All You Need to Know About Same-Day Fulfillment [Fast Shipping & Delivery]

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You’re about to run out of laundry detergent. You need a fresh shirt for a big date. You have the inexplicable yearning to track your steps tomorrow morning and don’t want to wait until next week.

We’ve all been there — the situation where you’d prefer the convenience of shopping online — but the urgency makes an online purchase unfeasible. Until recently.

Enter same-day shipping and delivery.

These are not one and the same — which we’ll touch on shortly — but more importantly, they are at the heart of how ecommerce is taking over retail.

Same-day shipping is more than a bullet point on your product page. It’s not another call to action. It’s a reason for consumers to embrace you and consider you as an everyday part of their lives. And with Amazon’s reign, it’s gone from “nice to have” to “requirement” for many shoppers.

Think same-day shipping is only for the big dogs, or a surefire way to bankruptcy? Think again.

What is same-day shipping vs. same-day delivery?

Same-day shipping is when a customer’s order leaves the warehouse on the same day of purchase.

Same-day delivery takes it a step further and guarantees your order will be delivered on the same day it’s purchased.

While often used interchangeably, same-day shipping and same-day delivery are both critical in meeting customer’s expectations and providing reliable delivery dates. (Read more about ship dates vs. delivery dates here.)

As a consumer yourself, you can imagine the importance of a timely delivery: From getting a gift in time for a birthday party, to receiving your takeout when you’re starving, waiting is no fun.

If an order isn’t shipped out the same day it’s placed online, you risk a full day delay to when it reaches its destination. And if the shipment is not delivered the day it was advertised to arrive — especially if it was scheduled for later that day over a certain window of time — your customer will surely be upset.

Same-day fulfillment can change the trajectory of an ecommerce business

Just how important is same-day shipping? Take a look at these stats:

  • 64% of millennials are more likely to make an online purchase if same-day delivery is an option, as are 56% of Gen Xers, 40% of Baby Boomers, and 63% of parents
  • 88% of consumers are willing to pay for same-day or faster delivery
  • 61% consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery
  • 47% of US consumers have paid extra for same-day delivery in the last year
  • Last minute holiday shoppers are 78% more likely to purchase gifts from retailers that offer same-day delivery
  • 71% of consumers are highly likely to recommend a retailer to others after purchasing a holiday gift and having it delivered the same day
  • 51% of ecommerce retailers are already offering same-day delivery, as compared to only 16% in 2016

While it may seem that only the largest of ecommerce companies can afford to offer same-day delivery, brands are looking for ways to speed up deliveries as much as they can.

Who offers same-day delivery?

Many retailers are adding same-day shipping to their online arsenal as a form of premium shipping. However, it’s typically the largest retail chains that find a way to make it cost-effective.


You know Amazon for their free two-day shipping, but their perk that’s been picking up steam is the Amazon Prime FREE Same-Day Delivery, which is available on up to 3 million items in select areas.


Though brick and mortar is Target’s primary sales avenue, they’ve acquired Shipt to offer Same Day Delivery, available seven days a week with the exception of certain holidays. This allows customers to order from the Shipt app or website (excluding items such as clothing, shoes, bath, furniture, and entertainment,) and schedule their delivery.

3 ways how retailers of all sizes can offer fast same-day shipping

Because smaller independent brands’ customers are also shopping at the places that offer same-day delivery, they have come to expect a similar experience everywhere they shop online.

Yet, successfully executing on same-day delivery is no small feat. It takes coordinated operations, resources, courier services, and technology to get it right.

So, how do smaller brands — that don’t want to acquire a shipping company or roll out their own distribution network and fleet — pull this off?

They partner with third-party companies that specialize in logistics to make same-day delivery a reality.

1. Same-day shipping for small ecommerce stores

Now that DHL, UPS, and FedEx are offering same-day delivery, it’s a great time to take a deeper look at how your business might be able to offer this service to your customers.

If you run a small ecommerce site out of your house and you could head to the your local UPS Store to ship in advance of their cutoffs, this may be a viable option. But the responsibility is on you to get it packed and there on time.

2. Same-day shipping for mid-size ecommerce stores

Some ecommerce brands partner with local or regional companies and carriers near their warehouse(s) who can pick up and deliver local orders in a fast turnaround (similar to how Instacart or Doordash work).

3. Same-day shipping for large retailers

Large retailers often have a widespread physical store presence and their own distribution network. Many choose to manage the entire logistics process themselves and partner with last-mile delivery companies that provide same-day services, or turn to a 3PL that can handle their scale.

Considering same-day shipping and fulfillment? Here are some tips

Here are some industry best practices around shipping orders out the same day they are placed, as well as successfully offering same-day delivery to as many consumers as possible.

