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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Interesting idea. Although I suppose it's sorta defeating a purpose of ordering online if I still gotta go to a store to get it. And I am not sure these little kiosks will keep my items much safer?

That was my thought.  So I guess it comes down to if they're cheaper than just getting a box at some Mailbox place.

WHICH, I found out, is getting complicated.  I am moving to Las Vegas and figured I'd get a box there for transition mail.

Found out the post office won't rent you a box unless you show them mortgage papers or rent receipts.  Which, gee, I hadn't thought to bring, being just an American wanting a box at a US post office.

So you can't get a PO box unless you have a house.  What the hell sense does that make?

And those private places have limitations.  Like not being able to forward and not working for things like getting a new driver license.

I regard all that as nuts.  Or like,  the terrorists won, or something.

Drug dealers and mail fraud is more like it.

Be interesting to see how this goes. Years ago in Montreal someone left a bomb in a locker at the train station - killed two people. Now there are no more lockers at the train station.

And Cammie, you'll probably have to get used to carrying your "papers" with you at all times. Someone's winning....

When I transitioned to Florida, I called the UPS store in the area and spoke to the manager about how I might do mail transition.  Act as if you have less knowledge than you do.  He was most helpful.  I faxed my information to him and mailed him a check (proof of where I was at the time).  This worked wonders for me.  I still call him once a week to check if I have mail and I if I do,  I stop by and pick it up.  They also accept large packages.

This isn't mandatory. It's just an option for people who are worried, right?

I would think it is an option.  I wouldn't shop at Amazon if I had to purchase or rent a place to receive it too.  It would defeat the purpose of convenience.


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