More customers of Amazon.com will soon be able to get their stuff without worrying about boxes sitting at their front door, or frustrating notices that the mailman has come and gone and taken that new DVD, book or gadget back to the Post Office.
The world's biggest online retailer appears to be on the verge of a deal that will allow customers to have their parcel shipped to the local Staples store, where it will be placed in a locker for convenient pickup within a three-day window. Reuters said a spokeswoman confirmed news of the deal Monday.
Just Enter Your Code
Amazon also has agreements with convenience-store chain 7-Eleven and smaller stores in limited locations, paying a fee to the hosts, who also benefit from incidental purchases during the pickup. But the agreement with Staples, which has 1,575 office-supply stores in the United States and prides itself on convenient transactions with its "That was easy" motto, may be the best bet for providing easy access to customers across the country.
Amazon now allows shoppers to check if there is a locker in the area and add it when selecting shipping. They then receive a text or e-mail with an access code -- no keys required. The locker can then be added to the customer's address book as any other mailing address for future use.
Don't procrastinate, though. After three days the package goes back to Amazon to clear up locker space, and you'll get a refund.
Amazon is also taking a major step to draw more consumers into its ecosystem by offering, for the first time, a monthly fee for its Amazon Prime service -- a rival to Netflix and Blockbuster for streaming video, but with the perk of free two-day shipping on products and access to books in the company's Kindle lending library.
Monthly access will be $7.99 per month, as opposed to the flat fee of $79 per year. The change could make the Kindle Fire more attractive, and could also lure customers to shop on Amazon in the almost-here holiday season to take advantage of the free shipping.
Retail Super Bowl
"The end of the year holiday season is like the Super Bowl for retailers," said technology consultant and commentator Jeff Kagan.
"Amazon.com has always done very well this time of year. This year is more complicated as Amazon.com tries to expand into other areas. So partnering with Staples for lockers is a very interesting co-branding idea, something we have never seen before like this with Amazon.com."
The Prime membership change, he added, could help Amazon take on both online and bricks-and-mortar rivals.
"Companies like Amazon.com and Google grow and transform themselves before we actually realize what they are doing," Kagan told us. "It's a little unsettling, but it sure is successful for them. I think Amazon.com will continue to explore and experiment and succeed and fail, but continue to grow."