October 17, 2012, 3:41 PM

U.S. Postal Service will test same-day delivery for e-retailers

Metro Post will deliver products bought online by 8 p.m. in a holiday season test.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

The U.S. Postal Service will test same-delivery of products from selected e-retailers, according to a recent filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission. The test of the Metro Post will take place in San Francisco, start around Nov. 12 and could last a year or more.

To receive same-day deliveries, consumers would have to make purchases from participating online retailers between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., with USPS personnel picking up the packages after 3 p.m., the filing says. Delivery to consumers will take place between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The filing says the postal service plans to deliver no more than 200 packages a day during the “initial period of the market test.” The USPS declines to say what retailers will participate.

"The volume of packages continues to grow along with the growth in e-commerce," the USPS tells Internet Retailer. "Providing this service is a way for us to help increase revenue by increasing our package business and also provide better, faster service for our customers."

The USPS says it would be up to participating retailers to determine how much to charge customers for deliveries. The filing did not disclose what the USPS would charge retailers, but it did note that the charge would be more than $2.70, or six times the price of a first-class stamp, which is 45 cents. The filing also stated, “The prices offered by competitors for same-day delivery typically fall within the price range that the Postal Service intends to test.” 

The filing says that consumers can request same-day delivery for items bought online or “at the retail stores that have partnered with test participants,” though no further details were offered. "It would be feasible for a customer to purchase at a store (operated by a) participating retailer and have (the purchase) delivered the same day," the USPS says.

To take part in Metro Post, “each e-commerce company … must have at least ten physical locations nationally, one or more of which must be within the defined metropolitan area of the market test,” the filing reads. For the upcoming test, that means "one of those locations needs to be in the San Francisco metro area," the USPS says. "Stores and warehouses would be counted as physical locations."

The Oct. 12 filing comes shortly after Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, said it would test same-day delivery of items ordered online in four markets: Northern Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.); Philadelphia; Minneapolis; and, in San Jose, CA and San Francisco. EBay also recently announced a test of same-day deliveries in the Bay Area.

Amazon.com Inc. offers same-day delivery in 10 markets: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, the New York metropolitan area, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington, D.C. However, Amazon executives had said they do not foresee extending same-day service nationwide.

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