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Nickels & Dimes: Stores Add Same-Day Delivery

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Online orders of groceries, cosmetics, auto parts and other online purchases may now show up at your door within hours, rather than days, if you’re willing to pay for it.

Sephora announced last week that it would begin offering same-day delivery in Manhattan for $15, while Wal-Mart began testing home grocery delivery for an extra $5 to $10 in San Jose this spring. In Houston, Advance Auto Parts and a handful of mom-n-pop businesses have started testing home delivery in recent months, reports the Houston Chronicle.

“Businesses are doing this because mall shopping is down and online shopping is up, and the future looks like more of the same,” says Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Consumers have come to expect that they’ll save time and money shopping online, but they still want the good in hand, fast. “As we’ve seen with Amazon Prime, there’s a whole category of shoppers out there that just can’t wait,” she says. “Home delivery is all about the convenience factor.”

Sorry, suburbanites, but you’re not likely to see many home delivery options other than groceries heading your way. Cities give companies the critical mass of daily deliveries needed to make the extra expense of hiring drivers, buying vehicles and managing a delivery schedule worthwhile, says Larry Chiagouris, a professor of marketing at Pace University.

Home delivery is certainly cheaper than overnight shipping, but it’s not a smart idea in all cases. Consider your proximity to the store as a way to gauge whether home delivery will really save time or gas money. Also be aware that once you commit to paying extra for home delivery, you’re likely to buy more as a way to offset the cost, Yarrow says.

I experimented with same-day delivery this spring, paying The Container Store $35 to have several big under-bed organizers and stackable drawers delivered to my Brooklyn apartment. I used a web-only promo code to cut my total bill by 20%, and figured the roughly $20 premium was worth it as a way to avoid three separate subway trips lugging the items home by myself. Would I pay for it again? Only for something that wasn’t easy to carry home and up five flights of stairs.

Pay Dirt readers, what purchases are worth the premium for same-day home delivery?

Nickels and Dimes will keep tabs on new and rising fees and surcharges eating into your bottom line. Have one to share? Email kelli.grant@dowjones.com.

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    • get a life go get a real job and default

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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