Instant Gratification: Whole Foods, Target Offer Same-Day Delivery

Xconomy National — 

[Updated 2/8/18, 1:39 pm.] The race is on to sign up consumers seeking same-day delivery of groceries, household items, and personal goods.

Late on Wednesday, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced it has started free two-hour delivery of products from Whole Foods Market, the most significant example of the e-commerce giant using technology at the Austin, TX-based grocery chain since it purchased Whole Foods last year for $13.7 billion.

That announcement was followed early Thursday by Target (NYSE: TGT) saying it would provide same-day delivery of its products through Shipt, a Birmingham, AL, startup the Minneapolis-based retailer bought for $550 million in December.

The announcements reflect a strategy by major retailers—both online and brick-and-mortar companies—to tap into new technologies to bring in more customers. In addition to the Amazon and Target acquisitions, there has been a slew of recent deals: global retailer Walmart (NYSE: WMT) bought Parcel, Ikea purchased TaskRabbit, and Ace Hardware bought a majority stake in The Grommet.

[Updated with information about Google Express.] In 2013, Google launched Google Express, an online e-commerce site that allows consumers to purchase from a variety of retailers, in the San Francisco area. The service, which partners with about 50 retailers, including Target, is now available throughout the continental United States. Same-day shipping (as well as next-day, 2nd-day, and 3rd-day shipping) is free for orders that meet a individual’s store’s minimum purchase, usually around $25 to $35, according to the Google Express website.

The Amazon/Whole Foods service will be available through its Prime Now program in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach, VA, starting today, while Target will launch same-day delivery on Feb. 15 in Phoenix, AZ; Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City, OK; and throughout Texas. Both companies have targeted consumers in Texas, the home turf of Whole Foods. (Target shoppers must get Shipt memberships, which the retailer said are being offered for $49 a year instead of the regular price of $99.)

Amazon and Whole Foods said select alcoholic beverages are also available for delivery, and the two-hour delivery service is free. So-called “ultra-fast delivery” within one hour costs $7.99 on orders of $35 or more and all deliveries are available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.