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Ecommerce as logistics

Benedict Evans asks some great questions in this recent post about ecommerce penetration. Instead of just looking at the product itself and/or the way in which we buy it (online versus offline, for example), he focuses on the logistics model that accompanies the transaction.

What can be parceled and shipped via Amazon? What can be delivered using a bicycle? What requires some sort of special delivery or collection method?

The point he is making is that different things need to happen for a new fridge to make it to your home, compared to say a Chipotle burrito. And these differences matter when it comes to how we should be thinking about ecommerce and the real estate in our cities.

Personally, I find it helpful to reframe the questions in this way.

Here’s an excerpt from the post:

But if I buy online and then drive to the store to collect it, is that different to phoning and reserving it? We didn’t have a statistics category for ‘telephone ordering’. If I use an app to order pizza instead of phoning the restaurant, has that become ‘ecommerce’ or is it still pizza delivery? 30 years ago, if I drove to Walmart instead of walking to a neighbourhood store, or drove to Best Buy instead of going to a department store, we didn’t call that ‘car-based commerce’. So is this a tech question, or a retailing question, or an urbanism question?

For the full thing, click here.

Chart: Benedict Evans

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