Amazon has revealed a new locker system for private spaces like apartment blocks, called The Hub. This is a more ambitious project additionally to the already existing Amazon Locker, a locker system for public spaces. Amazon Locker boosts „2,000 locations across 50+ cities”.
When someone is ready to retrieve their parcel, they enter the pickup code into the system and a corresponding door will open with the item inside. Amazon says its locker system accepts delivery from all carriers.
“You can pick up any package, from any sender, any retailer, at any time,” a promotional video on the site notes as the video scrolls through packages not just from Amazon and Zappos (owned by Amazon), but also unnamed retailers, and maybe your granny.
TechCrunch on competing systems:
DHL happens to have its own residence-based locker system, the Packstation. And it is not the only one that’s made moves in this space. As with so many of the areas where Amazon muscles in, there are also a few startups that have also been trying to build businesses to tackle the same problem: They include Package Concierge and Luxer One. Google owns the assets of another would-be competitor, BufferBox, which it acquired in 2012 but then shut down.
DHL‘s Packstation, in fact, is more like Amazon Locker, intended for public spaces. DHL is testing a hub-like offering here in Germany too: Paketkasten. It‘s roll-out is slow.
One other comparable solution is Parcelpending, that offers refrigerated lockers and outdoor package lockers.
For Amazon, owning that last step would be huge. Opening this to any online retailer and sender in general makes it obvious that Amazon understands how big the hurdle is to get those boxes installed in the first place. (And thus, that they need as little resistance from the rest of the industry as possible. There is a reason why on the locker itself the name Amazon is nowhere to be found.)
Medium-term it may look to other online retailers that Amazon is building an infrastructure for them to use for free. The devious thing is: this is true.
Long-term, Amazon may keep basic delivery and storage services open to everyone, but more sophisticated services that can be build on top will be Amazon-only (and Amazon Marketplace-only, of course). Once, Amazon Logistics is running on full speed, systems like the Hub allow, for example, for very easy returns and even the end of cardboard packaging for Amazon parcels.
Never underestimate the power that comes from owning everything vertically from the shop/marketplace to the whole logistics chain down to the last mile and the very locker the parcel gets delivered to.
That is what Amazon is building here.
One last note: You may wonder why the Amazon Hub is not an extension of the Amazon Locker service. One is just a branch of the other, right? I suspect this is a consequence of how Amazon is operating: Amazon is effectively a group of startups operating on top of a shared platform. Hub and Locker are separate, independent teams. They may evolve differently. Given the long-term prospects I alluded to above, that makes sense.
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