Same-day delivery just got a lot quicker

In the last year or so, same-day delivery has become the new norm for e-commerce in the Bay Area. Walmart and Google have started delivering TVs, phone chargers, shoes and whatever other items you may want but likely don’t need within a few hours of purchase. eBay upped the ante last fall with eBay Now, which promises one-hour delivery in San Francisco and San Jose.

Turns out, as brand-new as the concept is (most retailers are still “testing” it and haven’t figured out whether it will be profitable), same-day delivery was just way too slow.

The new standard is 15 minutes. Well, 14 minutes and 58 seconds, if you want to be exact. (And, believe me, UK delivery service Shutl takes pride in those two seconds.)

Shutl launches this month in San Francisco, offering shoppers yet another choice for super-quick delivery. The company’s rising popularity — it secured investments of more than $3 million to expand to dozens of cities in North America — suggests that there are enough shoppers who want their purchases immediately. In less than 15 minutes.

The e-commerce industry hasn’t yet figured out how to do same-day delivery well, or make money doing it, and already a few hours is just too long to wait for a roll of paper towel or an iPhone case.

Customers who shop at retailers that partner with Shutl can have their online orders in hand within about 90 minutes or choose a one-hour window for delivery. The company says it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and most deliveries cost less than $10. Retailers pay Shutl a fee for each delivery they coordinate.

Shutl doesn’t need to worry itself with costly brick and mortar stores, and more than anything, it’s a software company. Most of its employees are engineers, which explains why its technology is superior to the average retailer’s. A personalized dashboard lets customers track the delivery on a GPS-enabled map. And Shutl is entirely in the cloud — a notable achievement for a European company, which must contend with stricter data privacy laws than U.S. companies — and carries out more than 1,000 deliveries a day over a cloud network operated by none other than e-commerce king Amazon. Despite that snug relationship, Shutl has been trumpeted as the delivery service that could let struggling U.S. retailers compete with Amazon’s ground game.

That is, until 14 minutes and 58 seconds becomes just far too long to wait.

Heather Somerville Heather Somerville (152 Posts)

Heather Somerville reports on consumer affairs, retail and technology for the Bay Area News Group. She lives in San Francisco, where she enjoys rock climbing, yoga and biking across the Golden Gate Bridge.