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Assuming Consumers Really Want Same-Day Delivery, Brick-and-Mortar Stores Could Be Distribution Hubs

Offering customers free same-day delivery has long been an elusive goal for e-tailers. Their motivation is simple: If e-tailers can give customers the near-instant gratification of buying in a store, they can eliminate one of the most powerful advantages held by their bricks-and-mortar competitors. Alas, costs and complexity have largely kept same-day delivery (defined here as delivery between sunup and sundown on a weekday) out of reach and, at best, a niche offering.

But according to a new Booz & Company survey of more than 1,000 online shoppers in the U.S., most customers don't necessarily need same-day delivery and, in fact, in many cases they don't want it. They are getting home from work, going online, and placing an order. But they don't want the item to arrive while they are making dinner or putting their kids to bed, let alone have it sit on their doorstep overnight.

This is where it gets interesting for traditional retailers that are willing to rethink their business model. By using their hundreds or thousands of physical storefronts as local distribution centers, bricks-and-mortar retailers are actually better positioned than e-tailers to deliver products rapidly to customers. And although our survey focused on the U.S., we believe the findings are applicable to other countries with well-developed retail and transportation sectors. With the possibility of free, ground-based, next-day delivery to consumers, the tables may be turning.

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Keywords: retail supply chain, value chain, online retail sales, multichannel retailing, logistics services, logistics & supply chain, supply chain management, supply chain management IT, value chain IT

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