ECOMMERCE

Amazon shortens delivery time again — this time to minutes

BY Marianne Wilson

Online giant Amazon continues to shorten delivery time with a new service that puts goods in shoppers’ hands within minutes of placing their order.

Amazon on Tuesday introduced Instant Pickup, a free service for Prime and Prime Student members that offers a curated selection of daily essentials available for pickup in two minutes or less. The service launched at five of Amazon’s fully staffed pickup locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, and College Park, Md., and will be rolled out to more locations in the coming months. Amazon currently operates a total of 22 staffed pickup locations on or near college campuses across the country.

The merchandise available with Instant Pickup include snacks, beverages, personal care items, phone chargers and other tech essentials. It also features such Amazon’s devices as the Echo and a selection of Fire tablets and Kindle readers.

“As shopping behaviors continue to evolve, customers consistently tell us that they want items even faster," said Ripley MacDonald, director, student programs, Amazon. "While Instant Pickup is available at select pickup locations today, we’re excited about bringing this experience to more customers soon.”

With Instant Pickup, Prime and Prime student members use the Amazon app to shop hundreds of items. Shoppers can browse the selection, place an order, and pick it up from a self-service locker – all within two minutes or less, Amazon said.

Some industry experts commented that with its new pickup program, Amazon is moving into a retail market long dominated by convenience stores.

"As 7-Eleven execs recover from the Amazon-cart that just knocked them off their feet, a close look at the positioning of this new offering shows a bold move into a new shopping space for Amazon,” said Luke Starbuck, VP of marketing, Linc. "While fast delivery has been at their core for a long time, the combination of speed and pickup is a different model than two-hour delivery, or pickup from a locker. Effectively, this new combination places convenience stores squarely in the cross-hairs, although Amazon has a lot of ground to make up before they have the store distribution. It raises the question of whether they are eyeing existing convenience brands as potential acquisitions."

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ECOMMERCE

Vitamin Shoppe launches online subscription service — with a hook

BY Marianne Wilson

Taking a page out of Birchbox's play book, The Vitamin Shoppe is going to be sending out personalized sample boxes of new products.

The retailer on Monday launched a product subscription service that will allow customers to save on their favorite wellness items while receiving them on a flexible, automated shipping schedule. Called Spark Auto Delivery, the program includes a built-in trial feature for new products whereby subscribers will receive a complimentary personalized sample box — our times a year — to help introduce them to new products.

Additional perks include complimentary, virtual wellness consultations with certified nutritionists and customized "transformation plans to further help members achieve their personal goals," the company said. Customers who subscribe to Spark Auto Delivery will receive 10% off of more than 1,000 participating products, double Healthy Awards points, and free shipping in the continental United States. Customers can choose their own product shipping schedule.

"While the concept of auto delivery is not new to the industry, we have created a consumer-first subscription service that combines convenience and savings with engaging experiences," stated John Hnanicek, chief customer innovation and technology officer at The Vitamin Shoppe. "With Spark Auto Delivery, we are enhancing our customer's journey from product discovery to delivery by incorporating personalized elements and interactions designed just for them."

The retailer collaborated with branding firm Liquid Agency to design the service.

"In a world where Amazon is challenging the retail norms, we employed Silicon Valley Thinking to design a subscription service experience for The Vitamin Shoppe that other retailers simply cannot replicate — by leveraging brand equities that are unique only to The Vitamin Shoppe and their customers," stated Dennis Hahn, chief strategy officer at Liquid Agency.

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First Look: Indochino, King of Prussia, Pa.

BY Marianne Wilson

Online made-to-measure retailer Indochino expands its brick-and-mortar footprint with its largest location to date, a 4,100-sq.-ft. space at King of Prussia mall, King of Prussia, Pa.

The new outpost caps off a busy summer for the Canadian retailer, during which it also opened a second location in New York City, and flagships in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Earlier this year, the company opened two storefronts in Canada, in Edmonton and Vancouver. It currently has a total of 17 stores in North America.

The new Indochino reflects the brand’s stylish approach to customized menswear, and is designed to bring its online experience to life. Customers are paired with a “style guide” who tailors the appointment based on each customer’s needs and helps him build a one-of-a-kind suit or shirt. The guides take measurements, assist with fabric selection, and walk shoppers through a wide variety of personalization options, including buttons, pockets, lapels, and monograms. Each garment is made to order and delivered in around four weeks.

The King of Prussia location is Indochino’s second store in the Philadelphia market. It also has a location in downtown Philadelphia

“King of Prussia is our fourth showroom to open this summer and a result of our continued success in Philadelphia, which was one of our first U.S. showrooms.” said Drew Green, CEO of Indochino. “We’ve built up a loyal customer base with our experiential approach, unique product and accessible price point and are looking forward to growing this further as we continue to change the way a generation of men shop for clothing.”

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