Amazon tests its logistics chops with one-hour delivery in NYC

Using bicycle couriers, the e-commerce giant is offering one-hour delivery of products like shampoo and batteries to residents in select parts of Manhattan.


Amazon on Thursday announced the availability of a one-hour delivery service for Prime members living in select areas of Manhattan.

Called Prime Now, the service allows customers to place orders on a limited selection of inventory - such as paper towels, shampoo, books, toys and batteries - and then delivers them via bicycle courier in an hour or less.

The super-speed delivery time is available between the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight and will cost customers $7.99 per order. But there's also a two-hour delivery option that is free.

For the last few months, Amazon has dropped hints that it was ramping up efforts to shorten its product delivery time from days to hours or less.

In October, reports circulated that the e-commerce giant would open a brick-and-mortar store on 34th Street in Manhattan. But calling it a "store" was perhaps a bit misleading, as it appeared that Amazon planned to use the physical presence as a hybrid location that would serve as both a showroom and a mini fulfillment center stocked with limited inventory.

Then at the start of December, Amazon touted the tech powering its next-generation fulfillment centers. With the use of Kiva shuttle robots and robotic arms, Amazon said it was able to speed delivery times while also reducing the cost of goods to its customers.

The 34th Street location is playing a key role in today's Prime Now launch, as Amazon said it will serve as a hub for delivery of Prime Now orders.

The lingering question in all of this is whether Amazon has the logistics chops to make it all come together on a consistent basis. As per the Prime Now video promo, bicycle couriers are central to the delivery method, hence why the service is only available in select parts of Manhattan. It's clear that Amazon has already mastered order fulfillment within its giant warehouses, but scaling it down could be tricky.

It's not clear yet where and when Prime Now will expand to next, but Amazon said it will notify customers via the Prime Now app when it arrives in their area.