retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Reuters reports that Amazon is in the process of “rolling out U.S. pickup points where shoppers can retrieve items immediately after ordering them, shortening delivery times from hours to minutes in its latest move into brick-and-mortar retail.

“The world's largest online retailer has launched 'Instant Pickup' points around five college campuses, such as the University of California at Berkeley, it said on Tuesday. Amazon has plans to add the program to more sites by the end of the year … Shoppers on Amazon's mobile app can select from several hundred fast-selling items at each location, from snacks and drinks to phone chargers. Amazon employees in a back room then load orders into lockers within two minutes, and customers receive bar codes to access them.”

The story notes that “Amazon's ability to shorten delivery times has been a sore point for brick-and-mortar retailers, who have struggled to grow sales as customers have turned to convenient online options. Until Instant Pickup, Amazon shoppers could expect their orders within an hour at best via the company's Prime Now program, or within 15 minutes for grocery orders via AmazonFresh Pickup.”
KC's View:
Companies largely have discussed this issue in terms of “the last mile” advantage. It is just like Amazon to try to convert “the last mile” to the last 20 or 20 feet.

Stories about this rollout yesterday stressed a couple of things - that this is part of Amazon’s focus on food, which requires it to be responsive to consumer impulsivity (which I agree with) and that there will be limits to how fast and how much Amazon will be able to quickly deliver (which I think risks underestimating how aggressive and ambitious Amazon may be).

There may be limits to implementation in the early days; Amazon likely will need a lot of population density to make this work. But that’s okay … targeting consumer density is a good thing. It makes sense.

But let’s face it. Amazon is really good at taking unlikely ideas and turning them into unique differential advantages.

Walmart, the next move is yours, I suspect.