In less than a year, express trade developed strongly in the major French cities. However, does it meet a real consumer need?
Niche startups as well as retail giants like Monoprix or Carrefour now offer their customers the ability to receive shopping in just a few minutes. Logistics business can establish itself as a new standard. But what need is it really fulfilling and is it a good thing?
Service in tune with the times
At first glance, this type of service is clearly part of a fundamental trend: acceleration. To differentiate themselves, companies tend to make their products easier and faster than ever before. In recent years, the decline in delivery times has accelerated, and it is no longer possible for many consumers to wait more than a few days to receive a product ordered online.
But is this really progress? Does the desire for immediate satisfaction that consumers develop correspond to a real need? Most of the time, no. There are, of course, exceptional circumstances that justify the need for a product very quickly. In case of transportation or schedule problems, for example. But these conditions are very rare and do not fit the model developed by super-fast delivery companies. These companies have already created from scratch this desire to have it delivered within a few minutes, as previously everyone was patiently waiting for their products without getting frustrated or anticipating their needs while shopping.
Thus, the large-scale marketing campaigns deployed by these new players reflect not simply the fierce competition typical of new markets that leads to a monopoly race, but also the need to create new reactions and desires among consumers. The same mechanism was at work during the democratization of hybrid bikes. For the largest number, getting in a few minutes to a sedan with a driver was a fantasy, and today it is a new standard.
Deep trend in e-commerce
Ultra-fast delivery concerns before all daily consumer products and especially food shopping. But if it has been a huge hit, it’s because it represents a broader trend affecting e-commerce. For some dominant players like Amazon, speed of delivery has become a distinguishing factor that allows them to distance themselves from the competition by imposing new standards. Thus, one-day delivery and easy returns have generated new uses and new desires among consumers. But putting it in place requires logistical infrastructure like only those giants in the sector are able to do so. As they become more democratic, these new services create new desires that tend to become standards and severely disadvantage the smallest players in the market especially small independent businesses, in favor of the larger platforms.
A model that may harm consumers in the long run
The high-speed delivery model has been questioned a lot from the point of view of its legal framework and the working conditions of logistics personnel. These are indeed sticking points that could threaten its sustainability in France. But if it becomes a new standard, a deeper question may arise. How this model can influence consumer decisions. Would they not be encouraged to develop a more patient and less rational relationship with consumption? The immediate availability of all products online can actually highlight the trends of overconsumption that are most harmful to the environment and the financial health of the most vulnerable consumers.
Thus, ultra-fast delivery can contribute to highlighting the imbalances between small traders and large platforms, but also to the formation of less useful and above all less informed consumers. In a context where impulsive buying occupies an increasingly important place in consumer behaviour, it will be necessary on the contrary to develop a culture of slow shopping and a culture of patience and thoughtful buying. In this context, taking the time to choose and evaluate the various possible options for each product, particularly thanks to comparisons, becomes an ethical business.