Monday 22 January 2018

Amazon 'Instant Pickup' launched at US colleges

Amazon customers can now collect items within minutes
Amazon customers can now collect items within minutes

Karl Heinrich

Amazon.com is rolling out pickup points in the United States where shoppers can retrieve items immediately after ordering them, shortening delivery times from hours to minutes.

The world's largest online retailer has launched 'Instant Pickup' points around five college campuses, such as the University of California at Berkeley, it said.

Amazon has plans to open more sites by the end of the year including one in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighbourhood. Mobile app shoppers can select from several hundred fast-selling items at each site, from snacks and drinks to phone chargers.

Amazon employees in a back room then load orders into lockers within two minutes, and customers receive bar codes to access them.

The news underscores Amazon's broader push into brick-and-mortar retail. The company, which said in June it would buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7bn, has come to realise that certain transactions like buying fresh produce are hard to shift online. Its Instant Pickup programme targets another laggard: impulse buys. "I want to buy a can of coke because I'm thirsty," said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon's director of student programmes.

"There's no chance I'm going to order that on Amazon.com and wait however long it's going to take for that to ship to me." "I can provide that kind of service here," he said of the new programme.

Instant Pickup puts Amazon in competition with vending machine services. Yet the larger size of the Amazon sites means they are unlikely to pose a threat to those selling snack and drink vending machines to offices and schools. MacDonald said Amazon considered automating the Instant Pickup points but declined to say why the company had not pursued the idea.

Amazon's ability to shorten delivery times has been a sore point for brick-and-mortar retailers, who have struggled to grow sales as their customers have turned to more convenient online options. (Bloomberg)

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