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Amazon goes after gas stations and corner stores with ‘Instant Pickup’ option

Amazon is adding to its exhaustive list of delivery options with a new service called Instant Pickup.

Instant Pickup is similar to Amazon Lockers, which lets users ship packages to one of its self-service locations on or near college campuses. Unlike Lockers, Instant Pickup only offers need-it-now items like food, drinks, personal care items, and whatever else a stressed and hungry college kid might need in a jiff.

To use Instant Pickup, users just need to log in to their Prime account, select the menu option, choose “Programs and Feature,” and press “Instant Pickup.” They’ll then be able to choose from “hundreds” of items, which will be readied in two minutes or less by employees at a nearby pick-up location. Instant Pickup is now the fastest service for getting Amazon items, beating out Prime Now, which typically takes a few hours, and AmazonFresh Pickup, which you’ll have to wait an unbearable 15 minutes for.

So where exactly does Instant Pickup fit in Amazon’s grand scheme to take down brick-and-mortar storefronts? Somewhere between a vending machine and a corner store.

Instant Pickup is for impulse buyers who need something ready for pickup in a matter of moments. It’s first being deployed in colleges, where students may not have access to grocery stores or don’t have time to wait in line. I could see it being used by a college student who needs to pick up food on the way home from class. It also seems like a good way to buy electronics accessories, like laptops chargers, without having to pay whatever ridiculous price campus computer stores charge. There’s also no minimum order amount, one of the main downsides of ordering from Prime Now, Amazon’s same-day delivery service.

“I want to buy a can of coke because I’m thirsty,” Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s director of student programs, told Reuters. “There’s no chance I’m going to order that on Amazon.com and wait however long it’s going to take for that to ship to me.”

But Instant Pickup won’t do you any good unless you live very close to one, and it certainly won’t replace your weekly trips to the grocery store. In fact Instant Pickup doesn’t sound any more convenient than going to a nearby grocery store except that you won’t waste time staring at 50 kinds of bread. Ideally, Amazon can get your things ready and shipped to your doorstep in two minutes, but we’ll have to wait for its drone army before that fantasy gets fulfilled.

Instant Pickup is available at five select pickup locations: Los Angeles; Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Berkeley, California; and College Park, Maryland. It will be available at more locations in the coming months. The online marketplace will make use of the company’s existing 22 Locker locations, which consist of rows of lockers, an inventory room, and a few Amazon employees.

H/T Reuters

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