Deliver Us From Amazon: Why The E-Commerce Titan May Not Win The Same-Day

Investor’s Business Daily – Roadie, a startup that gets everyday folks to deliver packages while on their way to wherever they’re already driving, has notched a lot of oddball same-day delivery jobs that Amazon (AMZN) doesn’t do. A glass aquarium from Fountain Valley to Long Beach, Calif. A set of keys to someone locked out of her house in Georgia at 2 a.m. A box of trial evidence from San Francisco to Napa in time for a panicked lawyer’s court date.

The driving force behind this latest retail trend, as ever, is Amazon. Its Prime same-day delivery service follows a free-shipping perk that is now a de facto requirement for online shopping. But after scrambling to catch up to Amazon on free shipping, these old brick-and-mortar titans are rushing to stay ahead of the e-commerce giant on same-day delivery. And this next online battleground might actually tilt in their favor, some analysts say.

Speedy delivery doesn’t come cheap. Customers could pay anywhere from $5.99 to $9.99 per shipment for the pleasure. But demand continues to mount, which makes it “absolutely essential” for retailers in order to compete in this “instant-gratification economy,” said Retail Metrics head Ken Perkins, who thinks one-hour delivery might be the next goal. “People want to see a package on their door when they return from work.”

Boston Retail Partners analyst Scott Langdoc knows that serious pain. As a former C-suite exec at “mini-Webvan” delivery company PDQuick at the start of the new millennium, he says that Google Maps would have made all the difference.

“If I had the tools that are available today, starting with Google Maps but fast-forwarding to the (artificial intelligence and machine learning) tools that are available today, it’s amazing to think what I could’ve done at my scale or what Webvan or Kozmo could’ve done at their scale,” he said.

Like many of its peers of the time, PDQuick didn’t survive. It was bought out and went back to its roots as a scaled-down SoCal neighborhood delivery service, Pink Dot.

“What we’d intended to do before the 2001 implosion was basically do what Shipt did, which was to generalize the delivery and logistics capability for any retail platform so we could bring in inventory. A retailer brought in drivers and you would be able, based on location, to provide that capability,” said Langdoc.

“Fast forward 15 years, that is what Shipt is; that is what Instacart is.”

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