Last week, singer-songwriter Beyonce Knowles unleashed her fifth album on an unsuspecting world.
Unsuspecting because there was no pre-promotion publicity and no mention beforehand that she had a 14-track album to release this year. The news generated 1.2 million tweets on the social-media platform within 12 hours. In the United States, 80,000 copies were sold in the first three hours and 430,000 on the first day.
The twist, as most people know by now, is that Beyonce released the album exclusively on iTunes. In fact, the first physical copy of her album, simply titled Beyonce, will be made available in stores only seven days later, tomorrow.
So what does it say when a star decides to snub the very stores that helped sell her first four albums, so that she could create a bigger and more powerful impact online?
She is not the first singer to have done so, but she is arguably one of the biggest. And if her fellow singers opt to go on this route, how long will it be before someone else of her stature decides to release a digital-only album?
In this world of online and digital sales, this practice is not unheard of. Some video games are available only in digital form, while some fashion brands have been known to stock designs for clothes and accessories for sale only in online stores.
But this article is not another piece about the rising power of online and digital sales. Instead, it is to highlight that, no matter what the future holds, the game has changed for brick-and-mortar stores. Forever.
Singapore is a prime example of how consumers have changed and are continuing to change their shopping habits.
Despite the opening of mall after mall here, online sales have been increasing rapidly.
According to PayPal, there was a 12 per cent year-on-year increase in purchases from overseas sellers by Singapore buyers between October and December last year, compared with the same period in 2011.