One more step ahead for e-commerce giant Amazon in building up its logistics and delivery network, and another for developing services to keep customers coming back for more. This morning the company announced that Dallas is the latest city to get Amazon Prime Now, its one-hour delivery service of “daily essentials” like household items, toys and books. This brings the total number of cities serviced by Prime Now — where two-hour deliveries are free, and one-hour arrivals cost $7.99 — up to four, after Baltimore and Miami were added last week, and New York launched in December 2014.
Prime Now is designed as another perk for members of Prime, its $99/year loyalty program that gives users free two-day shipping, access to certain services like Amazon’s streamed video and music services and fresh food delivery, discounts on certain items and other features — basically things that Amazon has determined will ensure that customers continue to visit and buy from Amazon. The company has never disclosed how many people actually take Prime, only giving a generic number of “tens of millions.”
The company says that it will expand Prime Now to additional cities across the U.S. in 2015, but has not given details of what metro areas will come next. Amazon notes that Dallas is the site of two of Amazon’s fulfillment centers — opened in 2013 — which gives Amazon a leg up in how it can get goods transported for that last-mile. (This is also probably a good way of figuring out which cities Amazon may roll Prime Now out to next — follow the fulfillment center map.)
Indeed, it’s the proximity of the existing operations that Amazon highlights, too:
“We know Dallas members are going to love the convenience of one-hour delivery through Prime Now,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, in a statement. “Our existing operations in Dallas-area that utilize advanced technology to fulfill customer orders are now home to a Prime Now hub that is fueling this super-fast delivery.”
As with the rollouts in NYC, Baltimore and Maryland, Amazon says that it will be starting with a few select postcodes in Dallas before adding more.
Dallas is a significant city for Amazon to launch. The wider metropolitan area, which also covers Ft Worth, covers some 6 million people and is the fourth-largest in the U.S., giving the company not just another city in its Prime Now footprint, but a very big one at that.
More generally, Amazon has been making a very big push into how it works with customers in the physical world as a complement to what it does online. That has taken many forms over the last year or so, from the Prime Now delivery program, through to point-of-sale payments, and in-person services like plumbing and guitar lessons through Amazon’s Home Services program that’s expected to launch next week.
The physical component is an essential area for Amazon, not just because it represents a way for the company to grow, but because it helps secure its place in what is described as “omni-commerce”, ahead potentially of competitors like eBay but also Uber. And it’s part of its DNA: as many have pointed out before, e-commerce is essentially a game of logistics.
Prime Now will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, Amazon says.