Change is constant and never linear; and I can't help but get excited over all the opportunity I see today!
Watching the technology that being created and envisioning how that could benefit a consumer goods manufacturer/retailer I cannot help but see new opportunities on a regular basis.
The internet has exploded retail, opening opportunities for niches to be exploited and specialty brands to flourish. But, change is transformative and dialectic; thus you have to think 'thesis,' 'anti thesis,' and 'synthesis.'
Yes, the internet (ecommerce and social media) has dramatically changed retail, but mobile and QR codes will be even more disruptive.
Macy's has already begun to push back by developing "incubation centers" for fashion designers. Major department stores will begin to develop their own private label, or store brands of clothing. Thus, to bemoan the death of the major department stores is too premature.
Even brands like Fruit of the Loom and Hanes, will eventually find themselves competing with "Value" brands that will be developed by the major discounters to increase their margins on the commodity products much like grocery stores have done.
Where as ecommerce and social media disrupted retail shopping channels smart phones and QR codes/bar codes can very easy restore the old dynamics of scale. 40% of all wireless phones are now smart phones and 20% of smart phone users acknowledge that they regularly scan codes in to seek out better prices.
That will force retailers to develop their own exclusive brands and force manufacturers of major brands to either go exclusively B2C or work out exclusive deals with retailers, such as what HP and Dell do with their computers.
The future for small niche companies and or web based product lines is to use this same technology to their benefit; a SHOPBOX or a Pop Up Shop. Every time I sit down and review my business plan I find more options, more opportunities, and cannot help but get excited at the sheer size of the opportunities being created on almost a daily basis! I think every small retailer should read the books recommended in this post: Whenever anyone claims "big trouble" that also translates into big opportunities!
Think of your consumers as "tribes" and follow them! We are so focused with connecting and having conversations with our consumers that we fail to realize that the future of retail, for brands is to now get out among your communities. The future belongs to those brands that become part of their consumers lives.