This offering is an extension of its Prime service and is being tested in an area of Manhattan before being rolled out in other US cities next year. Free two-hour deliveries are guaranteed for more than 25,000 items between 6 am and midnight every day; although users can also pay an additional $7.99 to get items delivered in only 60 minutes. It is predicted to be extremely popular, especially this close to Christmas.
The Prime Now service boasts the ability to “shop for tens of thousands of daily essentials.” This is an important move for the huge international e-retailer in becoming the ultimate one-stop shop. If this is successfully rolled out to the UK, it severely disadvantages not only small independent online businesses but could also have adverse affects of brick-and-mortar shops.
The company currently already offers a same-day parcel collection service for Prime users in the UK under the Pass My Parcel brand, which consists of a large network of newsagents and convenience stores. Amazon also offers the option to deliver products to local Post offices to avoid the inconvenience of missed deliveries.
The Prime membership is £79 per year and includes subscription to their Instant Video service and free two-day delivery for most products as well as unlimited music streaming and photo storage. There is also a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime for the skeptics.
This is one of several experimental efforts by Amazon to improve its delivery speeds in hopes of becoming the fastest in the industry. Other efforts include delivery by drone and taxi. But, some are not as optimistic about these improvement efforts in the UK as the company is having difficulties delivering the current orders for the holidays with deliveries in the UK and Europe predicted to arrive late, after Christmas. Amazon guaranteed the arrival before Christmas, however delivery companies such as Yodel are overwhelmed by the flurry of orders during the holidays and are unable to cope.
Nonetheless, Amazon is due to further develop and test its drone delivery service in its research lab in Cambridge, England to take advantage of the talent pool and relatively dry environment. DHL is the first in Europe to provide drone delivery with their ‘parcelcopter.’ Google has also previously demonstrated its own drone delivery service. Google’s approach is slightly more high-tech with the ability to fly further and faster. There are, however, many sceptics of the drone service, noting the high likelihood of problems, including collisions, that are likely to occur.
At the moment there is little to worry about as these programs, as well as the one-hour delivery, are still being tested and fine-tuned. However, if they roll out in the UK in the near future it could be problematic for smaller businesses both online and off who are unable to compete with such services.