Delivery Time of Online Purchases Continues to Shrink

Remember the days when it was not a big deal to wait a week for delivery of an online purchase?  Well, in our wickedly fast moving world, those days are long past.  Customers are no longer willing to wait very long for what was bought online.  In many customers’ minds, they believe that since they spent the money, they deserve to receive their purchase as quickly as possible.

Most prominent online sellers understand this and, in fact, are likely the reason people now expect nearly instant gratification.  These companies have spent billions of dollars creating sophisticated distribution and transportation networks that have dramatically shortened delivery time.  In many ways, distribution improvement is where the real competitive advantage rests for e-commerce firms.  It is one way a company can differentiate itself from competitors that sell similar products.

However, the improvement in product delivery is not confined to retailers possessing massive warehouses and fast moving delivery vehicles.  It also includes the utilization of personal delivery services.  As discussed in this Fast Company story, eBay has rolled out a product called eBay Now that will deliver an online order within one hour.  Currently the service is limited to New York and the San Francisco Bay area, though there are plans to expand the service to other regions.

The story offers a day-with-a-delivery-guy perspective of how this service works.  In this case, the service is in New York with most deliveries taking place on foot.  While a fun read, one has to wonder if the delivery efforts described are really worth it in the long-run.