Will bricks and mortar stack-up in the future.
The guessing might now be over because although the future is still not exactly becoming crystal clear we are at least getting a little more clarity. What's prompted this is a flurry of activity by retailers. In the space of a month we've seen impressive announcements and launches of new store formats.
House of Fraser was quick off the mark with its announcement of a Click and Collect store - that will be a fraction of the size of its regular outlets and will partly be used as a collection point for goods ordered online.
We also had the announcement of the opening of the first Simply Be store from N. Brown that looks set to be a pioneering outlet that mixes physical goods with the latest digital technologies.
On top of this, Ocado recently opened a store in the One New Change development in the City of London that enables shoppers to scan barcodes alongside images of a small range of products and then have them delivered to their homes in the evening.
Ocado virtual store: a stretch to make work?
Close on its heels was an announcement from Amazon that it is to open a number of 'collection points' in prominent shopping centres - including One New Change. These will consist of a row of lockers that will house products thst have been ordered online and are awaiting collection by their owners.
And finally, we've had Morrison's announce it is to introduce internet kiosks into 28 stores that will sell goods from Kiddicare, which it bought earlier this year. This is the first step in its non-food plans.
The common factor among these various initiatives is that the lines between the internet and physical space is blurring.
While this is very exciting for consumers, who are being increasingly accommodated in their desire to shop across channels, it represents a headache for many retailers because it highlights just how many thousands of traditional stores are now a potentially redundant commodity.