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Amazon 2-day shipping: Why packages sometimes arrive later

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In less than two decades, Amazon single-handedly transformed the way we think about online shopping. Before Prime launched in 2005, two-day shipping was virtually unheard of — now more than 100 million people use the service, and they expect the things they order online to arrive at their doorsteps in 48 hours or fewer.

There’s just one problem: Amazon, which has focused on obtaining customers at all costs for decades, seems to be looking for ways to cut down on shipping costs. In some cases, that means weaning Prime users off the near-instantaneous shipping they’ve come to expect.

From the beginning, free two-day shipping was Prime’s biggest draw. Memberships were cheap — $79 a year in 2005 and $119 today — and users had the option of paying a small fee to get their orders delivered in just one day. Today, Prime is about much more than package delivery: Users can order everything, from groceries to a house cleaner, through Amazon. But as Amazon has expanded, the promise of free two-day shipping — the main draw of Prime — has begun to come with a lot of caveats.

That’s not to say Amazon is totally changing course. In 2014, Amazon launched Prime Now, a service designed to deliver products in an hour or less, for some New York City-based users. (It expanded to other major cities in 2016.) Amazon often makes headlines for the grueling work expected of its in-house delivery fleet — or, more accurately, the network of contractors that deliver packages to Prime users across the country — a sign that it continues to take its shipping promise seriously, often at the expense of workers. But even as Amazon has doubled down on ensuring speedy delivery, it has begun looking for ways to rein in customers’ desire for instant gratification, a phenomenon it arguably helped create, in an attempt to cut costs and streamline its supply chain.

The result? Prime orders don’t necessarily arrive in two days anymore, nor are they always delivered to customers’ homes. All of this makes sense from a financial perspective, but that may not be enough to win customers over.

Prime customers pay for — and expect — quick, free shipping. They aren’t always happy about Amazon’s cost-cutting efforts.

Two-day Prime shipping isn’t necessarily a thing of the past, but it’s undeniable that Amazon delivery isn’t as seamless as it used to be.

Amazon will no longer deliver some small items, like razors or hair ties, individually. Instead, customers have to purchase $25 worth of these “add-on” items before Amazon will send the box out; the point, according to the company, is to give customers access to “low-cost items that would be cost-prohibitive to ship on their own.” Since 2011, Amazon has given users the option to have packages delivered to “lockers,” which are basically branded PO boxes, instead of to their homes or offices. Most recently, Amazon rolled out Amazon Day, a new delivery option that lets customers choose a specific day for all of their orders to arrive, is the company’s latest cost-cutting effort.

All of this makes sense from a financial perspective. Delivering packages to a single location instead of hundreds of individual homes cuts costs, and requiring customers to meet a delivery minimum for small orders helps Amazon consolidate deliveries, as does the Amazon Day program.

But the response to these new initiatives has been mixed at best.

Last December, Fast Company’s Mark Wilson wrote about how Amazon Prime is “getting worse,” claiming the company had all but abandoned its promise of two-day shipping for most products. “That little Prime logo used to mean something,” Wilson wrote. “Now it feels like a ruse that lulls shoppers into a false sense of security, until they go to checkout and see a shipping arrival date far later than anticipated.”

He continued:

“This cuts through the greatest promise of Prime. It’s not just the free, two-day shipping. It’s that it’s so reliable, you never have to think for more than a second about buying something. In this sense, Prime was constructed to be great for the consumer (so efficient) and great for businesses (mindless impulse shopping!). … It doesn’t help that we’ve seen a slow dilution of Prime itself over time, with the rise of Prime Pantry and Add-on Items. They force you to buy a minimum number of items to get the best deal, adding back the very psychic burden Prime had eliminated from the equation of online shopping in the first place.”

Wilson’s complaints about Prime suggest a bait-and-switch strategy. Amazon got 100 million people to become Prime users by guaranteeing frictionless service, but now that it’s gotten a sizable chunk of the market hooked on quick, free shipping, it’s trying to cut delivery costs by scaling back on the very thing that got customers interested in the first place. Put another way, Prime is built on the idea that shopping should be frictionless; Amazon has now introduced a degree of friction that wasn’t there before, and some customers aren’t happy about it.

https://twitter.com/esirof/status/1075426983104917504

“I can’t help but feel the frustration around how the false sense of shopping confidence is blown when Amazon simply uses the PRIME lockup as a gimmick,” one reader wrote in response to Wilson’s article. “The ‘prime’ benefit of getting your stuff when you expect it is gone, and it’s not just because of the holiday shipping crunch.

