The New York Times: Ivy Wu did not immediately need the navy lace cocktail dress she ordered the other day. But when a representative from Shoptiques, an e-commerce site, arrived at her Midtown Manhattan office with the dress only hours after Ms. Wu, 26, had placed her order, “I was really impressed that it was here,” she said.
This holiday season, same-day delivery has replaced free shipping as the new must-have promotion. It’s logistically complicated and money-losing — and may not even be a service that consumers want or need, analysts say. But retailers from Walmart to small shops like Shoptiques are willing to take the risk. Even the Postal Service has introduced a same-day option for retailers. And the reason is simple: fear of Amazon.com.
Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer has hinted that it will expand its same-day shipping service, giving customers the immediate gratification that has been the biggest advantage of brick-and-mortar stores.
For small outfits like Shoptiques, it is not an easy proposition. The courier who showed up at Ms. Wu’s office was the company’s head of boutique operations, who has put aside her regular job this holiday season to make deliveries by hand. Bigger retailers, like Toys “R” Us, Macy’s and Target, have worked with eBay to deliver items the same day, as have other old-line stores. Google has begun testing a local delivery service with several chains.
It’s all driven by Amazon,” said Tom Allason, founder and chief executive of Shutl, a British same-day delivery service that will expand to the United States next year. “It’s not really being driven by consumers at the moment.”
Amazon has offered same-day shipping since 2009, but with limits — only in big cities near Amazon warehouses on certain items ordered in the morning.
“It’s the old idiom, ‘time is money,’ ”said Lina Shustarovich, an eBay spokeswoman. “How much time are you saving by not going to the store? People want it now, they want it fast.”
Walmart, which is the nation’s biggest retailer but sells just a fraction of what Amazon does online, is testing same-day shipping during the holiday season in five markets. Generally, it gives shoppers a four-hour delivery window and charges $10 for same- or next-day delivery.
The idea is “to give customers convenience, by combining our online shopping with the local presence of stores,” said Amy Lester, a Walmart spokeswoman for global commerce.
Ms. Lester said, the test is showing that consumers often pick next-day delivery rather than same day. She said thousands of same- and next-day orders had been placed.