Google Joins The Same-Day Delivery Crowd, But It’s Still Not Fast Enough

Written by Frank Hayes
October 31st, 2012

Now Google is testing same-day delivery, too. That isn’t likely to have Amazon, ebay, Walmart or any other quick-delivery wannabes quaking in their boots, because Google’s trial looks pretty much like all the rest. But there’s a question overshadowing all these efforts: How quickly do either E-tailers or brick-and-mortar chains have to do those deliveries?

For those few critical days before Christmas, any same-day delivery for last-minute orders could be a high-margin bonanza for retailers, as panicked shoppers are willing to pay full price. But for the rest of the year, the customers already know what they expect when they order something for quick delivery. And the benchmark to beat isn’t Amazon. It’s Domino’s.

Details of the Google trial in San Francisco are scarce. But according to a New York Times report last Friday (Oct. 26), its customers are limited to Google employees and hangers-on. The search giant has cut deals with existing delivery companies and with several national chains for the products to deliver. Google’s role is presumably to accept orders, handle the money and coordinate the deliveries.

In other words, it sounds a lot like ebay’s same-day delivery experiment, except that Google hasn’t committed to ebay’s one-hour delivery time—the Times story says Google will deliver “in a matter of hours.

(Some tech bloggers with overactive imaginations have also suggested that Google plans to use its experimental self-driving car for deliveries to cut out the cost of the driver. Um, no. Leaving aside the astronomical cost of insurance for that plan—what could possibly go wrong with a car piloted by Google Maps?—it would mean the customer would have to walk outside to the double-parked car, figure out how to retrieve her package while not stealing anyone else’s, and somehow securely sign for it. Someday, maybe. Today, a driver is definitely a better idea.)

The fundamental problem with all these quick-delivery trials is that they’re calibrating their efforts with an eye on Amazon. The thinking seems to be that if Amazon requires ridiculously early ordering and only offers a four-hour delivery window in the evening, that’s the minimum competitors have to meet.

Yes, that is same-day delivery. And for a few days of the year right before Christmas, when conventional delivery for E-Commerce orders becomes impractical, that type of same-day can be really profitable for last-minute orders from shoppers who are willing to pay for the privilege and wait around for the package to arrive. Right now, E-Commerce drops off dramatically on December 21. Any type of same-day delivery can recoup sales on those lost days.

But the other 360 days of the year, that’s not realistic. What is realistic is that lots of customers enjoy same-day delivery all the time, and they have for decades. They order a pizza and, in something less than an hour, it’s at their door for a small delivery charge. That’s what shoppers are going to expect from same-day delivery.

Not “order before noon.” Not four-hour delivery windows. Not even a long delay between ordering and delivery. Customers know they can have a pizza delivered in an hour. They know it’s no harder to deliver a Cuisinart or a pair of shoes or a sweater than it is to deliver that pizza. If Domino’s can deliver inside a 30-minute window, why can’t Walmart, ebay, Google and Amazon?

They don’t care that Amazon needs a long lead time because its few-and-far-between distribution centers are set up for shipping, not quick delivery. Or that Walmart’s use of UPS for deliveries means it’s stuck with UPS’s turnaround time. Pizza chains have set the standard: You have to deliver the goods before the food gets cold. And customers know it’s possible, because the pizza chains do it all the time.


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.