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The Wall Street Journal reports that "e-commerce hasn’t just reached rural America, it is transforming it by giving small-town residents an opportunity to buy staples online at a cheaper price than the local supermarket. It also provides remote areas with big-city conveniences and the latest products. Contemporary fashion, such as Victoria Secret bathing suits or Tory Burch ballet flats - items that can’t be found at Dollar General - are easily shipped."

The story goes on: "Online shopping also brings with it deals and new entrepreneurial opportunities. These consumers, however, are the most expensive to serve for both retailers and delivery companies. According to Kantar Retail, about 73% of rural consumers - defined as those who drive at least 10 miles for everyday shopping - are now buying online versus 68% two years ago. Last year, 30% were members of Amazon Prime, up from 22% in 2014."
KC's View:
What's interesting about this phenomenon is that it pretty much costs everybody more money. The story notes that to offset the high costs of making deliveries to remote locations, "UPS and FedEx charge an extra $4 per package." And the story says that the evidence suggests customers are willing to spend more money to order some products online even when these items are available at the closest grocery store (which may not be all that close) for less money.

I think this is a fascinating example of how e-commerce is changing not just the way people act, but also the way they think and feel. They're unwilling to accept the same old stuff when suddenly pretty much everything is available to them ... and this creates real challenges for traditional retailers.

And just imagine how the economics might change once delivery drones become a factor.