1. Establish a cutoff time

A cutoff time refers to the latest time of day an order can be placed online to guarantee it will be shipped out that same day.

If an order is placed just before midnight, it will not be shipped until the following day. But if an order is placed at 9am, it can easily be sent out that same day.

It’s important to note that cutoff times are set locally, meaning the time used is in the timezone where your inventory is sitting. This can be confusing when you order something that’s shipping from a different time zone.

You must be strategic when setting a cutoff time to ensure you’ll be able to get the order to the end customer on time. The cutoff time isn’t a time you pick out of thin air, but should be influenced by the shipping carrier’s pickup and delivery schedule.

Once you know the time (and days) the cutoff applies to, you will want to add some padding to make the cutoff time earlier. This helps ensure the order is processed and packed in advance of the carrier’s cutoff.

For example, if you know UPS’s last pick up is at 2pm, set the cutoff time to noon to give yourself enough time to fulfill the order. The last thing you want to do is overcommit and underdeliver.

Once you’ve determined a realistic cutoff time, make sure it’s clear on your website to set expectations with shoppers and prevent any confusion when it comes time for delivery (especially for holiday shipping deadlines).

2. Target zip codes and ship from cities where your customers are

You will need to limit which customers you offer same-day delivery to. Most often, this is done at the zip code level. You have a limited distance you can cover to deliver an order the same day it’s placed, so you must choose where you ship orders from wisely.

The most obvious choice is to ship from large cities since that’s where the majority of the population resides. Such urban areas are ideal for reaching the most people while shipping across the least distance.

3. Send inventory to multiple fulfillment centers

To reach the consumer, go where they live. If your ecommerce business is like most, your customers likely don’t all reside in one city or on one coast. So why cater to only one area?

With same-day delivery, you can’t offer it as an option to customers in rural areas or anyone outside the larger metro area in which your inventory is.

If you use multiple fulfillment centers located in large cities across the country, you can offer same-delivery to more customers and potentially generate more sales.

The more regions you ship from also helps reduce your average transit time in general — and speed is key when it comes to logistics.

As for same-day shipping, the more time zones you store inventory and ship from, the more customers you can offer later cutoff times to on a local basis.

4. Keep customers in the loop

Like shipping any order, it’s important to make sure customers can track their shipment. Especially for time-sensitive deliveries, customers will want to keep an eye out to make sure it arrives on time and ensure they are home to receive it. Their tracking number will come in handy.

Shipping providers with same-day delivery

Various courier services make the ability to deliver in a matter of hours possible. Logistics giants like UPS and DHL have the scale, infrastructure, and resources to serve the same-day delivery market in urban areas. Learn more about the top delivery options from shipping carriers below.


UPS Express Critical provides urgent and same-day delivery options for lightweight and heavyweight shipments around the globe. UPS uses everything from air shipping (e.g. UPS Next Day Air) to vehicle transport to hand carry to deliver on time.


DHL Parcel Metro is a shipping service for domestic B2C same-day and next-day shipments. It uses local and regional delivery vendors as well as crowdsourced drivers and vehicles over the last-mile. It’s currently available in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta.


FedEx’s same-day delivery option, FedEx SameDay, provides reliable door-to-door delivery within hours for time-sensitive packages. It supports cross-country delivery, seven days a week in 50 states.


The United States Postal Service has a same-day delivery option called Metro Post. It’s available only from participating retailers through in store and online purchases. It’s still in beta testing with deliveries only available to residential addresses in San Francisco.

How ShipBob offers same-day fulfillment

ShipBob is a 3PL that fulfills orders for ecommerce brands. ShipBob fulfills orders imported before noon local time the same day to ensure our carrier partners ship them out later that day. All orders imported after noon local time will be shipped by the next business day.

ShipBob does not currently offer same-day delivery (i.e., having orders delivered to consumers the same day they order it) but is continuously finding ways to speed up transit times for customers including by sharing data to help them understand where they should store their inventory across our global network.


While getting your order the same day is more expensive than waiting a few days, it’s clear that shoppers are willing to pay extra for it.

There’s no doubt that same-day delivery is here to stay. As the fastest growing delivery option, ecommerce businesses that don’t add it to their mix will get left behind.

And this isn’t just for the retail giants — it’s never been easier to diversify your delivery arsenal. Smaller to mid-sized companies that follow suit will help accommodate customers and generate additional sales.

Interested in learning more about ShipBob’s retail fulfillment services and shipping capabilities? Request more information below.

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Written By:

Kristina is the Sr. Director of Marketing Communications at ShipBob, where she writes various articles, case studies, and other resources to help ecommerce brands grow their business.

Read all posts written by Kristina Lopienski