With online order volumes surging to unprecedented levels because of the coronavirus pandemic—and with no end in sight as merchants head into the peak holiday season—a number of retail chains are turning to on-demand platforms to help fulfill online orders.

This week, Best Buy Co Inc. (No. 10 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 ) announced that shoppers across the U.S. can place an order at Instacart.com/Best-Buy or in the Instacart app for hundreds of products and Instacart will fulfill it from a local Best Buy store and deliver it within a designated window that day. Best Buy joins the likes of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (No. 30), Walmart Inc. (No. 3), Tractor Supply Co. (No. 440) and other retailers that are using an on-demand platform to fulfill online orders in addition to their other shipping carriers.

The benefit of these on-demand platforms is in their name: They offer fulfillment on demand. Meaning, shoppers and merchants can count on them to deliver orders that day, often delivering packages within hours to a customer’s home. With shipping carriers imposing surcharges after merchants exceed a certain threshold on ecommerce shipments and ship-from-store packages, these on-demand platforms can offer a way for merchants to continue to deliver without incurring that cost.

These collaborations were in the works prior to COVID-19. However, we recognized that our customers were looking for new ways to shop. We, therefore, expedited plans and in some cases, rolled out these capabilities to additional markets.
Walgreens spokeswoman

A number of retailers like Gap Inc. used these platforms before the pandemic. But, like with many things in ecommerce, the coronavirus and the subsequent volume of ecommerce orders have fueled an interest in these platforms. Here’s a look at why.

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