Jason Del Ray argues at Re/code that Amazon’s dominance and increasing investments in logistics are giving delivery startups a market opportunity in the US:
To stay alive or thrive, traditional retailers are going to have to attempt to eventually match this delivery prowess, and only a handful have the logistical know-how to even come close.
Enter Deliv, Postmates and Uber, all private companies competing to be the outsourced delivery operation for a wide set of big retailers.
Food deliveries are probably the most common type of same-day delivery, meaning Postmates has been able to build up volume and geographic coverage thanks to the frequency of these transactions.
This year, though, it has landed several big retail partners, including Apple and Walgreens, in addition to deals with big food-and-drink establishments Starbucks and Chipotle. It is now a known, credible brand in the retail world, which means it is a dangerous player in this space.
We already mentioned Postmates and its B2B API in talking about the battle for the last mile.
There is certainly something to Del Ray’s argument but long term this dynamic of course will matter more for lowering barriers for other (especially smaller) online retailers as retail as a whole is moving away from the traditional players.
Going further a big global player like Uber could build their own marketplace on the back of its car fleet and the delivery infrastructure it represents.
Own what is hard to copy, commoditize the rest.
It is thus not surprising that Rakuten, the dominant online retail marketplace in Japan, has earlier this year invested a significant amount into Uber competitor Lyft. But it is interesting that Rakuten is not going more heavily into cooperating with and/or investing in P2P on-demand delivery startups to further its internationalization.1 In the end this is going to be a platform/marketplace play.
- Especially now that Lyft has for the time being abandonded all plans to go into markets outside the US Rakuten’s Lyft investment does not look so good for Rakuten which could use some help in its European markets. This might be one reason why Rakuten recently also backed a Spanish and Latin American taxi app. ↩