The on-demand economy is disrupting many industries but more than anything it is changing consumer's perception of service and reliability. Consumers want here and now and will potentially pay a premium for that convenience. Amazon has been a leader with their Amazon Prime membership, offering free 2 day shipping on the majority of their inventory.
By delivering goods to the consumer when and where they need them, on-demand business models require greater efficiencies out of the retailer. As consumers seek to become more efficient with their time, the desire to meander and browse the grocery store or shopping mall becomes less appealing. Consumers are much more direct in their shopping habits and retailers will need to adjust.
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Part of the adjustment will be streamlined inventory systems. We are seeing retailers leverage the click-and-collect model; utilizing store inventory to fulfill e-commerce orders rather than relying on a centralized warehouse. The next evolution in this model will be to leverage the sharing economy to deliver those goods in a timely and efficient manner.
The uniting factor between all three models is loyalty to the retailer/brand and convenience to the consumer. Start-ups have proven the viability, now we wait to see if the large retailers are nimble enough to react.
Commentary by Kyle Fugere, an entrepreneur and investor for dunnhumby Ventures, a corporate venture-capital fund and subsidiary of UK supermarket chain Tesco. The mandate of dunnhumby Ventures is to identify and invest in innovative retail technologies before they become broadly available in the marketplace. Prior to his work at dunnhumby Ventures, Fugere worked at Tollman Capital partners, started two tech companies — small business blog service WaterMyBlog and document-solutions company P2E — and operated a development project in sub-Saharan Africa. Follow him on Twitter @kfugere.
Disclosure: Neither Kyle Fugere nor dunnhumby Ventures have invested in any of the companies mentioned in this article.
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