Amazon debuts ‘Instant Pickup Points’ in the U.S. for pickups in minutes

Amazon’s latest physical retail foray is called “Instant Pickup,” and it works as the name implies: Amazon shoppers can pick up orders for certain items within two minutes of making their purchase. The program is live at five college campuses including the University of California at Berkeley for now, and will expand to additional sites, including neighborhood spots within cities, by end of year, Reuters reports.

The Instant Pickups fulfills Amazon’s goal of delivering ever-shorter wait times for customers who order via the ecommerce giant’s platform, and the selection at each location covers several hundred items. These include things that are often sold in high volume and quickly on, like phone chargers, snacks and drinks. In other words, the Instant Pickup push is focused on scratching the itch for impulse buyers, which is one area where traditional retail still has had a leg up on Amazon’s online model.

Items purchased via Instant Pickup are picked by Amazon employees on site at the pickup points, then loaded into lockers which are closed with a unique code that the buyer receives to retrieve their goods. Prices could be cheaper than via the website for traditional delivery, and Amazon has also considered automating the Instant Pickup points but did not end up doing that for this rollout.

Pickup points are open at campuses in LA, Atlanta, Columbus, OH and College Park, MD.

The Instant Pickup model could also dovetail nicely with another recent move made by Amazon: The acquisition of Whole Foods. Amazon could easily make Instant Pickup an option at the grocer’s physical locations, which are already conveniently located for a large chunk of the ecommerce giant’s addressable urban U.S. audience. Plus, they have accessible room for impulse purchase inventory storage.