In 2018, WSJ columnist Christopher Mims observed:
“Alongside life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you can now add another inalienable right: two-day shipping on practically everything.”
This was before Amazon Prime pushed the stakes further to one-day shipping in 2019, expanded even further this year to same-day shipping for 140 metro areas, and announced its Prime Air drone delivery test later this year in Lockeford, California. Walmart already offers drone delivery to four million customers in six states.
Yesterday’s step change is today’s table stakes.
When Jeff Bezos first introduced Prime in 2005, he called two-day shipping “an indulgent luxury.” At the time, the average e-commerce delivery took eight days. Today, according to McKinsey, 90% of shoppers expect free two-to-three day shipping for every online purchase they make.
The delivery arms race is a catalyst that every brand, large and small, will have to take into account, because it changes consumer expectations across the board.
And yet, it’s good to remember that most brands and retailers can’t out-Amazon Amazon. Delivery speed is only one part of the value proposition.
As Scott Galloway put it,
“In the age of Amazon, retailers must leverage assets that Bezos doesn’t have: When Amazon zigs, retailers must zag.”
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: