Bodega owners see ultra-fast delivery as a business killer
Bodegas are go-to spots for snacks, sandwiches, household necessities and other quick purchases in New York City. But the city’s iconic, often cluttered mom-and-pop convenience retailers are growing concerned that they are on the way to being replaced.
Business associations representing bodegas throughout New York’s five boroughs are asking the city for financial help and expressing concern that ultra-fast delivery may threaten bodega operators’ livelihoods, according to Brownstoner. The group United Bodegas of America anticipates thousands of family-owned bodegas closing within six months, as customers opt for 10-20 minute delivery rather than stopping by the bodega a few blocks away.
The group and other business associations also want the city to help implement technology that will allow bodegas to remain competitive in today’s business environment, such as apps that facilitate online ordering from their businesses. One such app, called My Bodega Online, already serves a handful of bodegas in the Bronx.
The growing number of ultra-fast delivery services in the city generally offer either delivery from nearby major retailers and restaurants or deliver a product assortment that they keep in their own warehouse.
While small independent convenience stores throughout the rest of the country do not necessarily have the same dependence on foot traffic as bodegas, it is possible to imagine ultra-fast delivery cutting into stop-in shopping for essentials there as well.
On the other hand, services that once looked poised to steal share from the convenience store space have not proven to be a major problem so far.
Amazon Dash buttons, for instance, meant to facilitate the easy, store-free reordering of household essentials — many of which might be purchased at a convenience store or bodega — failed to catch on. Amazon launched the technology in 2015 and killed it in 2019.
There is precedent, however, for app-based services disrupting fixtures of urban living once thought to be unshakable.
Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft quickly destabilized the taxi industry within a few years of their introduction.
And yet, there does seem to be some indication of app-disrupted industries being able to bounce back. Taxis appear to be growing more popular again, at least in Chicago, as popular rideshare services increase prices, CBS Chicago reported.
- Bodega Owners Look for City Assistance as Grocery Delivery Apps Spread Through the City – Brownstoner
- Amazon kills its Dash button, what comes next? – RetailWire
- Taxis Narrow Gap With Rideshares As Business Makes Slow Comeback From COVID-19 Pandemic – CBS Chicago
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think the concern bodegas have about being pushed out of existence by ultra-fast delivery is warranted? What can bodegas and other mom and pop c-stores do to remain relevant in the face of ultra-fast services?