We’ve reached the end of the line on our Through the Years series and it is time to examine our most recent decade. The 2010’s was the time where companies reaped what they sowed in the prior 20 years. Technology transformed retail and the way that we interact with it, and we finally saw a glimpse at what companies could do. This decade saw the curtain drop for many iconic brands and solidified new dominant forces in retail.

The 2010’s was the decade where e-commerce came out of the shadows and became a driving force of how companies operate. It would be impossible to cover this era without acknowledging the impact of the leader in e-commerce, Amazon. This behemoth spent the 2010’s adding every category imaginable to their online store from diapers to medications. They were also one of the first to dive into subscription programs that have become popular with big box retailers. Their Amazon Prime membership offered free express shipping to members and competitors are still trying to match their delivery times.

Amazon’s success also spurred on companies to invest in direct-to-consumer sales. Cutting out big box stores created convince for customers and many of these companies operated solely online without the need for physical space. The success of subscription models also spilled into the apparel industry as consumers sought out services that let them try out selections of clothes online before committing to a purchase. Convenience was a key component for companies who found success in the 2010’s. Consumers wanted more options, and they wanted them available instantly. For retailers that resisted change and doubled down on physical expansion, this was the coup de grace. Rising rent prices and the availability of online marketplaces meant that consumers didn’t need to go to physical stores as often. Companies that overextended their physical footprint and didn’t invest in digital offerings were left scrambling and ultimately closed their doors. The growing importance of e-commerce spawned countless debates about the impending death of brick-and-mortar stores. This discourse was overblown and instead the decade was about how digital and physical retail can be used in conjunction.

Grocery stores and restaurants also faced similar challenges, although their transformation came into focus later in the decade. Grocers got in on the e-commerce craze by investing in delivery directly to homes. These services are still being ironed out today, yet the convenience of ordering your groceries on your phone in the morning and having them on your doorstep by the evening has been a boon for companies that invested in technology. Similarly, restaurants saw the benefits of offering mobile ordering and delivery and allowing consumers to customize when and how they get their food. Both of these advancements would be critical to the success of both industries when the pandemic struck in 2020.

The 2010’s will be remembered for the dominance of ecommerce and the companies that led the charge and created many of the digital marketplaces and conveniences that we enjoy today. The bill came due for those who failed to adapt and set the stage for new disruptors in every industry. As we get closer to the midpoint of a new decade, the importance of an omnichannel experience has only grown and digital retail has established itself as a dominating presence.