping opportunities, which would inevitably lead to a drying up of local trade. Retailers are degenerating into digital brokers who deliver goods directly from the distribution warehouse to the consumer’s home.
Retail is abolishing itself?
In the end, there would only be isolated remnants of shops – out of pity or romance. Entire city centres would soon be empty and many shops would close, it seems. Is that true? Could one also be more optimistic about this?
Small shops with a small but select clientele, such as a tea shop from the mountainous Cretan hinterland, for example, punish these theses with lies.
Iannis Iannutsos’ herb shop has made it into television, blogs and U-tube videos several times, so that the sleepy village of Kouses is now frequented by townspeople and tourists who want to consume its herbs, traditional remedies and teas. Also because he does not only mix them according to taste, but according to traditional recipes as a supporting remedy for health problems of all kinds.
The tea shop revives the remote village
The sales in the village of Kouses would never have been enough to make a living before digitalisation. Now he helps the whole village, which sells recipes and herbs to the shop. It secures livelihoods and polishes up small pensions.
I wonder if digitisation is not a threat only to large discounters, but also offers a renaissance opportunity to small shops with limited and specialised choice?
Perhaps digitisation will lead to a return to specialisation and expertise? Some kind of renaissance of the corner shop?
I believe that digitalisation can even help whole villages to survive: Provided they know how to promote and sell their regional products globally. The digital market can help specialized retailers. It could even revive the economy of remote areas: Provide jobs and added value for its residents! Thought through to the end, the renaissance of small local businesses with global distribution could even slow down the influx into the cities. Digitalisation could thus end the longing for a better life in the city.