Amazon changed customer expectations regarding shipping. Now it’s changing them again.

One of Amazon’s core principles is “customer obsession,” a “vigorous” desire to “earn and keep customer trust.” (Amazon has, by the way, also been known to use customer obsession as an anti-union talking point.) Put simply, customer obsession means giving the customer what they want as cheaply and quickly as possible — e.g., within 48 hours or fewer — at the expense of profits.

Anne Goodchild, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington who focuses on supply chain transportation and logistics, told me that Amazon significantly altered customer expectations and shopping patterns.

“The status quo [has been] that we take ourselves to the store, pick up the goods, and go back to our homes. That’s actually a pretty inefficient way of doing the last mile: We all individually use our cars, and that kind of commuting creates a great travel burden,” she said. “Delivery services, to some extent, have the potential to be an improvement. [They consolidate] a lot of deliveries — hopefully — into one vehicle like a UPS truck. They have strong incentives, profit incentives, to do that in an efficient and cost-effective way.”

The problem, she said, occurs when delivery becomes too quick. “As we move toward faster delivery, it gets harder to consolidate.” The promise of instant delivery means that customers can buy virtually anything they want without thinking about it; they don’t always think to consolidate their purchases into a single order, because there’s no need to. (A 2018 survey by the optimization platform Feedvisor found that 46 percent of Prime members shop online more than twice a week.) “When we’re not paying some sort of personal cost for the trip, I think it’s easy to overlook how much travel we’re adding,” she said.

Other retailers have attempted to compete by offering similarly fast shipping. “After Amazon, we have things like ShopRunner and even Target [now] saying that if you order certain items, you can get two-day shipping,” Ambulkar said. “I don’t see two-day shipping going away. I think there’s definitely more and more businesses adopting it.”

Even as other retailers lower their shipping times to keep up, Amazon appears to be tweaking its two-day shipping promise. Prime may be cheap and easy for customers, but the cost of all those deliveries adds up quickly. Amazon spent $21.7 billion on shipping costs in 2017, according to its annual report. That’s nearly twice the amount it spent on shipping in 2015.

“Amazon has pursued a growth trajectory rather than a profit one,” Goodchild added. “I think everyone would agree that their strategy has been to please customers and, in doing so, grow their market share.”

But now that it has more than 100 million Prime customers, Amazon is looking for ways to make Prime more profitable — which could end up alienating some of the customers it has made an effort to court.

Justin Smith, the founder of TJI Research, an analytics firm that focuses on Amazon, told The Goods that Amazon is looking for ways to make Prime more efficient — and cost-effective. “Lockers or other pickup points, or encouraging customers to ship items in the fewest number of boxes possible, which might mean getting it a bit later than if you had shipped items separately,” are all part of that strategy.

“I also think that because of how big they are, they are able to become smarter about predicting what items people are going to order in different regions,” Smith added, “and I believe they’ve been able to put items in warehouses closer to where they expect people to order them from in order to reduce the distance that items have to be shipped when they’re ordered. If that can be done efficiently, I think you reduce the individual shipping volume as well as decrease the delivery time, which improves the customer experience.”

It’s also better for the environment. Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions in the US, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks — the kinds of freight vehicles that are often filled to the brim with Prime purchases and other online orders — are responsible for nearly one-quarter of the total transportation footprint. These trucks, which used to deliver the bulk of their loads to stores and other retail hubs, are now increasingly dropping packages off to individuals. All those one-off orders add up, both financially and environmentally — but, because this type of delivery is often more convenient for the consumer, this has become the new normal.

Not everyone agrees with the premise that more efficiency will result in greater customer satisfaction. Saurabh Ambulkar, a management professor at Northeastern University, said customers who have come to expect two-day — or even same-day — delivery might not readily accept more optimized, less customer-friendly options. “The whole [promise] was that Amazon can deliver the thing to my house, so why do I need to go to the central locker to get something? Why do I need to go to the store?” he said. “If I have to step out of my house to get something, they lose that competitive advantage that they have, but they have to do some of it [in order to] ease the pressure on the supply chain.”

