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What’s The Rush? Ask Staples, Which Intro’d Same-Day Delivery Service

Staples has joined the same-day delivery fray.

Its new Staples Rush service, which is currently being tested in parts of Boston, Dallas and Manhattan, will soon expand to other major U.S. metropolitan areas including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

According to the No. 1 office-supply chain, Staples Rush will allow customers in specific areas of the targeted markets to place online orders by 3 p.m. local time and have them delivered by 7 p.m.

Eligible items for same-day delivery number in the thousands and must weigh less than 70 pounds. The retailer is currently charging $15 per drop-off for the service, although the price is subject to change.

The company said it will employ its own delivery fleet in most markets, and will leverage its network of retail stores and its “world-class supply-chain organization” to fulfill rush orders.

Staples plans to expand the eligible assortment and add copy/print and other services to the menu in the next few months, and will eventually offer the program to its B-to-B division’s contract customers.

In the meantime, the service remains in beta test phase.

“By offering a wholly owned same-day delivery experience, Staples is providing businesses the type of customer service they’ve come to expect from us throughout their entire transaction,” said Mike Bhaskaran, supply chain and logistics executive VP. “The development process for Staples Rush is a truly a collaborative and cross-functional effort that brought together different areas of expertise, including supply chain, e-commerce and merchandising, to create a valuable service for our customers.”

Added global e-commerce executive VP Faisal Masud, “Thanks to Staples’ unmatched omni-channel capabilities, which already include the ability to buy online and pickup in store, we will deliver the products customers need when they need them, so they can make more happen without having to wait on shipped orders.”

Same-day delivery has become the new Holy Grail of e-commerce as e-tailers seek to approximate the immediate gratification of in-store shopping, a key brick-and-mortar advantage. Not surprisingly, Amazon leads the pack with its same-day Prime program, now serving 28 cities, while Best Buy recently expanded its pilot service, which employs third-party provider Deliv, to 13 major metro markets.

Walmart and Sam’s Club are also testing same-day deliveries, albeit of groceries, in three cities using Deliv, Uber and Lyft.

Staples’ Rush announcement follows the breakup of its planned acquisition of No. 2 office supply chain Office Depot and the resignation of chairman Ron Sargent as CEO.

Sargent relinquished his chief executive post last week following the company’s shareholders meeting, and was succeeded on an interim basis by North American operations president Shira Goodman, a 23-year Staples veteran who variously ran its supply chain, customer service and B-to-B operations in North America. In her most recent role she was responsible for commercial, retail and online operations in the U.S. and Canada.

Goodman said she plans to drive sales by “intensifying our focus on our best growth opportunities with mid-market business customers in North America and in key categories beyond office supplies.”

Staples’ board said it welcomed Goodman’s “fresh perspective,” and will consider internal and external candidates for the permanent CEO slot.

Sargent, who joined Staples 27 years ago following a singular career with Kroger, will remain on the board through Jan. 28.