Amazon expands its in-store pickup service, Counter, to thousands more stores

Amazon Counter, the online retailer’s in-store pickup option that launched this summer at 100+ Rite Aid locations in the U.S., is now expanding. The company announced today the service will reach thousands more locations with the additions of new partners GNC, Health Mart and Stage Stores.

GNC is the well-known health and nutrition chain. Health Mart operates a network of independently owned and operated pharmacies. Stage Stores, meanwhile, operates Gordmans off-price stores, Bealls, Goody’s, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage department stores.

Amazon Counter is part of the growing Amazon Hub network, which offers pickup locations for Amazon deliveries as well as thousands of pickup Lockers across the U.S. The system appeals to those who don’t find home delivery convenient — perhaps because they work in an office or don’t have anywhere safe to receive packages.

Amazon today offers a range of alternatives to leaving packages on the doorstep, including Amazon Counter and Amazon Lockers, Key by Amazon for keyless entry into homes and vehicles and Amazon Day delivery dates.

With Counter, Amazon’s system is designed to be minimally disruptive to the brick-and-mortar’s day-to-day operations. Customers simply show a barcode to the store employee to receive their package.

It may seem surprising that the very retailers Amazon has been putting out of business with its online superstore would agree to partner up like this. But as it turns out, Amazon can drive traffic offline, too.

Department store chain Kohl’s, for example, recently expanded its Amazon partnership on returns to all its 1,150 U.S. locations after its initial trials drove significant revenue increases. Struggling Stein Mart also recently embraced the enemy with plans to install Amazon Lockers in some 200 stores, hoping for the same result.

The new set of Amazon Counter partners could similarly benefit.

“The response we’ve heard from our customers and partners after the launch of Counter earlier this year has been tremendous,” said Patrick Supanc, worldwide director of Amazon Hub, in a statement. “This new network of pickup points gives customers a pickup experience that is fast, flexible and convenient, and partners are thrilled with the strong engagement and additional foot traffic Counter is driving for their stores.”

Though not mentioned by Amazon, it’s worth pointing out that some of its Counter partnerships are with brick-and-mortar pharmacies. After Amazon’s acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack and the launch of its healthcare JV with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan, some expect Amazon will move deeper into the world of pharmaceuticals in the future. A line of retail pharmacy partners couldn’t hurt.