Amazon Plans to Offer One-Day Delivery, but Is It Really Possible?

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has announced it will offer free one-day shipping of packages to some members of its Prime service. Over the past few days, it has faced labor union objections about the strain that the service will put on workers. Even with labor issues, Amazon is still among America’s companies with the best reputations.

The new system will require perfect timing and probably more effort from its employees. The number of items that will have to be put through the system quickly could explode. This is how the new shipment method works for Amazon customers who qualify.

Amazon announced the one-day Prime plan on its recent earnings call. Amazon has over 100 million members of its Prime service, although outsiders do not know how many are in the United States. A Prime subscriber gets a combination of free delivery, music and storage features, and its famous streaming video service. The price of Prime is $119 a year. Amazon’s investment to turn two-day service to one-day service will cost the company about $800 million this year.

Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky announced: “We’re currently working on evolving our Prime free two-day shipping program to be a free one-day shipping program.” In reaction, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum yesterday said, “With two-day Prime shipping, Amazon fulfillment workers currently face speeds of 200-300 orders per hour in 12-hour shifts. They struggle already to maintain that pace.”

Many Amazon Prime members in large cities already have one-day shipping. For the most part, it is easy to use.

Only some items Amazon sells are available for the one-day shipping service. Amazon puts the number of these in the millions but does not say which categories of items most likely qualify. The process is not without complications.

Available items carry a special logo on Amazon pages that marks them as eligible for the service. Customers can add marked items to their cart. Items are delivered no later than 9 p.m. the next day. However, Amazon shows Prime members by what time they have to order an item to qualify. The process is called “order within” and carries a clock illustration as a visual system to aid Prime members before they put things into their carts. Amazon says that “delivery date may become unavailable within that window of time due to changes in inventory or delivery capacity before you place your order.” Once free one-day shipping is guaranteed, the Prime member gets an email with a confirmation.

Amazon does have a number of rules about one-day shipping. People have to be home to accept the package. Certain large items almost never qualify. In many cases, items sent to offices cannot be delivered. Food items are not part of the service, but Amazon does have a deal with some restaurants for free delivery of food so people can binge watch its streaming video service.

Finally, Amazon has not announced when the new service will be available. So Prime members may have to wait months before they can even take advantage of it. But if you use any of these addresses, you’re still not going to get free same-day delivery.


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