Amazon launches Instant Pickup service targeting students

Image source, Amazon
Image caption,
Amazon is offering certain "essential" items for pickup from self-service lockers within two minutes

Amazon has launched a service in the US offering daily "essentials" for collection within two minutes of ordering.

The items available in Instant Pickup include snacks, cold drinks, smartphone chargers and Amazon devices.

The move poses a threat to bricks-and-mortar convenience stores, but one expert questioned its appeal.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has criticised Amazon on Twitter for harming other retailers.

Instant Pickup

The new service will enable Prime and Prime Student members to use the Amazon app to order items they need urgently from a curated collection of popular products.

Amazon employees at the pickup points then process the order, and it will be available to collect from a self-service locker within two minutes.

For now, the service will be available at only one location in each of:

  • Los Angeles
  • Berkeley
  • Atlanta
  • Ohio
  • College Park, Maryland

The online retail giant already operates 22 manned pickup locations on or near university campuses in the country.

Moving offline

Over the past two years, Amazon has been making an increasing play for offline bricks-and-mortar shops - from the physical book shop Amazon Books, launched in Seattle in 2015, to its acquisition of the grocery chain Whole Foods in June.

"They're making a play for convenience stores, but ultimately, you have to think of the logistics involved," Ronan Hegarty, news editor of the Grocer magazine, told the BBC.

"How many people would live within two minutes of the pickup point, and would they really want to do this? To me, it sounds fantastic.

"You might actually pass a shop selling [what you need] on the way to the pickup point.

"I don't think it's going to stop a chain like 7-Eleven in its tracks just yet."

Image source, Twitter

On Wednesday, the president tweeted: "Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the US are being hurt - many jobs being lost!"

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