Online vs. Brick and Mortar

Online grocery shopping has been slow to catch on in the U.S. compared to other major countries. Countries where online grocery shopping is more popular tend to have just a handful of highly dense city-centers that make delivery easy and highly profitable. In the U.S., spread out rural and suburban areas add cost and complication to deliveries, offsetting any gains in urban markets. Unless major changes in transportation address this issue, it looks like groceries will remain predominantly a brick-and-mortar good. Story here.

Amazon is using data from customers past purchases and geo-location to sell hyper-targeted goods. Smaller businesses will find it increasingly hard to compete selling the type of goods that are easily bought online (durable, non-perishable). Story here.

Big Players in Retail & Economic Development: Is Bigger Always Better?

Speaking of Amazon (and their new HQs), the Foxconn plant in Wisconsin is a lesson in what happens when city officials don’t do their due-diligence before handing out large incentives to companies. After securing $4 billion in tax breaks, looks like Foxconn won’t deliver the jobs they promised. Story here.

The folks at Bloomberg and CityLab explore why cities continue to broker these deals even when they may not be profitable and their residents don’t support them. Stories here and here.

New & Interesting Retail Concepts

Nike opened their House of Innovation in Manhattan, taking advantage of consumers’ growing desire for experiential shopping. The new flagship is part store, part museum/art gallery, part maker space. Story here.

If you’re in NYC, here are 32 more experimental and concept stores trying out new forms of retail. Story here.

Community-Owned Infrastructure

For communities that are ill-served by existing broadband service (rural areas with limited access or areas with prohibitively high costs), community-owned broadband may be an option. A new map has been released that shows the 750 towns that have successfully rolled out community-owned broadband. Story here. Examples here, here, and here.