Timing’s a strange thing when it comes to big corporations. Announcements, like buses, make you wait, then they come all at once. Perhaps Amazon making three unrelated announcements in the last few days is a coincidence, or perhaps it’s just jealous of all the attention Microsoft boss Satya Nadella is getting for his, ahem, comments on women in the workplace.
Amazon’s biggest news is its roll out of a same day pick up service at 500 ‘Pass the Parcel’ locations across the UK. In partnership with Connect Group’s newspaper and magazine distribution arm, Smiths News, the US firm will deliver to newsagents, convenience stores and its Amazon lockers by 4pm, so long as the order was made before 11.45am. Orders before 7.45pm can be picked up from 6.30am, and the service will initially be free for Amazon Prime customers.
Amazon Lockers have been popping up across the country since 2011, at locations from tube stations to underground carparks.
Amazon's UK boss Chris North said that more and more customers wanted to be able to pick their goods up when they’re out. ‘Our intention is to keep rapidly adding to the many thousands of existing pick-up locations to ensure that customers all over the UK are provided with as much choice as possible when it comes to the delivery of their Amazon order.’
No more blaming the delivery guy for not finding your house, or rather finding it during the 3 minute shower you took specifically so you didn’t miss your delivery, then.
A couple of days earlier, Amazon announced it was creating another 1,000 jobs in its mammoth UK distribution centres, adding to the 6,000 already employed.
All this illustrates that, despite its size and market dominance, Amazon is not a complacent firm. It’s still looking for new ways to expand and dominate the retail space, and increasingly that means a physical presence as well as an online one, to which its rumoured store in New York City attests. If and when Alibaba makes its play for the US and European markets, it’s likely to find Amazon more than ready for the fight.
Amazon’s not just looking for brick and mortar (and, erm, metal locker) assets, however. Its expansion is also into the virtual realms of gaming. Today, Cambridge-based games developer Frontier announced that it was making a title exclusively for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, though it didn’t reveal the launch date.
The game, Tales from Deep Space, will be fourth that will operate only on the Fire. In the tablet space, Amazon’s strategy appears to be to develop a stable of exclusive content to lure consumers away from the bigger players. It bought US developer Double Helix earlier this year, and has apparently been hiring widely from top gaming companies for some time.
Its retail strategy is more likely to work than its tablet strategy. Amazon can move products from point A to point B better than anybody. It knows what it can do and it knows its customers.
In the tablet market, it’s nowhere near top dog. The Kindle Fire offers an unrivalled media library, but falls down on games and app selection compared to Google Android and iOS devices. A few strong titles are unlikely to convince hard core gamers to give up on superior variety.