Amazon just turned up the heat in the three-way battle for dominance atop ecommerce sellers, announcing it has more than 10 million items that are eligible for its new one-day delivery standard via the Prime subscription service.
The company also said that one-day delivery for Prime is available coast to coast, up from 10,000 cities and towns cited in its Q4 call. Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico have Prime services but delivery times can range from one to five days; Amazon said it is working to improve delivery speeds outside the lower 48.
The 10 million Prime eligible items compares with 220,000 items available for free next-day delivery from Walmart, announced in mid-May, and 35,000 from Target ReStock. Both Walmart and Target tout their same-day delivery and pickup options from vast store networks as an advantage over Amazon.
Amazon noted in a blog post that Prime-eligible products have expanded tenfold since it offered 1 million in 2005, when first introduced two-day delivery of mostly books, music and movies.
“Today, the most popular one-day items range from books, beauty and baby wipes to devices, dish detergent and doggie bags,” Amazon said in the blog post, promising to keep expanding Prime eligible items as well as areas offering free one-day and Prime Now same-day options. Free, that is, with Prime’s $119 annual subscription fee or $12.99 monthly fee.
Outside the U.S., Prime is available in 17 countries, with delivery times varying from one country to the next. In the United Kingdom, for example, Amazon said Prime members often see one-day delivery, with same-day delivery a regular occurrence in Japan.
Prime Now same-day delivery is available from Whole Foods Markets in about 90 U.S. metro areas, while grocery pickup within 30 minutes of an order is available in 30 metro areas, with more to come in 2019.
To make all this happen, Amazon said it has 110 fulfillment centers, 40 package sortation centers, 100 delivery stations and 20 air gateways serving customers in the U.S.
MCM Musings: It’s a good thing Amazon has all those logistics and fulfillment assets in place as it switches to a one-day Prime shipping promise and the massive costs involved in making that a reality. There have already been rumblings that two-day Prime isn’t what it used to be as the program has ballooned to over 100 million U.S. members, with caveats and exceptions reducing the number of items and orders delivered within that window. This will not get any easier with the new one-day promise, perhaps opening the door to more caveats and exceptions.