The brick and mortar experience: What will become of it?

Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell are sensations that we commonly refer to as the five senses. It has also been revealed that there are even more sensations that are a part of the human experience.

Through the use of the complex inner workings of the human body, one is able to observe their surroundings and make decisions accordingly.

With this being said, is it possible that the sense-oriented brick and mortar shopping experience is becoming obsolete?

Is society more in favor of a digital experience which only allows one to use one of their senses in their decision making?

The answer to this question is quite complicated and may come as a surprise. Taking a look at the technological changes that have occurred throughout society, it is clear to see that at the turn of the century society witnessed a boom in technological advancements.

As early as the late 70s, the technological innovations of Steve Jobs and other digital masterminds began to shift the way in which society functions.

It is also important to note that technology is not a term that should be seen with strong digital denotations. Technology is simply anything that enhances the efficiency of a daily task.

However, what is particularly interesting is that digital technology has often been gradually integrated into different areas of society. For instance, at one point in time the vast majority of one’s social interactions were not facilitated by any form of digital technology, e.g. cell phones, tablets, PCs, etc.

In modern times, it is clear to see that computer mediated communication has rendered conventional communication slightly obsolete. To fully grasp the gravity of this shift, one can simply ask Millennials or Generation Z individuals if they prefer to have a conversation via text or phone call. Many of these individuals would choose a conversation via text message.

Bearing this in mind, it is only reasonable to assume that the same will hold true for the shift from brick and mortar to digital or online shopping.

From the perspective of the Wilkes/King’s Barnes & Noble’s manager, Corrine Sartini, it seems as though the future for brick and mortars isn’t necessarily bright but it’s also not dark.

In response to this question, Sartini said that she believes that “they’re going to be pretty much done.

“I’ve been to the mall recently and it’s like dead compared to when I was a kid growing up in the 80s. Malls were the place to go but now it’s like online shopping.”

Sartini’s insights are similar to that of many. There is a drastic shift occurring from a more conventional and sensation based form of shopping to a digital one.

While Sartini feels as though the future of brick and mortar stores isn’t very promising, she does feel as though there are certain experience that will keep it going.

As it pertains to Barnes & Noble she feels that it’s future will still be quite bright. In reference to Barnes & Noble she states that “just like the digital, I think there are a lot of students there that still want the physical book and they want to come to the bookstore and read the book you know, and sit and relax and read a book.”

As Barnes & Noble consumers, many students, myself included prefer a physical version of the textbook to a digital version. As a consequence of this, the physicality of a brick and mortar bookstore is nice.

Also, sometimes you may need your textbook as soon as possible and ordering it online will inevitably cause a slight delay. Sartini also adds that Wilkes University students, King’s College students and the general community can “come over and have a coffee.”

One of the perks of going to the local bookstore is that there is a Starbucks integrated into the bookstore. This is one aspect that online shopping simply cannot compete with.

However, it is also true that one can simply make or get coffee while ordering a book on their preferred digital device. It is truly dependent on the person in question.

English adjunct faculty member Kathleen Kemmerer offers a completely antithetical perspective. She states that it is “frustrating” in reference to the brick and mortar shopping experience.

She elaborates on this point stating that, “I only shop online, I was in a store the other day and I couldn’t find what I wanted. They didn’t have the sizes, they didn’t have the style but they had them online so I went home and ordered them online.”

While shopping online can be a great alternative if what you’re looking for is unavailable, there are some downsides. Kemmerer states that in the sense of color and qualities of the fabric, brick and mortar shopping takes the win.

She states that “color matters more to me because I’m often shopping for something specific and you order it online and it comes in and it’s not anywhere close.”

She also expresses concern for those who may be affected by what she and many feel is inevitable; the end to the brick and mortar shopping experience.

She states that she feels “very sorry for the people that work there because I think they’re going to be displaced persons. They’re not going to have jobs so I feel bad about that.” She adds that although this is unfortunate, she would rather order online.

In light of these perspectives, it is safe to suggest that most people feel that there are certain aspects of the brick and mortar shopping experience that will sustain its existence.

However, there are many features and efficiencies that online shopping provides that brick and mortar shopping simply does not.

So, in answering the question of what will come of the brick and mortar experience, it is safe to say that no one can truly know.

For the next few decades it’s future will be stable but the way in which we use it may change tremendously.