Friday August 14, 2020 |Notes

Normalizing digital commerce

Over five months have passed since the CDC declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. Patterns of living have changed greatly in that time, and a new normal has taken hold for many. Commerce has been greatly changed, with a massive shift towards digital commerce. Customers are being accustomed to transacting online. And the longer the pandemic goes on, the more these changes will become the new normal.

As a result of the pandemic, the demise of local retail has accelerated and it's clear retail shopping will not return to pre-pandemic normal. New habits and routines are becoming the new norm. Everyone shops online, dines at outdoor restaurants, streams games and movies at home, and looks for uncrowded weekend spots.

Yesterday, I placed a grocery order for delivery from Whole Foods. It took me less than 15 minutes to put the order together, and it will be delivered this morning for free, with a tip for the driver. Before the pandemic, I had never used grocery delivery. Now it's hard for me to imagine a time when going to the store is a better option. Millions of others are thinking the same way and grocery retailers are competing for their share of the grocery delivery market:

Walmart is partnering with Instacart to offer same-day delivery starting in a few U.S. markets, making it the latest major grocery chain to team up with Instacart in its fight against Amazon and Whole Foods.

Instacart already partners with or delivers goods from Aldi, Target, Costco, Albertsons, Kroger and Walmart’s Sam’s Club, along with smaller grocers and drug stores.

By offering quick delivery, big chain grocers have a stronger position against Amazon, which offers grocery delivery services Amazon Fresh and Amazon Prime Now from its own warehouses and Whole Foods stores.

While grocery shopping is one of the most obvious changes over the past 5 months, it's far from the only pattern that's dramatically shifted towards digital commerce. As we turn to digital commerce for shopping, entertainment and work, the old patterns and habits are replaced rater than put on hold. Digital commerce becomes more normalized each day, and there's no going back.

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