How & why is digital distribution and networks impacting other distribution mediums, and is the impact a negative one?
Note: the writing with a strikethrough is cut content.
Ever since its inception in 1990, the World Wide Web has revolutionised the way the world works socially and economically. One area significantly impacted by it is the distribution of goods, due to the ability to now sell products online, digitally, as opposed to, for example, on the high streets. This has had a major impact on the latter distribution method, however the question is: how and why exactly is digital distribution and networks impacting other distribution mediums, and is the impact a negative one?
Imo, the main impact is on sales. One of the areas affected most by this is music, which has seen a notable decline in the past decade in part because of digital marketplaces and formats. For example in 2006, digital formats accounted for just 16% of sales, with physical formats such as CD and Vinyl making up the remaining 84%. However in 2010, just 4 years later, digital music now makes up an astronomical 47% of sales compared to physical’s 53%. Physical is still in the lead, however the margin is quickly closing and will soon swap if it continues to progress like this.
I believe this has occurred due to increased access to digital networks; looking at the same years, 16 million adults used the Internet in 2006 – although a large sum in itself, the figure almost doubled to 30 million adult users by 2010, the number only continuing to grow.
In my opinion, the main reason for this is convenience. The Digital High Street Advisory Board aim to have 75% of the UK’s residences and businesses have at least a fixed broadband speed of 100mbps by 2020, meaning online availability will be more widespread than ever. With online products being able to be bought at the click of a button from almost wherever the user is, a perk not available with retail shopping, I personally believe shoppers will gravitate to digital distribution mediums due to this ease of use. Ease of use exemplified even further by online schemes like Amazon’s “1-click ordering” function; For example [buying South Park Season 20 off Amazon example].
So does this mean that, long term, digital distribution and networks will completely take over physical distribution mediums? Well, not necessarily.  I personally believe retail stores can utilise digital distribution mediums to in fact boost the sales of their high street outlets, due to digital networks giving them the ability to advertise their stores through functions such as Google AdSense. With over 175,000 websites of the top one million using AdSense, digital networks allow companies to more easily promote their retail stores to a wider audience, hence highlighting a positive opportunity they’ve brought.
Nikk Smith, chief technical officer at Pixel Inspiration, notes “Digital-only installations will enable the retailer to promote their products to a local audience, by linking in with their online presence with click and collect or delivery.” [maybe mention apps like Just Eat, the Pizza Hut app, etc. that also use this physical/digital synergy]. (probably won’t use) And recent 2015 statistics suggest a high street Renaissance is already happening: Year-on-year average weekly retail sales increased by 4.8% in January 23rd consecutive month of retail sales growth, longest period of sustained year-on-year growth since May 2008.
So in conclusion, digital distribution and networks have had a big impact on other distribution mediums, However, with the aforementioned music statistics alluding to a negative impact but 2015 statistics, such as January marking the 23rd consecutive month of retail sales growth, alluding to a high street Renaissance, data is currently, in my opinion, too inconsistent to indicate whether the impact is good or bad.
All we can say for sure right now, is that they’ve become a major part of our society, and our future.