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

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.

Same-day shipping vs. same-day delivery?

Same-day shipping is exactly what it sounds like — your order ships out on the same day it’s purchased. However, this does not necessarily correspond to its transit time.

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

Complicated stuff, we know…

While often used interchangeably, same-day shipping and same-day delivery are both critical in meeting customers expectations.

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.

Missing the mark with customers can be damaging. If you run an ecommerce store, it’s your reputation on the line.

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

As noted above, offering same-day shipping helps open an ecommerce business up to more potential customers and purchases.

While it may seem that only the largest of ecommerce companies can afford to offer same-day delivery (cough, Amazon, cough), the truth is that brands of all sizes are following suit to stay competitive.

Who offers same-day delivery?

Many retailers are adding same-day shipping to their online arsenal. From the big dogs to independent brands, take a look at which companies are staying ahead of the game.

Amazon

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. In more than 8,000 cities nationwide, customers can get same-day delivery on more than a million items for qualifying orders over $35. You can order by noon for delivery by 9 PM.

Target

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.

TB12

Tom Brady’s company, TB12 Sports, offers same-day shipping for select products and locations. If your shipping address is in a qualifying area of coverage, same-day appears as a shipping option when checking out. These orders arrive on the same business day.

How retailers of all sizes can offer 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.

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.

Same-day shipping for mid-size ecommerce stores

3PLs like ShipBob work with the major carriers to optimize shipping across their fulfillment network while offering their customers bulk discounted rates. This helps reduce the costs of otherwise more expensive expedited shipping options while keeping an ideal transit time.

Ecommerce merchants that work with a 3PL can experiment with offering various shipping options at different prices to see what drives conversions without harming their margins. Best of all, they don’t have to handle any of the fulfillment themselves.

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.

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

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

DHL

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

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.

USPS

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 businesses by storing products in close proximity to end customers. This helps keep costs low by leveraging ground shipping over more expensive air shipping.

ShipBob works with the leading shipping carriers to offer same-day services to areas surrounding ShipBob’s fulfillment centers in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and San Francisco.

shipbob fulfillment center locations 2018 chicago new york city dallas los angele san francisco usa map

In addition to what the carriers offer, ShipBob has also developed a program called ShipBob Now, currently available for merchants shipping orders for their Shopify store.

After a customer enters their shipping address, ShipBob’s modern technology checks inventory levels in each fulfillment center where the ecommerce seller has product to determine if the order can be fulfilled and then delivered the same day.

If the order qualifies for same-day delivery, a new shipping option, ‘ShipBob Now’ displays (as seen in the screenshot below). If the customer chooses that delivery option, the order will arrive the same business day.

same day shipping delivery shipbob now express

Regardless of the shipping method selected by the customer, all orders placed before noon local time are shipped out the same day from each ShipBob fulfillment center.

Conclusion

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 fulfillment services and shipping capabilities? Request more information below.

Request a quote from ShipBob