Amazon's Prime service

Chicago residents can now receive luxury apothecary goods at the click of a button, thanks to Amazon’s Prime Now service.

Earlier this month the on-demand delivery service, which promises one- to two-hour delivery from local stores, introduced the Merz Apothecary to its roster of merchants in the Chicago market. Merz Apothecary is the first beauty store to be offered by any local market’s Prime Now service. Previously, Prime Now has focused on local grocery stores and restaurants.

Merz Apothecary, which has been in business in the Chicago area for about 140 years and operates two brick-and-mortar stores, is known for its assortment of upscale brands — Claus Porto, Molton Brown and Diptyque, and niche labels like L’Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon’s. Though its offerings certainly skew toward a customer purchasing Marvis toothpaste over Crest, Amazon declined to comment on whether serving an upscale customer was part of its strategy.

“It’s really about bringing convenience and variety for our customers,” said Amanda Ip, a communications manager for Amazon. “Getting them products they know and love and are accustomed to buying.”

Anthony Qaiyum, president of Merz Apothecary, said offering Prime Now services means more convenience for his customers. The apothecary’s Lincoln Square location closes at 6 p.m. on weekdays and is closed on Sundays, making it tricky to visit during normal operating hours. “We’re sort of old-fashioned,” Qaiyum said. “It’s one of the things people always complained to us about, but we were unwilling to change store hours just to solve it. Now we feel like we have an option for people who want to shop with us…now it’s delivery seven days a week.”

Once a customer’s order is placed online, Qaiyum’s store associates fill the order and an Amazon driver picks it up for delivery, all within an hour or two. For customers who place an order at the end of the day, the order is scheduled for delivery the next morning. Though Qaiyum noted he’s had to stock up on extra product as cushion just in case, he’s confident the service will ultimately lead to significant additional revenue stream. “The expectations of customers across all types of goods is changing so dramatically — next day, second day is no longer fast.”

Amazon declined to comment on whether it will be adding other beauty stores to other local markets in the future.

Prime Now is a local delivery service offered to Amazon Prime customers, promising two-hour delivery from local stores.

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