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Ecommerce Shipping: Fast, Free and 7 Days a Week?

Online merchants are already challenged in meeting the expectations of shoppers who wish to get their orders delivered fast and free. Now Amazon and the USPS are adding another standard that online consumers may come to expect – Sunday deliveries.

Amazon is expanding Sunday delivery for Prime members – available in New York and LA since November – in St. Louis and southwestern Illinois on March 16th with the help of the United States Postal Service, according to the St. Louis Dispatch and the State Journal Register newspapers.

The USPS first declared its intention to start delivering packages on Sundays one year ago, with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe telling MSNBC, “In some areas, we’ll be delivering packages on Sunday starting soon, so that’s a big innovation,” and stating, “It’s going to happen soon. I’m not telling you anything else. Just watch for your letter carrier in your neighborhood.”

Nothing more was said until nine months later in November 2013 when Amazon announced it was working with the Postal Service to provide Sunday delivery in New York and LA with plans to expand the service in 2014.

The partnership may have large retailers concerned about what the Amazon-USPS partnership means for them. One industry publication recently asked readers, “What’s the bigger threat for competitors? Amazon’s same-day delivery or its Sunday delivery?” The first response: “This isn’t an either/or question. Both same-day and Sunday delivery are part of Amazon’s growing brand promise.”

For small sellers, the news that ecommerce giant Amazon may be changing consumer expectations about Sunday delivery was received with mixed reaction on the AuctionBytes Blog.

One seller wrote, “The only thing I don’t like is that the USPS isn’t doing this for all businesses. Just the ones that pay. Don’t want to send a carrier out to pick up my packages, fine but at least let me drop off my already paid for packages from my website. All you would need is one worker to be there to take my package and scan the scan sheet.”

Others seemed more concerned about being able to ship out later on Saturdays to get their late-week orders into the mail stream sooner than Monday mornings. Wrote one seller, “It would be great to have more options for dropping off packages to ship out. The PO could save loads of money if they’d set up some automated kiosks or windows at the PO building where we could deposit our packages and scan a scan sheet or label. That process really doesn’t need human intervention most of the time. It’s sometimes difficult to make it to the PO during their limited business hours, especially if one has to work a day job.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.