Amazon targets the convenience store with new Instant Pickup locations

Instant Pickup lets shoppers order snacks and drinks on the Amazon mobile app and have their order ready for pickup in as little as two minutes.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Amazon launched a new service on Tuesday that aims to turn its network of locker pickup locations on college campuses into hybrid convenience stores.

It's called Instant Pickup, and it lets Amazon Prime shoppers living in a handful of college towns order convenience store items -- like snacks, drinks and personal care products -- and have their order available for pickup in as little as two minutes.

Shoppers on Amazon's mobile app can select from a curated assortment of items at each site, and Amazon employees then load the items into self-service lockers from a back room. Shoppers use an app-generated bar code to access their order from a designated locker.

Granted, this sounds like a lot more work to obtain a pack of chewing gum or a bag of chips than just popping into a gas station or using a vending machine. But this is Amazon, and its motive with Instant Pickup isn't really about fast snacks. The e-commerce giant has an affinity for purchase disruption and this time it's targeting impulse buys.

It's unlikely that Instant Pickup will ever pose a real threat to convenience stores, but the strategy at play suggests that Amazon is serious about establishing a brick and mortar identity. Instant Pickup is also a way to sell more Amazon-branded devices, because at no surprise to anyone, Amazon is selling its own hardware alongside potato chips and bottled water.

"Whether it's a snack on-the-go, replacing a lost phone charger in the middle of a hectic day or adding Alexa to your life with an Echo, Instant Pickup saves Prime members time," said Ripley MacDonald, director of Student Programs for Amazon, in a prepared statement.

Instant Pickup is available today at five campus locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Columbus, Ohio, Berkeley, California, and College Park, Maryland. Amazon said it has 22 US college locations and could expand Instant Pickup to more sites in the coming weeks.


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