Online shopping typically blends the instant gratification of clicking to buy with the patience-trying need to wait a day or more until the product is in your hands. But the burgeoning field of same-day shipping services is quickly changing all that.
It costs a bit more, and the logistics of it all are mind-blowing, but the ability to buy something online and find it at your doorstep inside of the time it takes to watch a football game is very real. And while you can’t buy everything this way (alcohol, tobacco and large items aren’t available), you can buy enough that once you try it out, it’s tough to go back to shopping online the old way.
Here’s a look at three of the most popular same-day shippers, along with the advantages and drawbacks of each.
Google Shopping Express
The ubiquitous, street-mapping, boundaries-pushing emperor of all things Internet is dipping its toes into ultra-fast service, but only in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area for now. (To be notified when Google Shopping Express expands to your area, click on the link above and sign up.) With such heavy hitters as Target, Office Depot, Costco, Whole Foods and Staples in its stable, Google charges no subscription fee and $5 for each store pick-up, promising delivery within three to five hours.
If Google Shopping Express is in your area, you’re likely to see one of these cars on the roadways. If you spot one, get out of its way because it’s probably in a hurry.
Bottom line: The price is right, but the program is in its infancy and isn’t currently an option for most customers. Once Google Shopping Express gets rolling, we will see if it’s a big hit like Hangouts or a dud like Wave.
With a $299 annual membership fee (although there’s a free, month-long trial to get you going) and $35 minimum orders, Amazon Fresh makes you pay well to live a hermetic life as it hunts, gathers and delivers its wares to you.
The service is available in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco and is slowly branching out to other markets. Food is the big draw of the service, but certain hefty sellers from Amazon’s main storefront are also available. You can order in the morning and have your items by dinner, or order late and get them early the next morning —and this may be just the beginning of things to come. Never satisfied with good-enough, Amazon has famously expressed interest in delivering products instantly via drones.
Bottom line: If you’re a heavy user and really hate grocery shopping, Amazon Fresh makes sense. For most people who happen to live in its service area, though, the subscription fee makes it an extravagance.
The online auction house wants to be more than the place where you buy antiques and sell stuff you don’t want anymore. Like Google, eBay Now charges no subscription fee and $5 per store pickup. The Now service currently covers the largest area on this list, with its tentacles in Chicago, Dallas, New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. Deliveries come one or two hours after you order, courtesy of some these rides. EBay seems to be locked with Google in an effort to snag exclusive relationships with retailers, although there is some overlap. For now, Best Buy, Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Target, Urban Outfitters and Walgreens are working with the company.
Bottom line: With the most service markets, cheap delivery costs and fast service, eBay’s same-day delivery operation is the leader in the young field.
Online shopping image via Shutterstock