Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Web Secret #364: delivered

I have a confession.

I have everything delivered.

OK, slight exaggeration. I have 95% of everything I buy delivered.

My groceries are delivered to my apartment door once a week by FreshDirect.

My prescriptions are delivered by my drugstore.

Instead of going out to restaurants, I have meals delivered from those restaurants via GrubHub.

When I want a taxi, I don't stand in the rain with my arm stuck out. I summon a car with Uber.

Just about everything else, I get from Amazon - delivered to me in two days. Forgot to order toilet paper from Fresh Direct? Get it from Amazon. Interested in trying out that weird facial cleanser from Korea? Amazon. Want to read the latest French bestseller? Download it from

Now there are imperatives that make much of this online/app ordering necessary. I live in a warehouse district that is slowly becoming residential and there is no infrastructure. I would need to drive to go to the grocery store, and the drugstore. There is a subway stop within walking distance of my building, but if and when I want to take a cab - there are none. The neighborhood is too remote for any traffic.

But even if I move to a more populated, easier access area, I doubt that I will ever go back to driving to my routine shopping. I can order my food in a few minutes because Fresh Direct knows what I like. I can find just about anything from anywhere in the world on Amazon. Why go out? Why deal with congested parking lots, disagreeable (or non existent) clerks, lack of inventory?

I am not alone.

In a thought provoking article "The Shut-In Economy," writer Lauren Smiley describes a new urban based "on-demand everything" world, populated by apartment dwellers who are "served" by an army of delivery staff. Services that were once only available to the 1%, are now easy to access as long as you have a smartphone. And all of these services give us free time to pursue other interests, or spend time with the kids. That's the good news.

The bad news? Smiley writes, "As income inequality increases, the shut-in model is tailor-made for the new polarized extremes. After all, either you’re behind the door, receiving your dinner in the tower. Or you’re like the food delivery guy... He’s the opposite of a shut-in. He’s stuck outside, hustling."

It's a brave new world...

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