Shipping carriers raise rates every year, but this year, online sellers who use the U.S. Postal Service got some good news mixed in with the rate changes, according to online postage providers Stamps.com and Endicia, which provide sellers with commercial base rates that are more favorable than regular USPS retail rates. Eric Nash of Stamps.com said Priority Mail rates are going up a net zero percent, for example. In a podcast interview with EcommerceBytes, Nash highlighted some of the instances where rates are actually going down.
An off-and-on customer of OfficeMax, Mike Seay has gotten the office supply company's direct mail for years. But the mail that the grieving Lindenhurst, Ill., father said he got from OfficeMax last week was different. It was addressed to "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash." Strange as that sounds, the mail reached the right guy. Seay's daughter Ashley, 17, was killed in a car crash with her boyfriend last year. OfficeMax somehow knew.
Despite a slow start to its same-day delivery program for e-commerce purchases, the U.S. Postal Service is in a strong position to challenge FedEx, UPS and other competitors in that potentially lucrative market. USPS began testing same-day delivery under the brand name of Metro Post in San Francisco at the beginning of 2013. It promised delivery by 8 p.m. of packages tendered by 2 p.m. on that day. In December, it extended the pilot to New York City.
Being realistic means being practical and/or pragmatic.
For holiday 2013, there were five really big factors that were going to impact final delivery. And yet UPS and FedEx still failed to be realistic, practical, or pragmatic in communicating their failure to deliver on their promises for holiday 2013. Let's first take a step back. What were the five big factors impacting final delivery?
When Jeff Bezos, the C.E.O. of Amazon, told "60 Minutes" this week that his company was experimenting with having drones deliver its packages, he seemed to be conjuring up a future in which fleets of flying machines would tote most of our purchases, and in which ordinary delivery people would become obsolete. But even if Amazon's Prime Air does work, and if drone delivery eventually becomes adopted more widely, it's not likely to wreck the delivery business as we know it.
Absorbing shipping costs on a mass scale can stress any operating budget, so retailers have been searching for the best ways to balance these expenses against higher abandonment rates. A few companies, including Amazon.com and Sears, have found solutions via pre-paid shipping programs. These programs charge consumers an up-front fee that helps fund ongoing shipping options and keeps consumers committed.
Amazon.com is testing drones to deliver goods as it works to improve efficiency and speed in getting products to consumers. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos unveiled the plan on CBS's "60 Minutes" news program in the U.S., showing interviewer Charlie Rose the flying machines that can serve as delivery vehicles. The CEO said the gadgets, called octocopters, can carry as much as five pounds within a 10-mile radius of an Amazon fulfillment center. Amazon may start using the drones, which can make a delivery within 30 minutes, within five years pending Federal Aviation Administration approval, Bezos said.
Just in time for Christmas, Amazon.com and the U.S. Postal Service are teaming to make "every day an Amazon prime delivery day." The e-retailer announced Monday that it will be rolling out Sunday delivery services in Los Angeles and New York to customers who are eligible for free, two-day shipping. In 2014, the service will be expanded to the broader U.S., to include such cities as Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix. For the cash-strapped Postal Service, news of more deliveries for one of the biggest retailers of the internet age can't be that bad.
eBay on Tuesday said it plans to expand its same-day delivery service, dubbed eBay Now, to 25 cities next year, and it also launched a couple new features for its site that makes browsing more personalized. The company said eBay Now is now live in Chicago, and Dallas will follow within the following weeks. Next year, cities such as London will receive the service, bringing the total to 25. eBay already has offered same-day delivery in San Francisco and New York for about a year.
Neiman Marcus Group is looking to revitalize its e-commerce business before the holiday season's fervor begins by offering permanent free shipping and returns year-round for all domestic purchases made through neimanmarcus.com and bergdorfgoodman.com as well as at retail locations. By removing some of the burdens that deter consumers from shopping online, Neiman Marcus may see a surge in e-commerce. Additionally, Neiman Marcus Group's move demonstrates that retailers are still adjusting to the digital sphere and determining the right balance between in-store and online.