Computers and advanced technology have brought universal change to business practices of the past. Today, the computerization of society has enabled consumers to make purchases and complete other business transactions with increased speed and convenience. Nevertheless, the same technological tools have adversely affected certain types of businesses -- making previous methods of commerce and service obsolete.
U.S. Postal Service
With the proliferation of email and cell phones, including text and instant messaging services, consumers no longer rely on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to communicate with friends and family. Instead of buying stamps to mail a bill payment, computer owners with an Internet connection can pay their bills online. The USPS reported that between 2000 and 2009, the number of mail collection boxes decreased by half nationally. To recoup lost revenues, the USPS has raised the price of stamps over the years.
Travelers looking to secure transportation and lodging reservations are no longer forced to visit a local travel agent. With improvements in technology, travelers have booked more trips using online travel companies; in fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that since 1999, the travel agency industry has lost more than 75,000 jobs as more travel is booked online. In California, Orange County's largest travel agencies saw a significant decline in business during 2009.
Online retailers have crippled brick-and-mortar stores when it comes to book sales. In addition, new devices such as the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle provide electronic alternatives to how readers enjoy books. As a result, traditional bookstores with mounting financial troubles are on the decline. In February 2011, Borders filed for bankruptcy after making job cuts and closing more than 200 stores. At the time, Borders was the country's second-largest bookstore chain.
Advanced technology and computers erased necessary trips to the video store to rent movies and video games. As a result, in January 2010, the video rental chain Blockbuster closed more than 250 locations. Two main competitors are replacing its lost market share: Redbox, which is a kiosk movie rental service, and Netflix, which offers on-demand streaming over the Internet and movie rentals by mail.