Retailers who seek to thrive in the digital world must stay ahead of the digital curve in order to compensate for the terrifying reality of the retail industry’s outdated and inefficient business model of opening more stores to expand physical footprints.

Driven principally by mobile shopping and payments, the popularity of e-commerce and m-commerce has skyrocketed over the last few years, with some analysts projecting online sales will reach $523 billion by 2020 in the United States, up 56% from 2015.

This comes as no surprise when considering the ease of access to tens of millions of products through e-commerce powerhouses like Amazon, with 24/7/365 accessibility, robust mobile apps, responsive sites and email, superior customer support, free shipping and secure payments, it’s simple to see why smart online retailers will continue to experience exponential growth. The data is clear that it’s not just millennials who prefer to pop open an app to check out the latest offerings versus planning out a trip to the store.

IMAGE: Bloomberg News

It cannot be denied that the convenience, and other benefits associated with e-commerce/m-commerce, are forcing traditional retailers to adapt in order to survive in the digital (shopping) age.

Traditional brick & mortar stores must upgrade and innovate their experiences to again become destinations in their own right in order to lure back spoiled online shoppers.

Way beyond physical improvements, retailers must create a seamless omnichannel shopping and payments presence that allows them to compete with the top online stores.

In order to thrive, retailers must make an effort to understand and embrace the digital landscape while creating opportunities to bolster their physical locations with experiential activations and one-of-a-kind personalized experiences. The retailers who have already begun to adapt to and embrace the digital cornucopia will survive while others will continue to lag behind and almost certainly not recover.

E-commerce/m-commerce has made it really easy for consumers, thereby creating challenges that can be turned into opportunities by traditional retail stores – the simple truth is that by using their physical locations, human one-on-one sales and support capabilities, retailers actually have the competitive edge if their management teams are digitally inclined (or at least open minded) and can execute well (or hire the right people to do so).

It is critical that these companies think beyond their stale business models by combining their specific, and often unique, assets with existing consumer digital trends to create an awesome “1 + 1 = 3” equation. When correctly done, these companies will have the upper hand on their competition and will be able to innovate rather than operate in survival mode. It’s a great greenfield opportunity.