Paper, Bricks & Cash Will Die: The Inevitable Evolution Of Local Commerce

Guest author Landy Ung is CEO and co-founder of 8coupons.

No matter where in the world you go, you remain tied to some latitude/longitude position in time and space. This is what makes local media and local commerce so powerful and the reason why real-time, on-demand services delivered via smartphone are becoming so important.

Already, if you're in New York City, you can Uber (on-demand car service) yourself to the airport, eBay Now laundry detergent from Target, Jetsetter Tonight yourself a quick weekend getaway and even Zeel yourself a massage at 10pm before you go to bed.

What A Local-Commerce-Enabled World Would Look Like

Soon enough, location-based platforms will enable us to Uber (or Seamless) a pizza from our favorite Joe's Pizza to enjoy while having a picnic in the park. While you're munching your slice of Joe's in the park, perhaps you might want to simultaneously Zeel yourself a massage too?

Better yet, how about OkCupid/Match Mobile-ing yourself a date with the gal/guy sitting on the bench across from you? If that works out, you may not need that Zeel after all, and you might want to extend the date and OLO (mobile payments/ordering) "Groupon-discounted" theater tickets to a Broadway show. (If nothing else, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason did a phenomenal job making it OK to use a coupon on a first date.)

There will eventually be an Uber for everything local. Consumers will be able to Uber a plumber, Uber a place to live (Airbnb or Zillow style), Uber a ZocDoc, Uber a hairdresser, the list goes on... But all that's only the beginning. Here are four more inevitabilities brought to you by local commerce:

1. Paper becomes obsolete - except maybe toilet paper. The United States Postal Service will also become obsolete - or end up as Amazon's express delivery unit. The telephone companies, traditional print media and direct-mail companies will have no choice but to go green and stop publishing/delivering their printed directories and circulars. Without the USPS, paper checks will also become obsolete.

(See also ReadWrite's coverage of paperless technology.)

2. The arrival of self-service, location-based, deals-on-demand.  In the same way food trucks now use Twitter as a mobile coupon platform, local small businesses like Joe's Pizza will finally adopt Groupon Now's self-service vision. Joe will be able to promote deals to sell off the rest of his pepperoni slices at 3pm when the restaurant is empty. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, etc. will launch (or acquire) self-service, location-based "Deals-on-Demand" direct marketing/couponing platforms.

(See also 5 Reasons Foursquare Is Losing The Social Local Mobile Revolution.)

3. Brick-and-mortar retailers become showrooms. Traditional physical retailers will jump on the local commerce bandwagon and embrace the role of showrooms for online and mobile purchases, or they will go out of business. Retail chains, together with startups like ShopRunner as well as some of the e-commerce giants will begin to make the model work for local retailers. Amazon Locker and Google's Shopping Express and BufferBox will get real showrooms where customers can see and scan items for next day delivery. WalMart, eBay and others will follow suit.

(See also Showrooming: 5 Ways Retailers Can Fight Back.)

4. Cash becomes obsolete. Consumers will (finally) be able to pay for all local products and services by waving or tapping their mobile device. Cash will slowly wither and die.

(For a different opinion, see also Mobile Payments' Cashless Utopia is Not Coming Any Time Soon.)

 

Joe's Pizza mage courtesy of Rob Young/Flickr.