While not as exciting as the prospect of drone deliveries, Amazon Lockers are here.
About 40 banks of big yellow Amazon Lockers have been installed since July at 7-Eleven and QuikTrip stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
And last week, Irving Mall became the first local mall to get the online shopping leader’s self-service lockers, which handle both delivery and returns.
Amazon.com knows some customers have reasons to prefer pickup. Plenty of people can’t trust the safety of their doorstep, can’t be home at a designated time or just want to hide something from others in their household.
Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers say they have an advantage over Amazon with a big group of shoppers who prefer to buy online and pick up in stores.
Can’t beat them, join them
Why would a mall allow Amazon in to compete with its stores?
Irving Mall general manager Jon Schweers said it’s all about “embracing innovation to drive shopper traffic and enhance the overall experience for our guests.” Irving Mall’s Amazon Locker is at the entrance near the center court. It’s one of 50 malls across the U.S. owned by Washington Prime Groupthat’s adding the lockers in time for holiday shopping.
Similarly, 7-Eleven sees the lockers as a traffic generator. So far, its own internal studies show Amazon customers are also hungry and thirsty. They’re buying fresh foods and drinks on their locker visits, said Chris Harkness, 7-Eleven’s vice president of business development.
The prospect of having more busy people stopping in at 7-Eleven more often during the holiday season is a good thing for convenience stores. “7-Eleven is excited about the holiday season and serving the needs of Amazon customers,” Harkness said.
7-Eleven is also partnering with UPS and has seven UPS lockers in the Dallas area.
Since 2011, Amazon has tested lockers with Irving-based 7-Eleven in the Seattle area. Now the lockers are another physical world presence that Amazon is fast adding to its business. So far, Amazon has opened three bookstores and a couple of dozen pop-up shops that sell its Kindle, Fire and Echo electronics, including one at The Parks at Arlington. There’s talk of Amazon grocery stores or pickup grocery stops. Business Insider reported last week that it’s seen documents that outline Amazon’s plans.
Last week, Amazon reported a profit of $252 million, which was below analyst estimates, but third-quarter sales improved 29 percent to $32.7 billion. It’s still spending on things like lockers to drive sales.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos appeared last week at the Economics Club of New York luncheon, where he was interviewed by Charlie Rose and said Amazon is building more and more delivery capacity. Amazon will need all the new capacity that UPS, FedEx and the USPS can muster, too, Bezos said.
One quirky thing about the locker stations: They’ve all been given names like Wallaby, Zephyr, Hippo and Gnocchi. The one at Irving Mall is Wayland. The name is another way customers can identify the location, an Amazon spokesman said.
Here’s how Amazon Lockers work:
When ordering you have an option to designate where you want your package sent including the locker locations. Locker orders get a unique pickup code via email or text message. Enter your code into a touch screen.
If you don’t pick up within 3 days, Amazon returns it and automatically gives you a refund.
For returns, you submit a request online and receive a code to put in the touch screen. Then follow the instructions.
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