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Digital Darwinism Is e-tail the death of retail as we know it?

By Craig Richardson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every important invention, from the refrigerator to therailroad, has caused economic pain for some. The refrigeratordecimated an entire industry built around harvesting ice from theNorthern states; the railroad spelled the end for many laketransportation companies. The late economist Joseph Schumpeterpointed to the inevitable "creative destruction" left inthe wake of these revolutionary inventions.

As the next millennium approaches, yet another groundbreakinginvention has left some businesses startlingly vulnerable: theInternet. With the Web dominating the future of commerce,traditional businesses will need to struggle to adapt, transformand compete against their swift-footed Internet competitors -- orpossibly face their death.

"The biggest challenge facing small businesses in the newdigital age is not technology but a combination of inertia and alack of marketing clout," says Geoffrey Ramsey, a statisticsanalyst at eMarketer, a New York City company that tracks Internetmarketing trends, research news and statistics online.

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