Office supplies retailer Staples announced Tuesday it is launching same-day delivery services in eight major U.S. metropolitan areas.
Consumers in areas of Boston, Dallas and Manhattan (and soon in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle) ordering by 3:00 p.m. local time on weekdays can opt for the new Staples Rush delivery option at checkout to receive their shipment by 7:00 p.m. Staples Rush initially costs $14.99 per delivery, although the company says the price point could change as it assesses the program.
Staples business customers will have access to the Rush service in coming months, and the company will also be adding services like copy and print, according to a press release.
Amazon is widely seen as the catalyst behind the current on-demand delivery boom, and rival retailers have been scrambling to catch up. Amazon (also in focus during Staples’ and Office Depot’s battle against a Federal Trade Commission injunction, ultimately granted, that effectively ended their merger quest) has aggressively shortened the delivery time for its Prime members, first with free two-day shipping and more recently with same-day, two-hour and even one-hour delivery.
Market research has consistently shown that most shoppers often prefer free shipping over fast shipping, however. In fact, not much has changed since a 2014 Boston Consulting Group survey found that a mere 9% of shoppers said same-day delivery would improve their online retail experience, with 74% saying free delivery is important and 50% saying low prices were important.
Office supplies could be an area where people are busy enough and impatient enough for their goods, however.
“Businesses want their online orders fulfilled faster than ever,” Faisal Masud, Staples executive vice president, global e-commerce, said in a statement announcing the Rush initiative. “Thanks to Staples’ unmatched omnichannel capabilities, which already include the ability to buy online and pickup in store, we will deliver the products customers need when they need them, so they can make more happen without having to wait on shipped orders.”
Staples says it will use its own delivery fleet to fulfill Rush orders, which are limited to certain items.
The announcement comes as Staples says it’s working to boost its offering of products and services in light of the failed merger. "We will continue to build on our assortment of products beyond office supplies," Staples director of corporate communications Mark Cautela told Retail Dive in an email earlier this year. "We’ll also look to build on our omnichannel capabilities, like buy online pick-up in store and shipping from store... and investing in sharper pricing and enhanced supply-chain capabilities."
The Staples Rush announcement follows a matter of weeks after Wal-Mart began piloting its own same-day delivery efforts in partnership with startups Uber, Lyft and Deliv. Customers in test locations are offered the delivery option when placing a grocery order online: Wal-Mart associates select and prepare the order, then request a driver from one of the partner services to pick up the items from Wal-Mart and deliver them directly to the customer’s location.