The ecommerce giant already offers parcel collection services, like Amazon Locker, for customers who are unable to receive a package at home. But Amazon Counter — as the new service is known — enables retailers to manage the collection of parcels for Amazon customers and increase their footfall. The idea is that a customer entering a store to collect a parcel may buy other things while they’re there.
Amazon Counter will be available in more than 100 Rite Aid Stores from today, with plans to expand to over 1,500 by the end of 2019, and the service will be open to all Amazon customers — not just Prime subscribers. The company also confirmed plans to expand Counter to “thousands of other locations” through partnerships with additional retailers and businesses.
“Being the first store partner for Counter in the U.S. is a differentiator for Rite Aid, and we believe our partnership with Amazon creates a stronger in-store experience for existing customers and new customers that come in to pick up their packages,” said Jocelyn Konrad, executive VP for pharmacy and retail operations at Rite Aid.
From the customer’s perspective, very little has changed in terms of how they place an order. At the online checkout in the Amazon app, they can now select an Amazon Counter location as their delivery address. When the package arrives, they receive an email notification with a barcode that enables them to collect it. Amazon has developed a separate app to help retailers manage parcel deliveries, with staff able to locate orders more quickly — and identify the correct parcel even without internet connectivity.
Amazon first introduced Counter to the U.K. and Italian markets in early May, a rare departure for the ecommerce giant, which normally kicks off new services in the U.S.
Counter is actually part of Amazon’s multi-pronged approach to meeting the growing demand for speedy and flexible deliveries, which includes its in-garage delivery service, in-home delivery service, and in-car delivery service. More specifically, Counter is part of Amazon’s broader Hub suite of delivery services, such as Amazon Locker and Apartment Locker.
“With Counter, we’ve leveraged our growing logistics network and invested in new, easy-to-use technology to give customers yet another delivery option rooted in flexibility and control,” explains Patrick Supanc, worldwide director of Amazon Hub.
Amazon has also been pushing to expand its delivery capacity and is setting out to create a network of independent delivery fleets, a program it is even now paying its existing employees to quit their jobs and join. Elsewhere, Amazon recently announced that it is leasing 15 more Boeing planes as it looks to expand its air cargo network by 28%.
It’s not entirely clear whether Amazon Counter will support parcel returns in the U.S, but at the U.K. and Italy launches last month returns were not initially supported — though Amazon did say at the time that it would soon allow customers to take their parcels back to Amazon’s partner stores.