REPOST: With autonomy, commercial real estate could go mobile
Online shopping has taken off impressively in the past few years, stimulating debates whether or not brick-and-mortar stores will eventually become obsolete. But with the rise of self-driving automobiles, are we seeing another industry disruption in the form of mobile malls? TechCruch has the full story:
The coming years could see the next great land rush across the U.S. and many other countries worldwide, but it might not even involve land. Instead, the next trend for savvy investors could be fleets of autonomous vehicles.
A previous article posited the idea that the retail industry may be about to experience its greatest disruption since the rise of online shopping. In a market that’s struggling to balance the pros and cons of selling sight-unseen products versus the high costs of maintaining a brick and mortar store, the answer could lie in mobile malls that bring stores direct to the consumer at the push of a button.
The continued progress in autonomous vehicles made by a host of companies, including Tesla, Google and Ford, makes the possibility of mobile retail stores even more feasible, allowing for tailored designs to better accommodate the shopping experience than previous attempts. And while the ramifications of such a prospect are vast for the retail industry, the effects could be felt elsewhere, too.
Problems for the real estate industry
The problems currently facing the commercial real estate industry are piling up. Startups are increasingly engaging with the sharing and collaborative economy, meaning that they’re opting for coworking spaces and shorter-term leases to accommodate their ever-changing business models. Likewise, the increasing reliance on remote freelance workers has seen companies requiring smaller office spaces. And as for the retail real estate space, they’ve taken a battering from the rise of online shopping — an industry that has been climbing steadily, with profits predicted to rise to $370 billion in 2017 from $231 billion in 2012. The last thing this industry needs is another headache.
However, if it does make a shift toward mobile stores, the demand on not just commercial real estate businesses but a wider reach of companies that sell and lease out physical space could drop significantly. Instead of choosing to purchase or lease shop fronts, startup businesses and already established companies could be attracted to the less expensive, more risk averse option of choosing a store on wheels.
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