Everyone watched direct-to-consumer businesses cash in during the pandemic. No longer limited to local food delivery, the new direct-to-consumer market has caught fire with corporate biggies such as Home Depot (www.homedepot.com) and Walmart (www.walmart.com) that are now playing big in this market.
During the pandemic apps including Door Dash (www.doordash.com) and Grubhub (www.grubhub.com) produced ultra-fast delivery of meals. But now, the next delivery revolution is coming from an upsurge of ultra-fast delivery start-ups looking to fundamentally change the model of home delivery. Today, the direct-to-consumer market is now serving almost every sector in the retail space. But perhaps the biggest winners to date are the home renovation suppliers that sell big-ticket items to service the ever-expanding home improvement market.
What is a Dark Store?
A Dark Store is often a brick and mortar retail location that has been shut down and converted into a fulfilment centre. Strategically located in urban and suburban locations, these dark stores allow pickers to fulfil online orders with rapid speed and get the merchandise out the door to the consumers sometimes within hours of an order being placed. Some Dark Stores that can’t promise same day, or one-day delivery, give shoppers the option of picking up their orders curbside for that same day, instant gratification experience.
Staying in Business in a Disrupted Economy
Converting a bricks and mortar retail outlet into a Dark Store has helped some retailers stay in business while foot traffic dropped during the pandemic. But as the pandemic recedes the Dark Stores aren’t going anywhere. In fact, industry trends indicate that Dark Stores are likely to grow in significance as the retail industry reconfigures itself to remain relevant during a disrupted economy.
Elaine Allan, BA, MBA
Technology and Business Blogger
Vancouver, BC, Canada