Just in time for the holiday season, Amazon is dramatically expanding its network of in-store pickup points where customers can collect their ordered packages.
Amazon launched its Counter service at 100 Rite Aid stores in June 2019 to give its customers more ways to receive their orders. But this week the online shopping giant said it’s rolling out the service to “thousands” of additional locations thanks to new partnerships with health and nutrition store GNC, pharmacy chain Health Mart, and Stage Stores, which operates more than 600 department stores under various nameplates.
According to Amazon, delivery to a Counter location is available for tens of millions of items featured in its online store, and works with same-day, one-day, two-day, and standard shipping. Notably, the service is available to all Amazon customers — not just Prime members — and costs nothing extra.
Counter looks like a winner for all involved — customers get another way to receive their orders and save on shipping costs, Amazon increases the convenience of its service, and partner stores get more foot traffic with the possibility of visitors making a few impulse purchases when they drop by.
“The response we’ve heard from our customers and partners after the launch of Counter earlier this year has been tremendous,” Patrick Supanc, worldwide director of Amazon Hub, said in a release, adding that the service gives customers “a pickup experience that is fast, flexible, and convenient.”
For those just learning about Counter, it works like this. When you place your order, you’re asked how you would like to receive it. If you’re not sure you’ll be home for a regular delivery, and Counter is available in your area, you can select the pickup option in a single click. When your package arrives at the store, you’ll receive an email notification containing a barcode and details of the store’s opening hours. When you turn up at the store, a worker scans the barcode on your smartphone and retrieves the package.
Amazon’s Counter service operates alongside Amazon Locker, which lets customers collect their orders from a secure locker. U.S. Customers have three business days to collect their orders from one of its lockers, whereas with Counter you’re given up to 14 days to drop by.
Prime subscribers with a smart lock can also have their packages delivered inside their home or garage when they’re out. The service, called Amazon Key, launched in select locations in 2018.
Not to be outdone when it comes to convenience, Amazon rival Walmart has been installing Pickup Towers at hundreds of its stores. Essentially a very large vending machine, a Pickup Tower lets customers quickly and easily collect their online order from a Walmart store.
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