Further blurring the lines between ecommerce and the in-store experience, Amazon has launched Instant Pickup, a service for Amazon Prime and Prime Student members that lets you collect items two minutes after placing the order online.
Offering basic goods such as snacks, drinks, personal care items, and electronics, shoppers pick up their orders from lockers installed on or near college campuses. After placing their order, the customer receives a barcode to their smartphone. It’s then a case of scanning the code to gain access to the locker holding the items.
Instant Pickup launched on Tuesday at locations in Los Angeles and Berkeley in California; Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; and College Park, Maryland, with more expected “in the coming months.”
While Amazon made its name as an online retailer, in recent years it has expanded well beyond the internet to explore opportunities in retail, while at the same time developing ways to speed up the process of getting ordered items into the hands of customers.
Amazon’s new Instant Pickup service combines all three strands, using its already established locker service at college campuses as a way of getting online orders to customers in super-quick time. And two minutes is certainly super-quick.
The company has, over the years, cut the amount of time customers have to wait to get their hands on goods, from days to same-day to just hours. Prime members in some areas have for some time been able to receive items — mainly essentials like paper towels and toothpaste — to their home within just an hour of clicking the “buy” button thanks to Amazon’s Prime Now service. More recently, the company started experimenting with AmazonFresh Pickup, a service that lets you collect groceries within 15 minutes of ordering online. But up to now, this service is only offered at two locations, both in Amazon’s home city of Seattle. Services like AmazonFresh Pickup and Instant Pickup also help to relieve pressure on the company’s delivery system and save on costs.
On the retail side, the company has been steadily opening bookstores across the country, investing in a brick-and-mortar market that many of its competitors have accused it of gradually destroying through its huge online operation.
Instant Pickup, meanwhile, looks to have the convenience store in its sights. In a similar space, the online giant is also working on the launch of Amazon Go, another physical store where you can just “grab and go,” avoiding checkout lines thanks to technology that knows exactly what you put in your bag. Technical issues have delayed the rollout of the platform, with only one test store currently in operation. The company’s recently unveiled plan to acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion further highlights Amazon’s ambitions in retail.