retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Amazon's quest for world domination continues…

The Financial Times reports that Amazon has hatched a plan to turn London's underground subway system, known as "the Tube," into one big depot for product deliveries.

According to the piece, in 2015 London will simultaneously turn the Tube into a 24-hour system as way of "boosting night-time businesses and adding lustre to its global status as it sharpens competition with 24-hour cities such as New York," and will convert all of its ticket offices into automatic ticket kiosks, which it believes will cut personnel costs and improve productivity.

And so, London is engaged in negotiations with Amazon that would turn all those ticket offices into drop-off lockers where it can deliver items it sells online.

According to FT, "Amazon did not return requests for comment. But Asda this week announced a deal … to launch 'click and collect' services from car parks outside six Tube stations. Orders made before noon will be ready for collection after 4pm."

Beyond the obvious lesson, which is how online shopping increasingly is being integrated into so many touch points in our lives, there is another interesting passage from the story worth noting:

Very few large cities in the world run 24-hour metro services. New York is an exception but unlike London, its network was designed with round-the-clock operation in mind.

Tube bosses are confident of making the switch at weekends because of a multibillion pound modernisation programme that has seen large parts of the network fitted with new signalling and trains.

This passage makes me think that a lot of cities are going to have to rethink their approach to mass transit, moving to 24-hour services … because we live in a global, 24-hour world. It won't be a cost, but an investment … because to do business in a global environment, cities have to create an infrastructure that embraces the opportunities rather than looking to the past.

And as cities rethink their approach to services like mass transit, retailers are going to have to rethink how they make themselves accessible to shoppers.

It's all an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: