In the space of local small retailing businesses, one of the biggest struggles is keeping up with technological advances that consumers come to expect from shopping at big chains like Walmart or Starbucks, while at the same time maintaining and working within a budget limited by the size of the business.
One of such examples is the trend in consumer behavior that has risen out of the popularity of on-demand services like Uber Eats and Door-Dash, both of which now make it possible for a consumer to have food delivered to their location in minutes from virtually any local restaurant.
For the local restaurant industry, this model is a major win because every restaurant has a standard menu of food items from which the customer can choose, and the restaurant plans around to make all necessary supply chain arrangements to ensure every item on the menu is ready to be made and fulfill the order.
This is a great value-add for this industry, because it enables small local "Mom and Pop" restaurants to enter the space and be part of the on-demand economy, a growing trend in markets across the United States and other parts of the World.
However, because the focus has largely been on food delivery, there are segments of the local retail industry for which the existing on-demand service model does not work, simply because the exiting infrastructure does not apply to them. This leaves many other types of local retailer businesses under-served and scrambling to come up with their own solutions to cover their customers needs and demand.
Sadly, in some cases I've personally seen this factor leading to unnecessary friction being added to the transaction between the retailer and consumer given the gap between expectations and what's actually possible to offer.
This is not a new problem, neither is it insignificant. So naturally solutions are already offered by players like Deliv, and eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce; each attacking different angles of the problem with their own approaches to enable local retailers to offer on-demand services to consumers.
From the aspect of delivery services, Deliv seems like a promising option for local retailers to offer "last-mile" deliveries. Think of Instacart, but for any local retailer; not just groceries. The down-sides are that (as of this writing) it currently only serves major markets in the US, and it only focuses on deliveries.
On the other side we have the aspect of pick-up orders, where the eCommerce platforms play a major role. In Shopify and WooCommerce, these solutions are mostly only available as apps that you can integrate to your site (assuming you are on their platform and you pay the monthly fee, of course). The downside with these solutions (in my honest opinion) is that they are aimed at "everyone" who can possibly offer in-store pick-up and delivery services.
The question is: Would specializing in specific verticals (like say "Floral", or "Coffee Roasters") and tailoring a software service that meets their very specific needs provide enough differentiation from the existing solutions to remove any existing friction and create additional value for these types of customers?
This is what I'm setting out to find out through my marketing efforts for a pet project of mine that I'm calling "Locally Fresh" for the time being. I have been working on this over the last few months, and I'm actively building a solution to address some of the concerns discussed in this post for one of my clients.
As a solo-founder who comes from a technical background, I'm learning the art of marketing my ideas as I go (this being my first one). In addition, I am also adopting the idea of radical transparency proposed by Ray Dalio in his book "Principles", which promotes leadership through open and honest communication with everyone in the business. As such I will share my ideas openly and document my journey through my 200WAD journal entries to keep everyone posted on the progress.