Do you want some stuff, but don’t want to leave the couch? A new same-day delivery service promises near-instant gratification for millions of online shoppers all over North America.
This week, a UK-based company called Shutl announced that it will begin offering its same-day delivery services next month in Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco. Shoppers will be able to purchase goods online from three as-yet-unnamed major U.S. retailers, and delivery within 90 minutes of the order will cost around $10. After the initial rollout, Shutl has plans to expand to a total of 20 North American cities—those above, as well as Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, Washington, Montreal, and Toronto.
Shutl, which was founded in London in 2009, currently operates in 60 cities in the UK, serving 75% of the population. The company claims that one-third of its orders are delivered within an hour. Customers will have the option of placing orders 24/7, and in situations when a retailer isn’t open for pickup at, say, 2:30 a.m., shoppers can specify a one-hour time window the following day when they’d like to accept delivery.
Even so, what makes this upstart operation think it can compete with Amazon.com, which is the world’s largest e-retailer and has been increasing same-day delivery options over the years?
Well, Shutl maintains that it can offer same-day delivery in a smarter, faster, more cost-effective way than Amazon or any other same-day shipping service. (It’s assumed that Amazon, eBay, and others testing same-day delivery are losing money with their services, at least for the time being.) Shutl keeps costs low because it doesn’t hire drivers or own trucks. It’s merely a software company that coordinates orders with local retailers and courier companies.
Speaking to Wired, Shutl CEO Tom Allason explained that its model, which arranges pickups only for customers who live within 10 miles of a store accepting the order, has an advantage over Amazon’s, which must ship goods from huge distribution warehouses that might be much, much further away from customers:
“Their idea of local distribution is at state level,” Allason says of Amazon. “Our idea of local distribution is at street level.”
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While San Francisco and New York City are bigger markets, observers keen on measuring how the service will fare on a larger scale have good reason to keep their eyes on Shutl in Chicago. Per Crain’s Chicago Business:
“We see Chicago as almost the most important of our three cities,” Mr. Allason said. “New York as a city operates so uniquely, and San Francisco is very tech-heavy. But if we can make it work in Chicago, we think we can make it work anywhere.”