Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!



E-fulfillment: The opportunity in same day delivery

Our industry needs to listen carefully to our customers to stay ahead of the e-fulfillment game.
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
November 25, 2013

Lately, I’ve been in full-blown grumpy old man mode. It started a couple of weeks ago when someone’s administrator asked me if I was planning to spend Thanksgiving with my grandkids. I will admit my mustache is greyer than it used to be, but hey, I’m not that old—am I? Last week, I sounded like Mr. Wilson from Dennis The Menace as I argued with a college kid across the street who insists on parking on the grass in front of my house rather than in the paved parking lot behind her building. Yesterday, I felt like a Luddite reading a story on same-day delivery in The New York Times.

The Times piece described the lengths eBay is going to roll out a new local shopping service that promises not just same-day delivery, but delivery in about an hour. Available now in Manhattan, the Internet retailer has plans to soon offer the service out to 25 cities.

Now, we’ve all read about Amazon’s strategy of rolling out nearly four dozen distribution centers near major metropolitan areas in the U.S. to do same-day delivery, a service that Amazon says is unprofitable. eBay is taking an entirely different tack. Rather than build millions of square feet of distribution space, eBay is deploying an army of bike messengers, cabbies and subway riders who get an alert on their phones, make a mad dash to the nearest retail partner (in the Times story, it was Babies ‘R Us) to purchase the items needed to fill the order, then make another mad dash to deliver the order to the consumer in that one-hour time frame. All for 5 bucks—except that during the holiday season, eBay will offer the service for free.

Like Amazon, eBay tells us that it will lose money on the service. Instead, its all about building a loyal customer base, according to the Times.

The grumpy old man in me says this is just another of those crazy, Internet-only business models where companies are rewarded for losing money if they gain customers. The materials handling journalist in me says these are trends our industry needs to watch. Yes, retailers are presently looking at multi-channel distribution centers to fill omni-channel orders. But I wonder if in the future—the very near future—much of this action isn’t going to move to the retail store to make the most of the brick and mortar infrastructure and get closer to the customer. We need to pay attention and figure out how our solutions fit in this new world.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Dassault Systèmes, the 3DEXPERIENCE Company, a world leader in 3D design software, 3D Digital Mock Up and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions, today announced the signing of a definitive share purchase agreement for Dassault Systèmes to acquire Quintiq, a leading provider of on-premise and on-cloud supply chain and Operations Planning & Optimization software, for approximately €250 million

During this complimentary webcast you'll learn the 6 reasons your operation could benefit from voice and multi-modal solutions and exactly how The Container Store did it. They were able to improve efficiency, safety and accuracy, without a complete WMS overhaul and their employees find it faster and easier to use.

Study suggests solutions for filling the talent gap, including the development of robust ties with the education system.

Global business optimism reaches highest level in survey history.

Mentor-based program aims to help students develop STEM skills and foster innovation, self-confidence, communication and leadership.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. Contact Bob Trebilcock.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA