Time is the most important currency in the age of Internet purchasing. The shortest possible path to the consumer is being taken by online reailers in the USA i.e. eBay NOW and the bulk discounter Walmart. Quick availability will become the main customer demand and the decisive sales argument from the supplier, irrespective whether online or for stationaryretail.

It was not so long ago that overnight delivery service seemed like huge progress. Then Amazon built its fulfillmentcenters, huge warehouses near large cities that put it as close to customers as possible. Thanks to umpteen such centers with tens of thousands employees, Amazon can offer same-day delivery in at least 11 US cities, surely the most important aspect of future trading activity.

"Future Retail"
, a study by PSFK Labs, sees a significant trend in on-demand shipping:

Patience might be a virtue, but to have to wait one or more work days for an order is a real stumbling block for customer satisfaction.

"Consumers expect to be able to shop any time anywhere," explains Deborah Sharkey, a vice-president at eBay, "and immediate shipping is the logical continuation of this immediate gratification."

In the USA, where Amazon now also promises Sunday delivery, a new career has evolved in the metropolises: Bicycle couriers work with the large shippers and deliver on demand. At the moment, the company is losing money with it, but in the long run it expects this model to be successful.

The on-demand service WunWun is no longer providing and the company sold, yet the idea is clear: Users of the app in New York got access to a shipping service that takes under an hour. After downloading the app for a dollar, the buyer is connected with the corresponding shipper. If the merchandise is available in a store, the delivery is free, otherwise there is a USD 20 fee—the customer chooses. According to the Accenture study mentioned, already a quarter of those surveyed 2014 were willing to pay for immediate delivery.

The last-mile bottleneck in Commerce

Whoever manages to provide same day delivery for a broad spectrum of merchandise will enjoy an enormous market advantage. And those buyers who have hesitated with the comprehensive online purchasing up until now because they wanted their goods immediately will switch from stationary retailers to these suppliers.

However, the on-demand promise is not so easy to fulfill because it also requires optimal shipping conditions as well as a comprehensive inventory and logistics strategy. The last mile is always not only expensive, it is especially hard to get under control.

Right in time for Christmas 2013, the debate about costs for package delivery in central Europe flared up. Not only do the congested streets and remote destinations make fast delivery difficult, but often no one is there to accept the package. Multiple delivery attempts at an address cost time and money, but the usual delivery notice left in the mail box causes frustration for the recipient. A proper solution aredecentralized package stations where packages can be deposited and picked up. Drones and other smallest deliverers are in the discussion for some time. Others share the vision of underground conveyor systems.

However the predictions and commercial scenarios of the future are realized, the challenge for logistics for fast and even faster shipping will continue to grow. SucharitaMulpuru, a trade analyst with Forrester Research, deftly summarizes the development:

The thing that makes Amazon very successful is that it has the entire added-value chain at its disposal. And, Amazon owns the last mile and the moment that is decisive: The moment the package arrives.

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