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Staples Inc. announced yesterday that it will install lockers in all of its US stores, which will allow shoppers to order online from Amazon and have those orders delivered to a nearby Staples rather than to their homes, if that is a preferred option.

Amazon already has such lockers in some supermarkets, c-stores and drug stores, and even in municipal garages, but the Staples deal is a major move toward enlarging its footprint in the physical retail world.

As Reuters notes, "With the service, Amazon sends customers an email with a pickup code, which is entered on a touchscreen to open the locker containing the package. Shoppers have three days from the delivery date to pick up the package. The online giant pays a small fee to the owners of the stores that house its lockers."
KC's View:
This is yet another piece of the last-mile puzzle for Amazon ... since it does not have physical stores like many of its competitors - like Walmart - it needs to figure out ways to make its products more available and provide its customers with as much instant gratification as possible.

The interesting thing about it is that Staples also is one of those competitors ... and one has to at least wonder how many of those Amazon lockers will have products that Staples also sells but that people have bought from Amazon. There are a couple of different ways to argue this - that the Amazon lockers will draw more people into the stores, that Staples already is trying to figure out a competitive strategy for the next decade and that these kinds of unconventional alliances are the way of the future. But certainly there are questions that can be legitimately raised about the wisdom of this Staples decision. (I would have thought that putting the lockers in post offices would have made more sense.)

Remember that at one point, Amazon handled online sales for both Toys R Us and Borders. Now, Borders is out of business, and Toys R Us, having wrested back control of its e-commerce business, continues to try to compete effectively with Amazon. The folks at Staples are smart and had to know about these past scenarios ... but these are the questions I would ask.