Check out this guest post I made over at Clueless Kitchen, a cooking blog for the rest of us.
Spotted on Manhattan’s downtown 6 train this weekend: Google ad campaign explaining why collecting personal data makes their services better.
“Spot the difference? Were you looking for a beetle that beeps or a beetle that buzzes? When you type in beetle we can guess you meant the car and not the insect if you’ve searched for cars recently. It makes things a little bit quicker and a whole lot easier for you. Which is good to know. To find out more about how Google uses information to make the web more useful go to google.com/goodtoknow
Smart move by Google and their ad agency to anticipate public reaction and craft an ad campaign to steer the conversation.
“What the heck is that thing?”
-Me, after seeing an Amazon Locker for the first time.
My curiosity got the best of me and it turned out that “thing” was an Amazon Locker, a service that that lets you ship a package to a locker location nearby your home. This is huge if you live in an apartment without a doorman (guilty). Amazon Locker is available in three trial cities: Seattle, London and New York City. As a lucky inhabitant of a trial city, I just had to try it out.
Cut to the chase, why is this cool?:
- Ship Amazon items to nearby, safe location without waiting for the UPS guy
- Pick up your package from a touchscreen computer with an easy-to-use interface (8 touches and your lockers opens)
- It works exactly as advertised
How does it work?
If you’re in one of the three trial cities, you’ll see an “alternative to home delivery” option during Amazon checkout:
After entering your zip code or address, you’ll be given a map with nearby Locker locations (NYC has has 9 current locations, 3 with 24/7 access). The NYC Amazon Locker locations are at local grocery or drug stores like Gristedes, Rite Aid, Morton Williams and Dagastino’s
Simply select your location and payment method and you’re good to go. As with all Amazon orders, you’ll receive an email when your item has shipped. This is when it gets interesting. No more playing the cat-and-mouse game with the UPS delivery guy. Your order gets sent directly to the Locker location you selected during checkout. When your shipment reaches the Locker, you’ll get an email confirmation with the Locker address (as a reminder) and a 6-digit access code (mine was EZEBEB). You’re given a 5-day grace period before your shipment is sent back to Amazon for a full refund. My shipment (desperately needed shower curtain rings) was delivered to the Rite Aid on 24th & 8th ave.
Walk up to the Locker touchscreen computer and enter your 6-digit access code. The screen illuminates with a map of the lockers and a green shading over you’re locker location. Touch the screen a final time and your locker will open sesame.
Amazon has the right idea with this service. It’s serving a niche user base of on-the-go city dwellers that aren’t home when UPS arrives or don’t have a doorman. It’s also a unique looking unit that attracts attention and builds upon Amazon’s brand as a leader in technology and operations. The biggest challenge I see is finding enough store locations that can actually fit a locker unit.
As a data driven company, I’m sure Amazon is comparing order volumes within a 10 block radius before and after the locker installation. I’m guessing the locker unit costs $15,000 to install and maintain. With 40 individual lockers per unit and an average customer pick up time of 2 days per shipment (guesstimate), you’re looking at 7,300 locker shipments each year. That means nearby customers only need to spend $2.05 / year more on Amazon.com for to break even. Heck, I spent $3 just to test the thing out.