Amazon ships approximately 1.6 million packages every day. Although we all enjoy the convenience of being able to order virtually anything from Amazon and have it at our doorstep within a day — or even a couple hours — data shows that consumers want to shop local and are doing their part to reinvest in their communities.

For example, a 2021 survey of 1,500 Americans showed that 70% of consumers are supporting local businesses by shopping online only or a mix of online and in-store, and 57% say their main reason for shopping small fuel their local economy.

The phrase “People buy from people,” is tossed around quite a bit in our industry, and luckily, based on the overwhelming positive performance of many independently owned companies in our industry, that statement is incredibly true.

Nevertheless, distributors cannot ignore the fact that Amazon and other big box retail is infringing on the PHCP-PVF supply chain. At most roundtables and industry panels the discussion around competing with these giants will come up every time.

This was certainly the case during the American Supply Association EMERGE conference in Savannah, Georgia last month. The more than 150 ttendees sat down at strategically assigned Best Practices Roundtables to discuss everything from operations, labor concerns, leadership and more. Inevitably, at my table, the topic of competing with online retail came up.

Bryan Pinder, Southeast regional sales manager at Oatey Co., said something that stuck with me: “Be the Amazon in your city.” He was explaining how he’s seeing distributors tackle this type of competition a couple of different ways: 1) don’t try to compete with Amazon because you can’t, and 2) be the Amazon in your city.

I think this is a perfect perspective to take. Just because you can’t directly compete with the e-tail mega-distributor doesn’t mean you can’t take some of their business practices and scale them down to serve your local marketplace.

For independent distributors, most of your customers are local to you. Your team at each branch knows their customer needs and the status of their geographic region better than anyone. Coupling the high level of service and attention to relationships you already have — the very thing that separates you from the national retail chains — with one or two value ads that mimic the Amazon model, is a recipe for success.

Who says you can’t offer same or next-day delivery to customers within a certain mile range? Who says you can produce real-time inventory updates for your customers? Who says you can’t invest in a one-click online ordering option for customers who want to do business online?

If your business is already implementing some practices that make you the “Amazon in your city,” I’d love to hear about them. Shoot me an email at