Amazon’s new one-hour grocery delivery and pick-up, revealed Monday, means more than just holiday Whole Foods convenience and a desire to push canned hams. Experts say it’s the first solid indication of how the e-commerce giant aims to fuse digital and physical retail.
“If there was ever any doubt about Amazon’s omnichannel efforts, this squashes it,” said Charles Dimov, vice president of marketing at OrderDynamics, which provides order management technology for retailers. “Amazon definitely sees the value of combining online and physical stores and this is the proof. It is offering one-hour BOPIS [Buy Online, Pick Up In Store], which is going to compel customers this Christmas season.”
Across U.S. retail chains, Dimov’s firm has seen roughly 6 percent growth in in-store pick-ups over the past year. It’s not clear if the Seattle-based e-tailer’s entry will trigger a frenzy, but Dimov believes it could — or rather should.
“With Amazon starting to run in-store pick-up promotions, U.S. retail needs to speed up the pace,” he said. “Today, U.S. adoption of in-store pick-up practices stands at only 27.5 percent.”
Caroline Klatt, chief executive officer and cofounder of Headliner Labs, a firm that builds customer experiences for brands through chatbots, sees it as a sign of things to come.
“Amazon’s pick-up policy provides a glimpse into the functions that physical stores will play in the retail ecosystem going forward,” said Caroline Klatt, chief executive officer and cofounder of Headliner Labs. “As more and more discovery happens online, stores will serve functions further down the sales funnel.
“The growing adoption of ‘reserve and try on in store’ options, such as those rolled out by Nordstrom and Banana Republic, show that physical retail will be a place to finalize and purchase — after discovery and browsing has happened online,” Klatt added. She said Amazon’s pick-up option reimagines the physical store as “simply an alternative shipping option.”
Amazon introduced the new pick-up service alongside a free-shipping offer for everyone with no minimums. The company just launched Early Black Friday deals every day, and this latest move also comes on the heels of several recent headlines — namely that the company is close to naming a location for another headquarters and could even choose two locations and that the Trump administration is looking into the company for anti-trust violations.