It is a well lamented fact that the brick-and-mortar retail industry faces a crisis. The fundamentals in big, bellwether markets are nigh-on disastrous, and have been since the retail apocalypse began in earnest in 2015. This onslaught has brought many business leaders and policymakers to advocate for protectionist action — yet it is with technology, not tax, that the solution lies. The rot is setting in far and wide. In the U.S., a stock price crash at the tail end of the year affected retailers across the board, underlining the fragility of the industry. Over 8,000 brand chain stores had closed their doors in 2017, compared with 6,000 closures in 2008. In Britain, Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley warned that the High Street risks being “smashed to pieces,” saying, “November 2018 was the worst on record, unbelievably bad.” And it’s not just the Anglosphere that's suffering — Europe is struggling too. Seven of its nine major economies posted negative year-on-year footfall growth in Q4 of 2017. And in Sweden, for example, world famous H&M closed 170 stores in 2018.