“In bigger cities, maybe the central locker is closer to the place you work, but in other places, I think delivering to residents is what made Amazon more competitive than other players in the market,” Ambulkar added. “If I have to go to a central locker, I can just go to the store to get that product.”

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Digital Trends Live – 7.10.19 – Nintendo Switch Lite Confirmed + India May Ban Cryptocurrencies

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On today’s episode: Nintendo officially announced the much rumored Switch Lite; WarnerMedia makes HBO Max official, launching with Friends in 2020; India to ban cryptocurrencies – could impact Facebook’s Libra; team sets out to topple the land speed record; Overtock.com President joins to talk about their new A.R. feature; The best CPUs and GPUs on the market; Passwords vulnerability discussion with Keeper Security CEO; If you make a ton of PPT decks, you likely need a CMS – Shufflrr has you covered; Gaming Editor Felicia Miranda takes the cover off the Switch Lite and the best Prime Day deals to watch out for.

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25 Users Showed How Different Instagram Is From Reality, and It Can Make You Way More Confident

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According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Instagram is the most harmful social media for psychological health. Every day, we are disappointed when we start comparing our lives to the photos online without even thinking about how these perfect pictures were created. Fortunately, there are users who are ready to reveal what their lives look like without photoshop and filters.

Bright Side is happy to show the photos that will not only give you confidence, but will also improve your mood.

Before and after taken about 30 seconds apart

Nobody looks good in the morning.

Everything depends on the angle.

Trash looks bad no matter where it is.

“I love taking photos on the beach.”

It’s not just bodies and faces that get tune-ups on Instagram. The locals would be amazed to see the photo on the left.

Each successful photo actually means there were hundreds of failed attempts.

The photos I share vs The photos I’m tagged in

A black eye given by a unicorn

It appears that the rainbow is fake.

This is what’s behind a perfect life.

It’s always like this.

If people posted their real photos from the gym

10 minutes after cleaning and 10 hours later

Mud baths are attractive.

Behind the stage of perfect photo

Just imagine what the process looked like.

On hot days, you really need water-resistant makeup.

Before the party / after the party

When you are too hungry to arrange the food in a beautiful way:

This is the same girl.

There is something wrong with this photo.

Some people look like aliens in their photos.

It should be prohibited to tag people in photos.

Instagram vs Real-life motherhood

Do you prefer to post real or idealized photos?

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10 Powerful Sculptures That Tell a Story Better Than Any Novel Could

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We often take sculptures that surround us for granted, thinking that their only message is the one in plain sight. But it turns out that many of them have a deeper meaning like an angel that is made of weapons given up by those who never want to commit crimes again or a group of ginormous figures that tell us how a new life is born. Sculptures have a whole lot of good stories to share if you’re willing to listen.

Come with Bright Side on a little journey around the globe to see 10 eloquent monuments and sculptures and learn the stories behind them.

1. Knife Angel by Alfie Bradley has persuaded hundreds of people to give up violence.

Alfie Bradley created this breathtaking 27-foot-high angel made of more than 100,000 knives. These weapons were surrendered to knife bins around the UK and were collected by the UK police, knife crime charities, action groups and other people who were affected by knife crimes in one way or another. The Knife Angel travels around the UK to educate people on how important the problem of knife crime is and how dangerous these weapons are. You can learn more about The Knife Angel, the process of its creation, and its current locations here.

2. The Passer-Through-Walls by Jean Marais illustrates the final scene from a famous French novel.

Le Passe-Muraille is a French novel by Marcel Aymé that tells the story of a modest office worker who one day discovers that he has a superpower — he can walk through walls! The hero uses his gift to the fullest to solve problems and becomes a burglar, gets into prison, and escapes until one day he loses his power right on his way through a wall and gets stuck in it. This monument is also quite interactive — the man’s hands are polished by thousands of people who try to help him get out of the wall.

