A Love Affair with Convenience

Amazon delivered 2.5 billion packages in 2019. That’s not far behind the world’s top shipping companies – FedEx (3 billion) and UPS (4.7 billion). Looking ahead, Morgan Stanley estimates that Amazon’s package volume will eclipse both FedEx and UPS in 2022, according to Emma Cosgrove of SupplyChainDive.

We could write this off as just another sign of Amazon’s dominance. Or, we could view it as an emerging threat to brands like UPS, FedEx, and DHL.

But is that what this is all about? Not really.

This happened because Amazon set out to create customer delight. To win more shopping occasions, they pushed for one-day shipping on as many Prime orders as they could… and to achieve that, they had to create their own fulfillment system – one that could keep up. But in the end, this is about you, and me, and the millions of us who did it with each purchase they made.

Amazon’s rise in the shipping category is actually a sign of our love affair with convenience. One-click ordering. One-day shipping. One source for everything from A-Z.

We all love the idea of shopping on charming main streets, and of supporting our local businesses. BUT… as we’ve seen, in most cases we love convenience even more. Right or wrong, I’m the guy who chooses convenience nearly every time, and saves that time-consuming shopping trip on Main Street for Small Business Saturday.

So how can smaller brands win a consumer’s heart when Amazon is across the room? Go slow.

What if your product wasn’t special because it could arrive on a doorstep in two days, but because you’ll spend more than two days making it? Or how about because it will be there in two weeks because some stuff is worth waiting for. Or maybe you can beat Amazon because certain things are better when they are fast and cheap – like the outfit I just bought my son for the school concert which he’ll wear once before outgrowing it. BUT…other things aren’t. Like a handmade sweater…or a gift that shows more thought than just clicking a link on a Wish List.

Beating Amazon might just require a focus on how to be the opposite of them…be slow, be thoughtful, be limited, or be otherwise special.

Just thinking out loud…