March 18, 2013
From Google to Shutl, same-day delivery services target impatient consumers
While e-commerce may rate high on convenience, it fails on speed—but that’s changing. This month the buzz has been around Google’s rumored plans for a same-day delivery service, Google Shopping Express. The company would be following fellow Internet giants Amazon, which is expanding its same-day options, and eBay. Still in beta, eBay Now allows shoppers in San Francisco and parts of New York City to receive products from select local merchants within hours, thanks to a network of couriers (or “valets”).
While e-commerce providers like Net-A-Porter have been offering same-day delivery in London and New York for some time, Walmart.com shoppers now have this option as well, as long as they’re ordering certain popular items. Meanwhile, FedEx and UPS are testing strategies for same-day delivery in the U.S., and the U.S. Postal Service began piloting Metro Post, a same-day service, in November. Several startups are pushing into the space too, connecting online shoppers with nearby couriers. U.K.-based Shutl is launching in three U.S. cities next month and says it plans to expand to 20 North American markets. Postmates offers a similar service, as well as couriers who can make in-store purchases and deliver them, and Instacart is focused on grocery delivery.
Couriers can offer more than just traditional delivery. Customers of India’s dominant e-commerce brand Flipkart can pay its couriers with cash. In China, high-end online apparel retailer Yoox partners with FedEx, whose couriers will wait as customers try on items and decide whether to keep them. While a recent Boston Consulting Group report casts doubt on whether most consumers value same-day delivery all that much, it notes that interest is high among affluent Millennials, who show a greater willingness to pay higher fees for the service. With today’s shoppers, especially younger ones, accustomed to the ease of online ordering but also looking for instant gratification, online retailers will need to keep shrinking the delivery window, even if it’s a low priority for a majority of consumers.
Image credit: USPS