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Amazon Wants to Get Up Close and Personal With You

January 25, 2008

Its a sing-song refrain.

To be the best in retail, you’ve got to “get close to your customers.” You have to know who they are; what they like; what they eat, breathe, and sleep.

But now Amazon is trying to take that concept a whole lot farther.

Amazon is trying to get as physically close to their customers as possible, rolling out same-day delivery service on their website in 6 Northeastern U.S. markets.

The service allows Amazon.com customers in select metro areas to choose “Same-Day Delivery” for certain items purchased on the site, as long as they are purchased before 8:00am on weekdays (purchases after 8:00am are delivered by the following evening).

The service is reportedly doing very well, even without the weight of Amazon’s marketing engine behind it, and the internet giant has plans to add the service in a number of new markets this year.

The truly ironic thing about the service, however, is that when it comes to being close to your customers, Amazon has traditionally been the furthest thing from it.

Not in the sense that Amazon doesnt know anything about their customers (we know that’s not true — after all, they can tell you with certainty that 87% of the folks who bought that George Forman Grill you’re coveting also purchased a Freddy Mercury action figure), but more in the sense that they’ve always been geographically far away from their customers. Without real-world shops or stores, Amazon.com serves products out of their own warehouses or partners’ distribution centers, which are typically hundreds if not thousands of miles from the people who are making the purchases.

With that fact in mind, it’s impressive that Amazon has developed a process to get their wares to customers’ doors in any timeframe shorter than a fortnight, let alone less than 12 hours.

So if Amazon — without any local stores — can find a way to get a product delivered to you the same day you buy it, the big question is, why haven’t major retailers — with hundreds of local stores in North America alone — found a way to do the same?

In theory, with a quiver full of local stores at their disposal, retailers could potentially get products to their customers much, much faster than Amazon. With storefronts in the neighborhood of virtually every household in a major U.S. market, it’s practical to imagine that retail customers could get products delivered to them in just a few hours, as opposed to the 12 or so that Amazon requires.

The explanation for why this hasn’t happened yet is complex. But we can isolate 2 main reasons why this service is taking so long to come to market:

a) lack of inventory control
b) lack of a local delivery mechanism

The first problem — lack of inventory control — naturally makes local shopping difficult. If you don’t know what products you have on the shelf, how can you sell them to customers? This has been a problem for as long as retail has existed. You should be able to recall with ease the last time you searched a store high and low for a certain item, only to have a clerk look up the product on a store computer and exclaim “the system SAYS we have 5 in stock!?”

But over the past 5 years or so, the accuracy of store inventory accounting has improved dramatically. The sweeping popularity of “In-Store Pickup” (the shipping method for online purchases where you can choose to pick items up at your local store for free) has forced retailers to step up their ability to predict which items are in stock so they can offer this service. This option has grown in popularity to the point where some retailers report that 50% of their items purchased online are “shipped” using this method.

But just knowing what you have on the shelves doesn’t solve problem #2: how to get those items delivered from the store to the customer.

Local delivery isn’t as easy as it sounds. FedEx, UPS, and DHL aren’t designed to do on-demand deliveries from stores. The items customers purchase online are shipped almost exclusively from far-away distribution centers, from which products are funneled by the major carriers through a sophisticated network of central and regional shipping hubs — a process honed over decades of operation — before reaching the customer.

With the fastest, most expensive shipping online option available (“Express” or “Next-Day”), that process usually takes 2 days at a minimum — 1 to locate and pack the item, and 1 to ship — or 4 days at a maximum if the order is placed over a weekend, when traditional carriers do not operate.

That’s where LicketyShip steps in. LicketyShip has designed a turnkey software and logistics solution that integrates smoothly with retailers’ legacy online platforms and store protocols to provide an efficient method for delivering products direct from local stores at affordable rates.

In other words — when retailers use LicketyShip, they have an easy way to get products delivered from their brick-and-mortar stores to their customers the same day they buy.

Getting your products closer to buyers means faster delivery; faster delivery means happier buyers.

And that’s how you get closer to your customers.

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LicketyShip Extends the Holiday Delivery Guarantee for Retailers

December 21, 2007

The LA Times has some great tips for last-minute shoppers to avoid the lines and get their shopping done from home.

Customers of stores using LicketyShip Business Plus can do the same thing, only faster.

Most online stores offer “Guaranteed Delivery” in time for Christmas only if you order by today, December 21st. But what about the hordes of shoppers who put everything off until the last minute? Sorry guys!

But stores offering LicketyShip Same-Day Delivery have a leg up on the competition. They can offer guaranteed delivery if you order by 10am Christmas Eve! Why? Because LicketyShip delivers in hours, not days. The couriers in our network can pick up items directly from the retail store closest to the customer, and deliver directly to a customer’s door. No distribution centers or cross-country trips required.

Want to extend your company’s holiday guarantee? It’s not too late! Sign up for LicketyShip Business Plus service today!

