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July 30, 2013
Local lifestyle couriers may be the death of nationwide delivery services.

Recently we blogged that the future of logistics is people on bikes. In other words—messengers. We mentioned a new hosted cloud-based business application that enables communication between these “lifestyle couriers” and their retailer employers. It’s all about same-day fulfillment, and that’s what Google, Amazon, eBay, Wal-Mart and Target want to offer you. Don’t think the big parcel carriers haven’t noticed.

The most frightening thing in the world is seeing a threat coming at you and having to scramble for a defense. We’ve been reading about this threat to traditional logistics providers in all the papers—online and in print. Most recently Amazon’s been making news with their mad rush to expand their network of distribution centers. They seem to be driving toward an "all logistics is local" approach. The Wall Street Journal just reported that Amazon has openings for 5,000 jobs at 17 facilities—and both of those numbers are destined to rise.

“The company has been adding warehouses at a furious pace to keep up with skyrocketing sales, as well as to add new services such as fresh grocery delivery,” WSJ reported yesterday.

Another sign of the times that we could read in the tealeaves was when the Messenger Courier Association of America changed its name to CLDA, the Customized Logistics and Delivery Association. That’s a pretty big jump in scope, and it was a topic of conversation during MH&L’s latest Editorial Advisory Board meeting—which we just concluded and will be the cover story of our September issue.

But just to give you a taste of what we discussed, one of our board members noted that local couriers cost about 30 percent less than the best discount you can get from an established parcel carrier. This will lead to the demise of nationwide delivery services, he predicted. And whom do we have to thank for giving us the logistics business model of the future? The pizza delivery guy.

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