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Free Shipping (reallifemag.com)
71 points by daddy_drank 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments

Instead of an Airbnb-style bartering economy, I'd expect a Netflix for household items would be more feasible. No worries about strangers using and breaking your things, no microtransactions to track.

That sounds specially interesting in denser areas. Make it fast and easy for people to request and return stuff, and homes suddenly have a lot of extra space.

Of course there are already a lot of rental places for expensive but rarely used tools, party equipment, etc. Perhaps there’s the potential to reduce transaction costs but the economics of renting a stand mixer still seem challenging though.

I agree with your basic point that commercializing borrowing a tool from a neighbor has been and will continue to be largely a non-starter.

The challenge for household items is cleaning and hygiene. If I rent a construction tool, I don't mind if it has dirt and paint spots on it. For kitchen hardware, or many other household items, it needs to be clean. There are a lot of re-intake, cleaning and processing costs that are hard to avoid.

Omni is pretty close to that - https://www.beomni.com/ - though it does feel like maybe a subscription fee would be better than one off rentals, maybe credits?

Shopping has always been a tiny rush of happiness in many peoples' lives. I think free shipping only makes this rush more convenient, accessible, and addicting.

Traditional shopping just gives you one tiny rush - when you buy the item. But with online shopping, you get the rush when you buy the item, and when it appears on your doorstep a couple days later!

And F5ing shipment updates. It's like christmas.

It’s a lot more fun than The “Call/Schedule a taxi and pray” lottery.

For me, it's all about convenience. I absolute hate cloth shopping. Now I can order a bunch of stuff, even the same thing in different sizes, try them at home and ship everything I don't want back.

And also with electronics, why should I go to the store if I receive the package the next day?

There's another convenience factor here: being in-stock.

With B&M shopping, even if you know exactly what you want, you have no idea if it's actually in-stock at your local $store. So you drive there (wasting gas and a lot of time), wander around inside looking for it, only to find it's not even there! Then you have to go drive somewhere else hoping they have it, or get someone there to look it up and see what other store does have it, etc. All in all, this can waste a huge amount of time and fuel just to go find one single item.

With online shopping, it's right there on the website: you can see everything the shop has to offer in one place, and you can see if it's in stock or not. If it is, you click "buy" and it shows up at your doorstep. If it isn't, or there's some problem, that might mean a delay in getting your item, but you're not going to waste a lot of time and energy running around in the process.

> With B&M shopping, even if you know exactly what you want, you have no idea if it's actually in-stock at your local $store.

Many stores, especially the chains, have webpages that tell if an item is available in a store or not.

And many stores' customer-facing inventory systems are not reliable, or only updated every 24 hours. If there is only 1-2 of an item in stock, there's a decent chance it's actually sold out.

So if I'm already looking at the webpage, why bother driving to the store to get it when I can just click "buy" and be done with it? The only reason I'd bother with driving there in person is if I really really really need it fast.

And as the other responder said, those inventory counts might not be accurate; if there's only one in stock, and someone just bought it 10 minutes ago, is the webpage really updated that fast?

And then I order from said website. Why would I go to the store when I'm already on the web?

Because I get same day shipping at no extra charge. I've done it myself a few times. It is really nice to walk in and have everything waiting for me (this is even more important now that my kids are of the age to fight over who gets to push the cart until they dump it). Better yet, if they don't have it at that store I can go to the next store, their competitor, or pick a different model they do have in stock.

Amazon uses fast shipping, but they won't guarantee when it ships. I've been burned more than once (I mostly quit using them a couple years ago) because the thing I wanted didn't ship in time.

Ebay offers fast and free shipping on many items with guaranteed dates, usually 2 or 3 days, without having to pay for a prime membership.

I've seen online shipping speeds get a lot faster over the past couple of years so if you have quit than you might be surprised at speed and value if you come back.

Hmm, seems like Europe is further ahead in this field (I'm in Prague, Czechia). I can order the item and have it in less than 6 hours delivered to my doorstep and professionally installed, guaranteed. It costs just around triple of what would driving my own car cost.

That is available in some parts of the US as well (I have friend who get 2 hour delivery). I live "in the middle of nowhere", I can get to a big store in half an hour, but we the town is no big enough that anybody has got the fast delivery model down yet.

I guess that's why so many people have Amazon Prime. And also, why they offer multiple 30 day trials to every user...

I take the 30 day trial out each year around November 25 - just for 30 days. Handy.

"First one's on the house," said to me once an Amsterdam back-alley coke dealer.

I quite often do drugs, multiple types, though admittedly not cocaine. I've never had the luck of getting this seemingly-common "freebie" everyone mentions

It's less "here's a bag of free drugs, wander off and enjoy" and more frequently "yo, wanna do some blow with me?" I'm sure you've encountered SOMETHING like this.

Maybe if you lived in poverty in a housing project where many dealers are competing with each other and moving heroin, crack, meth, and fentanyl to desperate people who want to escape.

I guess

I did grow up in relative poverty, though not in a housing project. The area I grew up in, at the time, had lots of Crack but no Meth/Heroin etc. Still, never heard of it.

I'm quite sure it's an urban myth :-)

Wow, the username here really checks out, especially with the misspelling.

