If you were looking for a motto regarding the fact that the consumer has been in control of the marketplace for more than 2 decades, here's one: Impatience is the mark of independence.

It has a nice ring to it and captures what we've been seeing in every category Brand Keys has tracked for years: Customers impatient with brands unable to meet their ever-growing expectations about, well, everything. To meet those expectations – or at least keep up with competitors that have been better at meeting those expectations – some engagement values have turned categories into poker games. The values have become 'table stakes.' Either you have them or you don't get to play.

Recently we've been observing it happening in retail, with same-day delivery. As to expectations regarding that particular value, when it comes to delivery, consumers want their stuff now. Right now. Pretty much doesn't matter what category of stuff you're talking about they want it fast. Today. Sooner if possible. So following the marketplace truism "as the category and attendant consumer expectations go, so goes the brands," Amazon launched a same-day shipping service about 5 years ago in major cities. EBay has been beta testing a same-day courier delivery service, and Walmart just announced a new "To Go" delivery service in select markets.

The Walmart program allows shoppers to pay online and select a delivery date all for $10, regardless of the size of the order. Products are shipped from stores (providing they're in stock and aren't shoes or clothes), not warehouses. Amazon, on the other hand, charges $8.99 per shipment + 99¢ per item, and depending on your city, the order has to be placed before noon to get it same-day. EBay currently has a $5 fee for same-day shipping from local stores.

To see how the three contenders currently deliver on "delivery service" we turned to the 2012 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index and calculated how each brand met customer expectations for the category value dealing with "fast delivery." As the brands reside in different categories (bricks vs. clicks retail) their scores were calculated against their own category's Ideal (100%). For your interest and review, and even though they haven't entered the Battle of the Same-Day Bring It On, we threw in Zappos as another brand, well-known for delivering on delivery. Ratings look like this:

Amazon 98%
eBay 91%
Walmart 88%
Zappos 94%

So the brands are all pretty well positioned to chase customer expectations related to "same-day delivery." But – as we advise all our clients – brands really need to keep an eye on all those wily expectations in their categories if they want to deliver on values that create engagement and loyalty.

Because as sure as we are of the fact that expectations will continue to grow, when it comes to the consumer mind-set, we're also pretty confident saying that for today's customers, instant gratification is not soon enough!