With the lemonade stand analogy firmly ingrained in many entrepreneurial spirits, it can be easy to think that any startup business can thrive in today’s competitive marketplace with “just the right” business plan, or “just enough” funding. With today’s advances in technology, the reality is that many conventional startup ideas are simply disappearing from view as online retail stores and services offer efficient distribution of some of the world’s most basic products.
Think of how quickly the rise of Netflix has almost removed demand for video store rentals, or the rise of travel sites such as Travelocity and Expedia have almost eliminated travel agent services. While travel agents can offer “specialized” service and customized packages that a computer might not be able to tackle, the shift in consumer’s perspectives on how to get what they want, when they want it, has led to the downfall of many traditional businesses that were once the basis of many entrepreneurs and startup dreams.
Here are just five startups that are no longer the in-demand business or shop that they once were:
- The neighborhood bookstore: While antique shops and collectible books are still entities in themselves, a trip to the local bookstore, even if it’s a corporate chain such as Borders or Barnes & Noble, is slowly becoming less of a “need” when customers can browse and explore almost every title online. Online bookstores are also starting to focus on hard-to-find titles and offering services where they can deliver used books from area bookstores. The need for another store in town rarely exists.
- Photo development stores: With digital cameras, high-quality home printing, and digital photo sharing becoming a cultural norm, taking that roll of film to the neighborhood photo store just isn’t a part of life. Companies such as Kodak and Fuji are devising new ways to keep their customers with online services and touchscreen stations in stores where customers can upload and create their own CD albums.
- The neighborhood pharmacy: With the growth of big-box chains taking over the pharmacy department, consumers are finding one-stop shopping much more convenient when they have a prescription to fill. Online services also help promote prescription refills, reordering, and even finding information on drugs and related health topics.
- Video rental stores: DVDs and downloadable movies have quickly become the way of life for many, and a trip to the store simply isn’t convenient anymore. Netflix and Blockbuster offer additional options of getting the movies we want, when we want them.
The CD or music store. While it’s still fun to spend time at the listening station at the local CD store or music shop, finding mp3 clips online or paying for downloads is much more convenient and efficient. The growth in iPod owners and shareable music puts traditional music stores at a significant disadvantage.
What are some other industries or services that are being replaced by online equivalents?
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