Will technology and ecommerce allow developing countries to skip the big box store? Sanjeev Sanyal, a Global Strategist at Deutsche Bank, argues that this is possible in India -- and that small stores will be better equipped to compete with online sales than today's big boxes. He writes in Project Syndicate:
"We know from international experience that online shopping undermines hypermarkets [big boxes like Super Walmart] more than neighborhood stores, which often offer home delivery, credit, and the reassuring familiarity of personal relationships. A local shop may also be able to use the Internet to tailor more precisely its selection of goods to its customers’ tastes."
Thirty years ago, France "skipped a step" by moving directly from small shops to hypermarkets, and bypassing supermarkets altogether. Much of the developing world completely skipped landlines and moved straight to mobile. It will be interesting to see retail changes play out differently than they have in the US, where legacy infrastructure holds back innovation to some degree.