Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Retail delivery makes sense from a resource standpoint

For many many years I've argued in favor of piloting (it's not really "piloting" because it used to be done as a matter of course) shared delivery services so that people wouldn't "have to " drive to the store to bring back their purchase... (1) since maybe 2004, as part of the launch of DC/USA--where Target, Best Buy, Bed, Bath & Beyond and other stores could deliver transactions of a certain size; (2) since 2007 with regard to Eastern Market public market in Capitol Hill; and (3) in 2012 with regard to Walmart's entry into DC more generally, although the point was triggered by the plan for the Walmart store on Georgia Avenue (I was the chief author of a community committee's evaluation of the proposal).

But the city's transportation and land use planners aren't much oriented to pushing transportation planning practice forward when it comes to being a bit "forceful" with developers and tenants. (Walmart is testing delivery in San Jose and other markets, and is also testing secure lockers for online deliveries at some locations as well.)

"Urban" transportation innovations are more limited than we care to believe.

From the Wall Street Journal:

When Delivery Is Special

Having groceries delivered can involve lower carbon-dioxide emissions than driving to the supermarket.

Findings raise the question of whether governments should offer incentives for delivery as a way to reduce greenhouse gases.

That's the finding of a study that modeled Seattle-area households as grocery shoppers and delivery destinations. It found that carbon emissions could be cut by 20% to 75% using delivery trucks. Emissions plummeted by as much as 90% if the deliveries were routed for maximum efficiency—with full trucks and clustered customers—instead of being made at the convenience of individual households.

In the simulation, delivery trucks cut emissions not just in dense urban areas, where delivery is thought most efficient, but in suburbs and rural areas as well. The researchers said their findings raise the question of whether governments should offer incentives for delivery as a way to reduce greenhouse gases.

"Evaluating the Efficacy of Shared-use Vehicles for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A U.S. Case Study of Grocery Delivery," Erica Wygonik and Anne Goodchild, Journal of the Transportation Research Forum (summer--not yet available online)

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At 5:56 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

I'm sure you also saw the new on the Sacramento franchise.

At 5:30 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Yep, reminded me of Kozmo. I thought about trying to do a food delivery thing in Ann Arbor in the mid-1980s but didn't go forward with it (then it was just pizza delivery).

The thing with the same day delivery for general products is that you need a large and dense population to make it worthwhile. (As the journal article probably says.)

At 9:25 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

yep, with the expiration of internet sales tax both amazon and walmart are looking closely at same day delivery. I have no idea how to make money off it.

A key part of Staples success as well (corporate accounts w/delivery)

Bad for downtown, marginally bad for rest of DC. I suspect the model they are using is incredibly flawed. 30 minutes or less is a customer priority.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Just like I believe in shared parking, I think shared delivery systems in commercial districts makes sense.

BUT... you're right that this is one more element of reducing direct buying and customers supporting stores directly.

OTOH, I wrote about an initiative in Oakland for retail entrepreneurship development where they require the retailers to develop e-commerce revenue streams.

But yes there are many many elements "conspiring" to reduce the demand (and ultimate success) for retail shops.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

sorry, should be more clear.

The DELIVERY trucks are a huge negative for DC. I suspect they have gotten worse in 10 years in any given area rather than better.

In residental parts of DC the streets are generally so empty during the day it isn't an issue.

Yes, if amazon moves in it will hurt downtown retail. Also note sites like or GILT (both very popular in the new building?) that are attacking "independent" retail.

Ebay's model of shop runners would help chains that have the infrastrucutre to support this, but I don't see having more CVS/Walgreens really helps.

In the future, the only restuarant chain to survive is Taco Bell. Silly 90s. It was Chipotle!

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

1. Two different elements of delivery. To stores, to individuals. I've argued wrt store delivery that more need to do integrated freight delivery management and more deliveries need to be time shifted to overnight hours.

2. wrt Taco Bell, there's that movie with Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock where all restaurants in the future are Taco Bell because "Taco Bell won the franchise wars..."

wrt Chipotle, I remember the "wrap bubble" in the mid 1990s...

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