Have you ever stopped to think about how much your buying habits have changed since the beginning of 2020? During the COVID-19 pandemic, two factors converged and radically transformed how people bought products. Consumers wanted to buy things without leaving their homes – or at least without leaving their cars. Sellers, meanwhile, needed to do everything possible to ensure that they’d be able to continue selling products while cities were placed on lockdown and consumers tried to stay at home as much as possible.
Now that we’re approaching the end of 2021, it’s interesting to note that while the world is doing its best to get back on the road to economic normalcy, many of the new services and features that businesses introduced in 2020 are still in place. Thanks to recent inflation, it probably feels like you’re paying more for just about everything that you buy. The good news, though, is that businesses are still trying to make the buying process as easy and convenient as it can possibly be. Anything that makes shopping easier is a great thing for consumers, so let’s hope that some of these new consumer trends remain in place long after COVID is over.
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Much Faster Shipping for Online Orders
One of the things you’ve probably noticed over the past year is that the delivery times for online orders have gotten shorter than ever. Amazon has played a large role in that trend by opening new fulfillment centers throughout America and the rest of the world and by expanding its delivery network to enormous proportions. It’s no mystery that Amazon profited enormously from the pandemic and from consumers’ sudden demand to have as many products as possible delivered to their homes.
Before Amazon could profit from that demand, though, the company had to get past the initial hurdle of just being able to fulfill orders in a timely manner. In the early months of the pandemic, orders from Amazon were frequently delayed because the company simply couldn’t keep up with the demand in terms of either order fulfillment or logistics. By building new warehouses and expanding its logistics network, Amazon was eventually able to meet demand and reach a point at which orders were being delivered to customers more quickly than ever. It’s clear that Amazon has every intention of retaining as much of this new business as possible, and they’re going to do that by continuing to fulfill all orders at lightning speed.
The faster delivery of online orders that you’re enjoying these days isn’t just a matter of Amazon improving its order fulfillment process. The major carriers – USPS, UPS and FedEx – have all taken on new drivers and improved their efficiency. Before COVID, Sunday mail delivery was only available in major metropolitan areas. Today, it’s available in more areas than ever – so whether you’re ordering new clothes or something as random as vape juice online, you can look forward to getting it quicker than ever.
Curbside Pickup for Local Purchases
One of the new consumer trends that started during COVID – and that people universally adore – is curbside pickup for local purchases. It is unbelievably convenient to have the ability to order groceries online, drive to the store, open your trunk and have someone come out and drop your things in.
Many local restaurants have also offered curbside pickup during the pandemic, and the process is much the same. All that you need to do is call in your order – or place it online – and wait in the restaurant’s parking lot until someone brings the food out to you. Sure, it seems like restaurants just about everywhere are charging higher prices than ever – but if you’re going to get a value-added service like curbside pickup as part of that price, it’s hard to complain.
Time is money, and it’s easy to love the fact that having someone bring your purchases to your car is an amazing time saver. Shopping for groceries in particular is something that can easily take more than an hour even if you’re not planning anything more than a quick trip to the supermarket. Having your purchases brought out to your car saves an enormous amount of time. It can also be a great money saver since it helps you avoid the temptation of buying all of the unnecessary items that you invariably see during any trip to the supermarket.
Although some of the new services that retailers introduced during the COVID pandemic may not last forever, it’s likely that many consumers are going to continue asking for curbside pickup for a long time to come.
Immediate Delivery of Almost Anything
The ability to buy products or food online from local stores or restaurants and have those things delivered to your door immediately isn’t new. Businesses like Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates already existed and already had their delivery infrastructures in place before the COVID pandemic began. During the pandemic, though, all of those services increased exponentially in popularity. It’s really great to have products delivered from businesses that don’t have the capacity to offer their own delivery services.
At this point, it’s impossible to tell whether any of the three companies named above will manage to find their paths to profitability and become stable, lasting brands. The economic challenges of fast local delivery have proven difficult to overcome. The independent contractors who perform the deliveries are often woefully underpaid – and despite that fact, the prices that consumers pay for the deliveries are quite inflated.
Given the inflated prices and underpaid contractors, it’s a bit surprising that the companies offering local delivery services have continued to lose money and have been unable to reach profitability. Nevertheless, that’s the situation as it currently stands. Although it’s entirely possible that none of the companies mentioned above will still be in business a few years from now, it’s almost certain that someone will eventually figure out a profitable business model for local deliveries. There’s so much consumer demand that someone simply has to figure out a way to make it work.