According to a Business Insider story about winter storm Juno, "Drizly, an on-demand app for alcohol deliveries, says orders in NYC and Boston are up 477 percent... compared to a normal Monday. That's nearly six times as much as usual."
Amidst all the preparing, people knew what they needed, when they needed it, and chose digital to get it. There's another story here for brands.
Patience may be a virtue, but in online retail, waiting for something in the mail is a frustrating hurdle to instant gratification. Shoppers expect it all from retail: they want to buy online and pick-up in store, they want great quality at great value, and they want instant gratification at no cost. Simple, right?
The nature and value of one-stop shopping is changing. People have greater flexibility in choice of retail outlet, changing the dynamics of "trip missions" for traditional and online retailers alike.
For the "quick-trip" shopper, a physical trip to a local store was once the only option for immediate-need items. But, the growth of convenience offerings from big box grocery and services like Amazon Prime trained shoppers to expect more immediacy -- in some cases, trading a trip to the store for a day or two wait for the item to arrive on their doorstep.
Now, even that's not good enough for shoppers.
Enter same-day delivery
A new crop of "buy it now, get it sooner" services using rapid fulfillment to allow customers to purchase from their entire inventory and receive products in as little as an hour.
These hybrid retail services combine the convenience of online and mobile shopping with the immediate gratification of bricks and mortar, empowering shoppers to buy on their own terms and receive a level of customization and service that didn't exist before.
Check out a few of those services pioneering on-demand delivery.
Amazon: One-hour delivery with "Prime Now"
The quick shipping leader recently launched this service for Prime Members, promising 1-hour delivery service for $7.99, with 25,000 items in its app.
Instacart: Go-to personal concierge for grocery delivery
A San Francisco-based service using a crowd-sourced marketplace model, connecting users with personal shoppers who pick up and deliver groceries to them from local stores (Safeway, Kroger, Whole Foods, and more). The service has low delivery fees and it is perceived as affordable for both quick-trip and stock-up items.
uberESSENTIALS: Established platform meets everyday items
Uber recently piloted on-demand delivery service in the metro DC area, touted as "everyday items you need in 10 minutes or less," everything from cold and flu remedies to wrapping paper and tree lights. While the pilot was recently canceled, Uber can expand on its established "on-demand" service appeal.
Postmates: Robust concierge for "on-demand anything" in urban areas
A buzzworthy start-up focused on being a personal concierge to deliver pretty much anything within an hour -- from haute tacos to the new MacBook. Postmates has a hefty delivery fee and is catered towards big city folks who value time over money.
Cocktail Courier: Your bar is always stocked when you need it
This NYC delivery company brings the experience of cocktails home, offering an online selection of bartender-curated recipes, leading to premeasured ingredients for four to six servings. It was originally designed for hosts who didn't want to leave guests for a liquor store run, but now many customers plan orders in advance for events.
SpoonRocket: Convenient drive-by dining experience
This San Francisco start-up promises $8 meals in 15 minutes or less, aiming to be the fastest, most convenient meal option. The company delivers meals quickly and keeps them warm in specialized heating compartments built into cars.
As more start-ups launch and competition increases, these services will be expected to deliver on new ways to step up the speed and convenience. Price and value will continue to be a differentiator in a world where Amazon has set the bar for fast, quick, and cheap -- from an occasional indulgence to an everyday experience.
Note: the growth of these services is not only meeting an existing consumer demand, but creating a new demand for those who didn't even know they needed it.
According to Tom Allason, chief executive of Shutl, a British same-day delivery service expanding to the U.S., "People don't need immediate delivery today, but they will need it tomorrow, because as soon as you know it's available, you start expecting it and you start demanding it."
What about the demise of the brick and mortar store? It's not quite happening yet. For now, the advantage may go to retailers with a physical presence that can scale offerings. Retailers like Walmart and Amazon are poised to strategically leverage their existing inventory and fulfillment centers to expand their same-day delivery.
According to a recent article from The New York Times, "The first retailer to master same-day delivery on a wide scale could attract customers who have avoided online purchases because they wanted items immediately, and encourage current shoppers to add products that they usually buy from supermarkets or drugstores, including celery and toothpaste."
What's certain? Now that digital and mobile have honed our always-on instincts, same-day delivery is worth exploring -- but strategically. It may not be the holy grail for your category. Understanding your shoppers' unique needs and definitions of instant gratification will empower you to activate purchase behavior in the most effective way.