As someone who has been doing this for some time now, with the exception of fresh groceries which I still get from my favorite store, Bel Air, this article from New Geography resonates.
I was at a friend’s house when she got a delivery of groceries. The boxes arrived at her door from one of the many new services that allow customers to shop online. Fresh fruit, veggies, meat, wine, eggs, cheese, milk, Christmas wreathes, and fresh cut flowers. She just pushed a few buttons and voila!
I happen to have another friend in the neighborhood who works at this particular company so I get an occasional glimpse into the evolving business model from her perspective. San Francisco is a test market. Like so many new companies that launch here, once the concept is proven and refined more investment is gathered and a nationwide expansion ramps up in segments. Some companies dream of being the next Airbnb or Lyft. Others just want to make themsleves appealing enough for an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and cash out. Others want to be acquired by an existing established conglomerate. In many cases the physical assets of a start up are irrelevant (or nonexistent) since the technology and data bases are what others buy and build on.
Parallel to these experiments in direct retail on the interwebs are complimentary start ups organized around “last mile” delivery mechanisms. With so much stuff traveling from Point A to Point B traditional package services are being disrupted or added on to with specialized options and increased local capacity. These too will eventually evolve into larger national systems one way or another.
It’s worth noting that my friend who now orders her groceries on demand as if food were Netflix (another example of retail that migrated to the virtual universe) lives exactly one block from both a Safeway and a Whole Foods not to mention dozens of smaller shops of all kinds. Physical proximity to retail has nothing to do with what’s driving her to shop online. Neither is price.
Two blocks away is a weekly farmers market that sells absolutely everything including produce, bread, honey, meat, and seafood. The quality on offer is a cartoon extravaganza of local, organic, biodynamic, grass fed, free range, blah, blah, blah. Quality isn’t an issue in the neighborhood.
Increasingly the retail experience has become less and less about personal service and more about chain stores pushing more work off on to technology and their customers. It’s all a desperate attempt to cut costs and reduce labor. In recent months I’ve found myself waiting in line with items to purchase while too few employees struggled to manage too many technical procedures. More than a few times I’ve looked at what I had in my basket, realized the time and effort weren’t worth it, and simply walked out of the store without buying anything. The quality of the experience has declined significantly.
Retrieved December 27, 2018 from http://www.newgeography.com/content/005834-the-new-retail-gird-your-loins