E-fulfillment: The opportunity in same day delivery

Our industry needs to listen carefully to our customers to stay ahead of the e-fulfillment game.

By ·

Lately, I’ve been in full-blown grumpy old man mode. It started a couple of weeks ago when someone’s administrator asked me if I was planning to spend Thanksgiving with my grand kids. I will admit my mustache is greyer than it used to be, but hey, I’m not that old - am I? Last week, I sounded like Mr. Wilson from Dennis The Menace as I argued with a college kid across the street who insists on parking on the grass in front of my house rather than in the paved parking lot behind her building. I felt like a Luddite reading a story on same-day delivery
in the New York Times last week

The Times piece described the lengths eBay is going to roll out a new local shopping service that promises not just same day delivery, but delivery in about an hour. Available now in Manhattan, the Internet retailer has plans to soon offer the service out to 25 cities.

Now, we’ve all read about Amazon’s strategy of rolling out nearly 4 dozen distribution centers near major metropolitan areas in the U.S. to do same day delivery, a service that Amazon says is unprofitable, eBay is taking an entirely different tack. Rather than build millions of square feet of distribution space, eBay is deploying an army of bike messengers, cabbies and subway riders who get an alert on their phones, make a mad dash to the nearest retail partner (in the Times story, it was Babies “R” Us) to purchase the items needed to fill the order, then make another mad dash to deliver the order to the consumer in that one-hour time frame. All for 5 bucks - except that during the holiday season, eBay will offer the service for free.

Like Amazon, eBay tells us that it will lose money on the service. Instead, it’s all about building a loyal customer base, according to the Times.

The grumpy old man in me says this is just another of those crazy, Internet-only business models where companies are rewarded for losing money if they gain customers. The materials handling journalist in me says these are trends our industry needs to watch. Yes, retailers are presently looking at multi-channel distribution centers to fill Omni-channel orders. But I wonder if in the future - the very near future - much of this action isn’t going to move to the retail store to make the most of the brick and mortar infrastructure and get closer to the customer. We need to pay attention and figure out how our solutions fit in this new world.


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Outsourced Transportation Management
All the benefits of owning a fleet without the headache of managing it.
Download Today!
From the August 2017 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers, and North American ports have crossed the service excellence finish line ahead of their competitors? Our readers have cast their votes, and now it’s time to introduce this year’s winners of the coveted Quest for Quality Awards.
BMW Takes the Inland Road to Efficiency
Global Logistics: No Shortcuts to Security
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Getting the most out of your 3PL relationship
Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
34th Annual Quest for Quality Awards: Winners Revealed
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers, and North American ports have crossed the service...
2017 Top 50 3PLs: Investment and Consolidation Maintain Traction
The trend set over the past few years for mergers and acquisitions has hardly subsided, and a fresh...

2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...