Sixty-six percent of small business owners say it's “likely” or “extremely likely” that they'll be conducting their business strictly online within the next 10 years, according to a recent GetApp poll of 200 U.S. business owners who have both online and brick-and-mortar presences. Seventeen percent of respondents say this is “unlikely” or “extremely unlikely” and 17% are neutral on the subject. Anthony Bradley, group VP of technology research firm Gartner (which owns the SaaS and cloud app reviewer GetApp), did not necessarily agree with the results, saying going solely online isn't "very realistic." He can, however, see the majority of revenue shifting from brick-and-mortar to online within this time frame. Bradley says he expects the web to become the front-end of the business and the store to become the backend, focusing more on administrative and manufacturing responsibilities than sales. “In most cases, [the store] won't go away entirely,” he says, “but it will become minimized.” Small businesses no doubt see challenges for physical locations with many major retailers shutting store doors. Take Macy's, for instance. Despite opening 27 stores in 2016, the department store chain closed 66 stores that year. In February, it announced its intent to close about 34 more stores over the next few years. J.C. Penney also revealed its plans to close 138 stores within the next few months, and Sears Holdings Corporation announced its plans to close 42 Sears stores and 108 Kmart stores this year (and is reportedly closing even more ). Bradley acknowledges that customers like to experience certain products in-person before they buy and that brick-and-mortar locations still account for the majority of revenue.
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