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Review of Quick Delivery options in Indian online shopping

In the world of online shopping India, quick delivery options and one-day delivery schemes are not always what they seem. Most of the schemes are of no practical benefit to average users, and are launched only to generate hype, even if one is looking only at the bigger cities and not the towns and villages. In addition, the cost of same-day delivery is also very high.

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Online shopping websites like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon offer various types of quick delivery options. Some charge on the basis of number of items, others on the number of orders. The schemes are available only on the items that are stocked by these companies in their godowns and not those sent by their trader partners.
Let’s review the options in detail before delving into their shortcomings.

FLIPKART
Scheme 1: In April, Flipkart launched Rs 200 per order scheme for same-day delivery in ten cities including Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Manesar, Navi Mumbai and Thane. Orders have to be placed by 12 noon for receiving the same on the same day.

Scheme 2: In December last year, Flipkart launched a Rs 90-per-item In-a-day guarantee one-day shipping service. It was available in seven cities at launch. Orders have to be placed before 6PM for next-day delivery.

SNAPDEAL
Scheme 1: A month ago, Snapdeal launched a 2-hour-delivery scheme in 15 cities called “Snapdeal Plus”. The scheme was piloted in Delhi and Gurgaon at the beginning of this year. Snapdeal is setting up 40 warehouses in different cities to implement the quick delivery strategy, and hopes to cover 30 cities by the end of this year. Under the initial scheme, orders had to be placed by 1 pm for same-day delivery. The company has not revealed how much it will charge. We checked Snapdeal.com, but didn’t find any item that had any ‘Snapdeal Plus’ logo or any other signage indicating that it was available for expedited delivery.

AMAZON INDIA
Unlike the hype-generating 2-hr delivery promise of Snapdeal and Flipkart, Amazon is more focused on next-day delivery, and has the highest coverage of all online shopping sites in this matter.

Scheme 1: It does have a same-day delivery like the others, but the service is available only in Mumbai and Bangalore.

Scheme 2: Under its one-day delivery scheme, the company offers 2.75 lakh products and services 20 cities. When launched a few months ago, one-day delivery option was only available in 6 cities. Since then, Amazon has been setting up warehouses in more and more cities. The service costs about Rs 99 per order.

Scheme 3: It also offers a two-day delivery option for Rs 49 per order. It is not clear whether this option is available across India or not.

Scheme 4: Amazon offers a one-day shipping (not delivery) option. According to the company, “nearly 60% of our customer demand is eligible for next-day shipping on products fulfilled by Amazon.” What is not clear is whether all Amazon-fullfilled products (which are actually stored in Amazon’s warehouses) are covered by the next-day shipping guarantee or not. Next-day shipping does not mean next day delivery, and only means that Amazon will send it in one day, and the user should get it in 2-3 days of placing the order. The services is free of cost.

THE REALITY
The problem with most of the above schemes, especially those from Flipkart and Snapdeal, is that it is not clear how many of the items are actually covered by the offers. In case of Snapdeal Plus, it not even clear what the charges are.
Besides, most of the pin codes in the country are not covered by the schemes. Amazon has done the best job of stocking the goods in its godowns. This cuts down the shipping time, and ensures delivery within an average of 3 days even without guarantees for Amazon Fullfilled items.

In comparison, individual traders, whether on Amazon, Snapdeal or Flipkart, often take 2-3 days to ship an order. Amazon and its traders seem to have chosen FedEx as the exclusive shipping partner. In our tests, FedEx often delivers within 24 hours to big cities even when the item is not covered under any schemes or plans.
The speed of delivery is likely to improve for all players going forward as most of them are setting up big warehouses to stock goods. A clarification from the central government next month on foreign investment in e-retail is also expected to improve speeds.

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