retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloombergreports on a new Seattle startup, Flexe, which "has created a marketplace of spare storage space in 550 warehouses, quickly establishing better geographic coverage than the vast delivery network that Amazon.com Inc. spent decades and billions building. Flexe did it without spending a nickel on facilities and already has 25 million square feet of storage, about 25 percent of Amazon’s capacity, and expects to add 10 million square feet this year."

Flexe defines itself as an overnight delivery service focusing on online merchants that "are looking for new ways to reach customers but have few options that match Amazon’s speed. And because the inventory is stashed all over the country, overnight deliveries can be made by truck rather than plane, which is cheaper."

The company launched in 2013 by "offering 'overflow' services, when retailers and wholesalers needed to stash pallets of inventory for brief periods. Flexe added online order fulfillment last year, giving warehouse operators the option to charge more to pack and ship individual orders directly to shoppers' homes."
KC's View:
The story notes that Flexe has compiled a list of some 200 partners, in part because its appeal "extends beyond startups to brick-and-mortar retailers struggling to compete with Amazon online and brands hesitant to work with a fearsome retail competitor."

The broader changes in how retailing works mean that there likely will be enormous opportunities for people and companies that are able to get beyond the "we've always done it this way" mindset. Especially if they are able to fashion strategies and tactics that will allow retailers - traditional and startup - to compete with Amazon and Walmart in this arena.