If nothing else, Amazon is ambitious. When they launched Prime, which offered free and guaranteed two-day delivery to subscribers, it seemed like Amazon was doomed to regret the project. Just under 10 years later, Amazon has its eyes on making shipping remarkably faster at no added cost. Prime Now, which will be bundled with existing Prime subscriptions, will offer free two-hour delivery in New York City and, soon, a number of additional cities. For an extra $7.99, Prime Now subscribers can reduce that wait time to just one hour. And no, this is not April Fool's Day, this is a real service being offered by Amazon.
At its launch, Prime Now is available only in the 10001 zip code in Manhattan. For those living there, the service is live today. Deliveries will be made from 6 AM to midnight, seven days a week. Bicycle messengers are the primary mode of transport for Prime Now, which is a far cry from the drones that have caught so much attention (but not nearly as creepy). Business Insider reported just a week ago that Amazon had been testing a bike delivery service by having couriers do timed trials to destinations in New York City.
Update: Prime Now has already expanded to the following zip codes, in addition to 10001:
While Amazon insists that more cities are going to be added, they have not offered any clues as to which are on the docket. We can certainly expect more expansion in New York City, but it is anybody’s guess where they go from there. Amazon does have existing infrastructure for its same-day delivery AmazonFresh program in Seattle, Southern and Northern California, and Philadelphia. There are also many fulfillment centers around the country, so the areas in which they are located would be logical places to speculate on as well.
Amazon has already launched a Prime Now app so you can place orders from Android devices. Just as you would when you await your Uber driver, you can track your package carrier via GPS from the app. This probably sounds cooler than it really is, but if you are making plans based on when your package arrives—as you might do if you are worried about it being stolen from your doorstep—the GPS tracking and the general speed of delivery could be very useful. The Prime Now app is on the Play Store too, though it doesn’t show up in searches just yet.
Back in 2005, when Prime launched, Amazon’s stock price dove. The hypothetical customer who would use his or her Prime membership to get numerous, inexpensive items delivered in only two days would be the downfall of the e-commerce giant. When presented with this scenario, CEO Jeff Bezos coolly replied, “it all works out. Somebody else will order an $800 digital camera.” Thanks in part to Prime, that somebody else will always look to Amazon first when they order that camera. Experience showed that people don’t normally turn to Amazon to buy little things that are typically available at nearby brick-and-mortars: toiletries, snacks, and what have you. Prime Now may be a play to get even those purchases to happen online, eliminating the wait that still feels painful even when it is just two days. Two hours? That isn’t so bad.
Amazon’s promotional materials for Prime Now indicate that those are the sorts of products they aim to sell via the service as well. There is certainly a market for this kind of shopping, but it is by no means a cinch that this will pay off. Considering their track record, though, it is difficult to doubt Amazon when it comes to their core services.
Source: Amazon PR