Photo by Bryan Thomas for The Wall Street Journal

An Amazon Locker in a New York City grocery store. The online retailer has opened at least 50 self-service pickup stations in a few U.S. cities.

By GREG BENSINGER -- Wall Street Journal Inc. is doubling down to combat a problem that has long bedeviled online retailers: failed package delivery.

The Web giant has quietly installed large metal cabinets—or Amazon Lockers—in grocery, convenience and drugstore outlets that function like virtual doormen, accepting packages for customers for a later pickup. Amazon began putting lockers in Seattle, New York state and near Washington, D.C., about a year ago.

And the company is now ramping up the service. In the past few weeks, Amazon has opened its first lockers sites in the San Francisco Bay area.

By adding the lockers, Amazon is addressing the concerns of some urban apartment dwellers who fear they'll miss a delivery or have their items stolen from their doorstep. Amazon is also taking on some of its rivals who are shipping to appointed sites, such as other retailers or United Parcel Service Inc stores.

"The home-delivery challenge has always been an issue for e-commerce in Europe and Japan, and is growing in the U.S., especially as thieves have moved into the game," said Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer for ShopRunner, which facilitates two-day delivery at about 60 retailers. "It's easy to follow a UPS truck around and steal packages from doorsteps."

Amazon is borrowing a tactic from traditional retailers, like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. that have added pickup sites so that online customers can stop by a store to get their merchandise. Without stores of its own, however, Amazon has to find partners who will provide space for the lockers.

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Great idea. I wish they did this for mail-only medicine, too.

Nope.  My home delivery has been excellent and I'd like to keep it.  It's one of the things that beats trips to the book store.

Sure, if you're home all the time and don't need to unlock a main entry. And your neighbors aren't stealing your stuff.

This will work best for apartments in cities. The rest of the world will probably stick to home delivery.

Ah, I see.  The mailman/UPS leaves packages at my door.

I would actually love for Amazon to open physical bookstores (ala Apple) where I can go in, have a coffee and browse for the latest books and back catalogue of my favourite authors. Then, when I want to buy one, Amazon lets me choose whether I want a physical copy or have it uploaded to my Kindle. If I'm not computer savvy, I can even hand my Kindle to one of the Amazon Bookworms and have them upload it for me. Think of the advantages this could have (especially if you were one of the authors Amazon was publishing) with combined offers (buy the paperback and get a free Kindle short story), every back title in stock (if you choose the ebook version, or have the paperback shipped to your home or the store within 24 hours), plus the ability for readers to actually see books and sample the first few chapters without being on a computer. Old-fashioned service, but modern convenience. What do you think?

That it doesn't make any sense to pay the rent and stock stuff when they do so well selling online.

The main thing they publish is Kindle books.

I agree, Cammy. Amazon opening up a store is like pissing in your own drink. LOL! It's not smart in my opinion and I doubt Amazon would dare do it.

And personally I don't think they could hack it in the physical world. It's a totally different animal than online.

I doubt Amazon would EVER open stores. Amazon is in the position now because they have so much control over online sales. If they opened physical stores they would be in the same predicament as all the other physical stores that can't stay open. Amazon and the Internet is the reason why so many stores are struggling and closing. People go to Amazon for deals. I don't think Amazon would ever risk that.

Also, running physical stores is a different animal than just being online. Amazon might be big and bad in the cyber world but can they hack it with physical stores? Will they know what they are doing?

The reason they are so big is because they are not a physical store. Also how would Amazon work as a store when they sell every doggone thing on the planet? LOL! I doubt they'd sell just books if they opened a store. So they'd be selling everything from books to wigs to garden tools. That doesn't work in a physical store unless you're Walmart and they aren't even able to compete well with online these days.

I just think if Amazon opened physical stores it would be stupid. Also, a lot of people stopped shopping in bookstores. That's why they closed. So I can't see many people going to an Amazon store just to buy a book when they can order it.

 I am not sure if they even opened that one in Seattle they were talking about but I think if they did open stores it would be their demise.

Also what about the Kindle authors? I know they'd be upset because do you think Amazon would put self-published books in their store? No. They'd put the same books in stores that other bookstores have in theirs and the books Amazon actually published. But I doubt very highly they would stock SP authors in their stores if that's what some are hoping for.

This is a great service if you can't get it safely at home. I had a number of packages stolen when I was an apartment dweller.

I live out in the country so you would think that my deliveries would be safe. 

Not so.

The new manager for our post office hired a new delivery person for my route who doesn't care if someone has pulled over in my driveway, she just throws my package out by the gate.  (My neighbors watched her do this.)

I ordered four large paperback books from Amazon.  She delivered them in the rain and threw them in the mud puddle next to my gate, soaking them through.  The new manager said that they weren't responsible since Amazon had printed on the box to deliver to the address if the recipient wasn't at home.  He refused to take my complaint and I've heard nothing from the area supervisor.  Fifty dollars in books destroyed and no one taking responsibility.

Given that scenario, I'd go to a store to pick up my package at my convenience.   

Which is terrible, since I'm paying for service to my front door from an incompetent federal agency.   

Anybody that treats books like that deserves at least a fat lip. I'd find out her name and publish it on Facebook with a shot of the wet books.

I agree.  The one book was the last one they had and I can't find it elsewhere.

Apparently they don't seem to care in that post office what you say or do. 

Their attitude seems to be 'we're the only game in town.' 

And since there doesn't seem to be anything being done to them, they're probably right. 


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