I Need It Today

Getting Down to Business

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By Cathy Yen

Executive Director OPRF Chamber of Commerce

If Amazon Now can deliver what you want this afternoon, without you having to go out in the snow, how much marketing would we need to do to convince you that instead of clicking away on your phone, you should pull on your boots, get in the car and head over to Lake Street?

Maybe we just need to figure out how to make it easy to shop Oak Park online and deliver your purchases faster.

Same-day delivery is the latest threat to Main Street USA, our idyllic belief that small town commercial districts should be filled with owner-operated boutiques and mom and pop retailers.

The ubiquitous national merchants compete on price, convenience and trusted brands. 

Brick-and-mortar stores offer customer experience, service and speed.  If you were willing to get in your car, you had your purchase that day. With same day delivery, however, online retailers can get your order to you within hours – for a reasonable fee. 

Amazon Now, Google Express, Deliv and Postmates offer same-day delivery for retail merchandise.  Even Uber, the crowd-sourced rideshare service, wants to deliver packages locally.

These venture capital-funded entrepreneurs need profit and scale.  They start big, operating first in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, servicing national brands such as Best Buy, Express, and Williams Sonoma.  By the time they figure out how to get my Lake Street purchase to south Oak Park in one afternoon, the independent retailers might be long gone.

Is this something we can figure out?  It sure seems like GrubHub is working for restaurants.  Thanks to this local food ordering app, my daughter and her friends spent last summer eating food from Oak Park restaurants without ever interrupting their Netflix marathon to leave the house.  Can we figure out a similar model for local independent retail?

I am suggesting a big project, needing resources and collaboration and operational change.  But maybe it's worth investigating.  If we wait for the big delivery models to roll out service to the suburbs, it might be too late for our independents as same-day convenience takes hold of the American consumer psyche.

Email: cyen@oprfchamber.org Twitter: @OPRFChamber

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