"throwaway-burnout" was taken IIRC

How about a service to take things OUT of the house. eg I have some metal waste - take that to a metal recycler. Used beverage cans (with deposit) to a charity.

In Brazil we have this http://www.cataki.org/ (pt-br) an app that connects waste pickers to people who want to dispose reusable or recyclable materials.

According to this site 800,000 waste pickers in the country and 300 registered on the service.

I don't agree with all of David Siegel's views, but I first came across the concept of having a set of things you own always passively for sale (what he calls 'passive commerce') in his vision for pillar: "https://youtu.be/2VdICMlvo68?t=230" (from https://medium.com/@pullnews/announcing-the-pillar-project-1... )

As someone who wants a more waste-free society and already keeps a running list of craigslist items for sale, ebay/cl watchlists, etc. I'd be open to innovation in this space.

Never knew Snapchat was funding magazines!

"Real Life is made possible by funding from Snapchat, and we operate with editorial independence and without ads

Wonder how that happened.

You can read all about it in this article:


tl;dr: The editor wrote an interesting essay that caught the attention of Snapchat CEO, which wanted more of this output.

What's interesting is that Real Life is highly critical about technology, while you would expect based on the funding a sort of think tank creating pro-tech fluff pieces.

> What's interesting is that Real Life is highly critical about technology, while you would expect based on the funding a sort of think tank creating pro-tech fluff pieces.

It's not an uncommon case. Black Mirror even lampooned it back in its second episode (Fifteen Million Merits).

Thank you - interesting story, and a very interesting editor.

Parts of this article resonated strongly with me. At http://infinite-food.com we are attempting to redefine urban food distribution through shared storage and 'just in time' (JIT) production of a wide range of hot or cold meals within a wholly owned and operated network of kiosk-sized self-contained robotic service locations, combined with a managed logistics system. Big wins from less real estate, less waste, less transportation, meaning less costs and less environmental impact, plus of course reduced cognitive and temporal load for the consumer (and optionally kitchenless or applianceless apartments - part of a trend which I call SKINK - Shared KItchen / No Kitchen). Big losses for the ritual of the grocery trip. It's looking at food on demand as an urban utility instead of a scarce personally owned resource, and choice and personalization as ever-present instead of having to battle restrictive commercial menus or plan ahead and self cater. I see our company as an early investment in a larger trend of moving industrial processes out of the industrial revolution (central industrial hub plus multi-party distribution to consumers) toward a more distributed model supporting aspects such as personalization. Interesting that the author identifies as an architect. Plus one for cross-domain abstractions! NB. We use a pickup model and target 3 minutes to itch-scratching, but could integrate with delivery (~30-60) if desired: we try to get closer to the consumer with a vastly reduced retail form factor, to enhance the chance for repeated and spontaneous use. Currently taking investment and beginning manufacturing targeting China, HK and Macau!

Can someone please summarize this bad take? I tried reading it but got lost halfway.

Sounds like the idea of a delivery robot isn't working out in testing, so now focus is shifting to the notion of an Amazon robot associated with each building to fetch packages from a truck. Sort of a mechanical coal chute, except with a bunch of gotchas.

In my mind, this problem was solved a long time ago. We had these mysterious outlets called stores that you went to and exchanged money for product. The root problem here is that people that consumer product companies care about (ie. not poor brown people) are moving to cities, and the belt of suburban shopping centers isn't serving this population well. IMO this is a good thing, as perhaps it will enable a return to smaller scale retail in vital urban communities.

I personally don't understand why 'last mile' is such a big deal. Personally I would rather just order on walmart.com, have it ready for me to pick up at the store. If I really want it, I can go get it the moment I get the notification. Otherwise, I'll pick it up on the way home from work, or when I'm out and about.

It's silly, but I don't want my neighbors thinking, "damn, they order a lot of packages" and I don't want to worry about an expensive item getting lifted. Seems to me the simplest answer is not to build a robot, but just to make smaller versions of the big box store that are essentially a small warehouse with a front office.

Amazon sees a unique opportunity to capture lots of market share and needs a way to build a sustainable business. (Aka takeover the market and raise prices) Amazon’s profit story is all about services.

Big box stores are kind of screwed because they overextended on debt and used financing schemes that front-load tax benefits and create problems down the road unless you always grow.

What do you think of Amazon's trunk delivery?

The pull-quotes do a good job of highlighting the key points of the article.

Rant on the gloominess of a disposable society.

No, the reverse actually. More like the rise of objects-as-a-service, which means the objects will be more durable since they'll be shared around among people.

I first heard about this idea in this video from 2014, and have been talking about it ever since: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xOK2aJ-0Js

There are tiny traces of truth in that video, but like 90% of it is complete nonsense.

"Autonomous Amazon Locker on wheels". Check from mobile the schedule and track the exact location, go to pick up your goods when the vehicle is at your house.

I could imagine using this as a delivery mechanism if the price was right.

I really hate the casualness with which returns are assumed to work. Many goods aren't resellable after being returned with the end result being that they simply get thrown away. Its soooo wasteful.

Conceptually this reminded me of "The Feed" from Neal Stephenson's Diamond age book (without the nanotechnology)

This already exists today in the digital world. The cost to access anything online is virtually zero.

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