Amazon lockered on to delivery boxes

The online retailer has come up with a cunning plan to bypass Royal Mail. Time will only tell whether it'll catch on...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
It’s been a conundrum for retailers since the early days of e-commerce: how do you get packages to customers with the minimum of fuss (and preferably, without one of those little red ‘Sorry you were out’ cards involved)? Online books, DVDs and electronics emporium Amazon might have found the answer: it’s placed a series of lockers in large office blocks around London, with the idea that customers can collect and return items at their own convenience – and without having to rely on Royal Mail. Sounds ideal to us…

The idea, apparently, is that customers will be given a key code to open the door to one of the lockers. Amazon has struck up a partnership with landlord Land Securities – so while the first bank of lockers will apparently open shortly at shopping centre One New Change, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London, others will follow at Cardinal Place, near Victoria, New Street Square in the City, and at Thomas More Square (the Times’ new gaff) in London. Considering the placement of Amazon’s new lockers, it seems obvious that the retailer is aiming for those who are too busy to wait at home for the postman - although just how happy the tenants of the buildings will be to have half of Amazon’s customer base passing through to collect their workout DVDs remains to be seen.

To be fair to its rivals, Amazon isn’t the first company to try to bypass Royal Mail and find a more convenient way to allow customers to get their hands on (or off) their products. Simply Be, an online clothing retailer, is due to open its first stores this morning, while Asos, the online fashion retailer that’s been a storming success throughout the recession, has a partnership with various chains (including, weirdly, Costcutter), which allows customers to make returns as conveniently as possible – returns being a problem online retailers have yet to solve. So far, though, nothing seems to have particularly changed how online retailers operate – so it remains to be seen whether this will catch on…

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