First there was free shipping, then there was two-day shipping and now … same-day shipping? Ecommerce customers who are used to Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery are beginning to expect even more from online retailers. That’s why some experts believe this holiday shopping season could be the year that same-day shipping takes off.
Big online retailers including Amazon, eBay and most recently Google have been testing same-day shipping in select markets for the past couple of years. Amazon now offers “Get it Today” in 12 major markets, seven days a week, through a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service. eBay Now and Google Shopping Express both allow you to order from local stores and schedule a delivery time that same day.
While same-day shipping hasn’t widely taken off yet, there are a few reasons the concept could reach its “tipping point” this holiday season.
Growing smartphone use has helped make same-day shipping possible by training users to expect instant gratification and by enabling retailers to quickly find, connect with and direct delivery people. As smartphones become an indispensable shopping tool, it’s becoming more common to see customers “showroom” in a local store, find a better price for an item online, then place an order on their phones to have it delivered that day.
Services such as Uber and TaskRabbit have shown businesses that there’s a huge untapped market of freelancers who are willing to do things like run errands and make deliveries for a (sometimes very small) fee. This is making $5 same-day shipping (widely agreed on as the tipping point price at which the service is perceived as “affordable”) a reality.
The success of Amazon Prime has made the idea of paying more for fast delivery more acceptable to the average consumer. From there, it’s just a small step to paying a bit more for really fast delivery.
On an average day, sitting at home waiting for a delivery person might not be any easier than running out to the store — and probably not worth an extra fee. However, avoiding the crowds during holiday shopping time, while still enjoying the luxury of last-minute shopping, could be a big draw.
If your business sells via eBay, Amazon or Google+, you’ll definitely want to look into offering same-day shipping this holiday season.
Major brick-and-mortar retailers, including Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, are rolling out same-day shipping in select markets this holiday season. Some of America’s biggest mall operators are partnering with retailers and partially subsidizing the cost of delivery in an effort to keep customers coming to their malls.
Since same-day shipping requires having locations or warehouses in the areas where you offer the service, big retail chains have an advantage. But what can a small retailer or Internet retailer do to compete?
- Offer in-store, same-day pickup for online orders. If your store has an online component, offering same-day pickup can be the next best thing to same-day shipping.
- Watch and wait. While the holiday season is a prime time for customers to demand same-day shipping, it’s also a make-or-break time for customer perceptions of your business. Instead of jumping into same-day shipping, watch how the concept pans out for bigger retailers, what bumps in the road they encounter and what errors to avoid. Doing so can help you learn the ropes before you try to offer same-day shipping yourself.
- Offer free shipping. Surveys consistently show that online shoppers prefer free shipping to paying for faster shipping. In fact, they’ll often order more than they planned just to hit a free shipping limit. It’s no wonder that last year’s holiday shopping season, 64 percent of retailers reported free shipping was their most effective holiday marketing strategy.
For more insight, check out our ecommerce tips and trends page.