…the future of the relative cost advantage between e-commerce and physical retail is looking less clear. For much of physical retail, there’s the prospect of falling rents, making running a brick-and-mortar store more viable. For e-commerce, it’s a surge in ad rates, or customer acquisition costs, plus shipping bottlenecks that will make “free shipping” more onerous to offer. And profit margins on an e-commerce sale were lower than the profit margin on an equivalent brick and mortar sale to begin with. All of this is happening when e-commerce is only around 10 percent of total retail sales. Presumably, these challenges will be even greater as that share grows.
In his view, we should look for a renewed focus on bricks and mortar. Here is the full column.