Imagine a world where anything you want, anytime you want, can be delivered to your house in an hour or less.

Last week, I spoke with a person connected with Amazon. He said Amazon’s strategy is to deliver anything, to anyone, to anywhere in less than an hour.

Live in Avon Park and want those cool new jeans for a party tonight? Click a button and Amazon plans for you to have your cool new jeans delivered to your front door in an hour or less.

Live in Mt. Dora and want the new hot titanium bicycle? Click a button and in an hour, your bike will be at your front door, ready for you to start riding.

Live in Lake Wales and want that cool new pontoon boat when the in-laws arrive tomorrow? Click a button and Amazon will deliver your new boat in an hour to your front door.

Live in Winter Haven and forgot the spicy mustard for the cookout and your guests arrive in an hour? Click a button and your spicy mustard arrives in time for the cookout.

This bold grand vision for Amazon should be frightening for all the big-box stores. Amazon has a bigger, better selection than any physical store. One day, Amazon will offer delivery to your front door in less time than it takes for you to get in your car, wait to get serviced at the big-box store, go through the long checkout line and return home.

Big-box stores and malls provide a great deal of tax money to our local communities. What happens if they gradually disappear with the onslaught of Amazon? Local businesses will be asked to fill the space. How well are our cities and counties nurturing locally owned businesses?

Local merchants won’t escape either. Locally owned family businesses do have a stronger connection to the community than the big-box stores. Will community connections be enough when we can buy anything from Amazon, for anyone, and have it delivered anywhere in an hour? How do we step up our game right now, as small businesses, to build in the customer loyalty we will need one day?

My CPA, doctor and lawyer friends are no doubt smiling because today Amazon does not sell professional services. But Amazon isn’t saying “some things, to some people, in some places in an hour.” Anything, to anyone, anywhere in an hour or less.

If this almost inconceivable level of service is the world we are heading to, and I believe it is, will anyone tolerate waiting in a doctor’s lobby for an hour to get in, and then waiting another 20 minutes in the little room for the doctor to see us? Will we tolerate the repairman who says they will be at our house next Tuesday between nine and one? Our expectations of quality and speed of service set by Amazon will impact all services businesses.

Government and education won’t be spared either. If we can get anything to anyone, anyone in less than an hour, why does it take six months to get a project approved by the city? Why does it take a whole day for the school to return my outreach about my child?

My suspicion is that our small company ambassadors, our employees who deal with the customer the most, will need to provide Ritz Carlton level service to differentiate us from Amazon. Are we providing the right training?

We can compete. Human beings want to belong to a community. We want to connect with others. We are all still tribal animals. Build the service and personal touch to keep Amazon at bay.

Anything, to anyone, anywhere in less than an hour is a bold company vision for Amazon. What will our community’s bold vision be to compete?

Share your thoughts: David@D-R.Media.

David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Highlands News-Sun and the Highlands Sun, as well as newspapers in Lake, Polk and Sumter counties. He can be reached at David@D-R.Media .

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