Major retailers are quickly rolling out same-day delivery in many cities in the United States. Someone can buy a coffeemaker or shampoo online and have it on their doorstep within hours.
Amazon now offers same-day delivery in 12 cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles, for orders made before noon and is introducing a private fleet of delivery trucks. Google Shopping Express—which acts as a delivery liaison for major retailers such as Costco, REI and Home Depot—is also quickly building out a same-day delivery network and already offers in four major cities, including New York. Even ridesharing company Uber is getting into the delivery game, as are Wal-Mart and Target.
It’s a rather worrisome trend for many local, independently owned retailers—whether gift shops or clothing stores—which seemingly don’t have the vast distribution networks or large staffs to pull off such a feat. But the reality is that many consumers will likely start to embrace—even expect—the ability to easily shop from the comforts of home and know they’ll arrive within 12 hours.
The question: Should local businesses even try to compete on ultra-fast delivery?
Technology writer Farhad Manjoo predicted in a 2012 Slate article that physical retailers would be “hosed” by Amazon’s same-day delivery plans. He said consumers will increasingly fall in love with the convenience of shopping at home and the immediate gratification of seeing packages on their door step. “Order something in the morning and get it later in the day, without doing anything else. Why would you ever shop anywhere else?” Manjoo writes.
If such predictions are correct, it suggests that small local retailers better be ready to compete on same-day delivery.
A new crop of local same-day delivery services is cropping up, such as WeDeliver, UberRUSH and Deliv, that aim to help local businesses offer quick delivery to their customers. The companies enlist locals looking to make some extra money by making deliveries, whether via bike or car. Deliv, for example, offers same-day delivery starting at $6.25 per delivery within a 15-mile radius.
Philip Dumontet, chief executive of DASHED, a restaurant delivery company in the Northeast, offers tips in The Washington Post, on how small businesses can compete on same-day service.
At the same time, same-day delivery just may not be financially feasible for some small businesses. The good news is that small businesses can deploy other tactics—such as banding together—to create awareness about the benefits of consumers shopping locally. A recent survey by the Institute for Local Reliance found that “buy local” campaigns that encourage consumers to shop at local businesses have generated a 7 percent increase within communities that initiate such campaigns.
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