Member Brief: The Limits of eCommerce

Standing before a small audience of Austin business owners and investors, I shared a bull case for eCommerce. Within 15 years, online retail will become our primary channel for product discovery and over 40% of all North American retail.

The retail real estate footprint in America will continue to decrease as aging malls shutter, strip malls become more experiential, and the exurban landscapes of the South and the Midwest becomes home to more warehousing. This will give rise to a greater dependence on online retail. Beyond our growing dependency on digital channels, America has a per capita square footage of 23.5 to China’s 2.8 sq. ft. China’s eCommerce as a percentage of retail is near 40%. America’s is steady around 15-16%. Our nearest proxy, Canada, is at 14.5 square feet per capita – a much healthier figure for a Western civilization. Over-retail will eventually play to the online retail industry’s advantage. But the fortune will not be evenly distributed.

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