Online vs. brick and mortar: A different competition than you think

(NBC News file photo)
Chris Clackum

NEW YORK (NBC News) - Sears, Kmart and Macy's are among the retail giants announcing massive store closures this year, with online competition getting the brunt of the blame.

Some experts believe online businesses are forcing brick and mortars to flex the big advantage they have: customer service.

"You can buy almost anything online that you can buy at Lowes, but why would you buy it at Lowe's? Because you've got somebody at the appliance section telling you what the difference is," Queens University Professor Steven Cox told NBC News.

Cox also believes reducing the size of stores could be a way to adapt.

"You'll probably see companies like Macy's and Sears either downsize or maybe they aren't going to be here in 15 years."