Amazon-USPS Sunday Delivery a Win for Consumers

Nov 12, 2013 10:25 AM  By

amazon-usps-300I spent a small part of last week’s staycation running errands with my wife. And that included package pick-ups at a UPS distribution facility in Stratford, CT and a FedEx store in Fairfield, CT. It did not include the package my wife had sent to a local Payless Shoe Source, which, based on the lack of urgency shown by my wife, must be for shoes in sizes too big right now for our 3-year-old son.

My wife didn’t want these packages delivered to our house. Even though she works weekends and is off 2 weekdays, she didn’t want to risk not being home when a delivery arrived. Like most consumers, there’s the worry that someone will following the delivery truck and grab the left-at-the-door package for himself. Not to mention any less-likely scenarios – like a wild animal eating the contents of the package, bugs get inside it, a flash flood damaging the packaging, etc.

So it sounds like Amazon did its homework when it decided to offer Sunday delivery to its Amazon Prime members. And the U.S. Postal Service was smart enough to pounce on the opportunity to be its Sunday delivery provider.

Shipping experts Tim Sailor and Rob Martinez both reminded Multichannel Merchant that ultimately, consumers want as many choices as possible when it comes to package delivery. More consumers are home on the weekend than they are weekdays. If they want to be home when a package shows up on their front step, then Sunday delivery makes the most sense.

The cash-strapped USPS is handcuffed by Congress, which won’t allow it to revamp its business model so it can get out of the red. 5-day delivery has been shot down because Congress says Saturday mail is “tradition.” So the addition of a revenue stream via an Amazon partnership should be applauded.

What will this mean for other merchants? Usually, when Amazon makes a trailblazing announcement, we hear that the rest of the direct-to-customer industry is doomed. But as we learned from emulating Amazon in the past, scary terms such as “free shipping” don’t necessarily kill the bottom line. Take Vermont Teddy Bear as an example: It offers free shipping year-around, but its customers will pay the price for next-day delivery.

I expect other merchants to follow Amazon and make Sunday delivery optional. The question though is how soon other merchants will make Sunday delivery a reality.