Troubling Trend in Retail

Steffie and Helaine found a fashion accessory they were looking for. I have been sworn to secrecy about what it is. It is a hot item, that much I can say.

They found a website that had it and ordered. Payment was made via PayPal. Since the account is in my name, I got the receipt and then the tracking data for the package.

I don’t think either of them knew they were ordering directly from China. The amazing thing is, from the time the item was dropped off at FedEx until we got it in Connecticut was two days!

This is part of a trend that will be as controversial as outsourcing. Because of the efficiency of FedEx (and I’m sure DHL and UPS aren’t far behind) the entire United States distribution chain has been eliminated. There’s no warehouse, no U.S. based store – nothing.

I’m going to have to think this through and decide how I feel. I can see how this is a troubling trend for retailers and those whose livelihood depend on them.

Blogger’s note: I believe it’s the International Date Line that allows the package to arrive in Alaska before it leaves China!

2 thoughts on “Troubling Trend in Retail”

  1. Geoff- this trend is about as controllable as the weather. We have to figure out how to ensure we capture the benefits that offset the difficult displacements we will experience.

    The history of retail is interesting. In the 1920s, the emergence of supermarket chains was regarded as the end of the world. They would crush suppliers, drive the corner groceries away, etc. Chain retailing continued only to be blown up by big boxes, big boxes by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart will be eroded by companies like Best-Buy and Target and their own suppliers. (Not to mention the Microsoft-style bullseye that they’ve drawn on themselves; not well-liked in many circles.)

    Direct from China = more savings for your household = you buying a neat piece of software conceived in Palo Alto (80% of the value) and coded in Bangalore. This = more investment in Palo Alto and more good products, good jobs and service economies around the various Palo Altos.

    And so it spins… we just have to be kind to those who struggle because the pace of change leaves them behind. Better education (even mid-career), better re-training. The overall societal effect if we get it right will be immense.

  2. Side notes: the post office oughta see that ~ I just got a Christmas card that was mailed Dec. 20th from Maine. And I placed a large order from Amazon right after Christmas—on the following day, I received 4 separate announcements of shipment—each one said something else would be shipped later– but by the end of the day, all had in fact been shipped. How inefficient of them to waste all that effort on so many contradictory emails. Another side note: as close as I am to the main Fed-Ex hub in Memphis, their service in this area absolutely sucks—timewise and with lack of care in handling ~I avoid them whenever possible.

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