Amazon Prime members in four cities can now receive some items in as little as five hours.
The e-tail giant is enabling Prime members in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Orlando, and Dallas to order as assortment of roughly 3 million items across dozens of categories that are marked “Today by” for same-day delivery throughout the day.
Items ordered between midnight and 8 a.m. will arrive by 1 p.m., while goods between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. will arrive by 6 p.m. and products purchased between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. will arrive by 10 p.m. Orders placed between 5 p.m. and midnight will arrive overnight between 4:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.
To support this enhanced same-day delivery guarantee, Amazon has opened mini-fulfillment centers, located closer to cities, that store a specialized assortment of “need-it-today” items. According to Reuters, these facilities measure 100,000-sq.-ft. (compared to full-sized Amazon fulfillment centers which can measure more than 1,000,000-sq.-ft.) and perform storage, picking, packing, sorting, and delivery.
According to Amazon, by reducing the need for aircraft support and shortening the drive times of deliveries, the new faster same-day delivery model will help it meet its publicly stated goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2040.
“It may feel like magic when a package arrives so quickly, but it’s our incredible employees who come together to deliver these experiences for customers every day,” Jon Alexander, director and GM, Amazon Worldwide Same Day Delivery Service. “Decades of process improvement and innovation enable us to provide a positive and safe work environment for everyone working in these new buildings so we can continue to delight customers—not by working harder, but by working smarter.”
Amazon is souping up Prime’s delivery speeds as Walmart reportedly prepares to launch its own Prime-like subscription delivery service. Media reports indicate Walmart will begin piloting a membership program called Walmart+ as soon as March 2020. Walmart+ will serve as an expansion of Walmart’s current Delivery Unlimited subscription service, which provides free same-day delivery of online grocery orders from Walmart stores for a yearly $98 fee. Walmart also may offer text-based ordering as part of Walmart+.
In April 2019, Amazon said it would cut its standard Prime shipping time from two days to one day. In June 2019, the e-tailer made free one-day delivery available to Prime members with no minimum purchase amount on more than 10 million products, in more than 10,000 cities and towns across the continental U.S.
The standard annual Amazon Prime rate is $119, although some different pricing models and discounts are available. Same-day delivery is free to Prime members on qualifying orders over $35 or $2.99 for delivery on orders under $35.