Believe it or not, the answer to that question can soon be –same day.  In the world of e-tailers all offering the same products and fighting for the same customers, often times the customer’s choice lies simply with who offer the fastest service.

Amazon offers its “Prime” program, which gives you faster service for a yearly fee.

Alibaba has now entered into the fray, and put up $200MM dollars to add a consortium of US companies into an expedited delivery service.

Even the USPS is investigating how to get products from one side of town from a manufacturer/distributor, to the customer on the other side of town…the same day!

The big box stores like Best Buy, Target, Kohl’s and the like, are investigating how to add back room packaging operations to ship local orders with the regional boundaries of that particular store.

This is all good news to the consumer supposedly, but it creates a much larger, logistical challenge to the hub and spoke days of the past for the suppliers, when 3-5 days in transit was considered to be fast.

So the next time you order that new video game system for your kids, don’t be surprised when an hour after you click your mouse,  your doorbell rings, and there it sits on your front porch. Maybe the cable-TV service industry, and appliance repair services could take a page out of this book, and narrow down that obligatory 4-hour window.