retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that as Amazon continued to cast "a bigger shadow across the retail world and the shipping market," with competing retailers "rushing to offer faster, cheaper delivery to keep customers from flocking to Amazon Prime," shipping companies "are vying to help small retailers compete."

These smaller retailers, "ranging from retail startups to midsize national chains that can’t afford to match" the offers tendered by companies the size of Walmart and Amazon, are seen as a kind if "lifeline" by shipping companies - especially because Amazon is investing in myriad ways to handle more and more of its own shipping and logistics needs.

The Journal writes, "It is a shift in strategy for companies like FedEx Corp. , which until recently tailored their e-commerce services mainly to giant retailers needing to quickly process thousands of shipments a day. Now, they are betting even tiny online storefronts will pay for access to nationwide networks of warehouses, trucks and planes that can whisk online orders to customers’ doorsteps in less than 48 hours - even if Amazon’s growing same-day delivery service remains out of reach for most."

It isn't just big shippers hoping to cash in. "Newer entrants include startups like ShipBob, which runs fulfillment centers in Los Angeles, Chicago and Brooklyn, and Red Stag Fulfillment, operating out of three facilities in Tennessee and Utah," the Journal writes. "These companies pool orders from hundreds of customers to negotiate lower shipping rates than the retailers could get on their own."

One of the things that these shippers - from FedEx and UPS to startups like ShipBob - offer is an ability for retailers to avoid outsourcing their fulfillment business to Amazon, which they are convinced is not focused on their success, but its own.
KC's View:
The good news is that even as small retailers face enormous challenges, it creates opportunities for people and companies of an entrepreneurial bent to find ways to help them.

None of this is easy. But it is necessary. At least, if survival happens to be a priority.