5 Apps That Could Save Your Christmas

santa claus snowboardSanta’s faster than ever.

Photo: AP Images

If you think it’s too late to order something online for Christmas, think again.That’s because two hot trends redefining e-commerce—mobile apps and same-day delivery—have made it possible for you to order gifts at what’s truly the last minute, not just FedEx and UPS’s shipping cutoff dates.

Same-day delivery is very limited in scope. Right now, San Francisco and New York are the main markets with delivery services which can get you your shopping in as little as an hour.

So far, startups rule the roost. But eBay has entered the same-day delivery market with eBay Now, and Google and Amazon are rumoured to be thinking about similar moves.

eBay Now

eBay Now delivers items from retail partners like Macy's, Target, Best Buy, and Office Depot. (Read our review of the service.)

'We're anticipating extreme demand for eBay Now on Christmas Eve and are doing our best to be prepared to deliver (pun intended! ;) as many orders as we can then,' Jack Abraham, eBay's director of local, tells us. Deliveries take an hour and are available normally from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Check eBay Now's Twitter account for extended holiday hours--including possible Christmas Day availability.

Because of high demand, the service has set a minimum order of $40.

Where: San Francisco and parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City

Price: $5 per delivery

TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit lets you put tasks up for bid with independent contractors. The company has seen shopping tasks posted up to Christmas Day in past holidays seasons, says Johnny Brackett, the San Francisco startup's marketing and communications manager.

Where: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County, Portland, San Francisco Bay Area, San Antonio, Seattle

Price: Negotiable, but TaskRabbit says average pricing on holiday-shopping tasks comes to $150 to $200

Get It Now by Postmates

This startup is pulling out the stops for Christmas 2012, with a special shopping guide and extended holiday hours. Operations director Ashley Brown tells us the service will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 11 a.m. to midnight on Christmas Day. Use the Get It Now app to have a Postmate courier deliver anything from earrings from Tiffany's to bras from True & Co.; food gifts from specialty shops like Bi-Rite are also a solid last-minute shopping option.

Where: San Francisco

Price: $6.99 and up per delivery; use code 'XMAS' for 50% off normal delivery charges

Instacart

Instacart is a grocery-delivery service, offering food deliveries from Safeway and other local stores. Note: The company has run into regulatory issues delivering alcohol, so don't count on it to stock up the liquor cabinet.

Where: San Francisco, Mountain View, and Palo Alto, Calif.

Price: $3.99 or $14.99, depending on delivery speed requested

Square

Here's an option for a last-minute local gift: Pick a merchant near your friend or family member from the Square Directory and order a digital gift card for that location. It's more personal than an Amazon gift certificate, at least.

Where: 250,000 merchants coast to coast.

Price: Free

Now see how same-day shopping will look all year round ...

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