Local Commerce is the Future of E-commerce

Once upon a time, about 20 years ago, nearly everyone got everything they needed from the stores near their homes. Today, it is not unusual to place an order for an item that is on the other side of the country or the world and have it in your hands in a few days. A few days is no longer fast enough and local merchants are looking for ways to reclaim their business. A new paradigm in delivery and online shopping is emerging and online is going local. Shopify has teamed up with Uber to provide same day delivery. The Shopify website (www.shopify.com) offers UberRUSH, a same day delivery service from Uber. They make it simple for the merchant and the customer. According the website, a customer can choose same day delivery. The merchant can simply pack up the order and click a button in their Shopify account. An Uber driver is alerted and will arrive at the merchant’s location. The driver takes the package and delivers it immediately to the customer. Amazon has created a similar idea, Amazon Flex. Currently only planned near major Amazon hubs (Seattle, New York, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Austin, Indianapolis, Portland, Atlanta), the program appears to pay contract drivers to pick items up from Amazon and deliver them to a customer’s house. Drivers can designate a shift; the length of the shift will govern the distance that they are asked to drive. The program is in its infancy and some details remain to be disclosed, but it will change Amazon from an online giant to a local merchant. In the 90’s, companies like Kozmo.com and Webvan offered services that delivered everything from food to movies directly to your door within minutes. The problem that those companies had was low usage rates. Since few people had Internet connectivity and fewer were comfortable ordering online, they had only a few customers, making each drive more expensive. Today, a company like Postmate (www.postmates.com), can consolidate orders and reduce costs. Since everyone has an internet connected phone in their pocket and even our TVs show our email, the number of potential users has grown exponentially. Also, the move from employees to independent drivers has changed the landscape significantly. Postmate allows local merchants to send their goods via a local courier quickly and easily. This will allow a more level playing field against Amazon and Shopify stores. Apparently, any merchant selling any product can use Postmate. The world is changing quickly. After we all stop being so in love with the new and shiny, we begin to miss the good local foods and goods that we are used to. With the new movement to make online shopping more local, we may be able to get our local greasy spoon’s breakfast delivered right to the office quickly and easily.

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