What’s Old Is New Again

The hype surrounding brick-and-mortar retail’s demise at the hands of e-tailers is almost absolute. Granted, there has been a rapid lopping off of retail market share, there are certain realities that don’t get mentioned with any substance.

It is a tantalizing proposition to consumers, after all – shop from the convenience of anywhere, anytime, with endless options and prices often lower than anywhere else.

Tesla is shifting to an online-mostly distribution model, as they are closing most of their stores. This will likely help them save resources in order to reinvest and hasten production of current and future models. In Tesla’s case, their target consumer may be unaffected by purchasing a $100k car, without getting their hands on one first. Maybe they know another Tesla owner who generously allows them to test drive the car.

Or maybe they want to avoid traditional shopping experiences:

But, what about the reality that many people who could potentially be a Tesla customer don’t have such access. For many, the idea of buying a car without getting a hands-on experience first is a deal breaker.

How can a company quantify this? The share of consumers who – given a more-traditional distribution scheme – would be potential customers.

Maybe analysts – much smarter than me – have figured it out. If so, it would explain why online companies like Amazon are working to enter the physical realm. Of course, this entire conversation revolves around what I consider a pendulum, floating on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Things swing back and forth but are also layered onto societal trends that fluctuate like ocean waves and tides. Thus, we should avoid extrapolating snapshots that we see in the present, as we’re likely to miss widely.