I have to admit, when I first read about the same day delivery service I was a bit skeptical. How would it work? Why would I really want it? Could anyone really do it at scale on a sustained basis?
Well, early this morning I was reading the news on my iPhone and received a message from Amazon that all Prime members now had access to same day delivery (1-2 hours from order) through its new service called Prime Now. #PRIMENOW It piqued my interest. Is this real? Can they really pull it off? So I downloaded the Amazon Prime Now app and started browsing. I was amazed at the breadth of offerings from grocery to sports to electronics and more. I’ve been in the market for a luggage rack for my truck and found exactly the type I wanted. I knew we were out of eggs and browsing the groceries made me think about breakfast so I added some free range organic eggs and all natural sausages. Click click click and my order was in process.
They gave me a delivery window of 8-10am (my order was placed around 5:45am). I received my order exactly as expected at 9am and was able to make breakfast before the rest of my day unfolded. The driver told me I was among the first 10 orders in Indy. This was a profoundly positive experience.
Amazon Prime Now is currently available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Manhattan and Miami. The service will continue rolling out to additional cities in 2015
What does this mean?
It is a game changer. Not immediately, but with a sustained effort, I believe this could drastically change how consumers (and businesses) think about behave with their purchasing. Home delivery is great and has been around for a long time (think the milkman of old, bottle water delivery etc). We get deliveries from Amazon and tons of other companies all the time. Some of these are next day or 2nd day which is super convenient. We get a weekly grocery delivery of organic and locally grown produce from Green Bean Delivery which is FANTASTIC! We have to plan our order by Monday at noon and receive our delivery of groceries on Wednesday of each week.
All that said, the idea that one can simply run out of something or decide one “needs” (wants) something, almost anything, and make it so two hours later is different. This is what 90% of running errands ends up being. Going to the store for this and that and picking up a few things in between larger shopping trips happens to all of us (or our families) every day. What if we could cut most of that out? What if you need something you simply think it (a couple of swipes is not much work) and it arrives in about the same time it would take you to go out and shop, pick your items, load your car, drive home, unload your car. This requires a different kind of thinking around what is possible, but I don’t think its a that big of a leap for most of us.
- Time – For no extra cost (driver tip cancels out gas you would have used perhaps), it frees up time. How much time in a week do we spend running to the store, shopping and returning? 4 hours? 8 hours? More? What more productive things or fun things can one do with that time. It is big.
- Convenience – No need to plan very far ahead, need something, make it appear with no effort. Wow.
For Small Business
- Time – Same as above, many small businesses buy things by shopping. Eliminate that need and do you eliminate a need for headcount manning the store while someone is out buying supplies?
- Service – out of something? – now you can replenish immediately and provide your customers whatever you were missing in a short time.
- Investment savings – reduce safety stock/inventory on certain items and replenish each day as needed. For many small businesses (and large) space to store inventory is a real issue. What if you could simply replenish as needed? Though this service is focused on consumers, for many small businesses, it could be a better alternative to traditional distribution or running to Costco or Sam’s Club for stuff. I’d expect Amazon to build out this aspect over time.
For Retailers & Distributors
- Increased retail competition – just when you thought it could not get worse for retailers, it is getting worse. Things that one swings in to just grab could be diverted to this. Think of convenience, pharmacies (e.g. Walgreens and CVS), grocery (Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Publix), electronics (Best Buy, Costco, Walmart, Target), sports equipment (e.g. Dick’s, Sports Authority).
- Increased distributor competition – the businesses that source from traditional distributors could shift some of their purchases to this kind of model. It will create the need for distributors to up their service level to stay competitive which can also drive up their costs.
Overall, I think I just experienced the future today. I’d love to hear your thoughts.