2-Day Intergalactic Shipping

by Colleen Quattlebaum

Whether it be outer space, or down the street, Amazon enjoys pushing the boundaries of the possible.

This summer, Jeff Bezos and his various companies had two major breakthroughs that will likely impact the direction of eCommerce and industry in general.

Reusable Rockets

When not at the helm of the eCommerce behemoth Amazon.com, Inc ("Amazon"), or overseeing the seventh-most circulated newspaper in the US, Jeff Bezos spends his free time as the founder of Blue Origin, an aerospace company trying to drastically reduce the cost of spaceflight.

This summer, Blue Origin's New Shepherd rocket launched and landed for the fourth time. NASA has been targeting reusable rockets for several years, and Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX have both made amazing strides. Having a reusable rocket will astronomically reduce the cost of sending humans and materials into space.

As usual, Bezos wants his company to make a big impact, and he wants to do it out in the open. The launch in June was live-streamed, a first for private aerospace companies that like to keep mistakes out of the public eye. In July, they tested a crash landing scenario and released an email on the positive results. The next step for Blue Origin is a rocket facility in Florida and manned launches in 2017.

Bezos has also been transparent on the long-term goal of Blue Origin. While SpaceX seems to be focused on Mars, Bezos believes his job is to set up the infrastructure to make space the next great place to move commercial industrialization. Bezos told Forbes, "If you go back to when I started Amazon, all of the heavy-lifting infrastructure to support Amazon was already in place. We did not have to invent a remote payment system. It was already there. It was called the credit card.”

Now, his focus is on reducing the cost of space flight and creating the infrastructure so the next great wave of innovators can move environmentally damaging industry off Earth and into space. He looks forward to a day when "Earth will be zoned residential and light industrial."

Other Breakthroughs Closer to Home

Back here on Earth, Bezos and Amazon made huge strides this summer with the Amazon Prime Now program. What started out in Manhattan in 2014 has grown to forty metropolitan areas around the world. Prime customers in these select locations can get free 2-hour shipping on over 18,000 essential items on primenow.amazon.com.

Prime Now is only available for Prime customers. They can use the website or the mobile app to order groceries, household essentials, Amazon devices, pet supplies, and now restaurant deliveries too. For an additional $7.99, customers can get these items within one hour.

So, theoretically, you could be enjoying a nice fall evening when your teenage son comes in after football practice and informs you he has a school project due the next day. You can order the poster board, markers and other project supplies and they'll be delivered by the time he finishes his dinner (and half of yours).

A survey released earlier this year found that 25 percent of Prime subscribers had tried the Prime Now service, and two-thirds of Prime Now customers were between 25 and 45. The fastest delivery ever recorded happened in 2015 when someone in Austin, TX got an iRobot Roomba vacuum in 10 minutes 23 seconds. That's fast. And to push it a bit further, you can now even schedule a test ride for a Hyundai Elantra from Prime now.

What Does This Mean for Amazon Sellers?

Amazon sellers have two clear takeaways. First, Jeff Bezos and Amazon are clearly far from done when it comes to innovation and growth. They will morph and change and keep pushing the envelope, whether it be for delivery time or the price of a ticket to the moon. Amazon will expect its sellers to be equally agile and forward-thinking.

Second is a continued emphasis on Amazon Prime. Amazon has clearly showed that they want to double down on getting more and more customers around the world to be Prime subscribers. Your selling strategy should also be in line with this focus.

But is there a third conclusion we can draw? Perhaps Bezos has some master plan to connect both Blue Origin and Amazon? Will Amazon be the first to offer 2-hour shipping to the International Space Station? Is Bezos' mission to let Chris Hadfield instantly order new guitar strings to be shipped to the station of his choice? Only time will tell.

Originally published on September 28, 2016, updated June 1, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.