Buy now, ship later

29Nov11

In the past, I’ve lamented that there was no way to buy an ebook as a gift, and request that it be delivered to the recipient at a future date, e.g. on their birthday or during a specific holiday. However, now that at least one of the major online retailers allows you to choose a future delivery date for ebook gifts, I’m left with a different question: why can’t you buy a physical item as a gift today, and elect to have it shipped later?

This functionality would come in handy for any situation where you want to make the purchase today and have the item delivered in the future. For example, the product might be on sale right now and you’d like to lock in a low price, but it’s too bulky to keep on hand for weeks or months until the gift occasion arrives. Or, you’ve made the decision about what to buy and are worried that it may sell out later, but you can’t exactly have it sent to your friend or relative months ahead of time and just expect them to leave it unopened.

With that said, I see some challenges with delayed shipments as well. For instance, will manufacturers honor the warranty based on the ship date, or will they say it began on the purchase date? What about cancellations during the extended period from purchase to shipment? Despite these concerns, I would be very curious to see if a buy now, ship later option leads to increased sales volume, since the benefits to the gift-giving public appear to be quite substantial.



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