Welcome, New LicketyShippers

September 11, 2007

We’d like to roll out the red carpet for the latest businesses to start offering LicketyShip same-day delivery to their own customers: Charles Chocolates, Vinfolio, and J.J. Buckley — it’s a pleasure to have you aboard. May all your deliveries be swift!

Charles Chocolates is one of the world’s premier gourmet chocolatiers. Behind their product is a story of dedication to the art of chocolate, the pursuit of perfection and a complete and total passion for producing only the finest confections. Charles Chocolates has set out to redefine the world of fine chocolate confections, using only the finest ingredients, including some of the world’s best chocolates, organic herbs, fruits and nuts as well as the freshest cream and butter. Whether you are looking for the perfect gift, a personal indulgence or favors for an important event, Charles Chocolates is the obvious choice.

  • To request LicketyShip delivery, place your Charles Chocolates order by phone at (888) 652-4412


Since 1999, J.J. Buckley Fine Wines has been helping wine lovers find the best wines at excellent prices. We use technology to streamline the entire wine retail process – from our interactions with distributors to order fulfillment. That means we can provide you with the same high quality wines found at pricier wine shops at lower prices. We don’t sacrifice service in our quest for lower prices. Demand top quality service from us – even you if don’t, you will get it.

  • To request LicketyShip delivery, place your J.J. Buckley order by phone at (888) 85-WINES


Based in San Francisco, Vinfolio‘s guiding principle is “Fine wine, finer service,” demonstrating the company’s unparalleled level of personalized customer service and collector services. Vinfolio’s wine store is seamlessly integrated with collector services, all designed to make the wine buying, selling and collecting experience effortless and enjoyable. From an extensive selection of fine wine to VinCellar™, its online cellar management software, to collector services (including on-site inventorying and full-service storage), Vinfolio delivers “Fine wine, finer service”.

  • To request LicketyShip delivery, place your Vinfolio order by phone at (800) 969-1961

Reality Checkmate

August 21, 2007

Guy Kawasaki writes about LicketyShip in his blog today, issuing his famous “Reality Check.”

Swing by and vote thumbs up or down (preferably up)! Does LicketyShip have what it takes to be the next big thing?

The Pickup Artist

August 14, 2007

Check out Daily Candy’s latest review of LicketyShip. Earlier coverage is here.

“Its shockingly easy!” says DC, but the “bad news?”

“Oh, never mind,” they say. “There is none.”

TechCrunch and Kelsey Group Talk Lickety

August 6, 2007

TechCrunch gave a great review of our latest expansion into all of California’s major metro markets.

Also, the Kelsey Group covered Lickety in a review of our latest deal with the Los Angeles Times.

California, Here We Come!

July 25, 2007

Today, we expanded to all major markets in California, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Orange County, San Diego, and of course, the good ol’ Bay Area.

You can now request LicketyShip same-day delivery service in just about any city within the great state of California!

Check out our new, smoother interface, complete with the folowing new and improved features:

  • More Stuff: the old weight 200 lb. limit is gone — Now deliver up to 5500 lbs. of stuff!
  • More Choices: choose delivery speeds of 1, 2, or 4 hours, up to 30 days in advance
  • More Wheels: choose your delivery vehicle — anything from pickup trucks to 14-footers
  • More Control: instant order tracking by e-mail, web, and SMS

We’ve also launched service with a few new business customers:

We’ll be hard at work over the next few months expanding our service to even more cities, and fulfilling our mission of making same-day delivery accessible and easy to use for everyone!

Big News En Route

July 24, 2007

The LicketyShip Team has been working around the clock the past couple weeks gearing up for a big announcement on Wednesday.

Stay tuned in the next 24 hours for something big… and something fast (we always are 🙂 )

Give Mika a Raise

June 27, 2007

Perhaps the last real American journalist, Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC went on air today and REFUSED to read the lead story on Paris Hilton.

In fact, she went a step further and actually tried to BURN the script, before finally settling on tearing it up, then shredding it.

This story doesn’t have much (or anything) to do with technology or same-day delivery, but such a rare principled display deserves some recognition… we’re just doing our part : )

The Dot Calm Effect

June 18, 2007

Salil Deshpande at Bay Parnters sent me an interesting NYT article today about the recent downturn in the e-commerce market.

The article cites a key reason for the calming effect being the fatiguing “chore” it has become for online buyers to get the stuff they buy online.

Additionally, retailers seem to be gradually hiking their shipping costs for online purchases, making it even more expensive to get online purchases to your door.

Same-day delivery attacks both of these problems head on.

By replacing the fatigue of online shopping with the thrill of instant gratification, e-tailers can trumpet that they are once again the most exciting and convenient place to shop.

And by delivering products direct from store locations near the customer, e-tailers can actually REDUCE the cost of shipping to the consumer vs. typical expedited shipping rates.

Lower costs for shipping AND faster delivery? Now that’s nothing to be calm about : )