Business Brains

Amazon experiments with package delivery lockers

Amazon experiments with package delivery lockers

Posting in Cities

Won't be home to sign for your shipment? The online retailer is testing a delivery service that lets customers pick packages up where they want, when they want.

The way that e-commerce retailers deliver their products is becoming way more important, as more people move into selling online. Consider that close to 52 percent of all orders shipped during the fourth quarter of 2011 made use of the free shipping option offered by the e-retailer.

So, any company that runs an e-commerce Web site should take note of a U.S. delivery experiment where customers can ask for their orders to be sent to a locker at some central location, like a local convenience, grocery or drugstore.

Customers who choose this option (only available in certain places and cities) receive a code e-mailed to them after the shipment arrives, so they can go pick up their item, reports The Wall Street Journal. The strategy only applies to lightweight shipments (things less than 10 pounds) and the customers have several days to pick up their package.

The strategy could be really useful in places where customers might have had problems with package theft or for people who aren't home to receive items that require a signature.

Other retailers who are trying similar strategies include ShopRunner in Conshohocken, Pa., which bought a company called PickupZone that helps orchestrate the delivery of packages bought online to real-world pickup locations, reports the WSJ. That company actually just picked up former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson as its new chief executive.

Other major retailers are likewise adopting strategies where you can buy things online and then go pick them up at the store, including Walmart, Best Buy, Macy's and Nordstrom, reports The New York Times.

But from the customer's point of view, that might not be as convenient as going down the street to the local 7-Eleven or CVS. You would still have to deal with mall parking.

[via The Wall Street Journal]

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure