Now Small Brands Can Compete by Offering Sustainable Same-Day Delivery

A big step in greening e-commerce deliveries.

Dec 20, 2019


Now Small Brands Can Compete by Offering Sustainable Same-Day Delivery | A big step in greening e-commerce deliveries.

In today's busy world, people are letting their fingers do the walking on their keyboards or smartphones when it comes to shopping. Internet shopping is growing. And so is the desire to get your orders quickly so Amazon Prime offers fast shipping, including same day or free 2-hour deliveries in selected zip codes. How can the small guys keep up?

If you live in Manhattan or Brooklyn in New York or Los Angeles, California, a new same-day delivery service called Ohi can help small businesses do same day deliveries and what's even better is that they do it sustainably via bicycles. Fast service does not have to mean creating more emissions.

“The problem that we’re solving for is that consumer expectations for e-commerce are getting faster and faster, driven primarily by Amazon, but also now by Walmart, by Target, and by all these other big brands enabling same-day delivery,” Ben Jones, Ohi’s CEO told Fast Company. “For smaller brands, it’s almost impossible for them to do that at low cost.”

The service is also priced competitively so small companies like the sustainable startup Thousand Fell that sells shoes or organic and zero waste beauty company Loli Beauty can give same-day service at a low cost in money and the environment.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of environmental issues. They want to make better choices, but we need businesses to enable them to make those choices. What we are doing is enabling customers to make that choice,” Jones said.

So, how do they do it? The key, according to Ohi is their customer portal that takes care of fulfillment (the process of order deliveries) for small companies that allows for same-day delivery in the three areas they are located in and hopefully expanding to other major US cities.

Ohi stores your inventory in what they call "micro-warehouses" located in unused space in offices or retail locations according to Fast Company, and each warehouse can be stocked in advance to avoid the financial and environmental cost of quick shipping by air. The price if the service is low because they are repurposing unused existing space and not building warehouses.

The company, Jones said, is looking to replace the traditional fulfillment processes that consist of larger warehouses and longer distances.

“If we’re going to build a replacement that will last for the next 60 years, we have to have sustainability as one of our core values,” he said. “By getting inventory into cities, we are avoiding the need to take traditional delivery trucks to do routes dropping off parcels. We’re using Postmates and other last-mile carriers that primarily have people on bikes or on foot [electric vehicles in LA] to deliver the parcels instead.”  

Local warehouses also help to reduce packaging that is necessary for shipping orders when distribution centers by truck or plane. Ohi customer's orders come in recyclable paper bags.

“Our vision is that this is the future of fulfillment, the future of warehousing,” said Jones; “and we’re going to replace a lot of the existing warehouses that work with our partners.” 

Some of the small companies that use the new startup do it for the sustainability, while others do it for the cost competitiveness and the way to reach customers fast. But whatever the reason, it seems to be working so Ohi is planning to expand into other large cities. In fact, they hope to have 20 locations in five cities including Washington DC and San Francisco, California by the end of 2020 according to Real Estate Weekly.

The need to green our delivery services is very clear. Amazon contributed more greenhouse gas than its rivals according to Bloomberg. In 2018, Amazon's carbon emissions were 44.4 million tons. That has to change and innovative companies like Ohi will be leading the way.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.