While many stories are simply reporting the expansion into 6 cities, what is actually going on here today is that Amazon is expanding _beyond_ the cities and into the suburbs, and they are now offering a 7 day a week delivery option in all of those cities.
That is actually a much bigger story than it first appears, which is why I am covering it even though it’s not relevant to a blog about digital reading.
I can see from the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive and from my past coverage that the 6 cities mentioned today ( Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC) already had same day delivery. In many of those cities, the delivery option was limited to the city itself, and it was limited to only 5 or 6 days a week.
With today’s expansion, Amazon Prime members will be able to order any of a million eligible items from Amazon and (with luck) get it delivered the same day – even on Sunday. For a mere $6 per order fee, even Amazon Prime members way out in the suburbs can now get same day delivery (including weekends).
Before today that option was only available in parts of select markets, including NYC and SF, where Amazon was testing a distribution network for daily delivery of groceries:
In DC, for example, the service was limited to weekdays and you had to place an order before 11 am; also, as a resident of a not-so-distant suburb I was excluded. Now, the new expansion pushes the daily deadline to 1pm and the area of coverage has expanded to include me.
And that is a very big deal. The single biggest weakpoint for online shopping has been the wait for an order to arrive. Over the years Amazon has addressed that issue by offering 2-day shipping, and then 1-day shipping, and now Amazon has made buying from them nearly as fast as shopping in a store.
That could well accelerate the trend away from shopping in physical stores. The WSJ reported last week that:
Aside from a small uptick in April, shopper visits have fallen by 5% or more from a year earlier in every month for the past two years, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based data firm that records store visits for retailers using tracking devices installed at 40,000 U.S. outlets. Even as warmer temperatures replace the harsh winter weather this year, store visits fell by nearly 7% in June and nearly 5% in July, according to ShopperTrak.
Retailers from Walmart to Target are adapting to the change by offering a better online experience and faster deliveries, but thanks to today’s news Amazon is well positioned to counter their competitors.
As Techcrunch pointed out in their story, Amazon is the only online retailer that offers a same day delivery service with coverage so broad that it includes suburbs like where I live. That’s going to give Amazon a decided advantage over their online competitors, and the offline ones as well.
Amazon’s same-day delivery option now covers a heck of a lot more people than it did before. It might even cover you, so you might want to check the list of eligible zip codes and see if yours is listed.