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Amid hot competition, India's e-retailers now in delivery-time wars

05 January 2015

Heavy competition in the Indian e-commerce space is pushing companies to introduce new features, including faster delivery of orders. While buyers can get their orders in under a day now from most online sites, Flipkart is exploring ways to further reduce delivery times to as little as three hours, The Times of India reports.

Flipkart is currently working on the logistics and also evaluating the kind of products that can be a part of the initiative. Such quick delivery will add a little to the buyer's bill, but is likely to be used in emergencies.

Flipkart could introduce this service in 3-4 cities as early as July this year.

It currently offers two paid delivery options in addition to the standard delivery option. 'In-a-day guarantee' is available across 50 cities where for a Rs90 premium per item, you can get your order the next day. For Rs140 per item you can get your order on the same day. This service is only available in 10 cities across India, and requires you to place an order before midnight.

For such a service to work, Flipkart's retailers will need to increase the number of warehouses in every city and also increase the number of people helping out with the last-mile delivery. As mentioned above, the company offers same-day delivery in 10 cities across India, with 13 warehouses and over 12,000 people helping with last-mile delivery.

When Flipkart introduces this service, it will no doubt push Amazon to introduce a similar service in India as well. Last year, Amazon India reacted to Flipkart's in-a-day guarantee by launching its own guaranteed 1-day delivery.

For Rs99 per order, Amazon India will guarantee next-day delivery, while Rs149 per order will guarantee same day delivery. But the global e-commerce giant is capable of reducing delivery times further. as it recently launched a 60-minute delivery under its Prime option in Manhattan.

A recent report claimed that Amazon was working on bringing Prime to India. Similar to Flipkart First, Prime subscribers are entitled to offers including free two-day shipping with no minimum order size, unlimited streaming of movies and videos on Amazon Instant Video, and a service called Kindle Owners Lending Library, wherein Kindle owners can borrow one free e-book from Amazon's library.

It costs $99 (approximately Rs5,946) per year and a discounted $39 (approximately Rs2,342) for students.

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