Have you ever stopped and thought about how malls and retail have changed since the rise of e-commerce? While it's true that thousands of malls have closed, traditional retail is far from dead - only mutated. 10 years ago, when you stepped foot into a mall, you were there for one thing - to buy product. That's why it made sense to designers that the layout of almost every mall and retail store was catered specifically to that, whether they sold jeans, vinyls, toys, or computers. Today though? E-commerce has made the act of buying easier than ever, making the point of those malls completely irrelevant. You'd expect the mall and retail in general to fade into history, right?
No! Because there's one thing e-commerce is still (and might always be) worse than retail at - the experience of trying products, experiencing personalized service, and being a part of interactive experiences. Think about the iconic Apple store - plenty of people don't buy product in store! But it's a phenomenal way of trying Apple products, and experiencing that Apple magic that just can't be done through e-commerce. They figured it out early - try in store, purchase when you get home. Retail went from building purely transactional relationships with customers to providing extraordinary customer service through personalization, product experience, and novelty.
In a way, the same thing is happening with logistics and the delivery experience. With the speed and efficiency of Amazon's distribution channel, you can't compete just on speed - no small distributor or 3PL has the scale, the resources, or the money to beat Amazon at its own game. So how do you compete? Well, think about what Amazon isn't as strong on: providing personalized human customer support, and providing full transparency about deliveries.
That's why the future of distribution - an industry dominated by hundreds of thousands of hyper-specialized small players - is very much the same as retail. Either these small companies, as we're already starting to see, will die out trying to compete with Amazon's prices and speed, or they will win big in their specific niches by providing customers with the branded, personal, local, and transparent delivery experience that an industry giant like Amazon just can't match.