If you’ve ever ordered anything online, you know that five business days is usually code for “about two weeks”. Five years ago, if you ordered something online, next day shipping was probably the best you could get. That was recently shattered when retail behemoths like Amazon, Walmart, Google and Ebay all unveiled plans to deliver goods in anywhere from an hour to a day.

Pizza delivery men on motorcycles

Pizza is 30 minutes is old news. How about a washing machine in 30 minutes?. Photo from Flickr.

A great New York Times article from November 23 charts the inevitable progress, from Amazon relocating large distribution centers as close to cities as possible to Ebay Now, which hires valets to shop for goods and deliver it to your doorstep in about two hours. For the customer, instant gratification just became a little more attainable, if a little more expensive. For local retailers, life just got a little harder.

Many remember a flurry of same day delivery startup companies that popped up a number of years ago and promptly folded. Startups like Shutl (recently acquired by eBay) are now planning on making a big return. What brought the idea of same day delivery back from the dead? This Wired article chalks it up to robotics and powerful algorithms that enable automation. (Yes, the same sort of automation that is letting freight forwarders and 3PLs work faster than ever before). The extensive competition between these retail giants also played an important role as well.

For those in the freight industry, same day shipping is not a new idea. FedEx provides a same day freight service, to bolster its normal same day service. UPS also provides an express critical service. A well-planned Pull or JIT supply chain shouldn’t need to rely on overnighting freight but if you’re willing to pay, the option is out there. So while a speedy last mile approach may be making a huge comeback, long-term planning, combined with slow steaming (and even super-slow steaming) is the de facto for larger ships on routine routes.

Beat other freight forwarders to the quote. Photo from Flickr.

But there is one aspect of freight that is ripe for same day service. With over 100,000 freight forwarders, competition is fiercer than it has ever been before but many freight forwarders still take hours, or even days, to respond to RFPs. Granted, a price may require integrating service from agents in other time zones and a dozen complex contracts. The shippers requesting price quotes are the same consumers who are rapidly getting used to same day shipping at home. They don’t have the patience to wait on quotes and with so many other 3PLs to go with, you can’t afford to quote slow.

Head over to the free Freightos demo site to see how instant quoting can work for you.