The Kent, Conn.-based computer-supply retailer is offering same-day delivery to more than 20 cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, as long as orders are placed before 6 a.m. PT. Outpost is charging a flat fee of $99 for packages up to 25 pounds.
As e-commerce stocks continue to plummet, some companies are trying to drum up business and investor enthusiasm by offering enhanced services. Foremost among them is same-day delivery, a phenomenon that has made a media darling out of Kozmo.com, which carries videos, CDs and other sundries to customers in less than an hour.
Some analysts say companies such as retailer Sameday.com, online grocer Pink Dot and Kozmo, which does not charge for delivery, are making wise moves by offering customers more convenience. Others have said that the delivery costs are a drag on profits, especially when margins are paper thin, as they are for videos and snack food.
Kozmo, which filed for a public offering last month, has accumulated $27 million in debt since 1997.
Outpost's offering is no fly-by-night scheme to attract investors, an Outpost spokesman said.
"This isn't one of those deals where a dot-com loses money on a product just to make the sale," Jim Gallagher said. "We are not only providing the same-day service, we're making money on the deal."
Company executives were motivated to offer same-day delivery for two reasons, Gallagher said.
Like many companies, Outpost wanted to implement a business-to-business strategy. Gallagher said that companies have expressed a need to have computers, software and other products delivered quickly. The second reason is that for Outpost, shipping same-day is convenient.
Because the company's Wilmington, Ohio-based warehouse sits next door to Airborne Express' shipping hub, Outpost has struck an agreement with the company. When Outpost receives orders, it can pick, pack and run it next door to have the overnight shipping company deliver it in a matter of hours.
"This is a time saver that lets us move goods much more easily," Gallagher said.
Outpost also announced a return policy that will allow customers to return an unwanted item by way of Airborne Express for a $10 charge.
Outpost's parent company, Cyberian Outpost, closed at $6.75 today, down from a 52-week high of $19.87.