There is no question that retail has taken a huge hit since the popularity of the Internet. Some people say it is on life-support. Others say it is already dead. It may be a “minority” now, but in my opinion, retail will never die.
Here is why.
This afternoon, my wife Lisa and I took a trip across town to our favorite herb store, Du’ong Sanh Du’ong Chinese Herb Shop. It is owned and operated by Dr. Sherry Sum. I have known Dr. Sum some for about a dozen years. She is one of the most likable, energetic, entertaining people I have ever come across. Also, one of the most intelligent and expert in the area of herbal medicine. A true master.
We walked into her store and were immediately given the warmest welcome you could imagine. I am 6’1″ tall and she is about 4’10” yet her energy matched, if not surpassed, mine. For unknown reasons, she finds it amusing that me, an American, can communicate and has as thorough an understanding of herbal medicine as she does. I do not quite understand her reaction but get a kick out of it, nevertheless.
I asked for a couple of specific formulas which she immediately provided. At a discount price, of course. Additionally, she filled the bag with a variety of extra herbs, energy tonics and candies that make me feel like it was Christmas in Peking.
After an extensive and enjoyable conversation, she hugged Lisa and yours truly before “instructing” us to come visit more often!
Overall, the feelings of kindness, fun and even love were experienced. Three human beings from different backgrounds, enjoying common grounds (herbs) and having a great moment in the process. It was something you will never get on Amazon – the human element.
Contrast that with the Internet buying experience. One person, usually alone, isolated, punching away on the smartphone or pad, ordering something which they have not seen in person, touched, smelled or any other sensation minus the indirect viewing of an image or a clip. Granted, nothing wrong with this. It is convenient, cheaper and a (probably) permanent part of our culture. What it is can never be is a replacement for the human touch.
I suspect retail will continue to struggle and newer generations will grow up on the “Internet way” of doing business. But there will always be a percentage of the population that will go out of their way to have the human experience. Spend some time at Dr. Sum’s store and you will agree.