November 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Following Amazon's lead, Wal-Mart and the USPS test same-day delivery

Following Amazon’s lead, Wal-Mart and the USPS test same-day delivery.

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In what may become one of the next areas of tough competition among online retailers—and add greater pressure to bricks-and-mortar merchants—same-day delivery of online orders is starting to gain a foothold.

Last month, the U.S. Postal Service said it would begin testing Metro Post same-day delivery services for a select group of e-retailers, according to a filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission. It announced its plans days after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would begin testing its own same-day delivery service in four metropolitan areas this fall: the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and in the San Jose/San Francisco area. In August, eBay Inc. introduced to consumers in San Francisco eBay Now, a service that offers same-day delivery from retailers listed with eBay's Milo mobile shopping service, which lets consumers in stores search for other merchants that offer the products they're considering.

The USPS has also chosen San Francisco to run the initial tests of its Metro Post service, starting in the middle of this month. For online orders placed before 3 p.m., the USPS will pick up packages from retailers after 3 p.m., then deliver to consumers within the specified local market between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. the same day. The USPS did not reveal the names of the participating retailers.

The USPS also didn't provide specific pricing for Metro Post services, but noted that the average per-package delivery charge would be more than $2.70. Inc., not surprisingly, is already out in front with its own same-day delivery services. The retailer offers same-day deliveries of online orders in 10 markets: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, the New York metropolitan area, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

In one bit of good news for Amazon's competitors, the world's largest e-retailer by web sales says it has no plans to extend same-day delivery services nationwide.


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