April 28 2014 08:11 PM

With all the new technology at our fingerprints, have you noticed how some things are slowing down so much that they are exasperating?

Many of these irritations actually appear like they are in slow motion with robots ordering us what to do:
1. Calling a number and running into a telephone tree of choices causing us to do the work of an operator, then after five minutes being told all lines are unusually busy — call later
2. Waiting three minutes for Microsoft office to boot up
3. Feeling like it is normal for five telephone tag calls to take place on your mobile before talking to someone who wants to speak with you
4. Extra buttons and prompts for almost every website including your own bank, software provider and email provider
5. So many passwords and user IDs that you have a two inch black book to keep track of them
6. Dealing with the “new normal” of getting to the airport two hours early-I have to say if the trip is fewer than 500 miles I usually drive

Of course there are examples when the speed of the solution just seems perfect:

1. The new Corvette does 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, has a V-8, 460 horsepower, gets 29 mpg, looks awesome and is barely over $50k…that is true value
2. An iPad turns on instantly
3. Microwaves for some things are too hard to resist
4. Love my Keurig that takes less than a minute, lets me choose from twenty varieties of coffee and costs 4x over a full pot 
Thought about all of this while reflecting on Amazon’s same day and ridiculous Octocopter stories. Will say it again, to keep their P/E ratio over 600, I guess they have to say something that sounds like the Jetsons.

My best analysis says that same day delivery, even if the envelope is pushed, will not be greater than one percent of package volume in the next five years. Here are a couple of recent events that were added after writing this story (PARCEL's editor, Amanda Armendariz, kindly agreed to include them):

1. The USPS has ended its test of same-day delivery service in the San Francisco Bay Area after the service attracted a grand total of 95 packages over a five month period. The USPS had expected at least 200 deliveries per day.
2. John Donahoe is CEO of eBay that has a service called eBay Now, which delivers items in as little as an hour. 
Donahoe said, “eBay Now has received too much media attention, given the scope of the operation. This is not a major independent business line we want to grow," he added. “The notion of fast and convenient delivery is attractive to wealthier consumers, but most shoppers are willing to take more time to search for better prices. In this room, we have money but no time," Donahoe told the audience, which included fund managers, Wall Street analysts and venture capitalists. "But the bulk of consumers have more time than money and are willing to search for value, or they like shopping as a source of entertainment."

Express delivery, broadly defined as delivered the next business day, still seems to me to be the Corvette of delivery. Here is the rationale:
1. The pure symmetry of having a package picked up (or dropping it off) this afternoon and having your customer/vendor/partner receive it the next business day practically anywhere in five time zones with all of the work done during the night is just right
2. Inventory carrying cost, especially for high value items, depreciates the value of inventory rapidly. Letting your customers know your standard is to deliver it tomorrow helps you control that cost and lets them control theirs because they don’t have to hold excess inventory
3. Yes, this costs more than ground — and should because it is worth more. Higher volumes can substantially reduce the price per unit
4. Once it is delivered, even your brand new mail center clerk knows it is important, so it is hustled to you quickly inside your building
5. Express is truly a global product; it can originate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and be on your desk in two days. No warehousing or other logistics costs is required. Global connectivity becomes a reality when it moves beyond virtual to physical and info based
6. Express took a hit during the recession because financial gurus got control of all business and reduced cost to the lowest common denominator. If we can get the economy moving again, especially exports from the USA, it will come back very strongly. The stock market is acting like it believes the economy will come back
7. Express literally strengthens the supply chain

Speed when coupled with technology is a competitive weapon that can provide a true competitive differentiation. 

Just so there is no mistake, I would like a red Stingray coupe-preferably the Z51 model and am generously offering the donor a ride in Texas with me on our 85 mph highways.

Rob Shirley is CEO of ExpresShip, a strategic consultancy in the global supply chain. Contact him at rsxpship@gmail.com or www.xpship.com.