“The report of my death was an exaggeration”.

So said Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain) in 1897.

The same can also be said of the many, MANY reports on the future of bricks & mortar retail stores.  Haven’t seen the news? Here’s a few recent stories on the subject…

– Leo Chen at TechCrunch

– Larry Downes at Forbes

– MobileAppMan at HotApps (see, everyone’s talking about it!?!?!)

Now don’t get me wrong, we have no doubt that the world of retail – or more specifically the world of retail distribution – is certainly ripe for disruption. Hell, we’re basing our entire business on it. SocialShout! is all about Social Commerce and Social Commerce is all about disrupting the existing models of retail distribution.

BUT…let’s be realistic. It’s ain’t going to happen overnight.

The guys at Apple – arguably the most successful tech company ever – certainly still place a fair amount of merit on bricks & mortar. Just look at how much time, money & effort goes into their Apple Stores. And…take a look at the image below from the Apple Store in Hong Kong…

This wasn’t a special event. Just a normal day. Two levels of customers buying, touching, learning, living the Apple brand.

‘eCommerce is going to revolutionise the way we buy!’ Really? Well, not really. Not yet, at least. Why not? Lots of reasons. (perhaps a topic for a future post) Regardless, we need to be mindful that the vast majority of purchases of products happen OFFLINE, not online.

Of course, eCommerce and Social Commerce will become increasingly important in the future of retail, but for the time being at least, Bricks & Mortar is still king (in all but a few exceptions).

Like Dr. Paul Marsden said in a recent post on Social Commerce Today – this is an evolution not a revolution.

Incremental changes & enhancements are the most likely path from where we are today to where we will be tomorrow.