In a move to compete with brick-and-mortar retailers this holiday shopping season, Amazon.com on Thursday announced new shipping options that aim to get goods to consumers much faster with local express delivery in seven major cities. The new option gives customers what many have clamored for since the early days of e-commerce: Same-day delivery.
Amazon will initially offer the service in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The company said it will extend the service to Chicago, Indianapolis and Phoenix in coming months.
"We want to make online shopping as convenient as possible," said Girish Lakshman, vice president of transportation at Amazon. "We're continuously working to speed up delivery times, and customers receiving items on the same day as ordered is an exciting step. Now, if a customer needs a last-minute present for a birthday or wants a copy of their book-club book before the weekend starts, they can order from Amazon instead of the hassle of a last-minute trip to the mall."
Amazon's entire online inventory won't qualify for same-day delivery, but the e-commerce giant is making thousands of items available for local express delivery. Customers will pay $19 per item for the privilege, unless they are Amazon Prime members. Amazon Prime members pay $6 per item. Amazon Prime is a $79 annual membership program that gives customers faster shipping.
Of course, Amazon does have some rules and restrictions for its new same-day delivery service. In most cities where the service is offered, consumers need to order by 10 or 10:30 a.m. Las Vegas consumers can order as late as 11 a.m., and folks in Seattle as late as 1 p.m.
One-Upping In-Store Pickup
Amazon has also expanded Saturday delivery options. Items ordered before the cutoff time on Thursday using two-day shipping will be delivered on Saturday instead of Monday. For Prime members, Thursday-to-Saturday delivery is free using two-day shipping. For all other customers, the service is offered at two-day shipping rates.
Finally, Amazon spelled out its order deadlines for the holiday shopping season. Consumers who want free shipping but still want to receive the items before Christmas Day need to order by Dec. 17. Items shipped through standard shipping need to be ordered by Dec. 20. Consumers who choose two-day shipping need to order by Dec. 22. One-day shipping orders need to be placed by Dec. 23 and same-day shipping orders by Dec. 24.
Current Analysis analyst Brad Shimmin predicts Amazon's same-day delivery service will be painful for larger brick-and-mortar stores, especially bookstores. Consumers who visit a Barnes & Noble or Borders store only to be told the book is out of stock but can be ordered within a week, he said, often opt to buy the book from Amazon instead.
"This same-day delivery strengthens Amazon's argument against the brick-and-mortar competitors in books, but Amazon is so much more than books," Shimmin said. "This probably hurts companies like Best Buy as well because they pride themselves on consumers being able to order online and pick up the merchandise on the same day in-store for that instant gratification. Amazon is sort of one-upping them because they are delivering it to you."