Amazon sets high bar on delivery… but retailers can top it

The availability of 2-day delivery via Amazon Prime has fundamentally reshaped consumers’ expectations of ‘acceptable’ online delivery times and charges.

Research conducted IBM shows that 72% of consumers now consider the availability of two-day delivery important when choosing whether or not to make an online or mobile purchase. Many expect next-day, same-day, or even 1-2 hour delivery.

However, the same research showed that existing bricks-and-mortar retailers have a potential advantage over Amazon and its online ilk. More consumers than ever like to pick up or return their online purchases from a store. 74% consider it important to offer in-store pickup, and almost as many choose that option even if offered free shipping.

For those who prefer express shipping, many are willing to pay extra for it.

As IBM’s John Stelzer writes, ‘ship from store’ can be a competitive advantage for traditional bricks-and-mortars.

Several retailers, including Macy’s, Gap, and Best Buy, are leveraging their stores as warehouses, expanding them to become fulfillment centers for quickly shipping products to their customers.

Best Buy, for example, has been able to cut its average online delivery times by two days.   And, as it has an extensive geographic network of stores, it has also been able to reduce shipping costs.

Retailers are finding other competitive advantages, too.  For example, excess inventory can be sold on line at full price and fulfilled from an overstocked store rather than having to mark down that inventory at end of season at that location.


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