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Does Amazon’s 2-Minute ‘Instant Pickup’ Promise Spell Bad News For C-Stores?

Does Amazon’s 2-Minute ‘Instant Pickup’ Promise Spell Bad News For C-Stores?

Amazon has launched a service for its Prime members with a hefty promise — that it will have their online order ready in two minutes or less.

With “Instant Pickup,” Prime and Prime Student members can use the Amazon App to shop for essential items such as food, cold drinks, personal care items and Amazon devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV and a selection of Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers.

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Prime members can browse the selection, place an order, even add last-minute items to an online order and pick it up from a self-service locker within two minutes or less. Each location with Instant Pickup will have curated inventory on-site at all times, enabling the fast fulfillment time.

The Instant Pickup unveiling hints that Amazon is further targeting the convenience store segment. The e-Commerce giant first broke into this territory when it introduced self-service lockers in select 7-Eleven locations throughout the U.S. (and in Spar locations internationally), and has since quietly unveiled Hub lockers designed for residential areas.

But the “two minutes or less” promise certainly draws attention to Instant Pickup far more than any locker pickup service could. “Amazon’s expansion into physical pickup at staffed stores shows that no corner of the retail market is safe,” saidLuke Starbuck, VP of Marketing atLinc in commentary provided to Retail TouchPoints. “As 7-Eleven execs recover from the Amazon-cart that just knocked them off their feet, a close look at the positioning of this new offering shows a bold move into a new shopping space for Amazon…Effectively, this new combination places convenience stores squarely in the cross-hairs, although Amazon has a lot of ground to make up before they have the store distribution. It raises the question of whether they are eyeing existing convenience brands as potential acquisitions.”

In the short term, it doesn’t appear Amazon is gearing up for an acquisition, but the company is well known for testing out plans within a small footprint before scaling them outward. It’s very reasonable to think that Amazon would implement this service within its own brick-and-mortar stores down the line, or its proposed drive-up grocery pickup locations.

Amazon has launched fully staffed Instant Pickup points at five college campuses, including:

  • Georgia Tech;

  • Ohio State University;

  • University of California at Berkeley;

  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); and

  • University of Maryland.

In total, Amazon operates 22 staffed pickup locations on or near college campuses around the country. Amazon has plans to open more ‘Instant Pickup’ sites by the end of the year including one in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

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