As Jeff Bezos and his team have tirelessly developed Amazon and its offering, one guiding principle has tended to rise above others: remove friction from the customer experience. No frills — but even less friction.

That being said, if you asked an Amazon customer what’s the one thing that’s left wanting? The answer invariably will come back: shipping. And not because free shipping for orders over $35 isn’t a great deal. Or because Amazon Prime isn’t an absurdly great deal. They both are — so much so that they’re not so great for Amazon.

They’re just not… fast enough.

Instant gratification has long been seen as one of brick-and-mortar retailers’ last great differentiators. For some consumers and some items, it’s worth the extra dollars spent to drive to a store and get something immediately, rather than save money on Amazon and wait at least a couple days.

This last bit of friction isn’t in Amazon’s blindspot. They’ve been working on it. And it’s no secret.

For now though, the space-aged tech of delivery drones is likely closer to Marketing than to Reality. Which is probably why Amazon introduced Same Day and is allegedly poised to “Uberfy” some of its distribution network — effectively turning anyone with a car into a cog in its increasingly frictionless machine.

Of course, such experiments aren’t going to succeed at scale overnight. But Amazon is persistent and has a famously long time horizon. If you’re a retailer, then what’s your plan as yet another differentiator — instant gratification — begins to erode?

Well, we’ve been think a lot about that question, and what weapons you have in your arsenal for your fight against Amazon — and their varying effectiveness. You’ll find that some of those tools are more powerful than others, and one in particular might not just be the key to survival — but also, to winning.

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