Amazon is adding customer pickup sites at Rite Aid stores in the US and plans to add other physical locations via retailer partnerships.
The company announced the launch of Counter in the US. Amazon said there are more than 100 Counter locations in the US today with plans to add thousands. Amazon said it will deliver all levels of shipping to Counter locations.
Amazon's move comes as FedEx said it won't renew a contract with the e-commerce giant. Amazon could save money in last mile delivery if it can deliver via its Counter program, which will compete with order online pick up in store programs from Best Buy, Target and Walmart to name a few. Counter also lands in time for Prime Day 2019.
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According to the company, Counter uses technology from Amazon to be user friendly and move pickups quickly without in-store labor. Customers get a unique barcode with the address and business hours. Customers then have the barcode scanned in store and the package is retrieved by staff. Counter in the US follows a program launched in the UK and Italy.
For Rite Aid, a struggling pharmacy chain, the Amazon partnership could bolster foot traffic in stores. Rite Aid competes with much larger players such as Walgreens and CVS.
Amazon said that it will be seeking additional partnerships. One likely partner would be Kohl's, which already accepts Amazon returns.
In the big picture, Counter is just another part of Amazon's delivery and fulfillment picture that includes small business delivery services, drones and an air fleet. Last year, Amazon launched a program to entice entrepreneurs to start small businesses to deliver its packages. The initial idea was to help fund small businesses that will operate 20 to 40 vans each.
Counter is part of Amazon's Hub family that includes Locker, Locker+ and Apartment Locker. Amazon is also investing heavily to make one-day shipping the default for customers.