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Amazon India has launched a Release Day Delivery service, which will allow customers to pre-order products and get them delivered on the day of their release. This service launch coincided with the launch of the Xbox One gaming console. Some of the customers in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Nagpur, who had pre-ordered the Xbox One, received it from Amazon on the midnight of September 21, 2014.

This service is currently available only for the video games category. Amazon India claimed that new categories will soon be added, though no clear timeframe has been communicated.

Amazon’s attempts at delivery innovations

Amazon India had launched a pilot program to test in-store pick-up service in Delhi and Mumbai in association with BPCL’s In & Out stores, in March this year. Shoppers were provided the option to select In & Out as the pick-up of point of their Amazon purchases during the checkout process, and search for the closest stores using address, pin code or by using landmark. This service was later extended to Bangalore in April. Customers were allowed to pick-up their Amazon purchases from local kirana shops. While, it’s still early days it would be interesting to know how many Amazon customers are actually using this service. Have any of you used this in-store pick-up service?

Amazon India has also been concentrating on expanding its Fulfillment Centers. Earlier this year, in July it had opened its third Fulfillment Center in Chennai and had stated plans to open four more in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Tauru (outskirts of Gurgaon). Amazon already had Fulfillment Centers in Mumbai and Bangalore. However, the Bangalore Fulfillment Center had recently come under the shadow of the Karnataka government’s tax department.

Last year, Amazon had also launched a pilot to test India Post’s cash-on-delivery service, in a bid to reach to a larger section of the country and provide them with an edge over other e-commerce players. India Post probably has the widest delivery service in India, covering 25,000 pin codes and offers the capabilities to deliver in locations where professional courier services might not often choose to, since these might not be viable. At the same time, Amazon had also launched one-day delivery service in India for orders from Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune.

Only USP in e-commerce?

To a large extant there is a overlap in terms of products and services offered by the three main e-commerce portals in India – Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal. So, the only way to differentiate from competitors in the e-commerce space seems to be to offer innovative (sometimes forced) delivery services.

If Amazon India launched a Release Day Delivery service, then last week Flipkart launched its fulfillment service for third party merchants called Flipkart Advantage. The products under this service are eligible for same-day and next-day delivery, and also come with the company’s 30 day return policy.

Earlier this year, Flipkart had also launched its premium subscription service Flipkart First, which is similar to Amazon Prime. It offers same day delivery, free shipping, apart from priority customer service.

Not to be outdone, Snapdeal extended its same-day delivery service to 15 cities, and currently doesn’t charge anything extra for it. Both Flipkart and Amazon India charge extra for same-day deliveries, Rs 140 and Rs 149 respectively.