Business

The biggest problem with same-day shipping: It’s not fast enough

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Earlier today, I bought a new wireless router on Amazon, which the company says I’ll get by Thursday. The problem: I want it right now.

For Amazon, eBay, and, most recently, Google, the solution for impatient, lazy people like me is simple — same-day shipping. But while same-day shipping is pretty fast by current standards, it’s still not fast enough for Tom Allason, the CEO of same-hour shipping service Shutl. Allason says consumers are already looking for something better than same-day, and the sad part is that he’s completely right.

“Expectations about shipping speed are moving fast. It’s quite simply inevitable that consumers are going to want something better than same-day. They just don’t know it yet,” Allason said.

To illustrate how this dynamic works, Allason took a page from comedian Louis CK’s now-infamous “Everything’s Amazing and No One’s Happy” routine. In that story, online shoppers take on the role of Louis CK’s unhappy planemate, who complains about the malfunctioning in-flight Wi-Fi he only just learned existed. For consumers, same-day shipping is that in-flight Wi-Fi.

The problem, Allason says, is that the definition of what’s “amazing” over time shifts closer and closer to “commonplace.” It won’t be long until same-day shipping just isn’t a major feat anymore, and consumers are going to want more.

prime-speeds

Above: Not. Fast. Enough.

Shutl’s solution to this should be pretty obvious: Rather than focus on same-day shipping, it’s pushing things a bit further with same-hour shipping, which Shutl pulls off by working alongside local shops and carriers, not big, distant warehouses.

And the system seems to work pretty well: Shutl’s current shipping record is roughly 15 minutes, which makes “same-day delivery” sound archaic in comparison. (The service right now is only available in the U.K., though Allason says a multicity U.S. launch is planned for this year.)

What’s strange, though, is that the more I listened to Allason’s take on the state of shipping, the more I realized that he wasn’t talking about shipping at all. Shutl is really a delivery service, something closer to your pizza guy than your Fed-Ex truck driver. And maybe that’s exactly the point.

“E-commerce is almost unrecognizable now from how it looked when it started, but we’re still waiting a day or many days for a delivery. The shipping experience just hasn’t changed very much,” Alason said.

You can probably see where this is going. “But what about instant shipping?” I asked, hoping to take the conversation to its most absurd extreme.

Allason, however, had a response ready: “Star Trek-like teleporters and networks of 3D printers. People are already making these things happen,” he said.

I don’t even want to know what happens when consumers aren’t happy with teleporters.

FedEX Bro: Flickr/DaveFayram


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