As companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Target begin to dazzle us with the growing possibility of same-day delivery, it’s becoming harder for small businesses to compete in ways that provide the same speedy delivery without relying on high-emission forms of commercial storage or transportation options like renting space in large warehouses and air delivery.
That is all now changing thanks to an organization called Ohi—a US-based warehousing and delivery service that allows small businesses to offer speedy, sustainable delivery options.
Speaking with Fast Company, Ohi CEO Ben Jones detailed the problem that many small US businesses face when attempting to compete with nationwide distributers.
“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,” said Jones.
“For smaller brands, it’s almost impossible for them to do that at low cost. 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.”
From Seed to Sprout
Ohi’s service allows small, growth-stage companies to expand their network of fulfillment centers across the United States in a unique way that saves money and energy.
Since a small business might have only one pallet’s worth of product in any given city, Ohi allows them to expand their next- and same-day delivery capabilities by renting out space in “micro-warehouses” in unused office building spaces and retail parks.
The micro-warehousing means that brands can avoid the much higher environmental costs of maintaining traditional warehouses or offering next-day or two-day shipping on a plane. This also eliminates the much higher costs of long-term leases and fees associated with air travel.
Ohi’s clients are also able to ensure sustainable next- and same-day shipping by cutting out various forms of middle men and extra steps between storage.
“When you’re not throwing parcels around between various trucks in between the different distribution centers, you eliminate the need for a cardboard box,” said Jones.
If you order something from one of Ohi’s clients, it may be delivered to you on a bike, rather than from a truck—and it may be delivered in a in a recyclable cardboard bag rather than a cardboard box.
Jones also said that this sustainable alternative to the standard fulfillment protocol has helped reduce cardboard, plastic, and paper waste associated with packaging and shipping by 75% compared to if Ohi used standard fulfillment practices.
The service is currently only based out of New York City and Los Angeles, but the company hopes its success will help to expand their platform to other US cities within the next few decades.
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