Amazon announces Prime Now: delivery in an hour
I debated the headline a little bit, but decided to go with a clear one.
“Next year: teleporters?”
“But that’s twice as long as Domino’s!”
“Amazon’s new high tech 19th Century delivery system”
Actually, I would have still mentioned Prime Now, but let’s go through this…there’s more to this than the headline might indicate.
Yesterday, Amazon announced in this
that they are now doing deliveries in one hour!
Naturally, there are limitations to it
- It’s currently only available in Manhattan, but they are planning to roll it out to other cities in 2015
- It’s not available on every item (but is available on thousands)
- It’s only available to Prime members
- It’s 6:00 AM to midnight, 7 days a week
- For delivery in one hour, there is a $7.99 charge…but within two hours is free (or at least, no additional cost over your Prime membership)
- Looks like you need to order through a free app. Update: yes, only through a free app on iOS, Android (including in the Amazon Appstore)
- Update: $15 minimum for one hour or two hours
- Update: you’ll get text messages, and you can track the delivery on a map in the app
- Update: zipcodes are 10001, 10010, 10016, 10017, 10018, 10019, 10020, 10022, 10023, 10024, 10025, and 10036
- Update: someone must be there when it is delivered
- Update: you can suggest products to be carried through the app
- Update: you can’t view or work with your Amazon.com orders through the Amazon Prime Now app. they say: “Although Amazon Prime Now and Amazon.com are rleated, Amazon Prime Now is a standalone mobile application…”
- Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, asked if you could use this to have things delivered in Manhattan, even if you lived somewhere else. I checked with Amazon (they replied very quickly), and the answer is…it is where it is going to be delivered which matters. So, you could be in California, and have something delivered to someone in an eligible Manhattan zipcode within an hour
Amazon has actually released two videos on it. One is at the official site:
The other, more interesting one in my opinion, is at
The second one shows you more about the service.
One particular thing shows up at 17 seconds into it. We get a sequence showing us the app in use.
Included is a $5 recommended tip, over and above the $7.99 shipping charge.
That’s only a recommendation, but I’m guessing it appears automatically and you have to decline it (or change it).
If any of my readers in Manhattan have used it already, please let me and my readers know if that’s the case!
Oh, and the 19th Century technology they are using? Bicycles!
Yep, bicycle couriers.
One thing that makes this possible is a building Amazon recently set up…there was some speculation what that was going to be…a store was popular, or maybe lockers (where you pick things up after you order them online).
Getting something within one hour for $7.99 (or $12.99 with recommended tip?) is awesome, but here is what is more amazing to me: get it within two hours (and you specify the two hour window), and it’s at no additional cost! I mentioned that in the bullet points, but thought that it was worth repeating.
I was wondering…when would you pay the extra money to save sixty minutes?
I can see some motivations. You are having a Superbowl party, and your TV breaks (yes, this includes TVs…how they carry them on bicycles, I don’t know!). It’s the holiday, and you forgot (or you find out) that you need batteries to bring your kid’s brand new toy to life! Oh, and, um…I can see there being some urgent deliveries of contraceptives (don’t know if that’s included).
I went ahead and downloaded
so I could browse a bit more (you can browse it as a guest…but at least on my Fire phone, it still knew who I was). Oh, and I can revise that statement above…yes, you could get that item in under an hour.
Prices seem reasonable. I checked Ziploc sandwich bags (100 count). It was actually fifty cents less on Prime Now ($2.48 versus $2.98) than on the regular Amazon site. On the latter, you could only buy it as part of Prime Pantry, which I don’t find convenient..and that costs $5.99. So, if I wanted it in two hours, I could get it it for $2.48 (plus tax) rather than $8.97…plus tip!
The app (just browsing through it) interestingly has things that we buy that are somewhat unusual. Sensitive Skin dove soap, Tide Free and Gentle…certainly be a whole lot easier to get it from Prime Now than to go to the grocery store.
There are a lot of categories! That includes books, cell phones, computers, gift cards (that would be handy at times!), office products, pet supplies…largely like Amazon.
You can get the Fire tablets…but not the Paperwhite (although you can get a cover for the latter) or the Voyage. Oh, you can get the least expensive Kindle (the one I call the Mindle Touch), and importantly, a charger.
Gee, I wonder where they will deliver? Could you get to the airport (in the future…no airport in Manhattan), realize you forgot your Kindle…and get another one delivered before your flight leaves?
Seriously, the more I think about this, the more blown away I am.
Wait until they combine this with the Amazon Echo!
So, who is this going to disrupt?
Obviously, local stores. Using the gas, not knowing if the store has what you want, navigating the parking lot…who would do all that (outside of wanting to support the community)?
Can’t leave out the companies that make items used by local stores…shopping carts, shopping bags, that sort of thing. I suppose parking lots, and cities might be affected by a reduced use of parking meters.
Another big group affected?
Package delivery services: UPS, in particular, but the Postal Service, too (and others).
“Let’s see: I can have it in two hours by bike messenger, or in two days by UPS for the same price…decisions, decisions.” ;)
I’ve suggested before that Amazon would start doing their own deliveries in some way to cut out the delivery services. Amazon, of course, gets blamed right now when a package delivery service messes up…this, while it will be imperfect, at least puts the power and responsibility in Amazon’s hands.
It will also mess up companies whose products aren’t in Prime Now. Let’s say you can get one brand of fig newtons in two hours, and another one in two days…you might start switching loyalties.
There will be some thefts, there will be liability (someone is going to get run over by one of these couriers, someone is going to hit one with a car…but those things happen with bike couriers now, so the underwriting should be pretty solid).
Sometimes, they’ll go to the wrong address, or not be able to deliver inside for some reason…or the courier will get bitten by a dog.
Still, if this works (and I’m sure it will work well enough), it’s a game changer!
Why would Amazon do this? Could it possibly be cost effective?
Absolutely…it if makes you become or stay a Prime member.
Prime members spend a lot more at Amazon than non-Prime members, and they buy the better margin items (diapers and windshield wipers, as I like to say).
Prime also has a ripple effect. I would bet you that someone who already has Prime is more likely to buy a Fire tablet than an iPad, when compared with someone who doesn’t have Prime.
Can anybody else do this?
It would not be easy. Google can (and they may do it soon) add buy buttons, but they won’t be doing the fulfillment: can Google really get a store to get an item to you in an hour? I find that unlikely.
Again, this is restricted to Manhattan right now, and I think it’s going to be in big urban centers for some time, just because of the logistics (unless they can do sort of the same thing with drones in more rural areas, after the FAA ((Federal Aviation Administration)) okay that…but currently, a drone can’t carry a television!). I think you’ll see it in more cities before the end of 2015, though.
What do you think? Is this a smart move by Amazon? What could cause it to fail? If it gets big enough, what effect will it have on retailing..and society in general? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.