AmazonFresh brings new player into world of online shopping and societal change
By Michael J Morris
After reading an article in Canadian Business about the rollout of AmazonFresh, I wondered to myself if I would buy my groceries online for same day delivery.
Then I thought about the implications for existing bricks and mortar grocery stores and the wider issue of the effect on communities, should AmazonFresh catch on and online shopping generally continue to increase in popularity.
More empty buildings such as already exist in Cranbrook and upheavals in how we live, work and play for sure.
For example, I often w0nder how we ever survived before texting. This phenomenon really struck me a few years ago when I was in California, and two of the people with me were absorbed in continuous texting. Just one step from shopping online!
And before I go any further, yes, I would buy groceries online, like I do for anything else that is now available, all other things being equal, .
Forrester Research has predicted that in 2014 online consumer spending will reach $250 billion US and account for eight percent of all retail sales in the United States.
Yes, quite a way to go before the bricks and mortar disappear but our tendency as a society seems to not think in terms of the future is now. Methinks the time has come for some real visionary thinking and acting to define and implement a new vision of a sustainable society
The Canadian Business article notes that " The big acquisitions made by Loblaw and Sobeys this summer suggest grocers are furiously bulking up to fend off competition from American retailers such as Walmart and Target. But they may also be watching a different threat on the southern horizon."
The acquisitions were Shoppers Drug Mart by Loblaw and Safeway by Sobeys.
The article goes on to say that since 2007, Amazon has been offering an online grocery and delivery service in Seattle called AmazonFresh and the company expanded to parts of Los Angeles, and it's rumoured that it will push into 20 urban areas next year, some of them outside of the U.S.
Observers note AmazonFresh isn't about boosting profitability for the world's premier e-tailer but a way to get inside customers' homes more frequently, in hopes of selling them more high-margin goods, according to Canadian Business.
Amazon also has been building distribution centres in urban markets and has its own fleet of trucks to ensure same day delivery. The article quotes Paul Weswick, head of retail practice at Oliver Wyman consulting firm that it doesn't take much reduction of volume in stores to cause a lot of fallout for the industry. The firm put out a brief speculating that at least one in eight supermarkets in the United States could ultimately close as result of AmazonFresh's rollout.
It remains to be seen in Canada as AmazonFresh in due course will likely only be available in cities like Vancouver and Toronto in the beginning.
But, never underestimate Amazon.
It appears that the major players in Canada are increasing their online shopping presence, although not specifically for groceries. A quick search showed that Walmart, Target, Safeway, Sears and Sobeys and others have much more than static web sites, and are adding to their online presence by creating online stores for consumers.
The big players are also improving their social media strategies with a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
On the local scene I am delighted to see that the Kootenay Ice have increased their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Good stuff.
It seems to me that before we experience "le deluge" that the digital society is bringing, maybe we should think about livable communities by having conversations based on a formula PERSSEEATS + G = Community. I picked it up (and adapted it a bit) from Dr Charles W Paape, an eminent history professor closely associated with the University of Chicago who taught me American History. It stands for Political, Economic, Religious, Social, Sports, Education, Environment, Arts (Culture), Technology, Science plus Geography equals the sum of the community, and you really can't have one without the other. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.