The news of a terminated partnership between delivery startup Deliv and Walmart could potentially be the canary in the coalmine signaling an impending power shift away from Walmart and toward Amazon in the American retail market. To those in the know, a clandestine but very real war is currently underway between the two titans of American retail, with the potential to fundamentally reshape how Americans – and eventually the rest of the world – do their shopping.
After leaving a trail of disrupted retail business models and conquered markets in its wake, Amazon is currently locked in a battle for U.S. retail supremacy with Walmart, which is still the worlds largest retailer. Thus far, Walmart has managed to avoid the fate of retailers like Toys “R” Us and Sears by blurring the lines between its online and offline retail offering in response to Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017. What significance does a pullout by Deliv have for Walmart, and what could this potentially mean for Amazon?
Last-Mile Grocery Delivery Is The Key
From a business point of view, Walmart and Amazon are not that different. They both have the same highly efficient supply chains and Just-in-Time inventory management systems. They both offer customers a dizzyingly wide variety of stock and brands to choose from at similar prices. The difference between both has always been that while Amazon places a famously obsessive emphasis on delivering products to customers’ homes the same day, Walmart has retained its reputation as a big-box supermarket where customers physically purchase their items and walk away with them instantly.
Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition changed all that, however, with the company combining its ruthlessly efficient delivery infrastructure with the inventory of a respected premium supermarket brand. Unlike Walmart, Amazon is not dependent on a fleet of trucks with drivers working defined hours. In true internet startup style, the company has consistently demonstrated its fierce determination to get goods to customers within as little as two hours using any means possible, even mooting the idea of delivery drones.
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