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Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery Will Shake Up Retail

The title of this post is the headline of an article posted at Ecommerce Times on Jan 17, 2013.  Here’s a link.

The article points out the very convenient solution Amazon can provide in some high-density markets for customers who are willing to pay for the convenience of not having to actually go to a store themselves for something they need today.

The author then proceeds to describe some of the warehouse systems, which Amazon uses to facilitate their same-day delivery service, including a reference to Kiva Systems.  Kiva Systems provides robots for use in the Pick & Pack process of direct-to-customer fulfillment centers.  It’s a great systems … I met with the founder when he was looking for both initial funding and early clients (back in 2003 or so).

But we need to keep this “same day delivery” thing in some context.

According to data from the Department of Commerce, under the category of Retail Sales, Mail Order and Ecommerce Sales still amounts to only seven percent of total retail sales … yes, 7%.

Now, that’s still a significant number.  And for some retailers, it may even account for a major percentage of their annual profit.

Please take note that in most direct commerce research, “free shipping” remains among the most effective promotions.

But given that same day delivery will only appeal to the more affluent, for whom delivery cost is not as significant as convenience, and given that all direct commerce accounts for only 7% of total retail sales … it’s somewhat of a stretch to say that same day delivery will “shake up” retail.

A bit too much hyperbole, for me

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Opinion, , , , , , , ,

Testing Same Day Delivery

The Wall Street Journal reported, today, on eBay and Amazon testing same-day delivery in a couple of major markets.  Here’s a link to the story.

In the San Francisco area, eBay has hired a crew of people, essentially, concierge shoppers, who will locate the product you want at a local store, buy and deliver it to you within one hour of the time you place the order.  Wow, quite a high level of customer service.

Don’t expect this to be a viable service in Yuma, Arizona.

I’m not sure it would be viable even in all of the top ten markets in the US.  But it will be very interesting to watch it.

Based upon the anecdotes of the article, we can imagine this service being used by customers in major markets (where there may be sufficient aggregated demand for such a service) for whom convenience carries a very high value and who is less price sensitive than average.

I think that’s a pretty limited market … but the beauty of the web / ecommerce, is, in part, it’s ability to aggregate demand in ways we’ve never been able to do under earlier retail models.

The economics of same-day delivery are very difficult to make work.

We’ll know same-day delivery has worked when FedEx, UPS and the USPS begin to offer the service.  But don’t hold your breath!

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, News, Opinion, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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