A common advantage that keeps brick and mortar stores hopeful of the fast-paced future is the fact that customers who shop in person, don’t want to wait 2 days or longer for items to arrive – such as those ordering from Amazon.com or a similar e-commerce store. Amazon has since started to offer same-day delivery in some cities and shows no signs of slowing down on their delivery time advancements.
We’ve seen the fastest delivery times recently in the grocery sector however. In most major cities, there are several options to get your groceries in just a few hours. In addition to regular grocery stores offering quick deliver, Amazon’s grocery division, Amazon Fresh, is also available in major cities around the world. They’ve acquired Wholefoods to help them with this.
Some may think grocery delivery is different because there are less items than a typical warehouse-style store. Comparatively speaking, Amazon Fresh in Germany has 85,000 SKUs available for order which is creeping up to the 100,000 items available in a regular-sized Wal-Mart. The difference is Amazon Fresh delivers their items to your doorstep within 2-3 hours.
In the future, we could see delivery of household items be as quick as calling an Uber or ordering Uber Eats from any restaurant around town. This means an order from a catalog of 85,000 items online could be picked, packed, picked up and delivered in under half an hour. Variety stores like 7-Eleven have already started offering their catalog of confectionary on apps like Uber Eats meaning you can order a $2 Slurpee or a Kit-Cat chocolate bar and have it delivered to your house in under 15 minutes for $1.99.
Within the next decade or two, we could likely see an estimation of delivery, in minutes, shown on each product page on a retailer’s website. It would say, “Buy this now and receive it in 22 minutes.” This kind of calculation would be based on the GPS location of the next available delivery driver, the current backlog at the store, the current stock, traffic data, and the customer’s distance from the store, among other things. This is something highly achievable that any skilled software team could develop immediately.
For this to be a reality, for Amazon for example, they would need warehouses in every city and town. Right now, they don’t have warehouses in every sizable city. Their subsidiary, Amazon Fresh, is only available in major US cities and a few major cities outside of the US. However, some retailers already have a leg up on the e-commerce giant as they already have warehouse-style stores in every town big enough to be worth serving, such as Wal-Mart, Target and Canadian Tire. All that’s left is to develop the technology and systems to offer the doorstep delivery service that Amazon continues to capitalize on.
Retail stores who plan to offer delivery in under half an hour would be wise to work with pre-existing driver networks like Uber who already have over 5 million drivers working for them and an integration with such could shave years off deployment.
Retailers don’t have to partner with a driver network either. They could start their own local delivery service with a driver delivering to the local geo that the store serves. In an urban area, the area served may only be 5 kilometers due to higher traffic, slower speed limits and more stores, where in a more rural setting, 10 or 20 kilometers might be the limit.
Some big box stores have folded while others continue to thrive. The exact difference between those that succeed and those that don’t is unclear to my naive mind. What is clear is that big box stores offer more product for a better price and should be able to continue to succeed by beating out smaller retail stores who don’t offer those advantages – and with proper adoption to modern technology have an opportunity to continue to thrive for decades to come.