Amazon, on Tuesday, launched its latest service, Instant Pickup. Instant Pickup is a new program for its Prime members that lets customers order items and then pick them up within two minutes from staffed pickup sites with self-service lockers.
As of now, the service roll out has been limited to Los Angeles (UCLA), Atlanta (Georgia Tech), Berkeley, Calif. (UC Berkeley), Columbus, Ohio (Ohio State) and College Park, Md. (University of Maryland). All five locations are existing college pickup spots that Amazon has already built for deliveries to campuses. Those locations have small warehouses built behind the lockers, which open from the front and the back, so Amazon likely added permanent inventory to these sites to create Instant Pickup.
“It’ll begin as snacks and phone chargers, then who knows what next – maybe prescription medication. Amazon could really target the Walgreens and Rite Aids of the world with this.” said Cooper Smith, head of Amazon research at market researcher L2.
Amazon has been trying to narrow the delivery time gap for years, offering one-day and same-day shipping in some areas, as well as the two-hour Prime Now delivery program in more than 30 cities. It’s also testing out drones in the UK for deliveries in 30 minutes or less.
Since more than 90 percent of U.S. retail is still done in physical locations, Amazon has been expanding its brick-and-mortar presence, too, with bookstores, mall kiosks and its planned $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods.
Additional Instant Pickup spots will be rolled out in future months, Amazon said, mentioning its 22 pickup locations already built on or near college campuses nationwide. As of now, the items are snacks, phone chargers, and Amazon devices such as Echo.
Here’s how the Instant Pickup process works, according to Amazon:
Prime members can shop the selection of products available through Instant Pickup and tap “Buy Now.” The purchase triggers an associate to place the item(s) in a locker. Once placed, the customer receives a unique barcode that is scanned, causing a locker to open with the order inside within two minutes or less. The company explains that each location with Instant Pickup will have curated inventory on-site at all times, allowing super-fast fulfillment via Instant Pickup.