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Landmark Links June 29th – Full Service

 

I’m going to take a break from blogging next week and enjoy the 4th of July holiday.  Before signing off for a few days, I want to share an interesting anecdote about a recent experience with a last mile delivery concept that I was very impressed by.

Lead Story….  With the rise of e-commerce, last mile delivery has become a term that even those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the warehouse and distribution markets are aware of.  The rise of this market segment has been spectacular, mostly brought about by major online retailers making the strategic decision to compete on delivery speed as much or more than price.  When most people think of last mile, they tend to focus on the aforementioned speed and efficiency – how quickly can an item go from click to delivery.  However, an experience that I had earlier this week ordering a cell phone is a great example of how the last mile space could be about to change again – incorporating high end service and expertise along with efficiency.

Like most people in 2018, I’m highly reliant on my phone.  I use it for everything from emails to to-do lists for work, pictures and videos of my kids, social media, blogging, recipes – just to name a few.  It’s sad but true – I’ve probably reached the point that I cannot function in my everyday life without a functioning smart phone.  Earlier this week, my iPhone 7+ finally passed the point of no return.  I had been having issues with a weak battery for months that had not improved after a couple of Apple Store Genius Bar appointments.  On Tuesday when the phone took longer to charge than it could hold a charge for, it was time to make a change.  In the past, upgrading my phone meant either going to a physical store and waiting in line or ordering off of the AT&T website, waiting a couple of days to receive it via FedEx and then setting it up by myself at home or work.  I had no interest in waiting in line and the situation wasn’t urgent so I opted to order online expecting roughly the same delivery schedule as when I last upgraded a couple of years ago.

I ended up ordering my new trade-in phone at around 5pm on Tuesday and there was on option for “Same Day Delivery” on the checkout page at no additional charge so I gave it a try.  Shortly afterwards I got a call from the delivery service saying that they would be at my house by 7 – a shockingly short 2 hour turnaround for a major purchase.  Not knowing much about this service, I had assumed that it was similar to something like Uber Eats or Amazon Now where the driver drops off the product – in this case a phone – and the purchaser is left to his or her own devices from that point forward.  Instead, a helpful, knowledgeable driver showed up at my house, proceeded to activate my phone and help with setup and usage questions in about 15 minutes.

While waiting for an update to load on my phone, I asked him about the company he worked for.  He explained to me that the service is called Enjoy.  It’s a 3rd party delivery service founded in San Francisco several years ago by Ron Johnson of Apple Store and Target fame (and JC Penney infamy).  Johnson’s business plan for Enjoy was to bring the same Genius Bar experience that he created at Apple to a personal delivery service.  Currently, Enjoy’s largest account by far is AT&T with other smaller clients like Sonos rounding out the remainder of their book of business.  Enjoy has small warehouses in top-20 MSAs throughout the US and their knowledgeable, helpful drivers carry inventory that they pick up at these centrally located facilities throughout the day.  The overall experience was far superior to standing in line in a store or waiting a few days to receive something in the mail and then self install.  I suspect that this type of premium service will have a larger role in the future of e-commerce since it is extremely convenient and the price of the delivery is baked into the purchase price of the item being bought.  Think things like prescriptions, cars, electronics and possibly even clothing that either require seeing in person, setup, consultation or trying on before a purchase.  Retail isn’t dead, it’s changing and this sort of thing can’t bode all that well for the brick and mortar store where I would have made such a purchase a few short years ago.

Economy

Money for Nothing: Banks are offering one-time payments of hundreds of dollars to open accounts as they compete for deposits.

Growing Divide: When it comes to tackling productivity in an era of limited available skilled labor, some manufacturers are automating while others are embracing apprenticeship.

Commercial

Bulk Take-down: Rapidly-growing Facebook has agree to occupy all of WeWork’s largest-ever outpost in Mountain View, CA.

Playing On Amazon’s Turf?  Google and Microsoft announced partnerships with two retailers which will see them push further into the grocery and department store retail space, respectively.

Residential

Too Damn High: Regulation costs now account for over 30% of the cost of a multi-family development according to the NAHB.  And people wonder why only Class A apartments are being built.

Can You Spot the Problem? San Mateo County added 72,000 new jobs from 2010 to 2015.  However, there were only 3,800 new homes built there in that same time frame.  I’ll give you one guess as to what happened to housing prices over that period….

Blunt Assessment: This Huffington Post story about the new State of the Nation’s Housing report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard doesn’t hold much back (emphasis mine):

If America’s biggest cities, where job growth has been concentrating for years, can’t offer anything beyond check-to-check living, the entire country is sleepwalking into a crisis.

It’s worth noting just how unprecedented this is: One of the most startling statistics in the Harvard report is that 30 years ago, you could buy a house in 72 of America’s 100 largest cities for less than 18 months of their median salaries. Today, that’s possible in just 25 of them, and shrinking every year.

End of an Era? The Trump administration has proposed ending the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by privatization.

Profiles

A Sucker Born Every Minute: Cryptocurrency “influencers” are earning up to $105k a tweet to pump ICOs on social media.

Help Wanted: Restaurants in San Francisco that can no longer find or afford servers are figuring out how to do without them by putting diners to work.  I know that I likely sound like a broken record but this is 100% due to a lack of new housing an economy made up of what collar workers alone simply doesn’t function well.  See Also: Short of workers, fast food restaurants are turning to robots.

Insatiable: How Amazon’s bottomless appetite for growth became corporate America’s nightmare.  See Also: Amazon’s plan to take over physical retail is becoming clearer.  And: Amazon announced that it was buying online pharmacy PillPack yesterday and the entire pharmacy industry freaked out with pretty much every publicly traded industry player tanking.

Viva Socialism: A cup of coffee in Venezuela will now set you back a cool one million bolivars.  A year ago it cost only four hundred and fifty.

Charts of the Day

For those of you still unsure as to why construction costs are soaring:

WTF

Just Go Away: French butchers are asking police for protection against radical vegans who have been vandalizing shops and making threats.

Video of the Day: Watch a massive shark bite off another sharks tail because Florida (where even the sharks are freaks).

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A woman was videoed speeding down I-95 with a man clinging to the windshield of her Mercedes because Florida.

Landmark Links – A candid look at the economy, real estate, and other things sometimes related.

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