A few weeks back the Daily Mail confusingly reported that Amazon was about to enter the drug store market. They got the story wrong (selling prescription medications online is not the same thing as the drug store market) but they also accidentally foreshadowed today's Amazon news.
Amazon has launched what it is calling "Instant Pickup" service at five of its staffed college unstore locations across the US.
From the press release:
Amazon today introduced Instant Pickup, a free service offering Prime and Prime Student members a curated selection of daily essentials available for pickup in two minutes or less at five of Amazon’s fully staffed pickup locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, and College Park, Md. Items available with Instant Pickup include snacks, drinks and electronics, as well as some of Amazon’s most popular devices.
With Instant Pickup, Prime and Prime Student members can use the Amazon App to shop hundreds of need-it-now items like food, cold drinks, personal care items, technology essentials and Amazon devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV and a selection of Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. Prime members can browse the selection, place an order, even add last-minute items to an online order and pick it up from a self-service locker – all within two minutes or less.
Obviously this is not a new idea; it's just a different take on convenience stores or bodegas. In fact, most college campuses already have similar stores on campus, it's just that now Amazon has opened its own.
It used to be that you can walk into a store and get an item faster, but that's no longer true. If you live close to one of these five locations then it's actually easier to buy from Amazon (no need to waste time browsing).
Amazon's secret weapon used to be price, but soon it's going to be convenience.
Case in point, I recently bought a pair of monitor arms for my desk. I got it on Amazon because I couldn't find similar products in stock in a local store, and because Amazon promised same day shipping - on a Sunday. (And Amazon had the better price, too.)
No, I didn't need it that fast, but I also saw no reason to wait.
If you own stock in B&N Edu or another company that does this type of retail, now would be a good time to sell. Amazon is not just competing with those other retailers, it has taken away their one advantage - immediacy.