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I was reading about a disruptive new grocery delivery model that could threaten the existence of health food stores.

Arnie Katz, co-founder and president of Relay Foods, says, “Traditional retailers are operating under an outdated and inferior business model.”

Brick-and-mortar stores must pay for rent, staff salaries, and carry additional overhead expenses.

From that perspective, a brick-and-mortar store is much like a bloated fat lady who stuffed her face with too much cake, for too long.

Katz’ company, Relay Foods (a delivery grocery service), is much leaner…like a highly disciplined athlete who refuses to go near anything that would bloat up his body.

Is “lean” business the wave of the future?

Most definitely.

Katz predicts that “within 10 to 15 years, 70% of all natural food purchases will occur over the Internet, with online grocery delivery services like his—which move fresh produce and packaged goods straight from farmer or manufacturer to consumer—squeezing out everyone from mom-and-pop grocers to major retail chains.” (Source.)

If we cut out the middle man — AKA the bloated brick-and-mortar store — then we’ll be left with a “clean and lean” way to purchase our groceries. did something similar by leaning out the books, video and electronics industries.

Netflix did the same for movie rentals.They created a super-lean subscription-based service that no doubt wiped out Blockbuster (whose brick-and-mortar stores required customers to physically walk into their locations in order to rent movies).

Circuit City filed for bankruptcy…Borders bookstore went out of business…

On and on.

All of these fat, bloated business models were inefficient and caused a lot of businesses to go extinct. They never knew it was coming.

Meanwhile, the “leaner” businesses have been dominating.

(I’m not fat-shaming. I’m inefficiency-shaming.)

In my opinion, being lean simply means using the internet well.

Allowing consumers to shop online, easily order precisely what they want, and have it delivered to them quickly — this is the essence of a lean business.

A lean business refuses to carry extra weight, literally or figuratively.

At the same time, lean businesses QUICKLY add the new things its customers are demanding.

Grocery delivery services are on the rise, with a race to figure out who can successfully scale up the business model first.

In terms of scaling up your business, where can you cut the fat?

What’s clogging up your operations, your production, your overall delivery?

Find the areas that are bloating your business and see what you can do to eliminate the fat.

This is not something to wait a year or two to accomplish — this must be done NOW.

A good place to start eliminating bloat is to ask yourself, “Where have I been wasting time, energy, or money on forms of marketing that don’t work?”

On the flip side of that, ask: “Where have I been failing to take advantage of an opportunity that’s clearly THERE, but I have not yet acted on it?”

Talk soon,
Michelle Lopez

About the Author

Michelle Lopez is a writer, editor, and copywriter with a BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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