As a New Yorker, I face it long lines with a sigh of hardened resignation. I do not question the absurdity of the experience. Instead, I foolishly consider it a sign of endurance, even if testing on Covid-19 lately means standing outdoors at 27 degrees for an hour. Recently, while I was in the long line of Starbucks, my patience ran out. It occurred to me that this wait was the result of my stubborn tendency to buy coffee the old-fashioned way – that, in fact, there was an escape from this humiliating cycle. I could simply order a mobile order and pick it up at the store without waiting in line.
This kind of frictionless convenience is wildly appealing and seemingly everywhere now; this is especially pronounced in transaction spaces, whether it is Starbucks, a local store or an airport. But there is a compromise to nullify our expectations, and it is great. Customers feel that way these days – and they’re angry. People are more angry, naughtier and more prone to provoke childish anger in front of service staff, as detailed in a recent A New York Times article entitled, “The nation on hold wants to talk to the manager.” Nor does it help that we have been in a pandemic for two years that burst the bubble of abundance in the country (read: supply chain issues and savagery inflation).
Companies, especially those in the public industries, are struggling with a shortage of available workers as they struggle to meet old-fashioned service standards set at a completely different time. “Public malice has forced many public-oriented industries to rethink what once represented faith: that the customer is always right,” wrote Sarah Lyall of the Times. “If employees now have to take on many unexpected roles – therapist, police officer, conflict negotiator – then workplace managers act as security guards and bouncers to protect their employees.”
Some consumer behavior experts believe Amazon is to blame for these high (and often impractical) expectations, from one-click purchases to one-day deliveries. “We call it business amazonization,” said Thomas Hollman, director of the Arizona Service Management Center. “Everyone compares to Amazon in terms of waiting in line, the kind of customer interaction and knowledge base. This perception equates all types of business. ”
It didn’t help that Americans are courting an increasing number of applications and technologies that are accelerating their purchases. Through mobile orders, instant delivery, automated chatbots, and even self-check-out kiosks, people are promised immediacy with better and faster service. These tools are designed to give the customer a greater sense of control over the way they receive their goods. With that comes the pretense of living efficiently – at the expense of digital privacy, money and the impact of technology companies on our lives. Have you ever embarked on a late night notice that encourages you to order takeaway food?
Venture capital companies are optimistic in a growing and crowded market ultrafast delivery startup, which is still needed be profitable without the help of investors. By replacing interpersonal interaction with human-to-machine transactions, customers are giving up on everyday distractions related to performing tasks or grabbing coffee. This might seem like an individual consumer choice, but it is based on retail and post-pandemic services that may be hostile to ordinary customers.
In October, technical writer Drew Austin noticed that his regular visits to New York stores and pharmacies had become full of unexpected inconveniences. There are fewer and fewer employees in shifts, which means that the queues for check-out are longer. Meanwhile, more goods have been locked to make up for it potential increase in theft from setting up self-service kiosks, which customers are encouraged to use to avoid waiting in long lines.
This creates an awkward and pointless personal shopping experience in Walgreens, where he is expected to fly in and out without a hitch. “The implicit message of all this, for ordinary customers, is that we should have stayed at home and ordered online,” Austin wrote. “These spaces are not for us. We’re actually breaking into the company’s warehouse. ” Manhattan looks like a “deserted retail store after Covid”, he continued, inhabited by abandoned chains of stores that are turning into hubs for instant delivery.
New Yorkers, for example, may have once had to be persuaded to try instant grocery delivery or restaurants with delivery only, which venture capitalists called “ghost kitchens”. The pandemic has changed the stakes not only for consumers, who have had an incentive to stay at home and order, but also for companies questioning the need for traditional retail spaces. Starbucks, according to New York Times, has permanently closed 44 of its 235 locations in Manhattan since early 2020. However, it plans to expand its mobile download offering and add more download-only locations.
A study by Edge by Ascential, a digital commerce consulting firm, predicts that retailers could dedicate as much as a third of their space, once used for personal shopping, to fulfill online orders in the coming years. This change is likely to cost companies more money, compared to customers entering the store and choosing the items they want. However, as things unfold, more and more people are deciding to have their items delivered in the same week, day or even within the next 15 minutes.
This preference is not just for everyday necessities such as groceries, baby formula or toilet paper. Startups aimed directly at consumers, especially those in the home and food and beverage space, are trying to reach urban customers through on-demand delivery. “What we’re trying to achieve with fast shopping is to give people the opportunity to get as close to their current satisfaction as possible,” said Olipop, a low-calorie alternative carbonated beverage experience manager. said Thingtesting. “If consumers ask for a drink late at night, we want to make sure it’s Olipop.”
Despite the booming landscape of instant delivery applications, most have yet to bring sustainable returns to investors pumping them into billions of dollars. As much as Amazon and couriers like DoorDash, Uber and Gopuff have advocated turning urban centers into centers of fulfillment, along with ghost kitchens and ghost brands, shops – and all the hindrances of personal shopping – will still exist in some capacity. Customers still like to walk around shopping malls, no matter how technically adapted they are.
Amazon may have won customers over with its dazzlingly fast delivery standards, but its business model is not without its logistical complexities. One-day delivery is expensive and depends on a huge, underpaid workforce that smaller retailers cannot afford. “What solves all these problems – high rates of return, expensive last-mile transport, logistical nightmares, customer frustrations and the huge amount of consumer waste that sends it all to landfills – on some level? Stores. Going to the store ” wrote Amanda Mull from the Atlantic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Americans avoided personal shopping out of necessity. Today, when most companies are more or less reopened, more and more of them decide to stay away from the store due to the weakening of customer service. This is the result of many cost reduction factors implemented by retailers, from the introduction of new technologies to the insufficient number of workers. Meanwhile, it seems that delivery is an antidote to the chaos in the store, and in fact it is not, from the point of view of retailers.
Soon, retail employees could be too overwhelmed by meeting delivery quotas to be relieved that customers no longer require them to talk to a manager. The future of retail wants to offer customers hyperoptimized comfort. But is all this actually good for us? And is it financially feasible?