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What we can Learn from Failed Businesses and 'Brand Digitalization'

e-Commerce is taking the world by storm, regardless of the pandemic; we here at Black Mountain Fulfillment believe that this was only going to happen sooner or later even without the push the pandemic has had on it.

There are a lot of brands that unfortunately met their demise because of the rise of digitalization and e-commerce standards. Sure, maybe their business strategies ultimately caused their demise but for some of these brands, we beg to differ because of the potential risk of their goods and services now being offered in different ways; ways that involve online methods like eCommerce shopping and digitization.


Borders was a bookstore that originated in Michigan in 1971. At its peak, it held around 19,000 employees with over 600 stores nationwide in the United States. So what went wrong? Digital eBooks and devices like the iPad or the Kindle being able to hold an incredible amount of books in the palm of your hand and for a fraction of the cost, and being efficient for the environment instead of the use of paper is responsible. These products are still sold today and are a pretty popular item in the eCommerce market. Clearly, if Amazon and Apple saw the potential behind it, it was only a matter of time before Borders shuttered its doors.

For book readers, however, alternatives like Barnes and Noble or Mom and Pop shops still exist to assist!

Toys R Us

Toys are always evolving, as youthful children grow up, their desire and the generalized idea of a toy changes. Cloth-based dolls had modernized into Barbie dolls and action figures, Thomas the engine building blocks turned into Lego sets. Movie memorabilia turned into Video Games where we could relive the movie as if we were actually there. Toys R Us was founded in 1957 and it went through shifts as it tried to stick with the times. Creating knock-off brands like Kids R Us and Babies R Us. Unfortunately for them, as eCommerce rose to popularity The Toys R Us company filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and closed all of its 3,000 stores including its subsidiaries. Toys are easily recommended and purchased online now, there really is no necessary need to go to a physical store when the toy in question can just be delivered straight to your door.

We do want to shed light though that in recent news, Toys R Us was recently bought by a new company and will soon be making a partnership to run inside Macy’s stores across the nation and eventually in Europe as of May 2022.


GameStop is still around. But it is nothing from what it used to be. Gamestop is currently fighting every day to stay on top of its “game”. With its most recent move being earlier this year as the company plans to shift more to retail products like Funkos, Action Figures, and Memorabilia as they believe the only reason people would still go into the store would be to buy commodity items quickly rather than wait shipping times from eCommerce based outlets. The company also devotes a lot of its revenue behind currency-based methods. With a lot of equity in NFTs and cryptocurrency. They also own a subsidiary brand in the form of wallet protection for the aforementioned currency methods. However, at one point Gamestop had closed a lot of its retail locations due to the fact that eCommerce had taken a really sizeable chunk of its sales. Games are easily digitally purchased through consoles and networks now and at way more affordable prices. It’s a no-brainer that GameStop almost bit the bullet.

Blockbuster Video

Blockbuster had a total of 9,000 stores and 90,000 employees, it was a retail chain of stores that sold on-demand video rentals to consumers with its policy being if it were returned the video/movie would cost a fraction of what it would if you were to buy it out for keeps. Blockbuster, unfortunately, closed its doors as movies became less expensive and were more commonly purchased. The digital age of piracy also was in effect at the time which did hurt some of its sales. But ultimately the real culprit behind Blockbuster's untimely end? Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+, and many other streaming services. Why pay for a movie in an old format on a used product when you could just digitally watch anything at a fraction of the cost.

Netflix originally offered Disk rentals that instead of being found in a store were browsed by an online catalog that would eventually be shipped via mail and post offices that had a return window. The catalog proved effective enough that it funded the research and budget needed to reinvent their website and allow for digital streaming of their catalog rather than shipment of a product. This new business plan proved so efficient that other companies followed suit like Disney, Paramount, Microsoft, and many others. We are now in the digital streaming age and every company is on board.

What can we learn

If your business model is of a physical nature, you got to ask yourself. Can this be reimagined digitally? Can this stand the tests of time? Will it still be a viable solution for the next decade? Or will it be replaced by better alternatives or worse, will it be digitalized for the sake of eCommerce?

Here at Black Mountain, if we know your product is revolutionary and is worth the investment, we can provide you the tools you’d need to be able to effectively get your product to your consumer in the nick of time! Come call us or request a quote today by heading over to our contact page!

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