Doing your shopping online may be easier, and usually cheaper, but one of the things the high street has always had going for it was speed. If you were in need of some sun cream on a surprisingly warm day or a last minute anniversary present then etailers simply couldn’t get their wares to you quick enough.
Amazon could now be putting an end to that - for its metropolitan punters at least. It’s been speeding up its deliveries for a while now and even working on autonomous courier drones, but today it announced a new service that will have an immediate and tangible impact. From this morning, customers in some parts of central and east London can get thousands of Amazon’s products sent to them within just one hour.
'Prime Now', as the service is called, has been available in a few US cities for a while, but this is the first time it's been offered elsewhere. It's not cheap, requiring Amazon Prime Membership and costing £6.99 per delivery, but it’s not hard to imagine Prime Now will be popular with time-poor and cash-rich City workers and the pampered residents of Mayfair and Belgravia. Same-day two-hour delivery slots are also available to Prime members for free.
At the moment it's only available in some parts of central and east London - you have to type your postcode into the app to check if you’re covered – but the company said it plans to roll out Prime Now to the whole of the capital and some other UK cities before the end of the year.
‘This is just the beginning,’ said Christopher North, Amazon’s apparently rather melodramatic UK MD. ‘London is our first Prime Now city in the UK and we are already working on making Prime Now available in more postcodes in London and beyond.’
That won’t be so easy. Though its congested, central London benefits from having an extremely dense population, making it quite straightforward to cover lots of people with a small number of distribution centres. That would be much more difficult in the Scottish Highlands. Traditional retailers better watch out nonetheless – Amazon’s coming after one of their most valuable selling points.