Last-minute shoppers and instant gratification junkies rejoice! Amazon.com announced that it is going to start offering same-day shipping just in time for the upcoming holiday shopping season.
The service, dubbed Local Express Delivery, will only be offered in select markets though--so if you live in San Francisco you can put away the confetti. You'll still be using the traditional shipping methods. Sorry.
Basically, in order to be able to meet a same-day delivery commitment Amazon can only really offer the service in large markets within a reasonable distance of a distribution hub. Amazon.com is implementing same-day service in New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Boston, Washington DC, and Seattle. There are plans to add Chicago, Indianapolis, and Phoenix in the near future.
The cut-off time to be able to receive same-day delivery varies from city to city. For most markets the cut-off will be around 10 or 11 AM. Shoppers in Seattle can place orders as late as 1 PM and still get their delivery that same day.
Amazon already has a premium shipping option called Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime members pay $79 per year to subscribe to the service. Members receive unlimited free 2-day shipping on a variety of items, and can upgrade to one-day shipping for an additional cost of $3.99.
Amazon Prime customers in Local Express Delivery markets can upgrade to the same-day delivery service for $5.99. Rates for non-Amazon Prime members are not yet available. Suffice it to say that it is safe to assume that premium shipping will come at a premium cost.
Barnes & Noble already offers a same-day delivery service which is free for orders over $25. However, the Barnes & Noble service is only available in Manhattan. Barnes & Noble, which has both an online and a brick & mortar presence, is one of Amazon's biggest competitors. In addition to competing as retailers, Barnes & Noble is apparently going to unveil its own eReader to compete against Amazon's. Kindle device.
Similar services sprang up a decade ago during the height of the dot.com boom. Kozmo and Urban Fetch offered same-day delivery services. Like Barnes & Noble though, services were limited to the Manhattan market.
I have been an Amazon Prime member for years and I always get my $79 worth out of the deal. There are plenty of times when I have done last minute shopping or been so anxious for a new gadget that I would be willing to pay a little extra. Sadly, Houston is not an Amazon Local Express Delivery market, so I won't get to test it out.
With the world just beginning to claw its way out recession most consumers are still lacking in discretionary cash. As it is, holiday shopping may be lighter than usual and cost-conscious shoppers may be more interested in shopping locally than paying for shipping at all.
However, with threats like the H1N1 flu virus, intrepid shoppers have good reason to make their purchases from the comfort of their office or living room and avoid areas with lots of people and the germs they bring with them.
Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.