The pandemic has changed many things. We work differently, dress more casually and are not spending as much time in coffee shops. We are buying different discretionary products and doing so online more than ever.
These changing habits mean that what we are buying, and where, has changed. After years of being told that the 'local town centre' as a shopping location was dead and that all of the shops were moving away - the changes in working patterns as a result of the pandemic showed that people are more focused on smaller local stores than they are on the huge malls or city centre shopping. People still want those things, but the time and balance has shifted.
We continue to see the acceleration of plans to keep stores relevant. After what has felt like an eternity of separation, people crave human contact, but want it to be safe. They also want to be able to seamlessly buy goods online and return in store, to click and collect, they want it all and want it now. This includes quick delivery, which may be fulfilled from a local store or a fulfilment centre. Most big retailers will do next day deliveries to their stores, often at no cost, making the free delivery to store a clever mechanic to maximise the chances of further spending as the customers collect their items.
While 2021 has seen the expansion of home delivery services, and the likes of Uber delivering a wide range of goods, there can be no reason why this cannot be extended further. We believe we will start to see a trend for a wider range of convenience products and even fast fashion delivered from local stores and fulfilment centres as an expansion of the current last mile delivery offering. Deliveries could go from 24 hours to 24 minutes by utilising a more localised supply chain. The customer wins, the retailer gets more sales and the platform and its riders have a new market, all of which can be scaled up quickly and at a relatively low cost.