Delivery stepped up a pace this week, with news that the Amazon Prime one-hour delivery service is launching in Birmingham, and that Doddle is launching a running service in London as it aims to make fulfillment both quicker and more convenient.
The premium Amazon service launched yesterday in Birmingham and surrounding postcodes just five weeks after it first came to the UK, launching in London in June.
Amazon says the fastest delivery it’s made in London so far was of a Netgear wi-fi range extender that was ordered at 10.32am, shipped from Amazon’s Bow delivery station and delivery to a Canary Wharf address at 10.44am.
Now members of Amazon’s subscription membership service Prime in Birmingham, Lichfield, Tamworth and Cannock will be able to take delivery of items they order using the Prime Now app in less than an hour, for an extra charge. Thousands of items are available to order using Prime Now, from daily essentials such as coffee, batteries and nappies to games consoles, toys and sports equipment.
“Customers in London already benefit from ultra-fast delivery with Prime Now and we are delighted to bring this innovative service to Birmingham and selected postcodes in surrounding areas only five weeks after our London launch,” said Christopher North, managing director of Amazon UK .
“Since launching Prime Now, we’ve seen high demand on everything from essentials like bottled water, coffee and nappies to must-have products like the latest video games and devices – all available for delivery in less than 60 minutes. We are excited to continue delivering to customers in record-breaking time.”
Prime Now uses the Amazon Logistics platform to harness the speedy local delivery capabilities of third-party delivery companies. Birmingham deliveries will be made from an Amazon centre in Erdington in the city.
Meanwhile, this week also saw Doddle reinvent a service that existed in the days of Sherlock Holmes, using runners to carry parcels across London.
Doddle Runner enables people who want to send a parcel to order their delivery via a dedicated app. A runner will visit postcodes in EC1 to EC4 to collect, wrap, post and track the parcel in a service that costs just £5, plus the cost of postage. Up to five parcels can be sent at a time, weighing up to 16kg each.
Tim Robinson, chief executive of Doddle , said: “We’ve all had those moments when we realise we need to get a parcel to someone for the next day, but we’re short on time to send it, or we’re running out of time to return something bought online that we don’t want.
“Doddle Runner solves this problem by coming to you and getting your parcels to where they need to be. We’ll do the running around so you don’t have to. In designing Doddle Runner we wanted to create a service that we would like to use as customers, no hassle and no worries.”
So far five runners have been recruited, with seven more set to join in coming weeks. The service is set to be rolled out further across the capital in due course.
As part of the runner training, James Heptonstall and Noel Carroll, the team behind the Epic Challenges series of races including Race The Tube and Race The Subway, have been coaching the new recruits. Doddle challenged Epic Challenges to Race The Rush Hour: watch the video here.
Our view: There’s yet more evidence here of retailers and logistics businesses opting for speed and convenience over the attractions of ‘free’. Amazon has been putting the days of free delivery firmly behind it in recent months, while at the same time pushing paid-for delivery hard through its Prime membership scheme where initiatives have included a global Prime Day of members-only discounts. The test will be in whether shoppers are willing to pay. We have a hunch that enough will opt in to make it work out. Certainly, free delivery is proving expensive as volumes increase.