Since Amazon announced free two day shipping with Amazon Prime and started experimenting with delivery drones, everybody has wondered what was next for product fulfillment.
Two-day shipping is completely “old hat” now, but one-day and same-day delivery are exploding with possibilities. Companies that aren’t Amazon are struggling to keep pace, but there have been lots of great new partnerships popping up to help businesses compete with the Internet giant.
Here are just a few of the latest news items to keep an eye on in the world of order fulfillment:
- Amazon has upped the ante again by offering free one day shipping on over a million items to Prime members in 14 metro areas, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.
- Crowdsourced delivery of packages may be in the near future, with companies like Amazon, Uber, Lyft, Kanga and Deliv all developing apps to make it easier for average people to deliver packages to their neighbors and friends. If these projects move forward, delivery will be from a centralized locker area in busy metro hubs.
- Not to be outdone by Amazon, Apple will soon be offering same-day delivery to select areas in San Francisco Bay via Postmates. Select items are eligible when ordered within a four hour window from the Apple store.
- Target’s also jumping into the same-day delivery bandwagon and is currently considering Uber as its delivery partner. This, along with their smaller “city center” stores and potential future 20,000 square foot Target Express locations will make Target significantly more accessible to customers no matter where they live.
- Ulta Salon’s partnership with Google will soon result in same-day delivery in select markets. The specific brands Google will be delivering for haven’t been announced yet.
- Neiman Marcus test-drove same-day shipping for Father’s Day in selected metro areas including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, Saint Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa. Depending on the metrics from testing, this may be another company to watch for future same-day gift deliveries.
- UPS is finding ways to be even faster by expanding their pickup locker program, currently available in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Although UPS claims this is a move strictly for customer convenience, by being able to collect packages at the locker instead of having to wait for them to be loaded onto a delivery truck should also mean faster shipping for customers everywhere.
As shipping times get shorter, the ability of eCommerce stores to compete with traditional brick and mortar locations increases exponentially — as do the choices that U.S.-based customers have when it comes to merchandise. In the not-too-distant future, customers will be able to have their orders in hand in less than 24 hours from the time they paid for them, making online business nearly as instantaneous as traditional shopping outlets.