How Amazon will drive a fifth city-shaping retail revolution

Aisle Of Storage Room With Boxes

The Conversation | SmartCompany


By Paul Drechsler, University of Western Australia

As possibly the world’s oldest economic activity, retailing didn’t venture away from the traditional street, with its congestion, grime and weather exposure, until about 1800.

This resulted in new types of retail space, including enclosed shopping arcades and freestanding or anchor department stores. These are still evident in cities today.

It helps to visualise the evolution of modern retail activity and structures in terms of five broad revolutionary cycles. Each has lasted about 50 years, as shown in the diagram below.

Revolutionary cycles and disruptive innovations. Source: Author

After the first industrial revolution of the late 18th and early 19th century, two industrial revolutions followed, from about 1850 to 1900, and then from 1900 to 1950. A consumer revolution began about 1950. Then, at the dawn of the new millennium, came an information revolution.

Each revolution spawned a unique set of technological innovations that shocked the status quo by replacing outdated structures with new ones. The retail sector and retail spaces were not immune to this process.

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Source: How Amazon will drive a fifth city-shaping retail revolution