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Smart Buying

Retailers Speeding Up Holiday Deliveries in 2014

Following Amazon’s lead, merchants are getting packages to you faster.


Your holiday parcels won’t be arriving by drone just yet, but retailers are working to get your purchases to you more quickly and with less hassle. This holiday season, expect to see many stores ramp up and promote free buy-online, pick-up-in-store services, which reserve the item for you.

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Some retailers, including Williams-Sonoma and Brookstone, as well as several large mall operators, are working with Deliv, a crowdsourced delivery service that depends on local drivers using their own cars -- a la Uber, the ride-sharing service. Deliv makes same-day deliveries to customers in and around certain cities for about the cost of standard shipping.

And many retailers, including Macy’s and Walmart, are using traditional store locations as fulfillment centers for online orders. So there’s a better chance that the gift you ordered will be shipped from across town or a neighboring state, rather than from across the country.


“Everyone’s playing catch-up with Amazon,” says analyst Anne Zybowski, of Kantar Retail. “Amazon set an expectation with shoppers that they should be able to get free shipping and have their order in two days.” Amazon also now offers same-day delivery in about a dozen cities. It has even installed lockers in retail spaces, such as 7-Elevens, to act as virtual doormen, accepting deliveries of small packages and securing them until you arrive. That’s a plus for shoppers who don’t want, say, their new tablet sitting on the doorstep all day.

Most retailers can’t yet keep pace with same-day delivery and secure locker drop-offs, says Zybowski. But many are beefing up behind-the-scenes systems, including supply chains and inventory tracking, in an effort to get the goods to you more quickly.