3. Building Bridges by Lorenzo Quinn shares a recipe for a better world.

How do we make our world a better place to live in? Friendship, wisdom, help, faith, hope, and love — these are the ingredients to a better world and happier people according to Lorenzo Quinn, a famous Italian artist. These 6 virtues are embodied in the 6 pairs of hands that build a bridge together. This is one of the latest works by Quinn that was built for 2019’s Venice Art Biennale.

4. Corporate Head by Terry Allen tells us about the danger of being focused on profit at all costs.

The impressive life-sized bronze sculpture of a man who has buried his head in the building resides in Los Angeles, California in the US. The sculpture embodies a businessman who has devoted all his life to gaining profit for himself and the company he works for. He is separated from the office building only from his neck down, which means his thoughts have been completely absorbed by the establishment he works for.

The sculpture illustrates the modern pace of life where people have to carry an economic burden and spend their whole lives working in businesses, often missing out on things that are way more important than material wealth.

5. Sphere Within a Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro reminds us of how fragile our planet is.

This wonderful statue mesmerizes viewers with a complex structure of fractured spheres — the outer one and the inner one — and numerous intricate gears inside. The artist, Arnaldo Pomodoro, liked to study simple geometrical forms in his work and managed to hide deep meaning behind those simple forms. The Sphere Within a Sphere once again reminds us how everything in the universe is interconnected, how fragile our world is, and how easily it can be broken into pieces.

6. The Man Who Measures the Clouds by Jan Fabre speaks about the struggles of measuring the immeasurable.

This unique artwork with the gold leaf finishing touch is part of 2019’s Venice Art Biennale and it shows viewers a man rising to a height of 29.5 feet (9 meters) and trying to measure the clouds with a ruler. This sculpture can be interpreted as a person’s desperate attempt to make the impossible possible, as our never-ending striving to surpass ourselves as mankind, or as a nod to ancient philosophy that thought that human beings were the measure of all things.

7. Inertia and The Bankers by Jason Decaires Taylor tackle social issues and call for our responsibility.

The Bankers, Inertia and other marvelous underwater sculptures by Jason Decaires Taylor reveal the most acute problems of modern society, like being obsessed with material wealth and being exposed to mass media’s influence. But apart from that, these unbelievable works serve as homes for coral that are on the verge of extinction in many regions of our planet. By placing his masterpieces underwater in Mexico, the Bahamas, and other places, the artist tries to attract more attention to global climate changes and the things we can do to protect the earth.

8. Absorbed by Light by Gali Lucas and Karoline Hinz honestly tell us how obsessed we’ve become with gadgets and technology.

3 people sitting on a bench, absorbed by their smartphones so much so that they don’t even notice each other. What could illustrate our era better? The installation that was part of the Amsterdam Light Festival symbolizes how modern technology connects and disconnects us at the same time. When you walk at night next time, look around and you’ll see the same picture — dozens of people all around with their faces lit up by their mobile phones. We actually are absorbed by these lights, aren’t we?

9. Trains to Life — Trains to Death by Frank Meisler commemorates children whose lives were saved and taken during the Holocaust.

The impressive work by Frank Meisler is located in Berlin, Germany, and it has 2 parts — 5 figures of boys and girls in dark bronze on one side, and a boy and a girl made of light bronze on the other side. The kids in these 2 parts of the monument gaze into different directions and symbolize 2 different outcomes that awaited children during the Holocaust. The group of 5 figures commemorates the 1.6 million Jewish kids that were sent to concentration camps and were killed, while 2 other kids pay tribute to those 10,000 children that were saved and transported to England.

10. The Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst shows the stages of a baby’s growth in the womb.

This amazing monument located outside the Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha, Qatar, consists of 14 large-scale bronze sculptures, each of them showing a stage of an embryo’s growth in the womb from conception to birth. Being extremely explicit and bold, The Miraculous Journey evoked controversial feelings in the eastern audience and was even covered from public view for some time.

Here’s what Damien Hirst, the creator of the monument said about the ideas he addressed in his work: “Ultimately, the journey a baby goes through before birth is bigger than anything it will experience in its human life. I hope the sculpture will instill in the viewer a sense of awe and wonder at this extraordinary human process, which will soon be occurring in the Sidra Medical Center, as well as every second all across the globe.”

Which of these monuments would you like to see with your own eyes? Can you share with us a picture of a sculpture or a monument that impressed you?

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