Why 2017 Is a Tipping Point for Same-Day Delivery

November 15, 2017

3:50 pm

Same-day delivery. In the space of the last decade, it has gone from a crazy fever dream deep within the Amazon homebase to a delightful perk. But in 2017, we’ve made an important, if subtle, shift: Same-day delivery has gone from being a unique value-add to an outright expectation. How did we wind up here?

The Stats

First debuted by Amazon in 2009, same-day delivery was initially rolled out in just a handful of cities for an extra 15 dollars an item as a great way to encourage causal shoppers to become Prime members (who just paid six dollars) and to encourage Prime members to shop more. Now, it’s everywhere.

New data released today from Dropoff, which provides a same-day delivery service for businesses, reveals that the majority of U.S. holiday shoppers — 60 percent — are more likely to purchase from retailers who offer same-day delivery. And of course that number is higher for those planning last-minute shopping. Of those respondents, who represent 67 percent of consumers, a full 90 percent planned to opt for retailers providing same-day delivery.

I probably don’t need to tell you why those numbers are important: 2017 holiday season digital sales are projected to pass up $100 billion, up 16.5 percent over the previous year’s shopping season.

The Amazon Effect

It’s not hard to find the culprit behind consumers’ expectations for instant delivery: Amazon loves pulling this trick.

When the online retail giant first started offering ebooks, they intentionally priced them lower than physical books or other ebooks on the market in order to change audiences’ perception of what that price point should be. In other words, they sacrificed their margins in order to gain market share. With same-day delivery, Amazon cut into their own margins again in order to shape consumers’ expectations.

The release for Dropoff’s new report puts it best: “This comes at a time when consumers have higher expectations than ever for faster delivery — one outcome of what some refer to as the ‘Amazon Effect.'”

The expectation of same-day delivery is great for Amazon, which continues its crackerjack growth. It’s great for consumers, who can now keep up with their hyperactive internet-driven attention spans. But it means that small business retailers everywhere have to hustle to keep up.

Jeff Bezos’ net worth is nearing $100 billion. Sure, the fact that digital sales over the entire 2017 holiday season are projected to be the same is unrelated, but the symbolism behind that coincidence isn’t tough to figure out.

Read more about Amazon on TechCo

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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