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by Daniel Gloade on December 3, 2014

There is an interesting article regarding retail shopping in Cambridge.  You can find it here.

In essence, a consultant from Malone Given Parsons reported that there is insufficient retail sales space in Cambridge City to satisfy the future need for such space in 2031.  The consultant estimated the amount of retail space needed in 2031 on the assumption that retail growth will continue at the same present rate.

Cambridge City counsellors believe that this assumption is faulty because more people will get his or her goods online.  The article adds that Canada’s online industry is approximately 4% of the economy whereas the number is 8% in the rest of the developed world.

The consultants from Malone Given Parsons counter by saying that people prefer to examine the potential purchase personally and want to possess the good immediately after purchase.  This is called the Endowment Effect and you can read a very good article here.

As the Record article stated, if people cannot access retail in Cambridge, then they will simply travel to another city.  In addition, there is the potential loss of jobs if retail does not grow.

Limiting retail space would be the environmental option, however.  It would avoid city sprawl.  On a similar note, public transportation is a more attractive option in cities enclosed within a smaller physical space.  Finally, the retail industry wastes a great deal of energy in construction, lighting and parking space.  Are their ways to accommodate both concerns?

One possible solution is to have a central parking.  People can then use public transportation to travel to different retail stores.  The advantage is that each retail store does not need its own parking place.  This option will also save on traffic congestion.   Retail stores would have to offer free delivery, however.

With regard to delivery, just-in-time consumer delivery is the next great barrier in the retail industry.  People often dislike having items delivered to them because they feel that they are forced to stay their homes to wait for a delivery.  This can be particularly difficult if the person lives alone and has to work.  Customer delivery that creates greater flexibility in scheduling and greater precision in adhering to that schedule will make home delivery more palatable to consumers.

Another option is to use a system similar to Lee Valley Stores.  There is a display model for your examination and you can requisition an item from the adjacent warehouse.  This would save on physical space.

A third option is to have enhanced online catalogues that allow the potential purchaser to look at the item from any angle and to read all of the labels and manuals on the product in large print.

Clothing stores can enhance their websites by having someone measured for clothing creates an Avatar for the potential purchaser (with a real copy of the person’s face.).  The individual can try on clothes digitally and examine him or herself from all angles.  It may make the online purchase of clothing more palatable.  The clothing Avatar belongs to the customer and is compatible with all online clothing retailers.

Also, there is an excellent publication from the Canadian Government.  You can find it here.

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