Since the 2010s, when Amazon hastened the decline of physical bookstores, pundits have been predicting a retail apocalypse. A landscape littered with shuttered storefronts, where mankind is utterly dependent on Alexa to send orders to a fleet of drones standing ready to deliver anything and everything within hours.

Over a decade later, as we begin emerging from the fight against COVID-19, there are some who believe that our future may very well be headed that way, especially now that the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated retail’s digital transformation.

In a previous edition of this series, CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ explored​ the digital retail landscape and the exciting prospects it would bring with the promise of new channels and new technology.

Research by Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform Lazada reported that 73% of consumers in South East Asia identified online shopping as part of everyday life, with almost half (46%) logging on to shop at least once a week. Nearly 60% said they embraced online shopping as an everyday norm just less than two years ago.

Even beauty, which was once touted as an ‘Amazon-proof’ category, saw a huge shift as consumers warmed up to the idea of buying skin care, make-up, and even perfumes online, all while retail footfall suffered under pandemic-triggered movement restrictions and border closures.

All these trends did not paint a very rosy picture for the brick-and-mortar retail sector. As many established retail players succumbed to the changing times, it seemed that it was the end of traditional brick and mortar retail – the apocalypse was upon us.


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