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Waiting for the tech tsunami to hit SMBs

The online world could well lay waste to the streets of retailers we once knew.

Techmageddon hasn't hit our part of the world yet, but the switch to online is certainly slaying some major retailers in the UK.

Commentators are rightfully blaming the switch to digital, with casualties including the Jessops camera chain, HMV record stores, and the UK offshoot of Blockbuster video, a global business that also has Australian and New Zealand operations that are currently unaffected.

Britain's best-selling Sun newspaper has described such failing UK businesses as brutal casualties of the digital revolution.

Though we have yet to see such similar casualties in New Zealand, the technological trends look bleak for such retailers, including in Australia.

Music downloads are all the rage now, with figures released over the holidays confirming how popular this method of purchasing or obtaining music has become.

Pity the poor record retailer, then.

We are likely to see more of this as Spotify and iTunes increase their sales further, and Kim Dotcom launches his various offerings to boost the music and video download market at the expense of traditional retailing.

While New Zealand has such specialist shops like Marbecks and Real Groovy for music, as well as Blockbuster for movies, the mass market is mainly served by only small CD and DVD sections of The Warehouse and similar big box stores.

Though we don't have the specialist iconic retailers like Britain has, the digital revolution looks set to deliver casualties in our malls and high streets, too. If I owned Australia's Ted's Cameras chain, I would be gravely concerned by the shift to digital, as I would if I owned our local Blockbuster and similar outfits.

If anything was needed to confirm this, it was that iconic photo taken recently by the Holmes family in Tasmania, as they took shelter under a pier while "tornadoes of fire" engulfed their home, a horrifying image that was broadcast the world over.

As TV commentators noted, the picture was taken on a smartphone as it was sent all over the world. No camera, camera shop, or film processing was involved in any way.

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