A recent IBM report showed that web and app-based businesses are disrupting all retail businesses. The largest taxi company in the U.S. (Uber) doesn’t own any cabs, the largest accommodation provider (Airbnb) owns no hotels, the largest phone company (Skype) has no telco infrastructure, the largest software vendors (Apple and Google) do not write apps, the most popular media provider (Facebook) creates no content, and now, the fastest growing consumer lenders (Lending Club and Prosper) are not banks and do not have branches.

These changes are in addition to the old news of tech disruption to brick and mortar retail stores, music and video distribution and services, and this was the first holiday season when consumers spent more time online than in stores. And most of their purchases were made on smart devices.

There are many reasons why this shift away from traditional retail is occurring, most of which address an enhanced shopping experience. They include the proliferation of smart devices, the wide availability of Wi-Fi, the use of big data to provide an intuitive shopping experience, the adoption of cloud technology to reach consumers wherever they are, electronic wallets and other mobile payment systems, and the use of social media and device notifications to stay in touch with customers. As a result, technology, coupled with changes involving how customers want to use the web and apps, is causing disruption in the retail space at extraordinary speeds.

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