Amazon Plans to Deliver 'Now'

By Steve Anderson December 09, 2014

While shopping on Amazon can be a wonderful experience—there are plenty of people out there who will turn almost exclusively to the online retailer for Christmas shopping this year, not to mention Hanukkah and Kwanzaa shopping—there's one thing about it that's never so much fun. As the song said, the waiting is the hardest part, and while it's fast and easy to buy and pay on Amazon, there's about a week's lag between paying and actually getting the merchandise in question. But a new program being tested in New York City may well cut that lag down from a matter of days to a matter of minutes.

Dubbed Amazon Prime Now, the idea involves the use of bicycle messengers to transfer goods from Amazon warehouses in the area to the doors of those who ordered said goods. Amazon has been running a series of time trials to figure out which courier service to go with, and has reportedly stocked up a lounge for said messengers to use between deliveries that includes billiards, air hockey and foosball tables as well as a complete arcade. Said messengers are even paid $15 an hour for the work, at last report.

Amazon already offers same-day service in several locations, including parts of Brooklyn, but Prime Now would step that up to such a degree that it would be almost like shopping at a brick-and-mortar outlet. Some theorize that the Prime Now service would be part of the growing list of Amazon Prime perks, and may well convince some customers to buy things not ordinarily purchased on the site. But Prime Now will have plenty of competitors in this field as well; several companies are offering instant delivery services like Instacart, WunWun and Postmates, and even Uber has a bicycle-based delivery service in New York City.

Indeed, Amazon's plans to make for near-instant deliveries—this isn't the first time we've heard of plans like this either; most remember Amazon Prime Air, the delivery service that depended on drone aircraft to deliver small items with due rapidity—all work against one of the last great advantages that any brick-and-mortar operation has: immediacy. The one great advantage brick-and-mortar has is the ability to sell a customer an item and have said customer walk out the door with that item right now. That's an advantage that online sellers generally couldn't offer, but one that's been eagerly sought for some time. If Amazon has finally found a way to make rapid deliveries, it may well have permanently busted the brick-and-mortar for good. However, there's one key point: this is only in New York City. If Amazon can only offer this service in major cities and can't do it anywhere else, this is an opportunity for brick-and-mortar in flyover country to take back business from online retailers.

Only time will tell just how this new market move bears out, but for now, Amazon may well be on to something, and before long, it could be that our books and DVDs and video games will deliver about as fast as a pizza would. That's got real potential to shake up the retail space, and it may well drive some firms out of business. But it won't be a walkover for Amazon, and the sheer number of competitors already in the space means the future of retail may be a lot faster than ever.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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