Retailers Shape the Way We Shop - and Think - One Delivery at a Time

We live in a world where most anything can be found in a quick Google search, and this has created in us the desire for answers – immediately. Once we’ve made up our minds, we want it now – and that applies especially to retail.

When Amazon Prime was released in 2005, we had no idea what a game-changer it would be. Ask any of Prime’s tens of millions of members today, and you’ll quickly see how Amazon forced retailers nationwide to compete with them or die out. In 2017, IBM and Total Retail found that 90% of retailers believe consumers’ expectations for order delivery have changed because of Amazon alone. But how, exactly? And are other retailers keeping up? To answer these questions, we looked at three areas where we see brands maximizing delivery today: delivery subscriptions, everyday shopping and grocery shopping.

Delivery Subscriptions

Delivery subscriptions cover a variety of industries and take all the work out of ordering items you know you’ll need on a frequent basis. For a set price, boxes show up at your door each week, month or year with everything from cleaning supplies to new clothes.

A few companies have found their niche in subscriptions, one of the first being Netflix. Since 1998 you’ve been able to get DVDs sent to your mailbox for a flat fee every month. This concept has now evolved into companies like Ipsy, the go-to online retailer for personalized makeup boxes for just $10 a month; Stitch Fix, which sends you clothes that you can wear and keep or borrow for a while or Blue Apron, helping busy families at home with pre-portioned meal ingredient kits. According to Hitwise, beauty and food account for 35 and 33 percent, respectively, of subscription box sites. Monthly subscriptions perfectly cater to the immediate needs of today’s consumer by never letting people run out of what they want in the first place.

Everyday Shopping

From its humble beginning as an online textbook retailer, Amazon has led the way for many years in everyday shopping from an online perspective. They’ve not only given consumers fast delivery; they continually increase their selection. Amazon has even gone so far as to test out same-day and two-hour delivery in select markets. 

If you’ve kept an eye on recent headlines, you know that the nation’s largest retailers are joining the delivery game as fast as they can to keep up. Walmart took a swing at Amazon with free two-day shipping on any order over $35. Their CMO said, “No membership fee because, you know, we just don’t think you should have to pay $99 a year for the privilege of free shipping.” Target also made a bold move late into 2017 with the acquisition of Shipt, originally a grocery delivery service that is now being integrated for same-day delivery out of every Target store. Needless to say, Amazon isn’t the only brand fighting to get their hands on your digital wallet, and these companies will keep making online shopping easier and easier to get your attention.

Grocery Shopping

The final area we see delivery maximized is grocery shopping. The average American makes three 41-minute trips to the grocery store every two weeks (eMarketer, 2017). An hour out of your week doesn’t seem like much, but that’s over 52 hours a year buying (not prepping or eating) your meals. Similar to monthly subscriptions, grocery delivery services eliminate your weekly trip by dropping it off on your doorstep. Since most companies allow recurring orders, if you want the same thing every week there’s no work in it for you.

Grocery delivery isn’t a new concept – milk was delivered by horse drawn carriages since before the United States was founded – but it certainly has evolved. Companies like Schwan’s built their business around delivery trucks that bring frozen foods to families around the country. While many companies have found great success in solely providing grocery delivery, even more brands such as Kroger, Costco, Target and Walmart are starting to sell products from their physical shelves through online channels. Even Amazon has expanded to offer a wide selection of groceries. Don’t expect physical stores to go away, but when it comes to getting groceries without sacrificing your time, delivery is the way to go. Two things we know will never change: there will never be more than 24 hours in a day, and we’ll always have to eat.

2018 is sure to be another big year of change for online shopping and delivery services. Brands will continue to find new ways to cater to the ever-evolving consumer and meet needs even more immediately than in the past. Amazon, and other quickly rising retailers, are helping shape the way we shop – and think – one delivery at a time.

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