Amazon Expands Free Same-Day, Next-Day for Prime Members

Continuing in perpetual motion mode, Amazon has expanded the number of cities and towns offering free same-day and next-day delivery for Prime members from 5,000 to 8,000, while also leveraging its Whole Foods acquisition and new bookstores in an all-out holiday season assault.

This is an incredible expansion, considering the fact that these Prime “need it now” services were offered in “just” 1,000 U.S. cities and towns a little over a year and a half ago.

Taking aim at the perception of same-day and next-day as being an urban perk only, the company said its Prime Now service will be available in smaller cities and towns in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, among others.

Its massive fulfillment network apparently has achieved enough critical mass to make this happen. As of November, Amazon had 299 U.S. facilities handling fulfillment and distribution, including 116 fulfillment centers, 46 sortation centers and 51 Prime Now hubs, according to MWPVL International, a supply chain and logistics consulting firm that tracks the giant.

“We are continually investing in Prime, adding more selection and making delivery faster and more convenient,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President of Amazon Prime in a release. “In fact, in 2016 the last Prime free same-day order from Amazon.com delivered in time for Christmas was ordered at 10:23 a.m. on Christmas Eve.”

The company also has 12 physical bookstores selling a range of Amazon products (Echo, Kindle, Fire devices) as well as popular toys, games and other products.

Not to be left out in the cold, new acquisition Whole Foods will be pressed into holiday service, offering Amazon products and gift items including beauty and body care sets and sustainable holiday gift wrap at its 431 stores in 20 states.

Lastly, this will be the first holiday season featuring Amazon Key, a service that allows Prime members to receive deliveries when they’re out. The jury is still out on adoption of this service, which some view as creepy even if secure; it’s also offered by Walmart, which beat Amazon to the punch by a month. Couriers access their home via smart locks, and monitor the delivery over home cameras. Amazon Key became available in 37 metro areas in October.