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Jim Agger
 
August 25, 2014 | eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping | Jim Agger

Sunday and Holiday Delivery: The future of wine shipping?

When getting a bottle or case of wine for a special event, timing can matter. You may have customers wanting their champagne for a celebration or a sudden party over the weekend. You could be a person who forgot to get their favorite bottle of pinot noir for Thanksgiving and wants it delivered by that day. Sometimes the customer desires a bottle of Riesling by Sunday. However, wine shipping tends to work 6 days per week at most. Until fairly recently, Sunday shipping wasn't an option at all for American customers, since the three major shipping agencies – the United States Postal Service, FedEx and the United Parcel Service – refuse to deliver on Sundays and holidays. However, in the case of the USPS, that situation has changed. In partnership with Amazon, it is now moving to deliver packages on Sundays and all federal holidays. The option of Sunday delivery can have a great impact on how wineries can deliver to their customers, simply by virtue of giving a "just in time" approach to wine delivery.

A fast rollout
Amazon originally announced their Sunday delivery partnership with the USPS in November 2013, with the first markets being New York City and Los Angeles. National rollout has since been moving faster than expected, according to GeekWire. In May of 2014, 15 more cities were eligible for Sunday delivery, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and New Orleans. Since that time, operations have quietly expanded to Seattle, Portland and metro Washington, D.C., among other cities.

In order to keep up with the potential demand and speed required to have packages delivered on Sundays and holidays, Amazon has done its part to make sure it happens effectively. According to MultiChannel Merchant, the company is planning to open 15 specialized sortation centers across the U.S. in 2014 as part of the USPS partnership. These centers, eight of which have already opened, sort the packages so they can be sent on the right truck to go to the customer's location. They serve two purposes: One is to deliver packages on those days. The other is to expand their two-day shipping guarantee to more parts of the country. It is being seen by some as a means to control more of the fulfillment process.

Convenience without cost
What is important to know about Sunday and holiday delivery is the way it is treated: It is essentially like any other day of the week. So, unlike same-day delivery or other express delivery options, the shipping rates remain the same as if they were delivered on your average Tuesday. Before that, the only time that the USPS delivered on Sunday was through its high-end Priority Mail Express service, and that was with added fees to ensure Sunday delivery. That option remains unavailable for UPS and FedEx.

When the cost of weekend holiday shipping is considered the same as weekday shipping, new opportunities emerge for wine merchants. The reason for this is that customers will be able to have their favorite bottle delivered at a time of the week where they have more free time on their hands, rather than fret over trying to receive the package during the week when they're working.

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