Amazon Takes Prime Now Outside U.S., Opens One-Hour Delivery In London

Amazon has expanded its one-hour delivery service for Prime members to parts of central London. An update to the Prime Now app notes the services is now “available in selected London postcodes”. This is the first foray for Prime Now outside the U.S., some six months after the service first launched — which is a rather more speedy international expansion schedule than Amazon’s usual playbook.

Prime Now’s London coverage area appears to be limited to zone 1 — or parts of zone 1 — at this stage. Postcodes I tried from further afield (zone 2 and zone 3) were not yet supported; but a postcode in London’s Southwark (zone 1) returned an affirmative that Amazon can ship a selection of products there in an hour. An in-app note on coverage adds: “We’re branching out as fast as we can”. Londoners can check to see if it delivers to their postcode yet.

Amazon launched the one-hour delivery offering in Manhattan last December. It’s since expanded to cover Dallas, Baltimore and Miami. Prime Now remains limited to Prime members, as another incentive to drive sign up of Amazon’s annual membership offering, and a way for the ecommerce giant to compete with local delivery startups which are also aggressively targeting urban centers like London. Amazon is also playing in the takeaway food delivery space — so building out a one-hour delivery infrastructure paves the way for further expansion there.

Amazon says Prime Now delivery is available on “thousands” of products in London. Deliveries must have a minimum total of £20 per order, so it’s certainly not a cheap way to replenish your kitchen roll at speed. It also costs £6.99 per order for delivery in a one-hour window. Delivery within two-hours is at no additional cost between 8am and midnight. (One of the primary perks of Prime membership is of course free same-day or one-day shipping on products sold by Amazon.)

While Prime Now was billed as a speedy delivery service for “essentials” when it first launched, the categories of products that users can have couriered to them within 60 minutes is rather more expansive than a list of basic toiletries; the London Prime Now app offers 27 department categories of products to choose from — and even includes gizmos such as the Apple TV, Raspberry Pi Model B microprocessor, an HP Deskjet printer and a Daewoo microwave oven.

The majority of the product categories appear geared towards more last-minute needs — such as pre-holiday and travel-related purchases, supplies needed for a party or event, or last-minute gifts for people who forgot to remember someone’s birthday.

Interestingly the service allows users to tip their delivery courier. There’s a default tip level set which users can increase or decrease. Amazon notes its U.K. business will collect the tip but says “the entire tip will go to the delivery person”. Amazon notes it has “dedicated teams of people” working out of a fulfilment center in London to deliver orders.