Professor Chris EdgerBy Professor Chris Edger, Birmingham City Business School

The troubles of retailers HMV and Blockbuster presage the most serious threat to the High Street over the next few years – that of immediacy.

Both HMV and Blockbuster were hit by smart technology that allowed consumers to download films and records onto on-the-move and static home based devices immediately. Invariably the cost of these products was also cheaper than those retailed through ‘bricks and mortar’ channels. The main point is that consumer demand could be sated straight away; entertainment endorphin hits required no deferment of gratification by consumers!

This problem will soon impact other retail channels. Say you can get an item of clothing or an electrical device you want delivered right now. You bypass ‘click and order’ and ‘drive throughs’ etc. – you get it almost immediately!

This model is currently being trialled by two major US companies who are testing its logistical and ‘cost to serve implications’ in major conurbations. If it works – and it’s a big if at the moment – this will mean that the continuing point of differentiation for many retailers – immediacy – is lost.

As if they needed it – more food for thought for highly expensive land-based retail models that lack multi-channel capability.

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Chris Edger

Chris Edger

Professor of Multi-Unit Leadership at Birmingham City University